Joost de Blank

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Joost de Blank (born November 14, 1908 in Rotterdam , † January 1, 1968 in London ) was a clergyman of the Church of England , later Archbishop of Cape Town and an opponent of apartheid .


Joost de Blank came from a Dutch family and had five siblings. His parents were Joost de Blank and Louisa de Blank nee Quispel. As a Calvinist Reformed believer and living in the London borough of Ealing, they took part in the worship service of the Presbyterian community there.

Joost de Blank completed his education in England, first at Merchant Taylors 'School and King's College in London, then he studied English and law at Queens' College in Cambridge . The theological training took place in Ridley Hall , an educational institution of the Church of England and other Protestant churches in England. In the course of his second curate he was given organizational tasks in the Diocese of Bath and Wells .

After his theological training, he was ordained a priest in 1932 and worked in London around 1937 as a priest in the Emmanuel community ( Commissioners' church ) in the Forest Gate district . At that time his congregation numbered 12,000 members. Subsequently, de Blank served since 1939 during World War II as a military chaplain ( Royal Army Chaplains ) in North Africa and Italy . In 1944 he suffered serious wounds as a result of the war in Antwerp . He was one of only four survivors when a V2 rocket hit the building in which he was staying. The result was a visible injury to the face and lifelong severe headache.

After the war, de Blank worked as an assistant in the general secretariat of the international organization Student Christian Movement . He then took over the parish ministry of St John the Baptist in the London borough of Greenhill (1948-52) as pastor .

In 1952, Joost de Blank was appointed Bishop of Stepney (1952–1957). After this term of office, Joost de Blank left England and in 1957 took over the role of Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town. Because of his Dutch family background was believed previously in the group of bishops that he to racial segregation in South Africa a moderat- appeasing would take attitude. Already at the inauguration, however, Joost de Blank surprisingly clarified his position, according to which it was his conviction that racial discrimination was a form of blasphemy . The negative attitude towards apartheid politics was now expressed with unusual clarity, as he refused to preach in those churches that did not want to allow the participation of black believers in congregational life or worship, despite section 29 of the Natives Law Amendment Act ( Act No. 54/1952 ) legalized this exclusion.

In 1960, Joost de Blank called on the Dutch Reformed Church and the then government of South Africa to abandon the social concept of apartheid. In the same year he publicly protested against the deportation by the South African authorities of the Anglican Bishop of Johannesburg Ambrose Reeves , who was also a sharp critic of the situation. This happened at a time when, on the basis of the referendum of October 5, 1960 , South Africa turned into a republic in the following year, left the Commonwealth of Nations amid fierce controversy and the Sharpeville massacre on March 21, 1960 . Dubbed the “ Scourge of Apartheid”, he appeared in a violet robe with vehement restlessness and in the company of other clergy against this policy in public, until 1962 when a “brain thrombosis” set his individual limits. Among the Anglican bishops he was considered an outsider with pronounced sovereign tendencies. Trevor Beeson, an Anglican cathedral dean of Winchester , described him as the "right man in the right place at the right time."

He returned to England in 1963. Between 1963 and 1968 he worked as the Canon of Westminster Abbey in the Dean and Chapter of Westminster , a high collegiate body of the Church of England . During this time he appeared in the UK as a sought-after speaker in many places with succinct statements or published tracts. The most important works from this period were published in 1964 in the Out of Africa collection in London. His poor health in the later years of his life caused him to renounce the 1966 nomination for Bishop of Hong Kong .

Joost de Blank was unmarried. In old age he lived under the care of his sister in London, where he also died. His burial in the central area of Westminster Abbey was arranged by his nephew Justin de Blank. The plaque on the resting place bears the inscription: Joost de Blank 1908–1968 Bishop of Stepney, Archbishop of Cape Town, Canon of Westminster. Indomitable fighter for human rights ("Joost de Blank 1908–1968 Bishop of Stepney, Archbishop of Cape Town, Canon of Westminster Abbey. Indomitable fighter for human rights ").

Holdings from the estate of Joost de Blank exist in the archives of the Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg with the unpublished autobiography Six Years Hard and in the Center for South African Studies at the University of York .


  • From July 5, 1968 to May 31, 1978 there was a welfare organization, the Joost de Blank Memorial Fund .
  • Joost de Blank was a sub-prelate of the Order of St John of Jerusalem .


  • The Parish in Action . AR Mowbray & Co. Ltd., 1954
  • Uncomfortable words . London, Longmans, 1960
  • A farewell interview. Joost de Blank retired as Archbishop of Cape Town at the end of 1963. Interview in The New African , 1964
  • Inter-race relationships . London, The Council of Christians and Jews, 1964
  • Out of Africa . London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1964

Writings about Joost de Blank

  • Bartha de Blank: My Brother Joost: A Personal Memoir of Joost de Blank . Ipswich 1977, ISBN 0-851-15082-9
  • Victor C. Paine: The confrontation between the Archbishop of Cape Town, Joost de Blank, and the South African government on racial policies (1957–1963) . MA thesis, University of Cape Town, 1978
  • John S. Peart-Binns: Archbishop Joost de Blank: scourge of apartheid . London, 1987, ISBN 0-584-11130-4
  • Bob Clarke: Anglicans against Apartheid: 1936-1996 . Pietermaritzburg, 2008. ISBN 1-87505-373-5

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Joost de Blank ., accessed May 12, 2018.
  2. ^ Church & Parish History . Church of St John the Baptist website, accessed January 1, 2018.
  3. ^ De Blank, Joost, 1908–1968 (Abp. Of Cape Town 1957–1963) . Anglican Church Collections - Historical Papers, p. 26, accessed January 1, 2018 (pdf; 842 kB; English).
    The Right Reverend Joost De Blank; papers, diaries, correspondence, sermons etc. York University, Borthwick Institute of Historical Research at, accessed on January 1, 2018 (English).
    The Bishop of Stepney. 8: 1952-57 Joost de Blank . In: St George-in-the-East Church (London), accessed January 1, 2018 . A Survey of Race Relations in South Africa 1959-1960 . South African Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR), Johannesburg 1961, pp. 95, 98.
  4. 256372 - Joost de Blank Memorial Fund . Charity Commission for England and Wales, accessed January 1, 2018.
  5. Joost de Blank: A Farewell Interview. (pdf; 124 kB) In: The New African 3 (1964). Digital Innovation South Africa at the University of KwaZulu-Natal , January 18, 1964, pp. 22-23 , archived from the original on March 5, 2016 ; accessed on January 1, 2018 .