In February the rhythm of Cathedral life resumes in earnest. Students return, and the Marimba group, Junior Church and Student Services all get going, enriching our worship. It is particularly exciting to welcome new students, both at the morning services, and at the 6:30 pm Sunday student services. Several first year Rhodes students have joined Cathedral Student Ministry. The newly elected Chairperson of CSM is Theodore Duxbury. Revd Claire is going to be presenting a series (interactive Bible Study Sermons) on “Love”, entitled “Falling in love with Jesus is the best thing I’ve ever done”. The first Sunday in February saw the Cathedral hosting the annual ecumenical Back to School service, with a special Back to School choir conducted by Kutlwano Kepadisa (Kepa), which of course included the junior members of the Cathedral Choir. Canon Melany Adonis was the preacher.
The Cathedral Office welcomed a new Parish Secretary, Janine Jegels, who is working alongside her predecessor Lou-Anne Liebenberg, now Parish Administrator. We give thanks for her appointment and pray for her in this new role.
The plight of our town continues to be a cause of concern. Prayers are asked for our new Mayor Mzukisi Mphahlwa and his team as they grapple with water shortages, power cuts, and a municipal workers’ strike on top of the usual problems of potholes and stray livestock on the roads. The water emergency has a number of causes, among them inadequate maintenance of infrastructure, made worse by the continuing drought. The situation hit the national headlines, and to our great relief that splendid organisation Gift of the Givers rolled into town with a convoy of seven big trucks, all bearing water in 5 litre bottles to be distributed to those who had none at all. Not only that, but they kept up the deliveries, and kick-started a process of drilling bore-holes, which are already yielding water to augment that supplied by our sadly low dams. We give thanks for this initiative, and the speed with which this body comes to the rescue in emergencies in this country and around the world, and continue to pray for rain.
Level Four loadshedding by Eskom took the country (and even the State President) by surprise, but even before that we had a Sunday without electricity on 10 February, of which we were forewarned as it was for the purpose of maintenance. We were grateful to John Jackson, who volunteered to play the piano for all three services that day. This also had the result of giving our organists Peter Breetzke and Markus Mostert a day off. The third service of the day was a Choral Evensong which focussed on George Herbert, a poet priest who lived long before the days of electric light. The choir sang a setting of his poem ‘Come my way’ by AJ Bethke, and the hymns were all settings of other George Herbert poems. Paul Walters gave an inspiring homily about this poet whose works he knows so well, using the light of a seven-branch candelabra, an appropriately 17th-century touch.
Prayers are asked for Peter Terry, brother of Pat, for May de Vos’s granddaughter Trevin Kingsley and for Trent Hoskins, cousin of Lou-Anne Liebenberg. We also pray for the family of one of our choristers, Siyolisa Sandi, who were the victims of not one but two robberies on the weekend of 17 February. We give thanks for the miraculous healing of Gill Meyer’s grandson, James, in the UK. He was seriously ill with a mystery condition affecting his eyes. Medical experts are baffled and we are thankful to God!
A group of Grade 4 girls from DSG had the opportunity to go round the Cathedral, and even up the tower, on 21 February, when Basil Mills led them on a tour. Anyone interested in going up the tower should make a note that the Bell Tower Tours, which have proved so popular during the National Arts Festival, will be back on the Spiritfest programme this year.
On Sunday morning, 24 February, four Cathedral young people were admitted as members of the Diocesan Youth Guild: Kutlwano Kepadisa, Thandiwe Gabavana, Mandilakhe Ncwadi and Busisiwe Soxujwa. We give thanks for them, and pray for the Cathedral DYG Branch.
