Makhanda

People and Places

People and Places is compiled by Maggy Clarke. Extracts from People and Places may be reproduced if author is acknowledged.

Please send items of news to her at: webmaster@grahamstowncathedral.org.

People and Places, July 2021

“Out of the depths have I called to you O Lord: Lord hear my voice” (Psalm 130, verse 1). This was the Psalm set for Sunday 27 June, so beautifully sung at the Cathedral 9:30 service by Bayanda Mthetho, accompanied on the adungu by Asakhe Cuntsulana. To listen to the first four verses of the Psalm, click here. How appropriate the words seemed, as we listened the same evening to President Ramaphosa solemnly explaining why South Africa was immediately being placed under Alert Level Four Lockdown. Covid-19, driven by the Delta variant which spreads faster than any previous variant, is now in a third wave which seems, especially in Gauteng, more like a tsunami. That lovely morning Sung Eucharist, little had we known, was to be the last service in the Cathedral for an unspecified period of time. There are to be NO gatherings. We may not gather to worship, to protest, to visit other people’s houses, to eat or to play, indoors or outdoors. This is not something to complain about. This is something to accept as a kind of fast – yes, with prayer! – to save ourselves, those we love, and the nation. Those of us who have been vaccinated, can thank God. But we can still get Covid if we do not wear our masks and keep our distance. And if infected we can still infect others who may not have been fortunate enough to be vaccinated yet. And any one of those might become severely ill and even die. But let us take courage, and remember that Psalm 130 goes on to say “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits for him: and in his word is my hope.”

Cathedral services will continue to be live-streamed on our Facebook page: a Service of Word and Sacrament on Sunday mornings at 9:30 a.m. with Spiritual Communion, Evening Prayer with Music and a homily at 5 p.m. on Sundays, and on weekdays as always Morning Prayer at 9:00 a.m. and Evening Prayer at 5:00 p.m.

In the Cathedral congregation the reality of the third wave was brought home to us when we learned that the pneumonia which had put our dear Bishop’s wife, Noncedo Ntlali, in Mercantile Hospital in Gqeberha (PE), was caused by Covid-19. Much earnest prayer followed, and by the grace of God she was spared, and discharged on 12 June. Please continue to pray for her as she makes slow but steady progress back towards full health.

Zikhona Mbonde

We welcome a new member of staff at the Cathedral Office. Zikhona Mbonde has been appointed Office Intern for 18 months of in-service training, as part of her Office Management Studies course at East Cape Midlands College. We ask God’s blessing on her, and pray that she will be happy during her time with us.

On Thursday 3 June we had the joy of another special midweek choral service, when we celebrated Corpus Christi, with the a cappella group Byrdsongs providing music by Mozart. The group’s founder, the Revd Simon Tibbs, even managed to coax some lovely accompaniment out of part of our wounded organ – no mean feat! It was a treat to hear it again, and we look forward to the day when the rest of it is restored.

It was good to see Anelisa Kelemi, former chorister, Lay Minister and member of the Cathedral Youth core team, when she returned for a week’s visit. She is living in Gqeberha, and teaching at an online school with pupils from all over the world. After over a year’s break due to Covid, the Student Services resumed in June, co-ordinated by Revd Melany Adonis. They take place during university term in the Lady Chapel at 6:30 p.m., but are also live-streamed. Because it is dark when the students have to walk down from campus, they gather at the Drostdy Arch at ten to six, and walk down together, and transport is arranged afterwards. Sadly, these services have had to be suspended along with the rest of our in-person worship.

Another lovely Cathedral tradition which has been revived is the Quiet Afternoons. The first of these took place on 19 June, and the venue was Hillandale, which now belongs to DSG, and is beautifully maintained. A small group of Cathedral parishioners and friends was led by Revd Melany, on a perfect sunny afternoon.

On the hills at Hillandale
Whitey getting ready for Spring

We have passed the shortest day, and the aloes are putting on a wonderful show. Gardeners take the opportunity to tidy up, ready for the spring. The patches of flowerbed around the Cathedral building, which technically belong to the Municipality, are lovingly tended by the Cathedral gardener Whitey Kiti. Watch this space!

The Cathedral family joins the Dean’s family in rejoicing at the wonderful news that Lilitha Dyantyi has achieved her Masters in Material Sciences from Nelson Mandela University – Cum Laude! Warm congratulations to her. Her Graduation will be in December.

Maggy with her Jo’burg grandchildren

Maggy Clarke welcomed her daughter Beccy Stones, a former member of the Cathedral Choir, who drove down from Johannesburg with her three children for a ten-day Eastern Cape holiday. Their anti-Covid precautions included driving rather using public transport, staying in self-catering accommodation, rather than with Beccy’s mother or her sister Helen Averbuch in Port Alfred, and even when with Eastern Cape family members, keeping their masks on except when eating. But it was great to meet up again after a year and a half. Happily they were able to attend a Sung Eucharist in the Cathedral before Level Four lockdown was announced.

