Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Rev Hugo Gutsche

Ebenezer Family Church (formerly Ebenezer Baptist Church) was established in 1869 in the Hanover District by the Rev Hugo Gutsche.
At the time of his conversion there were few believers known as Baptists, and his adoption of the New Testament truth of Baptism for believers brought him into contact with Pastor J.G. Oncken, the founder of the denomination in Germany, and he was soon led into the ministry of the Word. He had received a good education, and with the powers of his body and mind, and above all the grace of God, he proved himself worthy of the call and he offered himself for service in South Africa, where a large number of German people were settled in Kaffraria, after the Crimean War. He set out with his wife for his new field of labour, not knowing where he would find the people to whom he was going, but he made the adventures of faith, and he found them in different parts of Kaffraria. He chose King William’s Town as the centre of his work, and the three hundred Baptists who had been served with the Gospel by two or three of their own brethren came under his leadership.
To the work of God amongst the people he gave himself with an apostolic zeal, and by his preaching many believed and became obedient to the faith of Christ. He travelled from place to place in the early days of his ministry, labouring for the souls of men, and his faith and love were rewarded by seeing those who believed formed into churches. In a few years another minister was needed, and as the work grew other ministers came out to share in the ministry of the Gospel amongst the large number of baptised believers. From the beginning he was a father to his people, not only as a pastor, but as a medical and legal advisor, at a time when professional advice was not always within their reach.
To the Baptist Union he was a source of strength. He shared with the few brethren who met in Grahamstown in 1877 the honour of being one of the founders of the Union, and he remained steadfast to its aims and operations. He served in the office of President; also for some years as Statistical Secretary, and at the time of his death he was one of its honoured Life-Presidents. He was a pioneer in the work of Missions, and led the way in giving effect to the Lord’s command to give the Gospel to every creature. Tshabo mission was founded, and at the formation of the S.A.B.M.S in 1892, it was taken over by the Society, and he became the first Secretary.
In the town of which he was an honoured citizen, having lived in King William’s Town during the whole of his long ministry, he served with distinction the cause of education, and also for some years as Secretary of the Burial Board.
His life throughout was one of rare devotion to Christ and the Church.
Written by: Syd Hudson-Reed

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