Summary of Founding Process

The ACRP was established in 2014 by a representative group of ministry practitioners, representing churches and church networks, other ministry institutions, faculties of theology, seminaries and other training institutions, and chaplaincies. The initiative to bring the parties together went out from the Centre for Contextual Ministry at the University of Pretoria and Bible Media in Wellington.

The establishment of the organization was mainly in response to challenges related to ministry standards and ministry training, as experienced by many Christian churches and ministries in South and sub-Saharan Africa. The needs experienced by churches and ministries in the “independent” or “informal” church environment received special attention. The reality is that a very low percentage, even less than 10%, of Christian ministry leaders in South and sub-Saharan Africa have access to formal ministry training. There are currently more than an estimated 200,000 pastors in South Africa, and more than a million in sub-Saharan Africa, who did not have access to formal training for the work they do. Many informal (non-accredited) training institutions and programs exist, but the work of these training centers are not strategically aligned, not comprehensive in nature and in some cases not of appropriate standard. The South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) indicated that a professional body established in terms of the National Qualification Framework Act (67 off 2008) would receive the necessary support from statutory institutions to solve the training related problems. This led to the decision to embark on the process to establish the body and to pursue the solution of the challenges as indicated.

In 2016 the SA Association of Pastoral Workers (SAAP) was amalgamated into the organization and became the Council for Pastoral and Spiritual Counsellors (CPSC) within ACRP. SAAP was founded in 1991 to attend to the professionalization of, and quality assurance in, pastoral counselling in Southern Africa. CPSC developed a registration and accreditation system which included the setting of counselling standards and the application of a code of ethics and a disciplinary code for counselling practitioners. The counselling practitioners it represents range from lay pastoral workers and counsellors, to pastors, chaplains and specialist counsellors. Specialist counsellors include private practitioners, family and marriage counsellors, trauma counsellors and mediators. Areas of work include congregations, hospitals, and counselling centers as well as help lines, and uniformed services (the military, police service and correctional services). ACRP will in future also be a vehicle for the functions formerly performed by CPSC.

Currently there are three Councils within ACRP, namely the Council for General Ministry Practitioners (CGMP), the Council for Pastoral and Spiritual Counsellors (CPSC, the former SAAP), and the Council for Ministry Training Practitioners (CMTP).

Another addition to the ACRP also occurred during 2016 when the then Association of Christian Counselling (ACC) requested to be merged with SAAP/CPSC and through this to become part of ACRP. ACC comprised of professional, pastoral and lay counsellors. They represented diversity in practice and training, but shared a commitment to Biblical truth and psychological excellence. ACC’s goals and ethos were well aligned with that of ACRP/CPSC, and the inclusion of ACC into the ACRP strengthened the process of professionalization.

Since its establishment in 2014, ACRP’s management led the process to prepare the application to be recognized by SAQA as professional body. The application was submitted in October 2016, and in 2017 ACRP was formally recognized and registered by SAQA as professional body for religious professionals in terms of the NQF Act 67 of 2008.