One of the highlights of the Makhanda/ Grahamstown year is Masicule. This year the two concerts took place on 24 and 25 February. Not only was the Monument Theatre almost completely full, but the stage was crammed with almost 700 singers, most of them from our local schools, town and township, private and public, all singing joyfully together. And the official conductor was none other than Kepa, while the official accompanist on keyboard was Bayanda Mthetho, our schoolboy organist! They both acquitted themselves brilliantly. The Cathedral family can be enormously proud of these talented young musicians. In 2018 Kepa was the recipient of the Masicule Gift, a generous cash contribution which went a long way towards paying for the Kwantu Community Choir’s travel to Pretoria for the World Choir Games. And this year it is Bayanda, now in Grade 10, who is receiving the Masicule Gift. This will enable him to receive piano tuition from Liz Campbell, who will be preparing him to take his Associate Diploma in piano. Naturally Kwantu Choir and the juniors of the Cathedral Choir were among the choirs featured, as well as Byrdsongs, and the list of soloists included Cathedral choristers Sixolile Mafani, Alizwa Tom, Lelethu Maboza and Hlomela Tyatya. Nzulu Nzwana, our Head Chorister, conducted one of the songs. What a privilege it was for these singers to be alongside the guest soloist, Vusi ‘the Voice’ Mhlasela, in this wonderful feast of song, and what a joy it was to see and hear this demonstration of what South Africa could and should be like.
Kepa conducting the Masicule massed choir
People and Places, February 2019
A warm welcome to all those returning to Makhanda/ Grahamstown after their holidays, and to those arriving in the city for the first time.
Mary-Ellen Ashcroft reunited with friends
We welcomed a guest preacher on 2 December, the Revd Dr Mary-Ellen Ashcroft. From the USA, she is a long-time friend of Revd Dr Claire. On 9 December two new members were admitted to the Mothers’ Union of the Cathedral, Nomakwezi Gabavana, the Leader, and Thembi Myolwa.
On the Sunday before Christmas a small choir led the singing in an evening service of lessons (not all biblical) and unusual carols. The next day was Christmas Eve, when the Crib Service attracted parents, grandparents, and many children, who dressed as their favourite Nativity characters and performed an impromptu Nativity play, while a merry band of musicians – Nicola Hunter with family and friends – led the singing, this year conducted by Kutlwano Kepadisa (Kepa). Many visitors came to the Midnight Mass at which Bishop Ebenezer preached, and to the 8:30 Christmas morning service.
On 26 December a 45-minute radio programme entitled ‘The Bells of St Macartans’ was broadcast on the Irish radio stations Shannonside FM and Northern Sound FM. This was mainly concerned with three Irish Cathedrals dedicated to St Macartan, but also included a segment relating to this Cathedral. The connection was that the Dean of Grahamstown at the time when our first eight bells were installed, Frederick Williams, had grown up in Enniskillen in Northern Ireland, within sound of the bells of St Macartan’s Cathedral. Those bells are hung in a circle, and Dean Williams wished to have similar circle of bells in the Cathedral in Grahamstown. The radio programme was produced and presented by Noel Murphy, who visited Grahamstown in May 2018. To listen to a podcast of the programme, which includes the sound of the St Michael’s Marimbas, click here.
The Deanery family welcomed home their student daughters for the vacation. Both have now returned to Stellenbosch. Rachel has completed her BA, but is going to spend 2018 adding Xhosa and Afrikaans to her credits, and taking a correspondence course in Teaching English as a Foreign Language. Nicola enjoyed getting down and dirty in a veterinary practice during her vac. Having successfully completed three years of Medicine, she has decided to revert to her original choice of Veterinary Science! Unfortunately she missed the application deadline for Pretoria this year so will spend 2019 in Stellenbosch doing Animal Science in the hopes of transferring to Onderstepoort in 2020.
Glyn Lloyd-Jones was at home with his parents in Kokstad for the holidays, during which time they experienced six break-ins. On one occasion, Glyn was attacked. Thankfully they are all right, though very shaken. The community has rallied round and has made it possible for a security guard to be on duty watching their house. We pray for their ongoing safety and protection.
Our former Director of Music, AJ Bethke, spent Christmas in Cape Town with his parents, along with his little son Caleb (now 2¾). On 6 January Caleb was baptised in Thornton Methodist Church by his grandfather the Revd Tony Bethke, a very special moment.
