A short history
It is interesting to note that both the Bryanston Congregational Church and St Mungo’s Presbyterian Church had their beginnings in Sunday Schools. It is also an interesting coincidence that both Sunday Schools had their beginnings in 1956.
Cliff and Margo Johnson started the Congregational Sunday School in their home which was situated in the grounds of the old Bryanston Nurseries. During 1957 it was decided to hold an evening service in the Johnson’s home for adults. Although the congregation was small their faith and dedication was such that money was raised to build a church on the corner of Arlington and Grosvenor Roads. This building was known by the members of the congregation as “friendship corner”. The Sunday School, Youth Group and adult congregation grew and regular services were held.
The period 1962-1972 has been described as a difficult time for the congregation. The church was served by various visiting ministers who conducted the services but no full-time minister was appointed. A new era dawned with the appointment of Rev Dr John de Gruchy as a full-time minister.
The Presbyterian Sunday School met for the first time on 6 May 1956. Thirty four children attended. Permission had been obtained from the principal of Bryanston Primary School to use a classroom for the Sunday School. The Sunday School began as an outreach venture on the part of St Columba’s Presbyterian Church, Parkview.
During 1957 it was decided to invite the parents to join the children for a family service every quarter. This adult service, in due course, met on a weekly basis. Ministers and lay preachers were organised from St Columba’s to conduct services. Thanks to the financial backing of the mother church, St Columba’s, a plot of ground was acquired in 1959. We were a preaching station under St Columba’s and a little church in de Korte Street Braamfontein, known as St Mungo’s was also a preaching station under St Columba’s. The character of Braamfontein had changed and the congregation of the church there had dwindled to less than ten people.
Moving to a new site
The Presbytery of the Transvaal decided to sell the site on which St Mungo’s Church Braamfontein stood. The Rev Emlyn Jones of St Columba’s suggested that the proceeds of this sale be made available for the new work in Bryanston. Presbytery agreed to this on the understanding that the name St Mungo’s be perpetuated.
In 1960 work began on the church building. On 12 March 1961 the foundation stone of our church was laid by Dr Jack Dalziel. Dr Dalziel played a vital part in the early development in St Mungo’s. The original foundation stone of the old building in Braamfontein was laid by Mr S F Smuts who was session clerk of the old church at the same time. Dr A R de Villiers, who was Moderator of General Assembly, opened the church on 11 November 1961. At this stage we were still a preaching station under St Columba’s. We had 161 members and 152 associates.
In 1963 the first Session of St Mungo’s was formed. Of the 8 elders, 2 were transferred from St Columba’s and 6 were nominated from and elected by the congregation. Later in 1963 we were made a Church Extension Charge. In October 1963 Rev Michael Tatham was installed as our first full-time minister.
Two congregations unite
During the ministry of Rev Des Clynick the idea of St Mungo’s joining together with the Bryanston Congregational Church began to take root. Dr John de Gruchy and Rev Des Clynick set the wheels in motion and both congregations agreed to join together.
The Service of Union took place on Sunday 16 January 1972. The name St Mungo’s was dropped in favour of Bryanston United Church. At a meeting of the congregation held during the ministry of Rev Geoffrey Dunstan the decision was taken to revert to the name St Mungo’s United Church.