Older members of the parish and friends will have fond memories of Bishop Eric Pike, who died in June. He was the first Bishop Suffragan of Grahamstown, and went on to be Bishop of Port Elizabeth. We give thanks for his ministry and witness and pray for his family. Pray also for Basil Coyne, whose brother has died. Our former Dean, Andrew Hunter, Rector of St Faith’s Plumstead, has been suffering from a nasty bout of shingles. And that unpleasant complaint also attacked Sally Terry. Pray for complete healing for them both.

Sarah James has been on our prayer list ever since her major surgery for scoliosis last November. It is good to know that she is happy and has a special guy in her life, but also that her back is healing, though slowly. We may not think of Durban as having a winter at all, but even the comparative drop in temperature from summer heat makes a difference, and the pain does become worse. She writes that our prayers are appreciated.

On Thursday 17 June the city of Makhanda was again “shut down” by protesters, angered at what was seen as an unsatisfactory response from the Province to the demands for action which had been made two weeks earlier. The major protests took place in Church Square, and the Dean and Parish Executive took the almost unprecedented step of closing the Cathedral for public worship on Sunday 20 June, in case the protests were to continue and worshippers might be put in danger. Our new-found technical expertise ensured that this did not mean worship stopped altogether. There was one morning service, live-streamed from the Cory Room, and the 6:30 p.m. Student Service moved to St George’s Hall. Thankfully the Square was actually quiet on Sunday 20th.

On 19 June Asakhe Cuntsulana gave a concert in the Cathedral, playing on the adungu. Sadly this will be the last concert in the Cathedral for a while, as in-person events during the National Arts Festival have had to be cancelled. However, as last year there WILL be a Virtual Festival, and this year Spiritfest is revived and going virtual too. Don’t miss the sacred poetry read by Malcolm Hacksley, in memory of our dear late Artist in Residence Chris Mann, and Fr Anthony Egan SJ will be interviewing author Mignonne Breier about her book ‘Bloody Sunday: The nun, the Defiance Campaign and South Africa’s secret massacre.’ The full programme will be found on the Spiritfest web page, and the live-stream will be via the Spiritfest Facebook page. We give thanks for the ruling of the Gauteng South High Court, as a result of which the National Arts Council must pay to the National Arts Festival the balance of a promised sum of R8 million which was intended to keep struggling artists going through a variety of projects. Enjoy the Festival online. May God bless us all, and keep us safe!

People and Places, June 2021

May de Vos

Congratulations to May de Vos, who turned 90 on May the 1st! She would have loved to have a big party, but respecting the Covid-19 regulations, made a generous plan to distribute love and cake to her friends around town. She was rewarded with a surprise party, when her relatives gathered from different parts of the country to celebrate the big day.

The Cathedral organ has not been heard for a while, since a thunderstorm on 5 May, when the Cathedral electrical system was struck by lightning. The sound system was also a casualty, as well as the WiFi. Efforts are being made to get everything working again, most urgently the WiFi without which we cannot live-stream services.

Theo Duxbury, former Churchwarden, is a Health Worker (Pharmacist) so he’s already had his ‘jab’!

Talking of lightning, anyone nervous of the possibility of a blood clot resulting from a Covid vaccination can take comfort from the fact that these are exceedingly rare. They say you are more likely to be struck by lightning – TWICE! The roll-out of vaccinations for people over 60 is in full swing. Senior citizens have been delighted at how easy it is to register online. They have now been told they can even do it on their phones. Then came the big day, Monday 17 May, when actual vaccinations would be given. People thought they would have to wait to be called, but the next thing we heard, in Makhanda satisfied senior citizens were praising God for their Pfizer vaccinations. When they have had their second doses, they will not only be protected from serious illness and death if they contract Covid, but they will also be helped to protect their family and neighbours.

We were reminded of the importance of this on the last evening in May, when we saw President Ramaphosa on our screens again, telling us what we already really knew, that the third wave of Covid-19 has arrived in South Africa. The change of Level to Two means numbers at services in the Cathedral are now limited to 100 (previously 250 under Level One).

Our prayers are with the Tisani and Lokhwe families. Not long after the death of Thami’s brother Nombulelo in March, her brother Vuyisile also died in May. We pray that God will uphold and comfort them after this double blow. Christeice Appollis was in a car accident on 31 May, returning from Port Alfred. We give thanks that she was not injured, and pray for her, her husband Sylvester and the family.

Our Director of Music Kutlwano Kepadisa arranged a varied musical programme in May, including a Lucernarium on the 9th, and a Choral Evensong on the 16th at which the Rhodes University Chamber Choir made a guest appearance, singing music by Peter Klatzow and Paweł Łukaszewski among others.

On Ascension Day in the evening a very small congregation joined their worship to that of the angels and the saints, and were uplifted by the lovely singing of Kutlwano Kepadisa and Jonathan Hughes, with Bayanda Mthetho at the piano. They introduced us to a Mass setting by Philip Ledger.

On 23 May the Cathedral rejoiced in the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Everyone was encouraged to wear red – even the altar servers were in red! Andrew Tracey’s reading of the Ezekiel lesson was enlivened by snatches of the well-known song “Dem Bones”, with the congregation joining in with the words “DRY BONES!” And as a final reminder that Pentecost is the birthday of the Church, everyone was sent home with cupcakes, lovingly made and iced by Sally Terry and the altar servers.