Our marimba leader Asakhe Cuntsulana’s talents are not only musical. He has now published online a book of poetry: Ikhwezi Eliqaqambileyo. To order a copy, click on the picture of the book.
We rejoice with Lorraine Mullins on the birth of a grandson, and congratulate Millicent Armitage on her 93rd birthday. Millie and her daughter Gill have been much concerned with the mysterious illness of Gill’s baby grandson James Caloni in the UK. We continue to pray for his healing. Jane Bradshaw had an unpleasant experience at the end of a lovely holiday. In Cape Town airport she slipped on some steps and injured a tendon in her ankle quite seriously. Regulations at the airport denied her the use of a wheelchair – because she had not booked it in advance! We thank God that she is well on the way to recovery. Prayers are asked for Siyolisa Sandi, a chorister whose uncle has died.
Exciting news is that thanks to renewed generosity by the donors who sponsored him last years, Bayanda Mthetho, our Grade 10 organist, has his organ lessons sponsored for the whole of 2019! Congratulations to another of our choristers, Kuhle Pama, who has been elected as a Prefect at Mary Waters School. We also congratulate Liyabona Nqumani, on being chosen as Head Girl of VG for 2019, and a number of our choristers who have received Colours at Graeme College: Xolisa Foley, Nzulu Nzwana and Bayanda Mthetho for Choir, with Bayanda also receiving Cultural Colours.
Congratulations to all those who passed Matric. Victoria Girls High was one of the schools which achieved a 100% pass rate. Among the successful students were two former members of the Makana Choir School, Sine Nqumba who is going to study at NMU, and Avile Sonyamba who hopes to follow in her father’s footsteps in the SAPS. Onwaba Mafuya is going to UWC, and Tyla Fourie to UCT. From DSG, Hlumela Maqwili is also heading to UCT, and her mother Zoleka is looking forward to a three-month sabbatical during which she will concentrate on her studies.
We give thanks for the safe return of Mandilakhe Ncwadi from initiation school, and pray for God’s blessings on him in his adult life.
Lorraine Cassim has returned after an extended holiday to visit family and friends in the UK, where she has a daughter and a son, as well as the Western Cape and Port Elizabeth. Highlights of her time overseas included seeing the ‘Nutcracker’ ballet in Birmingham, and in Cape Town a visit to Robben Island and the Two Oceans Oceanarium. Maggy Clarke joined her daughter Beccy Stones and family for a week camping in Mozambique. The highlight was a boat trip to go snorkelling around a coral reef, where the fish were spectacular. In January Beth Denton enjoyed a visit from her son and daughter-in-law from the USA.
On 20 January the Dean awarded citations to three long-standing volunteers at the Cathedral who had recently stepped down from their duties, Andrew Tracey (left), Penny Whitford and Clive Whitford. Read the citations here: Andrew Tracey; Penny Whitford; Clive Whitford. Congratulations and many heartfelt thanks to these wonderful people who have given so much in the service of the Lord!
With amazement and delight the Dean has now announced that Cameron Luke, who was previously appointed as the Cathedral Director of Music, is able to come after all and take up the post. We look forward to his arrival in February, and pray for him and the choir as he takes up his duties.
The drought in this city as well as elsewhere in the country is reaching crisis proportions, and often results in disastrous fires. Lynette Marais was in Pringle Bay at the time of the fire in that area. Told to evacuate their homes, the residents of that village then found that the only road out was impassable because of the fire! We thank God that they, and Lynette, were able to return home safely. Closer to home, the Antrobus family farm dam ran dry, and they had to fetch water in a tank from Dog Dam to keep their cattle alive. The month of January ended with a well-attended ecumenical lunch-time prayer service in the Cathedral on Wednesday the 30th. We asked God not only for rain, but for repentance, healing and unity, and also for blessings on all those in the municipality and further afield whose job is to ensure that we continue to receive water in our pipes; and for us all, that we may value and conserve this vital resource. And as this article was completed on 31 January – it was raining. May God be praised!