Nieu-Bethesda Dutch Reformed Church
In 1875, a commission appointed by the Graaff-Reinet Dutch Reformed Church, purchased a portion of the farm, Uitkyk in what is today Nieu-Bethesda and plots were sold off to interested parties. The Dutch Reformed congregation was established in 1878 and services were initially held in the house of Mr B.J. Pienaar. Later his old wagon house was converted into a church and then into the church hall. The current imposing church building was consecrated in 1905 and as can be seen in the historic picture, wasn’t originally white.
The imposing church building, with seating for up to 700 souls, was consecrated in 1905 at a cost of £7000. Stones for building the church, some almost 2,5m long, were obtained from the town commonage and the problem of transporting the long beams by ox wagon was solved by placing bales of straw on the wagon so that the beams protruded over the hind oxen. The magnificent church organ was commissioned for the first time in June 1914 and built by Price and Sons in Cape Town. It consists of 16 registers and more than 624 pipes. The church is still lit by gas-powered chandeliers that pre-date the arrival of electricity in the village.
There had not been a permanent minister since 1961, but on most Sunday mornings a service is held by a minister from Graaff-Reinet. Even though the congregation is very small, the church is looked after and kept neat and maintained. Once a year, early in December, an evening Christmas service is held with conventional gas used to light the lamps.
The church clock still chimes accurately on the hour and the church is lit with floodlights at night, giving it another photographic dimension.
The church is open every Sunday morning for the service, but can also be viewed by arrangement. Usually during the service the huge church key is kept on a table with an open bible at the door.