Maggy Clarke made an amazing discovery this month. A very distant relative in Ireland wrote to say that to his surprise he had found out that a cousin of one of their mutual ancestors had died in the Eastern Cape in 1822, almost 200 years ago, and was said to be buried in Grahamstown. He thought Maggy would have to search in church records to see if she could find the grave, but she knew that as early as 1822 no churches were yet built in the town. So off she went to the Botanic Gardens, to look at the few military graves which are to be found there. And there was the very grave she was looking for, that of Ensign William Bellingham. The poor lad had died of a fever in his 21st year, a very long way from his home in Ireland.

The last week of May saw dramatic events in Makhanda. Taxi-drivers, exasperated by the state of our roads which cause frequent damage to their vehicles, combined with the Unemployed People’s Movement and others to bring the whole town to a standstill for almost three days. Main roads were blocked, shops and schools closed. The demand that Provincial authorities should come from Bhisho to witness the state of affairs here was heard. A long meeting took place in the Monument on Wednesday 26th between the protesting parties and representatives of the Province led by the MEC for Co-operative Government and Traditional Affairs, Xolile Nqatha. We give thanks that the MEC promised to return within 15 days, to report back on what is going to be done about the issues raised. These include water and sanitation as well as the state of the roads. After the meeting the shut-down was suspended. We pray for real action to save our lovely city!

People and Places, May 2021

At the Altar of Repose

April began with the holiest Three Days (Triduum) of our Church year, which despite Covid-19 restrictions, we celebrated at the Cathedral with due solemnity and joy. There could be no washing of feet at the Maundy Thursday evening Eucharist on 1 April, but the altar was stripped and the Reserved Sacrament carried in procession to the Altar of Repose. We welcomed a brand-new Boat Girl, Sambesiwe Dyantyi, keeping up the tradition of the Dean’s daughters serving at the altar. This service was also live-streamed, as were the noon service on Good Friday and the 9:30 a.m. on Easter Day.

Lighting the New Fire

On Good Friday there was a ‘Way of the Cross’ service at 8.00 a.m., and at noon a shortened ‘Celebration of the Lord’s Passion’ service, not the full three hours. The Iimvumi (Junior Choristers), conducted by Director of Music Kutlwano Kepadisa, sang a range of beautiful meditative music, from plainsong to African traditional. These youngsters also turned out on Holy Saturday. While members of the congregation were cleaning the Cathedral and arranging flowers, the Iimvumi were busy in the Chapter House filing music. And they were back again before the sun was up on Easter morning, ready for the lighting of the New Fire, and the Easter Vigil service!

Instead of Choral Evensong on Easter Day, we were given a musical treat by the a cappella group Saeculum Aureum. This group of just five singers: Jessica Lloyd-Jones and Caitlin Webb (sopranos), Glynn Lloyd-Jones (counter-tenor), Charles Antrobus (tenor) and Jonathan Hughes (bass), are all soloists in their own right, and all but one of them have sung in the Cathedral choir. Their selection of music for Passiontide and Easter included plainsong, Stainer, Bach, and, amazingly, the Hallelujah chorus and the last one-third of Handel’s ‘Messiah’, parts of which are hardly ever heard. In the absence of an orchestra, the accompaniment was rendered by John Jackson on the piano! The audience came away thrilled. Happily, this was also live-streamed, and can still be heard on our Facebook page.

Andrew Hunter’s Institution at St Faith’s Plumstead

On 17 April Andrew Hunter, our former Dean, was instituted as Rector of St Faith’s Plumstead by Bishop Joshua Louw. Those of us who tuned in via YouTube could also see Revd Claire and Rachel supporting him, with Rachel reading a lesson, while Nicola joined in remotely from Ondestepoort. Both Andrew and Claire report that they are greatly enjoying their new parishes, and we pray for God’s blessing on their ministries.

Rose Spanneberg’s sister Margaret Accom died in April, and we pray for Rose and the family.

James and Clare Haddrell

Congratulations to Clare and James Haddrell, who were married in London on 22 April. Clare’s parents, Peter and Ann Stockwell, were able to watch the ceremony online, but rejoicing together as a family will have to wait for another time. However, Peter and Ann only had to wait two days for their own celebration, of 50 years of marriage – warm congratulations! Jonathan Hughes our Senior Organ Scholar is delighted with the news that his mother Lestie Hughes has obtained her PhD in Musicology from NMU. Music certainly runs in that family!

Sarah celebrating her Honours graduation from Rhodes

Sarah James, a former member of our Student Ministry and choir who completed her Honours degree remotely from home in Durban last year, before she had major surgery to correct her scoliosis, has now registered for an MA in History with UNISA. Her focus will be on how notions of unity and diversity were promoted in South Africa in the early 1990’s, looking at the media especially TV, and what happened to those ideals in the years which followed. Sarah still experiences some pain on a daily basis, but finds that with working from home she is able to cope, taking the opportunity to rest when necessary.  We are sad to lose her to Rhodes, but wish her every blessing in her further studies, and in her continued recovery.

It was with sorrow that it was announced in the Cathedral on 18 April that the Parish Council had been obliged to suspend the Parish Administrator, Lou-Anne Liebenberg, pending further investigations on unauthorised bank transactions on the Cathedral FNB card. We pray for all concerned.

