The monthly Outreach food parcel delivery is usually a routine affair. Two pantry volunteers pick up the parcels at St Columba’s for the 21 folk on the beneficiary list, and then starting in Westdene, they work their way across town through Vrededorp, Jeppestown to Bertrams. Brenda Rode and Geoff van Heerden were paired up for the first time and neither had done the complete delivery circuit before. So out came the mobile phones and the Google and Waze Apps to ensure a smooth transit, or so they thought.

The Westdene and Vrededorp deliveries were without incident, but then they hit the highway on route to Jeppestown. One wrong turn later (yes modern technology is flawed) they ended up in a maze of streets below the M1. The exit from this part of town was not simple and eventually they happened upon a busy intersection. Then things went pear shaped. A tall individual who looked in bad shape, tapped on Brenda’s window and said: “Give me your (expletive) phone or I will shoot you.”

Brenda kept edging the car forward, while securing her bag under the seat, and remained silent. Geoff turned to the thug and said” “Sorry baba I don’t have a phone.” There was complete serenity and a sense of unreality in the car. It was a complete fabrication. Geoff had been musing over Google Maps when the thug struck.

He had his hand in his jacket pocket, but fortunately did not produce a weapon. By this time the lights had turned green and Brenda gunned the car forward. A city of Johannesburg official in a white pick-up truck had been tracking events and drew alongside them to see if they needed assistance. None was needed, but silent prayers of thanks were offered up to the Lord.

Geoff quipped later: ”Marianne had given me that phone for my 70th birthday and there was no way I was giving it up. I have no idea what sparked our mood of defiance in the moment.”

- Geoff van Heerden

Many wrong turns later the deliveries were done. The last stop to drop off Mr Martin Botha’s parcels turned out to be particularly touching. 

One would have thought that this would have been a step too far for Brenda. Other than saying that she needed something strong to settle her nerves and that she would bring her map book next time Brenda is good to go.

Navigator Geoff will have to brush up on his map reading skills ahead of their next safari. His faith in Google Maps is sorely dented. 

1 000 Reasons to be Joyful

St Columba’s Centenary Easter Egg Appeal 2021

On Easter Sunday (4 April) millions of Christians across the globe will celebrate the resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Traditions may differ on how we express our joy, but the Easter Egg is closely associated with the Easter Service St Columba’s.


The Covid 19 pandemic will  however, again prevent us from sharing in the children’s joy in the pews and the excitement of the Easter egg hunt in the George Hay Park, which is a sad reality as we officially mark the start of St Columba’s Centenary celebrations.

But where there is a will there is a way. Lorna Wridgway and her Outreach team plan to collect more than 1 000 Easter Eggs to spread joy and give encouragement to the wonderful people we serve in our community, with focus on women, children, the aged and the homeless

The appeal will run from the 21st to the 28th March to allow time for packing and distribution.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
- Peter 1:3

Our Beneficiaries in 2021

  • Guild Cottage
  • Frida Hartley
  • Bethany
  • Park Care
  • The Kindness Kitchen, (the soup kitchen and the pantry)

What to contribute

Easter Eggs (in any shape or form)

Alternatively a monetary donation to:

St Columba’s Presbyterian Church

Standard Bank Rosebank Branch Code 004305

Account No: 001948776

 Reference: “Easter”

NOTE: Eggs can either be dropped off with the Church office on Tuesdays and Thursdays or given to Thabo and Spine for safe keeping

For direct enquiries

Lorna Wridgway

Outreach convener Women and Children

Mobile: 072 442 2357 (WhatsApp message / calls preferred)


Geoff van Heerden

Outreach Communications

Mobile:   083 419 0114


Bells, bows and buttons

Outreach has launched an exciting new initiative, the 2021 St Columba’s Elder Care Crafts Programme, in support of Park Care in Parktown, a facility which provides quality care to the aged who could not otherwise afford it. Sue Taylor and her team will make 20 cutlery bags (A4 size), and 20 laundry bags (60 x 60 cm) for the aged in need of these items, as well as 10 sensory blankets for patients with dementia.

To achieve this Sue urgently needs: 

a. Fabrics (small and large pieces of colourful cotton) for the cutlery and laundry bags 

b. Interesting fabrics, furs, leather, buttons, bows, zippers, small colourful gadgets, textured pieces along with small toys for the fidget blankets. 

c. Volunteers to assist with this and other projects through the year will be most welcome.  

Sue Taylor’s Contact details are: Mobile: 082 373 7714 Email:

The Love Kitchen


What better time to reach out to the St Columba’s congregation and our dear friends in Parkview and surroundings area to help us restock the Outreach Kindness Kitchen (made up of the pantry and the soup kitchen) for another three months of operation by way of our Valentine’s week food drive, which will run from 14th to the 21st of February.

In reaching out to those in particular need of food – and love – during these continuing challenging times shaped by the global pandemic, we are inviting each to ‘be our Valentine’ through accepting the caring hand of our soup kitchen and pantry.

The needs of those served by these Outreach projects are, if anything, increasing. However, with the Church in lock-down, our well established ways of receiving donations of foodstuffs have been severely hampered.

On top of this, the business that so generously donated the vegetable soup stock for years is no longer able to do so. Through volunteers making soup (at their own cost), we’ve been able to keep the soup kitchen going.

The kindness of so many people in support of the Christmas Spread also showed us that, even in the most challenging times, so much is possible.

