Sanctuary:How an Inner -City Church Spilled Onto a Sidewalk
This striking account tells the story of how the Central Methodist Church in downtown Johannesburg and its controversial Bishop Paul Verryn came to offer refuge to people who had nowhere else to turn.
This striking account tells the story of how the Central Methodist Church in downtown Johannesburg and its controversial Bishop Paul Verryn came to offer refuge to people who had nowhere else to turn. Xenophobic violence erupted in South Africa in May 2008 and the threat of it spreading to Central Methodist Church became very real—already there were over a thousand migrants living in the church, most of them having fled across the Zimbabwe border in search of a life beyond poverty and political oppression. Every square inch was occupied. Christa Kuljian fluently combines many elements to share this remarkable experience openly: interviews with members of the refugee community, residents of the church, and key figures who include the head of Central Methodist; historical material on the church and its role in the city since the early years; and an understanding of urban dynamics, migrancy, and South African politics. Central Methodist became a visible reminder of the challenges facing Johannesburg and South Africa—such as poverty, migration, xenophobia, and policing—and this is the complex and compelling history of how it happened.