With the departure of Churchwarden Lungile Penxa and Alternate Churchwarden Theo Duxbury, we are pleased to welcome Rodney Bridger and Tandiwe Gabavana as stand-in wardens to join Ronaldo Burger.

Saturday 24 April was the great occasion the Cathedral had been waiting for, when Bishop Ebenezer Ntlali licensed and installed Mzinzisi Dyantyi as our new Dean, and Melany Adonis as Sub-Dean and Chancellor of the Cathedral. Under the latest easing in Covid-19 restrictions, the maximum number of people allowed in the Cathedral building at one time was 250. This meant that we could once again see a procession of clergy lining up in Church Square before the service, and a Cathedral which, if it was not actually full, looked almost as if it was! Bishop Ebenezer preached and celebrated, and the new Dean was led around the Cathedral as he and the congregation made their promises. Welcomed by the Churchwardens, fellow clergy and even Bishops (Bishop Moses Madywabe of Kahlamba and retired Bishop Bethlehem Nopece) and with a fanfare by organist Simon Tibbs, Dean Mzinzisi was placed in his seat (“in-stalled”) by Bishop Ebenezer. His installation was followed by that of Sub-Dean Melany and all the Archdeacons of the Diocese. One of the Archdeacons was Lawrence Nzwana of King William’s Town East, whose son Nzulu came to the service with him. Nzulu was Head Chorister of the Cathedral in 2019-20, and this year is taking a gap year post-matric.

The Licensing was a truly glorious service, culminating in a Eucharist. Our Director of Marimbas, Asakhe Cuntsulana, displayed another talent at the end of the service when he leapt up to acclaim the new Dean in a Praise Poem. For more pictures, see our Gallery. We pray for the Cathedral team and for the Cathedral family as a whole, as we go forward together to do God’s work.

People and Places, April 2021

Luyanda Fete and Rob Gess

We give thanks to God for the ordination of Luyanda Fete to the diaconate. Luyanda, who has been part of the Cathedral team as a student at the College of the Transfiguration, was among 11 men and women ordained by Bishop Ebenezer Ntlali on 13 March in Bernard Mizeki Church, Scenery Park, East London. He is licensed to the Cathedral, and we ask God’s blessing on his ministry among us. The other man from this part of the diocese who was ordained deacon that day was Rob Gess of St John’s Bathurst. Almost at the same time the name of Robert Gess hit the national news headlines! How many of those attending the ordination service knew that this particular new deacon was an internationally famous palaeontologist, whose discovery of certain fossils among the shale near Makhanda would overturn the assumptions of learned scientists around the world? And how many of those scientists know that Dr Robert Gess is a Deacon in the Anglican Church? May the Lord bless him in both his fields of work!

By this stage of the year we would have expected to have held a Vestry Meeting, and welcomed our new Parish Council. But the ACSA Covid Advisory Guidelines, issued in February 2021, state that “The need for an annual vestry meeting has been suspended for 2021”, and “Parish Councils, including wardens, are to be retained en bloc, unless sound reason exists for this not to be the case.” We thank our Parish Councillors: Katie Appollis, Rodney Bridger, Nomakwezi Gabavana, Tandiwe Gabavana and Ian Meiklejohn, and Churchwarden Ronaldo Burger, for their willingness to serve another year. Churchwarden Lungile Penxa, and Alternate Churchwarden Theodore Duxbury are no longer in Makhanda, and so will need to be replaced. We are grateful to them and the rest of the PCC for their loyal service over the past difficult year. The Guidelines allow for co-option. Special thanks to Theo, who has continued to support us via Zoom while working as a community pharmacist at Bedford hospital, and sometimes commuting between there and his family home in Somerset East, a 40-minute drive. His father, William Duxbury, has been in hospital, but we give thanks that he has now been discharged. Also home again now is Fiona Coyne, for which we give thanks.

We pray for Nomathamsanqa Tisani on the death of her brother Nombulelo Lokhwe after a stroke.

Late though it is, we welcome students and staff at the beginning of the tertiary institutions’ academic year. We pray that initial difficulties may be sorted out, and that despite everything the business of teaching and learning may take place fruitfully. Among slightly older students at Rhodes this year are Leela Pienaar’s son Ashwin, and Richard Antrobus, son of Geoff and Margie. They have both decided to return to varsity to acquire a teaching qualification. We give thanks for this decision, knowing how much this country needs good teachers!

There goes a soul who kept the gifts of God in view,
he didn’t take them for granted,
he never took breath as his due.

