Agencies

1. The DRC and the URCSA have been involved for years in professional social welfare services.  Even before Government departments for Welfare and later for Social Development were created and before Social Work was established as a discipline and profession in South Africa, the DRC was busy with social welfare projects such as children’s homes, institutes for deaf and blind persons, homes for unmarried mothers, etcetera as part   of its mission of caring.

2. The process of organising and regulating the social welfare sector through government policy and legislation gained momentum, particularly in the second half of the previous century.  One result of this was that the then General Commission for the Ministry of Caring (AKDB) as well as the various Synodical Commissions for the Ministry of Caring (SKDBs) were all registered as welfare organisations in terms of the National Welfare Act (Act 100 of 1978).  This step gave the commissions a double purpose, namely to be a synodical commission on the one hand and a registered welfare organisation on the other.

3. The implementation of the Not for Profit Organisations Act (Act 71 of 1997) meant that the synods had to   structure their social welfare activities as separate organisations and they were all registered in terms of this Act.

4. The need for an umbrella forum to represent the church at national and international levels resulted in the   establishment of the Council for Church Social Services (CCSS) in 2001.

5. The alienation between the church social services and the congregational diaconate has been a cause of concern to the CCSS for a long time.  Over the past years this has often been discussed and every time the church social service organisations have re-affirmed that their services are an auxiliary service, an extension, an instrument for the congregation and its diaconal ministry.  Church social services want to be nothing other than a ministry of the church. Seen as such, the church social services are an important asset for the church. Over many years much expertise and resources have been developed.  The CCSS is well placed in the broad social welfare sector and it is an important role player not only in South Africa but also in Namibia.

6.   Currently, church social service organisations experience that their relationship with government holds a number threats that have the potential of seriously harming this church asset.  One such threat is the State’s growing expectations that organisations become more involved in communities.  There are huge financial implications for organisations if they are to meet all these demands.  Although there are many similarities between the expectations of the state and the expectations of the church, for example poverty alleviation,healthy families, the protection of children and the development of a society where older persons are treated with respect and dignity, to name a few, there are specific expectations of the State with which the church cannot associate.  Another serious threat is the State’s financing policy that increasingly shifts the financial responsibility for the delivery of services to that of organisations.

7.  In the discussions on the relationship between the church social services and the church, the current status of  the church diaconate was also broached. Due to a variety of factors, the picture of the congregational diaconate in the DRC is unclear, as is the case in other churches within the UMSW.   Apparently, a perception exists that it does not function equally well in all congregations and churches.  Consequently, the UMSW constituted a work group that is presently investigating ways to promote discussion on the congregational diaconate.

 

 

As part of the Combined Commission for the Diaconate (CCD) ministries, URCSA and the DRC developed strong diaconal programs over many years. This work was later structured according to existing SA legislation which meant that NGOs had to be established and registered them with the Department of Social Development. This registration meant that the church partnered with government in service delivery.

In 2002 the synod gave permission that this registered part of URCSA and the DRC’s diaconal work (social service) could merge to form BADISA.

BADISA was established in April 2003 and is the joint social service and development ministry of URCSA and the DRC. More than 160 programs and projects form part of this unique ministry.