Let us continue to make a difference. While donations are welcome at any time of the year, it is helpful to replenish our larder, fill the freezers and build our available cash reserves through a periodic concerted effort. Love is all around but Valentine’s Day gives us a moment to pause and remind ourselves how truly incredible this is. In fact, there is nothing quite like it!

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love
- 1 John (7-8)

How wonderful when we find ourselves in those positions, large or small, to practically express our love. Being part of St Columba’s 2021 Valentine’s Greeting, sharing widely in the Feast, may well be such an opportunity for you.

Our Valentine’s Beneficiaries

Mould, Empower & Serve (MES) homeless shelter
Kindness Kitchen, which consists of the soup kitchen and the pantry

Foodstuffs Needed

Soup Kitchen:

Fresh vegetables (Potatoes, carrots, onions, butternut, soup greens)

Pearl Barley, Lentils, split peas (alternatively home-made soup  for the freezers)

Containers for soup storage (recycled plastic containers between 1 and 5 litres)

Disposable Covid 19 masks for our clients. 

Pantry (any of):

Tinned Meat

Milk powder or condensed milk

Soya mince (200g or 400g)

Peanut butter or jam

Spaghetti or macaroni (0.5g)

Pilchards 420gm tin

Vegetables 420 gm tin


Onion & tomato mix 410gm tin

Teabags (100)

Rice (0.5 or 1 kg)

Mielie meal (2.5kg)

Bath soap

Toilet rolls (single ply)

Where to contribute

Food items

Donated items are to be dropped off at the church where Thabo and Spine will be on hand to accept them. Items will be stored in the pantry in the case of dry goods and in the freezers where home-made soup is involved. Alert Geoff van Heerden as to delivery time. 

Money Donation

Monetary donations should be paid into the St Columba’s account with the reference “Kitchen”.

Banking Details:
Standard Bank
Branch 004305
Account: 001948776
Name: St. Columba’s Presbyterian Church
For direct enquiries contact:
Geoff van Heerden
Mobile: 083 419 0114 (Whatsapp)
Hamish Riddet
083 308 3450 (Whatsapp)

Our Christmas Spread

Let’s track back to October 2020. Covid 19 restrictions were slowly being set aside as South Africa came to terms with living with the virus in the long term.

St Columba’s was not left untouched. Hard decisions had to be taken and one of these was the cancellation of the Christmas Lunch in the George Hay Park. There were dark times indeed for all those who had been so invested in this event over the decades. Etienne Steenhuizen, who had led the Christmas Lunch Committee with such aplomb, was forced by circumstances, to stand down as chairman this year. What to do? The answer was pretty straight forward and that was simply to continue with the Lord’s work.

By now the Christmas Lunch Committee reported in to Outreach in terms of St Columba’s current restructuring process. This brought new ideas and opportunities to work in a collaborative manner. It was agreed. The joint goal was simple – St Columba’s would focus on the alleviation of hunger in these testing economic times. The folk of St Columba’s bought into the objective and opened their hearts and their wallets to help the most vulnerable in our area.

By now Geoff van Heerden had agreed to take over the reins of the Christmas Lunch Team from his mentor Etienne Steenhuizen and with a fired up Christmas Lunch Team champing at the bit plans were signed off and implementation began. The rest is history.

The Communications team was magnificent in prompting the project to the congregation. Pauline produced the most stunning pamphlet and made sure it was available on all platforms online. 

Gifts started arriving almost immediately and with the office in partial lockdown it was left to the ever efficient Thabo and Spine to ensure that there was always someone on hand to open up the hall and pack the contributions into the storeroom no matter the hour or the day. Bless them both.

It was a logistical challenge getting so many different gifts sorted and packed for the project’s diverse beneficiaries.. These ranged from the Frida Hartley Women’s Shelter, Bethany, Guild Cottage, Park Care, the families serviced by the Pantry and the customers of the Soup Kitchen.

The Christmas Lunch team was magnificent. Brenda Rode handmade 300 care bags, John Faulkner kept track of the finances, Audrey and, Caron Frylinck along with Nelita Knappe, ensured the smooth running of packing days. Nelita also sourced volunteers for us and Audrey did the shopping and got incredible deals done with her supplier Tony.


“And a special thank you must go to TGE Suier Volunteer Team, who brought their energy and time to assisting with the big pack on Reconciliation Day. Bless you Nelita for bringing these wonderful young people on board” says Geoff.


“My lovely wife Marianne ensured that I remained” mindful” when my impatience was an issue and she took particular care of the children’s gifts and delivered these into the bargain. Bless you my love. “And a special thank you must go to TGE Suier Volunteer Team, who brought their energy and time to assisting with the big pack on Reconciliation Day. Bless you Nelita for bringing these wonderful young people on board” says Geoff.
- Geoff van Heerden

But it doesn’t end there. The soup kitchen continues until the 23rd December.  The dedicated team of soup makers and servers have already ensured that there is sufficient broth to see operations through to the end of January. The homeless will be served hot meat pies Monday through to Wednesday next week as an extra treat and care bags will be distributed to all on Wednesday. “Thank you one and all. It is such a privilege to be part of this team”, says Geoff.

More than R60 000 has been donated over the past fortnight, which will be used to fund our food related projects into the New Year.

100 Pick n Pay and Checkers food hampers have been delivered to the Pantry for distribution.

50 buckets of homemade soup have been made for the freezers. The soup kitchen is stocked for January. Operations will resume on the 11th of the month.

302 care bags have been filled for men, women, children, the elderly and the homeless.

Thank you everyone, who gave of your time, resources and wisdom to put such a positive stamp on this Christmas season. God bless you all.