These final lines from his poem ‘The Reverence of Ordinary Things’, sum up the life of our dear Cathedral Artist-in-Residence Chris Zithulele Mann, who died at his home here on 10 March. The cancer which had been treated last year, refused to go away, and finally there was no more the doctors could do. The family gathered to support Chris and his wife and fellow Artist-in-Residence Julia: daughter Amy, son Luke with his wife Kim, and, from Winchester in the UK, one of Chris’s oldest friends Michael Shipster, who was married to Chris’s late sister Jackie. It was good that Chris’s funeral could take place in the Cathedral, where he and Julia had worshipped so faithfully, and contributed so much, from the numinous (meditations, multi-media events in Festival after Festival) to the practical. During the funeral, slides from the family album were projected on the Cathedral wall – the fact that there is a data projector in place to do that, is as a result of an inspiration from Chris. And who could forget Fafa Hopkins, Chris at the St George’s Fair, singing his own compositions at the “Country Music Stall’? He might be a famous poet, recipient of many awards, but his humble easy-going manner, and habit of always affirming others, made it impossible for anyone to be overawed. His faith breathed easily through his art, an unforced, natural witness. We give thanks for his incalculable contribution to this city and this worshipping fellowship; mourn his passing, and pray for Julia and the family.

Chris Mann’s funeral service was streamed live, and recorded. It is still available to be watched here. For more about Artists-in-Residence, and poems by Chris, see Our Artists page.

As Lent drew towards its climax, our Church Schools, DSG and St Andrew’s College, held their usual “Easter Cantata” using the Cathedral as the venue. This year the event was entirely live-streamed, with the orchestra and choirs taking up the whole space, and no congregation present. They presented a moving re-telling of the Passiontide and Easter story, in music and readings of a high standard, with a number of school music ensembles and various conductors involved, including our Director of Music Kutlwano Kepadisa, conducting the DSG/ St Andrew’s Chamber Choir.

On Palm Sunday the news reached us from Cape Town that our former Dean Andrew Hunter has been appointed as Rector of St Faith’s Plumstead, (pictured). He will be instituted on Saturday 17 April at 3 p.m. He thanks us for love and support during his time of waiting, and says that he is excited about the parish and eager to get going! St Faith’s is 8 km from Revd Claire’s church, St Thomas’s Rondebosch, where Andrew and Claire live in the Rectory next to the church, and Andrew says it takes him 11 minutes to drive between the churches.

During the Palm Sunday 9:30 service there were unusual noises outside in Church Square. To the alarm of the congregation, when they emerged, it was to see that the upper branches were being hacked off all the trees opposite. Mark Hazell, a member of the Commemoration Methodist congregation, who was formerly in charge of Grounds and Gardens at Rhodes University, has written a scathing comment to the Makana Residents Association, which they have passed on to the municipality. Ironically, only three days earlier, Mark Hazell had been a speaker at a webinar hosted by the National Department of the Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, as part of the International Day of Forests. His topic was “Every Tree Counts: The value of trees in environmental sustainability”.

That apart, it was good to be able to worship in the Cathedral on Palm Sunday, remembering how last year we had to sit at home and join in services live-streamed from the Cory Room. We pray for good sense and responsible behaviour, so that we may not be faced with a “Third Wave” of Covid-19 any time soon, and for a safe and blessed Easter.

People and Places, March 2021

February began with some more cheerful news at a national level. On the first of the month, in response to the encouraging signs that the second wave of Covid-19 was coming to an end, President Ramaphosa announced a number of welcome adjustments to our Level Three lockdown. For the Cathedral, the most exciting change was that we were again able to go “to church” to worship, although we were faced with a new restriction: only 50 persons were allowed in the building at one time. (Of course surfers were more excited that the beaches were reopened, and many were jubilant over the resumption of alcohol sales!) Needing a little time to prepare, the Cathedral opened its doors to public worship on Sunday 14 February, with a Eucharist at 8.30 a.m.

That service ended with an exciting and welcome announcement: our Sub-Dean Mzinzisi Dyantyi is to be appointed the new Dean of Grahamstown, and the new Sub-Dean and Chancellor of the Cathedral is to be Canon Melany Adonis. We congratulate them both, and wish God’s blessings on them. We are especially blessed to be spared an interregnum, and even more so, to be in the hands of a Dean who already knows us, and whom we know and love. The Bishop has announced that Mzi’s institution will be on Saturday 24 April at 10:00.

Before the Hunters finally left Grahamstown, there were other farewells to be said. At St Andrew’s College, where Dean Andrew had served for so many years on the Council, he was made an Honorary Old Andrean, and there was an emotional farewell to Revd Claire from the Good Shepherd School, where she had been Chaplain. The family and dogs had to travel to Cape Town in two cars, and broke their journey for a long weekend in Great Brak River, to allow the truck with their furniture to overtake them. On the Sunday they tuned in to our live-streamed Eucharist service, and heard some further messages of farewell and thanks which had been sent as voice notes. These came from the Rotarians, Sizwe Mabizela the Vice-Chancellor of Rhodes, Alan Thompson the St Andrew’s Headmaster, Canon Vicentia Kgabe, Rector of COTT, and Archbishop Nkosinathi Ngesi of the Ethiopian Episcopal Church.

Furniture and Hunters duly arrived at St Thomas’s Rectory in Rondebosch on 8 February. With assistance from Claire’s sister and brother-in-law, they were sufficiently unpacked to be ready for Claire’s Institution as Rector of St Thomas’s on the 13th. Taking a leaf from the Cathedral’s book, Claire insisted that this service should be simultaneously live-streamed. So it was that a number of us were able to tune in to this moving and beautiful service, and join our prayers to those of her new congregation.

