On 9 May 1978 the community of Wellington celebrated the 150th commemoration of the birthday of dr Andrew Murray in an appropriate way. From 1871 to 1917 Andrew Murray was the minister of the DRC congregation Wellington. He was also a distinguished and prolific writer of Christian books. About 250 books flowed from his pen. Most of these books were translated in many different languages. Andrew Murray’s books are still distributed and read all over the world today.
During the festivities dr Frits Gaum, then the executive director of Bybelkor, had the bright idea to institute a prize to award Christian publications of outstanding quality. This prize would carry the name of Andrew Murray to give recognition to the immense influence Murray as a writer and a man of God had in South Africa and all over the world.
The initial work to establish the Andrew Murray Prize Fund was done by the Wamakersvallei Cultural Council. Dr Gaum was chairperson of this council. Many other institutions were asked to become members of this Prize Fund. Every participating institution contributed R2 200 to the fund. The constituting meeting was held on Thursday, 29 November 1979 in the boardroom of the Huguenot College in Wellington.
The following persons were included in the first meeting of the Governing Body:
- Mr Timo Crous (Christelike Uitgewersmaatskappy; Stigting F en R Crous)
- Mr AG du Toit (Boland Bank)
- Dr SJ Eloff (Algemene Jeugkommissie of the DRC)
- Dr FM Gaum (Wamakersvallei Culture Council)
- Rev JWL Gebhardt (DRC congregations, Wellington)
- Mr IB Kasselman (NG Kerkboekhandel, Transvaal)
- Rev HJ Linde (Bybelkor)
- Mr WL Maree (Voorligter Trust Fund)
- Mr E Smit (Teachers’ College, Wellington)
- Prof PR van Dyk (Huguenot College)
The Murray family also became a participating institution, but neither rev RB Murray (chief delegate) nor prof AH Murray (second) could attend the meeting.
The following persons formed the first Governing Body:
- Dr FM Gaum (Chairperson)
- Prof PR van Dyk (Vice-person)
- Mr E Smit (additional member)
- Rev HJ Linde (serving as secretary as a representative of Bybelkor)
New members added
During the following years other institutions were continuously invited to become members of the Prize Fund. The following institutions were added through the years, although not all were nominated as members of the Governing Body or the Board of Members:
- 1980: Trio-Rand (SA) Ltd
- 1980: Vox-Viva (Pty) Ltd
- 1981: FAK
- 1981: ATKV
- 1984: Helpmekaar Study Fund
- 1985: Sinodical Commission for Publications and Communication of the NG Sendingkerk
- 1986: Christian Higher Education Association
- 1987: Tydskriftemaatskappy of the DRC
- 1990: Nasionale Pers
- 1993: Christelike Uitgewersmaatskappy (CUM)
- 1993: Curatorium, Theological Seminary, Stellenbosch
- 1999: Lux Verbi.BM
- 1999: Christian Literature Fund (CLF)
- 1999: DRC congregation, Cape Town (Groote Kerk)
- 1999: Carpe Diem Publishers
- 2008: Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria
- 2008: Faculty of Theology, University of the Free State
- 2011: FHBC, Wellington
- 2012: Faculty of Theology, University of Stellenbosch
- 2016: Faculty of Theology, University of North West
The establishment of the Andrew Murray-Desmond Tutu Prize
On 8 September 2006 the Governing Body of the Andrew Murray Prize Fund announced that, besides the Andrew Murray Prize for Afrikaans media productions, a new series of media prizes will be awarded regularly. These new prizes – for religious and theological books, Christian journalism, and film and audio productions in all official languages of South Africa – would be known as the Andrew Murray-Desmond Tutu Prize.
The Governing Body was extremely pleased when emeritus archbishop Desmond Tutu gave his consent for his name to be given to this prize. The linking of his name to that of the most well-known DRC minister of the 19th and early 20th century can be seen as a very special symbol of reconciliation. While Murray and Tutu are from different times, different churches, different theological traditions, and different parts of the South African culture, this prize confirmed that our collective faith in Jesus Christ eventually overrules all other differences.
Andrew Murray and Desmond Tutu both wrote many theological books, and both are examples of people who used the media of their lifetime in a very specific way. Both stood up against injustice – Murray against the British war against the Boere Republics at the beginning of the 20thcentury; Tutu against the system of apartheid later in the same century. Murray as well as Tutu is in the South African history people with noteworthy integrity, faith and courage. In his time Murray was internationally known for his many publications that are still being read today, and Tutu was, among other things, awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace.
The Establishment of the Desmond Tutu-Gerrit Brand Prize
The Andrew Murray Prize, awarded since 1980, would in future still award Christian and theological works in Afrikaans. For the Andrew Murray-Desmond Tutu Prizes Christian publications and media productions in all the official languages of the country would be considered. The only prerequisite would be that the authors or producers should be South African citizens (double citizenship is acceptable).
Special awards/tributes are also given from time to time to persons who made a special contribution to the Christian media world.
The administration of the Prize Fund is done by Bible Media in Wellington.
The establishment of the Desmond Tutu-Gerrit Brand Prize
On 22 May 2014 it was announced that a new prize, the Desmond Tutu-Gerrit Brand Prize for debut and upcoming authors, will also be awarded. This prize, like the Andrew Murray-Desmond Tutu Prize, was established in the spirit of reconciliation. Gerrit Brand was a brilliant theologian at the Faculty of Theology of Stellenbosch University. In March 2013 he died of cancer at the age of 42.
Special awards or tributes will also from time to time be presented to persons who made a special contribution to the Christian media world.
The administration of the Prize Fund is managed by Bible Media and Christian Literature Fund in Wellington.