The Lutheran Faith

When Dr Martin Luther, Ausgustinian monk and theological professor at the University of Wittenberg made his 95 theses public in 1517, it was the start of a wave of change which would sweep across Europe and consequently over the whole world. In his many writings, he argues not only against many of the doctrines of the “Holy Catholic Church”, but also against dangerous tributaries of the Reformation itself. Luther’s insights, which he acquired through a life-long and thorough study of Holy Scripture, are laid down in his confessional writings and form the basis of our Lutheran faith, which can be condensed to the following four statements.

  • We are saved solely by the unconditional love of God in Jesus Christ (SOLA GRATIA).
  • We are freed from the heavenly judgement by faith alone, and not by good works. Good works can also not prove that we belong to God (SOLA FIDE).
  • We can only be saved by the death of Jesus on the cross. The church itself does not have any healing powers (SOLUS CHRISTUS).
  • The Bible alone can bring across Christian values. Other clerical determinations and ordinances have only a deducted value (SOLA SCRIPTURA)

The Sacraments

In Holy Communion, God comes to us “in, with and under” bread and wine. No “transsubstantiation” (real change in the bread and wine) takes place, but Holy Communion is not purely a symbolical act.

In the infant baptism, God’s grace can clearly be seen. We as human beings cannot earn this grace out of our own doing and it is not possible to be baptized again.

The first Lutherans at the Cape

When Jan van Riebeeck landed at the Cape in 1652, there were a number of German Lutherans among the first settlers. They were however, limited in living out their form of worship because – according to the Peace of Augsburg of 1555, the ruler of a specific area determined the religious orientation of his subjects. The Cape was dominated by the reformed belief. Despite several requests by Lutherans for a preacher of their own, the authorities refused. In 1774, Martin Melck sponsored a warehouse in Strandstreet. Being able to prove that the congregation had the necessary means to finance a preacher and build a church, the Lutherans got the right to free worship in 1780.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Strand street was founded in 1780, the warehouse converted to a church building. Other places of worship outside of Cape Town soon followed, such as Stellenbosch and Wynberg. In the nineteenth century, a split occured in the Strand street church, and a new church was formed in Longstreet, Cape Town in 1853 – the St Martini church. After dissolving again shortly afterwards, the church was officially inaugurated in 1861 as the “Deutsche Evangelische Lutherische Gemeinde St Martini”.

Missionary work in South Africa had already started among the indigenous population in 1737 and out of this, the Moravian Church of South Africa and the ELCSA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in South Africa) had grown. The differences in origin and history of our Lutheran Churches in South Africa explain their divisions and individualism.

Who we are today

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Cross in Bellville caters for German speaking as well Afrikaans and English speaking Christians who wish to associate themselves with the Evangelical Lutheran Faith. We seek to give worshippers the opportunity to experience the true preaching of the Gospel and the administering of the Sacraments. They should have the opportunity to actively participate in activities which will allow them to grow in and live out the Lutheran faith and way of life on a continuous basis.



Our worship services form the heart of our congregational life . Although services in more free forms are conducted occasionally (such as youth- or family services), the order of the service follows a well structured Liturgy which forms an important and valuable part of the Lutheran Worship Service. The Liturgy is responsive prayer of the assembled congregation, and the most important parts of it are taken directly from the Bible. The Liturgy can thus be seen as the prayed Word of God.


In addition to the liturgy, the choir and organ music form an important part of our services. When the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany brought out a revised hymnbook in Advent of 1994, it was introduced in our German services at the same time. For our Afrikaans services we use the “Laudate” hymn book, which contains the majority of German hymns translated into Afrikaans. The new “Australian Lutheran Hymnal”, published in 1989, is used in our English services. In addition to many well loved hymns like “A mighty fortress is our God”, there are a good number of contemporary songs by composers like Robin Mann; of whom “May the feet of God walk with you” is included (Lutheran Hymnal 888).

While the liturgy and the hymns sung by the congregation form the core of our worship services, enrichment comes form performances by choirs or musicians of many kinds.