Shrove Tuesday fell on 17 February, and the lockdown did not deter Sally Terry from gathering a team to make and sell pancakes in aid of the Bishop’s Lent Appeal. Advertisements went out, and people booked and paid for their pancakes in advance, using EFT. Members of the team made pancakes and fillings in their homes, and everything was assembled at Sally’s home in Constitution Street, where those who had pre-ordered came to collect their pancakes on Shrove Tuesday afternoon. Amazingly, Sally reported that 499 pancakes were sold, and the sum raised was R5,587! The team consisted of Sally Terry, Margie Antrobus and June Venn making pancakes. These were filled by Lilitha Dyantyi, Sally’s neighbour Madeleine Moore, and Ikhona Mvaphantsi with her sons Uvuyo, Ovayo and Uvile. Those boys worked so hard all afternoon! The fillings were provided by Katie Appollis, Elizabeth Breetzke, Maggy Clarke, Jeanette Eve, Madeleine Moore and Joy Tandy. Katie supplied pancakes to her friends and family, and Jeanette coordinated a hefty order from Somerset Place. This was a superb effort – well done to all!

Our other big annual fund-raising effort, the St George’s Fair, also took place in a changed format, as “St George’s Fair with a difference”. The entire operation happened during lockdown, over an extended period from October to January. All ordering happened online, but it was possible to offer cakes, plants, marmalade, knife and scissor sharpening, curry, and Christmas mince pies. Congratulations to Rodney Bridger and his team, who, between sales and donations, managed to raise the amazing sum of R25,937!

Prayers are asked for our Junior Organ Scholar, Bayanda Mthetho, on the death of his grandmother Kholeka Ziqula. We continue to hold in our prayers Chris Mann, who has advanced cancer. After a spell in St George’s Hospital, during which certain procedures were tried without success, he came home on 24 February. He and Julia have been joined by their children Amy (from the UK) and Luke (from the USA).

Jane Bradshaw’s daughter Jennie McGarvie has been on our prayer list for many months, with thyroid trouble which resisted treatment. Now Jane reports with great rejoicing that Jennie has recovered, with a rapidity which can only be described as miraculous. We join with the family in giving thanks to God!

From Nigeria we have received happy news. Dr Idowu Akinloye, who was on the Cathedral staff while he was writing his doctorate in 2017-19, announced the birth of his son on 4 February! Congratulations and prayers for many blessings on the family!

We give thanks that the schools have been able to resume their teaching programme, and welcome students as they begin a new academic year with some classes online and others “mask to mask”. The Back-to-School Service, which has for so long been a feature of the Cathedral’s February calendar, just managed to happen on the last day of the month, live-streamed on Facebook. It was great to see so many schools and groups involved, including musicians and readers from Graeme College, Nombulelo High School, St Andrew’s College, DSG and Kingswood College, Makhanda Kwantu Choir, and the Cathedral Iimvumi (Junior choristers) and marimba players. The preacher was the Chaplain of St Andrew’s College, Richard Wyngaard. Later the same day the Saeculum Aureum group sang a beautiful Choral Evensong which honoured the poet-priest George Herbert. Although there was no congregation present, the service was live-streamed from the Cathedral chancel. Both of these services are still available on our Facebook page.

The roll-out of vaccinations against Covid-19 is a cause for rejoicing, and we pray that it will be orderly and rapid, that the population may be protected. And, as the month of February ended, the President addressed the nation again and brought us back down to Level One of lockdown. We must have been doing something right! Once again we are allowed to have up to 100 people at a “gathering” in a building as large as the Cathedral. This comes just as we are reverting to having two Sunday morning services, at 7:30 and 9:30 a.m. Roll up! There is plenty of room to come in and worship.

May God bless us all this Lent!

People and Places, February 2021

Rachel, Claire, Andrew and Nicola Hunter

January is often a quiet and uneventful month at the Cathedral. “People and Places” usually has only one issue for the two summer holiday months, with most of the excitement recorded in December. But January 2021 was an exception, as with love, thanks and regret, we had to bid farewell to the Hunter family, which has been the “Deanery Family” for thirteen years.

After a long-planned and much needed family holiday at Great Brak River, Andrew, Claire, Rachel and Nicola Hunter arrived back here on 23 January, with less than two weeks before they were due to move to Cape Town. They were just in time for the special Eucharist service on Sunday 24 January, at which the Diocese of Grahamstown gave thanks for the ministry in the Diocese of the Dean and Revd Claire, with Bishop Ebenezer celebrating and preaching. It was a beautiful and moving service, despite the fact that due to the Level Three lockdown regulations, the whole event had to be streamed live via Facebook from the Cory Room. After the service the live-stream continued, with the Bishop paying tribute to the Hunters, and voice notes of appreciation and good wishes were played from representatives of the Diocesan Youth Guild, St Mary Magdalene Guild, AWF, Bernard Mizeki Guild, MU, the Chapter and diocesan clergy.

