How an inner-city church spilled onto a sidewalk

Christa Kuljian


  • Jacana
  • Johannesburg
  • 2013
  • English
  • Paperback
  • 426 pages


Christa Kuljian’s Sanctuary: How an Inner-city Church Spilled onto a Sidewalk is based on 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. Many ask, how did a place of worship turn into a shelter for thousands of refugees? Where did they come from? Why are they still there? Seeking to answer such questions, Kuljian fluently combines many elements: interviews with members of the refugee community and residents of the Church, and key figures like the head of Central Methodist, who has often been at the centre of the storm; 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 and southern African politics.


...a complex, open-eyed book that grapples with some of South Africa's most urgent social problems as they refracted through one appalling, frustrating, inspiring place. - Ivan Vladislavic


Christa Kuljian is a free-lance writer based in Johannesburg. She writes and teaches narrative non-fiction and focuses on writing about social justice. She is a Research Associate at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WiSER).