The Association of Christian Religious Practitioners (ACRP) is a professional body for church leaders (pastors, ministers, etc) and other Christian ministry leaders. It was established in 2014 by representatives of a wide group of leaders from churches and Christian ministries as well as from the ministry training and counselling professions.

ACRP is registered with the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) in terms of Section 13 of the National Qualification Framework Act (Act No. 67 or 2008). The SAQA registration number is PB0000110.

The organisation is also registered with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) as a Non-Profit Company, registration number NPC 2015 / 319357 / 08.


ACRP was established as a service to churches and Christian ministries in South Africa and other African countries who need support with the formal professionalisation of their pastors and ministry leaders.


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 organisation 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 programmes exist, but the work of these training centres 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 organisation and became the Council for Pastoral and Spiritual Counsellors (CPSC) within ACRP. SAAP was founded in 1991 to attend to the professionalisation 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, counselling centres and 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, and you can learn more about this council by clicking here.

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 professionalisation.

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



ACRP is governed by a Board of directors drawn from across the broad spectrum of the Christian Church and Academia in South Africa and across the Continent.

The current directors are: Dr Vincent Mazibuko (Chair), Dr Tertius Erasmus (Vice Chair), Prof Marilyn Naidoo, Dr Phillip Wandawa (Uganda), Dr Ishmael Noko, Dr Willem Semmelink, Prof Elijah Baloyi, Prof Nicolene Joubert, Bishop Nyane Phomane, Rev Hermy Damons, Adv Joel Baloyi, Dr Nontando Hadebe, Rev Leon Venter, Past Mangaliso Matshobane, Dr Barbara Louw, Rev Wynand Louw, Dr JP (Hannes) van der Walt (Secretary).


The Board is supported and advised by four technical standing committees. The Committees are as follows:

Executive Committee, including the Financial and Human Resources function

The role of the Executive Committee is to represent the Board of Directors during the recess between meetings of the Board and to play a guiding and supervisory role on behalf of the Board during the recess. The Executive also functions as Financial and Human Resource Committee of the Association.

The members of the Executive Committee are: Dr Vincent Mazibuko (Chair), Dr Tertius Erasmus (Vice Chair), Bishop Nyane Phomane, and Dr Hannes van der Walt (Secretary). Co-opted members are Rev Hermy Damons (ecumenical liaison) and Mr Wynand Louw (financial oversight).

Registration Committee

The Registration Committee is responsible to develop, and oversee the implementation of policy and guidelines on the affiliation and awarding of designations of persons in ministry. This includes the responsibility to oversee the development and implementation of ACRP’s policy on the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) towards a designation. (Individual affiliation, designation and RPL is done via the relevant application forms.)

The Committee is also responsible for policy and oversight regarding the affiliation of ministry related institutions with ACRP (churches, other Christian ministry institutions, ministry training institutions, ecumenical bodies, fraternals, etc). (Institutional affiliation is done through a Memorandum of Understanding entered into between ACRP and the relevant institution.)

The Committee members are: Bishop Nyane Phomane (Chairperson), Prof Nicolene Joubert, Rev Hermy Damons, Rev Leon Venter

Training Quality Committee

The role of the Committee is:

  • To oversee the development and implementation of ACRP’s Continued Professional Development (CPD) strategy. Implementation of the CPD strategy includes guidance to training providers and assessment centres with regard to CPD accreditation standards and processes.
  • To oversee ACRP’s processes to facilitate the development of new ministry qualifications or upgrade existing qualifications in consultation with the relevant educational institutions and/or quality councils within the South African National Qualifications Framework (NQF). 
  • Within the limits of its capacity, to support training providers in developing quality ministry training programmes and in preparing applications for accreditation by the relevant quality council (in South Africa and internationally, as the case may be).

The Committee members are: Dr Willem Semmelink (Chairperson), Prof Marilyn Naidoo, Dr Tertius Erasmus, Dr Ishmael Noko, Dr Phillip Wandawa, and Dr Danie van Zyl.

Ethics & Disciplinary Committee

The Committee's field of focus will be ministry ethics, organisational discipline and disciplinary action. These are based on ACRP Ethical Code and Disciplinary Code.

The role and functions of the Committee are as follows:

  • The Committee oversees the development and implementation of ACRP’s Ethical Code and Disciplinary Code.
  • It primarily has an educational, advisory, and consultative role.
  • When complaints are received, it has a mediating and/or disciplinary function, depending on the nature of the matter at hand. Where the complaint involves an affiliated church or ministry with its own internal disciplinary processes, the complaint will be referred to be dealt with internally by that institution, with feedback to ACRP for appropriate action in terms of its internal rules.
  • Complaints are dealt with in terms of ACRPs Code of Ethics and Disciplinary Code. The Executive Committee will be informed before the recommended remedial action is enacted. 
  • An affiliate feeling aggrieved by the decisions of the Ethics and Disciplinary Committee may appeal to the Executive Committee, and eventually to the Board of Directors whose decision shall be final.

