The building can already be identified as a place of worship from the sky: a huge emblem is cast into the roof of the Tafelsig church building. But that is by no means the only unique feature of the congregation which will host the 2023 international Pentecost service.
It is the largest New Apostolic church building in the world: the Tafelsig church building in Cape Town, South Africa, seats 4,000 people. On 28 May it will probably be filled to capacity, because the Chief Apostle will celebrate the Pentecost service there, which will be transmitted worldwide.
Creating new space
In 1980 the first families moved from various suburbs such as Athlone, Bonteheuwel, and Elsies River into the Tafelsig neighbourhood, located in the southern part of Cape Town. Starting in June that same year, divine services, Sunday School, and choir practices were conducted in the homes of our members.
Soon the existing congregations were overflowing and more were needed. Negotiations were entered into with the Department of Education and the Church was granted permission to conduct services in school classrooms. In 1996 the then Apostle Noel Barnes and Bishop John Kriel dedicated two chapels in the Tafelsig neighbourhood. These chapels were houses bought by the Church and then altered to suit our requirements; they provided seating for approximately 500 members.
But even these church buildings soon became too cramped. Fortunately, with help from municipal authorities the way was opened for the Church to purchase the land for the construction of a new large church. Apostle Cecil van der Merwe officiated at the turning-of-the-sod ceremony on 18 January 1998. One and a half years later, on 20 June 1999, District Apostle Noel Barnes dedicated the new church. He based the dedication service on 2 Corinthians 5: 1: “For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”
Space for everything to come
Owing to the limited ground-space available, and the many seats required to house the members, the church was built upward instead of outward. This was accomplished thanks to an innovative design and good strategic planning. The result is a building constructed on columns to provide for parking underneath. Another feature is the double gallery and mezzanine floor. Glass balustrades and the roof construction provide clear visibility of the altar from any position inside the church.
There are 3,500 seats in the nave and some 500 more if the rooms on the mezzanine floor are also used. The mezzanine floor has sanitary facilities, as well as four Sunday School rooms that offer additional seating. When the congregation gathers for divine service on a normal Sunday, these are not needed. But when there are special events for the youth or divine services for the ministers, the church is always full.
Clean-up for the festivities
Close to 160 young people from the Eastridge District came to the Tafelsig church on 20 May to clean up the community area and spiff everything up for the visit of the Chief Apostle, the District Apostles, and District Apostle Helpers. Armed with gloves and refuse bags, they set to work at 9 a.m. and picked up litter in the area surrounding the church. They collected more than 100 bags of refuse. The work was not only rewarded with boerewors rolls and cold drinks, but also with a visit from District Apostle John Kriel and Apostle Bradley Bourne as well as other ministers. They thanked them for their work and gladly interacted with them.
Tafelsig can also be musical. The altar platform has been designed on two levels so that choirs or orchestras can be accommodated easily for performances in the church. But this year’s Pentecost concert will be performed in the Silvertown Auditorium, some 15 kilometres away. Tafelsig has a three-manual electric organ, to which a pipe section has been added. It consists of seven registers. The pipes are integrated into the design of the altar area, where Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider will stand on Pentecost.