The Faculty of Theology formally concluded its centenary celebrations on 31 October 2017 with a Reformation Day worship service commemorating 500 years of Reformation in church and society.
Prof Johan Buitendag, Dean of the Faculty of Theology, noted that Reformation Day 2017 is a hallmark in the history of both the Christian ecclesial tradition and the Faculty. While the former looks back at a 500-year history, the latter remembers 100 years of existence at the University of Pretoria.
In his vote of thanks, Prof Buitendag highlighted that the Faculty reached an all-time high this year when it was ranked the foremost Faculty of Theology in Africa, 14th in the world with regard to research impact and position, and 28th in the world with regard to citations per published paper. 'Better evidence than this, can hardly be offered at the crescendo of our celebrations,' he noted.
The liturgists for the service were Prof Christina Landman, Dr André Ungerer, Ms Samukelisiwe Khanyile and Dr Zoro Dube, and Holy Communion was led by Rev Dr Patricia Baxter and Rev Moganetsi Makulubele. Prof Jerry Pillay delivered a sermon and Prof Wim Viljoen accompanied the congregation on the organ for the singing of the hymns.
A document that bears witness to the belief that we have but one Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ alone; we find guidance for our lives in God's Word alone; we are fallible humans living by God's grace alone; for salvation we hold on to our faith alone; in all we do we seek to glorify God alone; and the Reformation calls us to continue reforming in obedience of the Word was signed by representatives from partner churches and House Theology. This signing was overseen by Prof Dirk Human, Deputy Dean of Theology.
In his concluding remarks, Prof Buitendag expressed his appreciation for of the theme chosen for the ecumenical service, based on John 17, 'Let us be one,' and added that it had been a gracious conclusion to both the 500-year and the 100-year circles. 'The Faculty's centenary celebrations were not a commemoration of a schism, but an appeal for unity, reconciliation and a healthy plurality,' he said.
As from next year, the Faculty of Theology will be renamed the Faculty of Theology and Religion. This change indicates a movement from exclusivity to inclusivity, with one non-negotiable premise: a faith-based approached to the subject matter.