The Committee members are: Adv Joel Baloyi (Chair), Dr Vincent Mazibuko, Dr Barbara Louw, Prof Elijah Baloyi, Dr Nontando Hadebe, Rev Nokuthula Dhladhla.


The administration of ACRP is managed by ACRP’s General Manager and administrative staff.


ACRP functions essentially through three professional councils, namely:

The Council for General Ministry Practitioners (CGMP)

This is the Council within ACRP that is responsible for the registration and management processes for Pastors and those in General ministry.

The Council consist of the following persons: Bishop Nyane Phomane, Adv Joel Baloyi, Dr Phillip Wandawa, Rev Leon Venter, Past Mangaliso Matshobane, Rev Hermy Damons.

CGMP Administrator: Ms Riana Andersen

For more information on CGMP, click here.

The Council for Pastoral and Spiritual Counsellors (CPSC)

This Council within ACRP is responsible for the registration and designation of persons who specialise in pastoral counselling.

The Council consist of the following persons: Dr Tertius Erasmus (Chair), Dr Vincent Mazibuko (Vice chair), Prof Elijah Baloyi, Prof Nicolene Joubert, Dr Barbara Louw, Rev Wynand Louw

CPSC Administrator: Ms Anita Snyders

For more information on CPSC, click here.

The Council for Ministry Training Practitioners (CMTP)

This Council facilitates the registration of persons and institutions who specialise in providing ministry training.

The Council consists of the following persons: Dr Ishmael Noko, Dr Nontando Hadebe, Prof Marilyn Naidoo, Dr Phillip Wandawa, Dr Willem Semmelink

CMTP Administrator: Ms Andrea Leipoldt

For more information on CMTP, click here.


ACRP’s professional services were designed according to the requirements that the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) has set for professional bodies. These are:

  • Defining professional designations that are recognised by the professional body and the profession in general. Another word for “designation” is a “professional category”. ACRP has defined four designations or professional categories, namely: religious practitioner, advanced religious practitioner, religious professional, and religious specialist.

    Note:    ACRP does not define designations by using terms churches use for their church offices (such as pastor, bishop, reverend, etc). The reason is that different churches may have different views of what the relationship between an office and a professional body designation should be. For example: some churches may allow a pastor or bishop to be on the practitioner level, while another church may require a pastor or bishop to be on the professional or specialist level. The relationship between professional body designation and a church’s own offices is a matter to be decided by the church, the professional body does not interfere with the church’s ruling on this.
  • Determining the training standards or qualifications required for the different designations. This is done in close cooperation with partnering churches, ministries and training institutions.

    Note:    The training requirements for the four designations recognised by ACRP are provided below (hyperlink). The professional body sets broad guidelines in terms of framework and good teaching / training practice. Partner institutions (churches, ministries, training institutions) determine the contents of training in terms of their own confessional position, culture, etc.
  • Defining professional requirements in terms of good practice, ethical standards and disciplinary practice. This is done in close cooperation with churches and ministries.
  • Providing the opportunity to the public to lodge complaints where affiliates / designated persons act in contravention of the ethical codes or codes of good practice, etc. When complaints are received, steps will be taken according to the disciplinary processes as agreed with church and ministry partners.

    Note:    Where partner churches and ministries do have their internal requirements in terms of good practice, ethical standards and disciplinary practice, these are recognised by ACRP via a memorandum of understanding / agreement. Where this is not in place, ACRP provides the relevant services as a support service to churches or ministries.  
  • Providing Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) services to affiliates, churches and ministries.

    Note:    As professional body, ACRP does “RPL into a designation” which differs from “RPL into a qualification”. “RPL into a qualification” is done by training institutions - in this case the result of a successful RPL process leads to access to higher level studies, or the awarding of credits towards a qualification. “RPL into a designation” is done by professional bodies, and leads to the awarding of a designation even if the person does not have the formal qualifications normally required for the designation.
  • Providing or facilitating Continued Professional Development (CPD) services to affiliates, churches and ministries.

    Note:    Persons who are affiliated with ACRP will be required to earn 20 CPD credits every year in order to maintain the status of affiliate (“remain in good standing”). Where a person has been awarded a designation based on the relevant qualification, he or she may select any CPD course of programme, as long as the minimum requirements are met.  A person who has been affiliated or who has been awarded a designation through RPL, that is, without the relevant qualification, will be required to enroll for a structured CPD programme as recognised by ACRP.
  • Providing or facilitating bridging programmes related to the RPL process to affiliates, churches and ministries.

    Note:    A bridging programme will be required in cases where the RPL process has revealed an area of the profession where the candidate still has some gaps to cover.