Kutlwano Kepadisa

Kutlwano Kepadisa (Kepa) also went away during January, and spent a most refreshing ten days in silent retreat in Worcester. He returned full of energy for the new year, which he will need – the Parish Council has appointed him Director of Music and Precentor of the Cathedral! Kepa succeeds Cameron Luke as Director of Music. A brilliant organist, Cameron brought many gifts and talents to the Cathedral and the choir. We thank him for all that he has contributed to the life of the Cathedral. The Parish Council has released him from the position of Director of Music, but we hope that he will continue to tutor the organ scholars and be available to play the organ. Kepa has served a long “apprenticeship”, beginning as a Choir Intern under A-J Bethke. From 2017 until the present he has either been in charge of the music or assisting the Director, as well as conducting other choirs, including the award-winning Makhanda Kwantu Choir which he founded. He still has the final year of his Rhodes degree ahead of him, but we congratulate him on good results in 2020, despite all the challenges. We also congratulate him on his new appointment, and ask God’s blessing on him in this important work.

31 January saw the Hunters’ final services at the Cathedral, although again they had to be conducted in the Cory Room and streamed live, using on this occasion Zoom as well as Facebook. For the morning service Kepa proved his worth as a technician as well as a musician, in producing the most professional live-streamed service yet to come from the Cathedral. Andrew Hunter celebrated the Eucharist, and preached his last sermon as Dean. The marimba players appeared in a video, accompanying a setting of the Kyrie which their Director, Asakhe Cuntsulana, had written for the occasion. Kepa sent out an appeal to his chorister friends, and within less than a day had produced a “virtual choir” anthem, “May the road rise to meet you”. For those who don’t know how this works, each chorister receives the music and a backing track which gives their tune, and, most importantly, the beat. They then use two devices, e.g. a computer to play the backing quietly to them via headphones, and a phone to record their voice. After many “takes”, the singer may be satisfied enough to send their best effort back to the Director. This particular singer was shocked to find that the “Choir” in the event consisted of just eight voices, but amazed at how good we sounded – no doubt the result of our Director’s editing skills. At the end of the service voice-note tributes were played from a number of parish representatives: June Venn (Sacristans), Lunga Dongwana (clergy), Nomakwezi Gabavana (MU), Paul Walters, Tandiwe Gabavana (Youth), Kepa (Music), Theo Duxbury (Churchwardens) and Sub-Dean Mzinzisi Dyantyi.

Later that morning the four Hunters held court in the shade outside St George’s Chambers. Parishioners and friends drove down High Street and paused to come and say goodbye. Among the gifts that were brought along were some special ones from the whole parish: a locally-made yellowwood clock, a lovely photograph of the Cathedral by Roddy Fox printed on canvas, and a booklet which had been compiled of messages of thanks and good wishes sent in by parishioners and friends. For more pictures, see our Gallery. To read an article about the Hunters published in Grocotts (GMDirect) on 29 January, click here.

Live-streamed services are now the norm in many parts of the world. The funeral of Canon Suzanne Peterson took place on 8 January in St Paul’s Cathedral Iowa, USA. Very few attended the ceremony, but because it was streamed live, her friends from around the world could be part of it. Maggy Clarke, who had been a friend of Suzanne’s since she first arrived in South Africa in the early 1990s, was touched to be asked to read the Prayers of the People via Zoom, while our Archbishop, Thabo Makgoba delivered the Homily. Julianne Allaway of St Paul’s also asked Maggy if she could contribute a South African worship song or two! Maggy deputised this to Kepa, who in the middle of school holidays and at short notice most ingeniously managed to record himself singing in harmony – with himself! The songs were We are marching in the light of God, and Thuma mina. Listen out for these at our Cathedral  live-streamed services.

We pray for those nearer to home who have been bereaved. Lilitha Dyantyi, wife of our Sub-Dean, lost her brother-in-law Sipheto Gada, who is also related to Bishop Ebenezer Ntlali. Among those who have succumbed to Covid-19 is Wilbert Kadye’s father, and we pray for Wilbert and all the family. We give thanks that Lou-Anne Liebenberg, our Parish Administrator, and her son Lyndon, who both tested positive and were unwell for a while, have now recovered. The Parish Office had to be closed for two days, but was reopened after sanitization. Prayers are asked for a number of parishioners and friends who a suffering from Covid or other ailments, including Katie Appollis’ son-in-law Preston Peters,  Ronel Mostert, wife of Markus who played the organ for us a couple of years back, and Nicola Graham, wife of the Christ Church incumbent Vic.

News from KZN is that Sarah James is making good progress after the enormously challenging surgery to correct her scoliosis. Recovery is a long and often extremely painful process, but she is thankful for our prayers, and continues to be amazed at the results. Without actually losing weight, now that her spine is straight, when she looks in the mirror the person she sees is taller, and slimmer, than she was previously!

Luyanda Fete

Congratulations to Maggy Clarke’s daughter Beccy Stones, on getting her Masters from Pretoria University with 83%! She wrote the thesis for her Masters in Education (Learning Support Guidance and Counselling) over three years, while being a single mother and doing two jobs. For the last year, to make things more challenging, both she and her children were working from home.

On the same day that we were saying goodbye to the Hunters, it was good to be able to welcome Luyanda Ben Fete and his family to the Cathedral. Luyanda is a College of the Transfiguration ordinand of the Grahamstown Diocese, from our neighbouring parish St Augustine’s, and will be ordained deacon later this year. In the meantime the Bishop has placed him at the Cathedral for pastoral experience.

