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Christ the King Anglican Church

Christ the King Anglican Church

Originally designed by Frank Flemming and built in 1935 the church in Ray Street Triomf is the only complete remnant of Sophiatown. Under the leadership of the anti-apartheid campaigner, Archbishop Trevor Huddleston, the church was made famous in the 1940s and 1950 when he was followed by the security police. In 1955 the Archbishop was recalled to England, the same year the forced removals started. It was on 9 February 1955 when 2 000 policemen, armed with guns, knobkerries and rifles, forcefully moved the families of Sophiatown to Meadowlands, Soweto, in the name of the Group Areas Act. Most of the structures in Sophiatown were flattened by bulldozers but Christ the King Church survived. Over the following years the church went through a turbulent time. By 1963 almost 65000 people were moved to Meadowlands.
The church is a simple but beautiful building and its most distinctive feature was a mural painted between 1939 and 1941 by Sister Margaret. The mural was painted in beautiful colours and transformed the simple church with its wooden-beamed ceiling, into something truly spectacular. In 1967 the church was sold to the department of community development, after which the building was badly vandalised and the beautiful mural had graffiti and racist slogans sprayed over it. The Nederduits Hervormde Kerk bought the building in the 1970s and the mural was whitewashed. The church changed hands again and the Pinkster Protestante Kerk made significant changes to the building adding a hall and gallery, and wooden panelling and false organ pipes changed the look of the interior. It was only in 1997 that the Anglican Church acquired the building again, trying to restore it as best as possible to its former state, but sadly its most prized feature still lies quietly under the whitewash waiting to be restored. Recent years have seen the return of many of its former worshippers who travel each Sunday from Soweto to attend the services.
Archbishop Trevor Huddleston returned to South Africa in 1991 where he was met by his close friend Walter Sisulu. In 1995 he tried to settle in South Africa but found it difficult at his age and returned to England where he died 1998 at the age of 85. His ashes were returned to South Africa and are buried in the grounds of the Christ the King church, under monolith-shaped stones.
The tower of the Christ the King Church was declared a national monument and in 2004 a mural, depicting Archbishop Trevor Huddleston walking the dusty streets of Sophiatown, with two children tugging at his cossack, was painted by 12 apprentice artists under the patronage of the Gerard Sekoto Foundation on the northern exterior wall of the church.

The church has a sung Eucharist every Sunday from 09:00 to 11:00 where all are welcome as well as Sunday evening services at 18:00.

For more information please contact the church office:
Tel: +27-11-4778410
Email: secretary01@telkom.co.za

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