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It was on Sabbath June 12, 1954 that the newly constructed building in Mowbray was dedicated to its use as a place of worship. The cost of the building construction as well as that of the pipe organ was about £15 000 (about R30 000 then). The church had recently moved from its previous location on 56 Roeland Street in Cape Town. The Roeland Street building, which still stands today, had been built in 1892 at a cost of £8 000 as the first Adventist Church in the Cape Peninsula.
As the city and the church membership began to grow resulting in many church members now living in areas that were far from the church, it became clear that the building was no longer adequate. A decision was made to sell it and establish another church at a more appropriate location. In 1948 St. Johns Ambulance Association bought the Roeland Street building for £18 000 (about R36 000 then). That money was used to build a new church in Maitland for the Afrikaans speaking church members and also complete the construction of the church at number 10 Bollihope Crescent in Mowbray.
The Roeland Street building today houses Lifeline & Childline, an organization that does tremendous work in providing assistance to people in dealing with social and family problems as well as trauma counselling.
The results of the faithfulness of the Wessels family in paying tithe bore fruits in the little community of Adventists in Cape Town. The family also donated the property where the Roeland Street Church was built. Initially, services were held in this property then known as the Somerset House but in September 1891 the construction of a proper church commenced on the same ground. The construction was completed in 1892 and on the 17th April of the same year the church was dedicated. J J Wessels, Pieter's father donated £2500 towards the construction of the church.
One of the ornate, carved chairs we have today used to be the Cape Province's Governors, chair in parliament in the late 19th Century. When the parliament building was renovated some of the furniture was donated and the Cape Town SDA Church got some of the very beautiful chairs used on the platform.
"I remember sitting at my Standard eight desk at Hillcrest School in 1953 and watching the Mowbray Church going up from that top window!"
David De Waal was taking a walk down Memory Lane and as he walked around the school grounds and down Bollihope Crescent fresh glimpses of the past flashed back into his mind.
"We started going to school here in the old house. All that is left now is the garage.
There was a mysterious fire in 1949 and suddenly we had no school! Then the church put
up the first school building, the present eastern block. Later, in the early sixties
the second block, including the hall was completed.
The Bradmore house was already built when the church acquired the properties in Bollihope Crescent. The neighbouring house, which eventually became the school principal‚s house, was given to the church by the family living next to the school, who also owned Tragamina. They were not even Seventh-day Adventists!"
The Church had been looking for a suburban property for several years and had failed to negotiate land with Stake-Ayres who also had a big shop on the corner of the Main Road. However, there was a property behind Starke-Ayres which was reserved for a church. In fact the Baptists were also looking for a site and eventually the SDA church bought it and started building.
Strolling around the church garden he looked up at the distinctive spire and remarked
- "There's a dent in that copper spire – on the north side." David recalled the drama
when he saw the spire again. "They dropped it when they were putting it up!".
Then, once in the church more memories flooded into his mind. "We had been worshipping in the school for several years and occasionally at the Gordon's Institute on the Liesbeek. But I remember that first service in the new church. My sister was baptised on that very day of that first service on 12 June 1954 by Pastor Russell Staples. He left the Mowbray church in December. He had been the last pastor at the Roeland Street church which had been sold in 1948."
"The Roeland Street church was a big church – bigger than the Mowbray one. There was a basement below the church the same size as the church. These pews and that pulpit and the big chair were the original ones used in the old church".
1949-1954: Russell Staples
1954-1958: Johan W Neumann
1958-1960: Daniel Handysides
1960-1963: Frederick Pelser
1963-1964: Francis Campbell
1965-1967: Eric Webster
1967-1968: Anthony Wessels
1968-1968: Geoffrey Garne
1968-1970: Alf Birch
1971-1974: Danie Swanepoel
1974-1978: PP Van Eck
1978-1980: Frank G Steyn
1980-1980: JG Taylor
1980-1983: Hein Strydom
1984-1989: Garth Bainbridge
1990-1995: Frank Boniface
1995-1995: Alan Parker
1996-1997: Martinus Pretorius
1998-1999: Sandy Pairman
2000-2001: Adrian Viljoen-Platts
2002-2005: Dan Serb
2006-2007: Brian Sterley
2008-2008: Peter Hurter
2009-2009: Norman Ryan
2010-2010: Martin Clack
2011-2012: Dan Serb
2013-2013: Virgil Carolis
2014- : Mzwandile Lamini