A church for people who speak the South African language Afrikaans has doubled its membership in just six months.
Pastor Peet Grobbelaar and his wife Riekie moved to Australia from South Africa seven months ago, settling in Baldivis.
Pr Grobbelaar came here to set up the DeoGloria Reformed Evangelical Church, which meets every Sunday at Secret Harbour Community Centre, offering worship in the language of his homeland.
Speaking last week, he said the membership of the church had swelled from around 80 to 166 within six months.
‘‘Census figures show that, after New Zealanders and British people, South Africans are the third largest group of migrants in Mandurah and Rockingham, and the second language of people here is therefore Afrikaans,’’ he said.
‘‘There are many people here from South Africa. People move here and find out that it’s just like South Africa was 20 years ago. It’s a wonderful place, very laid back and safe. Unfortunately in South Africa we don’t feel safe any more.’’
Pr Grobbelaar said he did not want to create a ‘‘South African island’’ within the local community, but rather offer some kind of comfort to new arrivals. Pr Grobbelaar said that the church also offered services in English.
‘‘We really wanted to make a difference and be at the heart of the community,’’ he said.
‘‘When you are from another country and you have just arrived, it’s good to know there is something there for you. If you are lonely or depressed or if you have marital problems, you sometimes just need someone who understands you and your culture. It can be a comfort to them.‘‘People tend to come for a while and then they will move on. I think that’s absolutely fine, because they are settling in to the wider community in Australia.’’