The leader of the Rhenish Church in South Africa, Pastor Ashley Fransman, sent us the sad news on 31 December that on the night of 30 to 31 December 2018 a devastating fire almost completely destroyed the historic centre of the small South African town of Wupperthal, near Cape Town. Many historic buildings and private houses were victims of the fire.
In his last report, Pastor Fransman informed as follows: "It is shocking to see the extent of the damage caused by the fire in Wupperthal. This morning's pictures show that the house of one of the pastors and the historic buildings where we had our tea and lunch on our last visit were completely burned down. About 50 historic houses were burned to the ground. The cause of the fire is still being investigated, but the days before it was extremely hot in this area. Most people here have lost all their property as a result of the fire. We ask for your prayers for the people of Wupperthal."
Only last May a UEM delegation visited the picturesque Wupperthal. The small town in the Cedar Mountains, which today has around 4000 inhabitants, was founded in 1829 by the missionaries Gottlieb Leipholt and Theobald von Wurmb of the "Rheinische Missionsgesellschaft" (Rhenish Mission Society). A shoe manufactory for traditional field shoes still in operation today and a Moravian village church are living testimonies to the missionary heritage.
The fact that a large part of Wupperthal has burned down is a heavy blow for the town and its inhabitants, some of whom live from tourism. Many of the buildings and collectibles that became a raid of flames were of historical importance for the entire country.
The friendly relationship with today's Wupperthal was recently revived by the admission of the two Protestant South African churches "Rheinish Church South Africa" and "United Reformed Church in Southern Africa" in the UEM community last September.
Please send donations for the reconstruction of the historic city centre to: Vereinte Evangelische Mission, IBAN: DE45 3506 0190 0009 0909 08, SWIFT/BIC: GENODED1DKD, keyword: Help for Wupperthal.
Dr Martina Pauly