Judge calls for reconciliation in court dispute over church constitution
Share this article:
Cape Town – Acting Judge Constance Nziweni of the Western Cape High Court urged members of the Divided Church of Christ’s Followers in South Africa and Namibia to try to resolve their differences over the constitution issue of the Church, which caused a split.
Ruling in a case where 17 suspended church members took him to court and 15 other members in a dispute over church law, Acting Judge Nziweni said, âIn my opinion, what is most important is that, with the crisis within the church, the parties must be pushed towards achieving a grand compromise that reconciles their fundamental interests.
âThis in turn will allow them to act together to provide solutions. It is of the utmost importance that anything that could make the situation worse is avoided at all costs. ”
She said it was clear from the court documents that the common thread that permeates the various sections of the founding affidavit, and continues throughout, is that the church does not have a binding and enforceable constitution or framework. which provides for its control, management and administration.
Acting Judge Nziweni said: âThis, among other factors, was clear in the founding affidavit which argued that a succession plan, which should have been implemented by (the founder of the church, the late) l Apostle Peter Poole, never materialized, and that left a void regarding the question of who should constitute, manage and administer the affairs of the church. It is in fact the golden thread that underlies the entire application.
The suspended 17 members said the church’s contested 2007 constitution replaced the 2000 legal constitution using a “questionable signature” and replaced the church’s ruling international council with a committee.
During the case, the 17 suspended members wanted the Western Cape High Court to determine which constitution was valid to govern the affairs of the church and whether the current church committee derived powers from that constitution.
The 17 suspended members said in their request that they were not seeking the court to change the constitution of the church, but wanted to facilitate the legal management of church affairs.
The church and the 15 other members, including members of the Apostle Poole’s family, meanwhile believed that the 17 suspended members had lost their right to go to court to seek redress over the issues relating to church because they had been suspended. The church claimed they were missing locus standi.
The church was founded by Poole in Cape Town in 1964 as the Pentecostal Church of South Africa. In 1979 the name of the church was changed to Followers Of Christ Church of South Africa.
However, members of the Walvis Bay congregation were not happy with this change and it was decided that they and other congregations in Namibia could continue to use the name of the Pentecostal Church of South West Africa.