Please pray for the Hunter family as they move to Cape Town for Claire to take up her position as Rector of St Thomas’s Rondebosch, and for our Sub-Dean Mzi as he leads the Cathedral parish. Let us all support him in every way we can!

People and Places, January 2021

Up until the first Sunday after Christmas, Sunday morning services continued to take place in the Cathedral, being at the same time streamed live via Facebook to parishioners and others who tuned in, some from far away. Then the President’s announcement on Monday 28 December of a return to Level Three lockdown changed everything, with places of worship being among those not allowed to open for gatherings. In view of the deteriorating situation of Covid-19 in South Africa, the new regulations were obviously essential. Cathedral services returned to being live-streamed only.

Click on the picture to hear Kepa and Uju sing ‘The Holy City’

But before that, on Sunday 20 December, the Cathedral celebrated a memorable and uplifting Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols. The Cathedral Choir and friends were conducted by our Acting Director of Music, Kutlwano Kepadisa, with accompaniment by our two Organ Scholars, Jon Hughes (Senior) and Bayanda Mthetho (Junior). The service was appreciated by a small congregation in the building, and a far wider congregation tuning in via Facebook. Among these were the founders of the Makana Choir School, Wilf and Barbara Stout, in Scotland! A surprise item, not on the Order of Service, was a magnificent rendering of ‘The Holy City’ by Kepa and Obianuju (Uju) Njoku. Videos of the choir singing ‘Bogoroditse Djevo‘ by Arvo Pärt, and a carol written by the Cathedral choristers in 2016 with instruction from the then Director of Music Dr A-J Bethke, ‘Yazalw’imvana‘ (The Lamb has been born) can be found on the Cathedral website.  The video of the full service is still available on the Cathedral Facebook page.  And the previous week the 9:30 congregation (both in the Cathedral and online) had the joyful surprise of hearing Bayanda at the end of the service strike up Widor’s famous ‘Toccata’!

This year, due to concerns about the potential for spreading Covid, our children’s service was made available virtually, on the Cathedral Facebook page and via a YouTube link which was released at 4 p.m. on 24 December. This is still available for those who missed it. A small group of children from one family were the cast, augmented with a couple of puppets. The Hunter family provided the narrators, and Nicola Hunter’s orchestra of friends, ten-strong, reached new heights of professionalism. Their conductor’s hand is only just visible in the video, but of course that hand belonged to our tireless and inspiring Kutlwano Kepadisa!

While watching at home, children (and others) were encouraged to dress up as their favourite nativity characters to celebrate the birth of the Christ Child. As the narrator and author Revd Claire said, “Covid-19 has changed many things, but nothing has changed the wonder of God coming to earth in human form – he is ‘Emmanuel, God with us’.”

Kaylyn Bartis licensed

We welcomed a brand-new Lay Minister, Kaylyn Bartis, when Dean Andrew Hunter licensed her on behalf of the Bishop on Sunday 20 December. May God bless Kaylyn in her ministry with us!

It was no surprise that a great many people stayed at home for Christmas,  but Michael and Adrienne Whisson had a delightful brief stay in Cape Town with their daughter Rebecca and family, and enjoyed watching their grandchildren around the swimming pool.

Canon James Hoyle, at one time Diocesan Secretary, and a past Incumbent of Christ Church in Makhanda, died on 8 December in Somerset Place Frail Care. We pray for his son Clifton in the UK, and for the family of Audrey Holmes, who lived in her latter years, and died, with the CR Sisters. Bruce Smith, who died in Port Alfred, was a cousin of both Margie Antrobus and Peter Stockwell. Condolences to them, and to Sub-Dean Mzinzisi Dyantyi on the death of his aunt Caroline Dyantyi. Although many people survive Covid-19, it is a grim truth that it carries away others when we least expect it. Makhanda as a whole is shocked at the death of Augusta de Jager, a popular teacher at the TVET College, whose husband is Ds Strauss de Jager. Our special prayers are asked for Strauss who was also infected.

The final blow in what has been a year of tragedies and disappointments was the death on 30 December of Canon Suzanne Peterson. She had been living in retirement in Iowa, USA, and suffered a heart attack the previous week. Despite a quadruple bypass operation, she never recovered.

Canon Suzanne Peterson

Before the first women were ordained as priests in the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, when the idea was still foreign and controversial, David Russell, then Bishop of Grahamstown, invited Suzanne Peterson to come and work here for a while. She had been a priest in the Episcopal Church of the USA for more than a decade by then, and our Bishop licensed her to officiate as a priest. Within a very short time the “foreign” became familiar, and Suzanne’s delightful personality won over people wherever she went. We can remember with pride that the first ordination in this Province at which women were ordained priests was in Grahamstown Cathedral on 5 September 1992. Anyone born after that date must wonder what all the fuss was about! Suzanne had two stints of ministry in our Diocese, in Queenstown as well as Grahamstown, and made many friends, before returning to parish ministry in the States. After retiring she visited South Africa in 2017, and spent a socially active week in Grahamstown seeing as many people as possible. We join with her many friends in mourning her passing, and give thanks for her life and ministry.

Lockdown may have put the brakes on many activities, but we can give thanks for people who have used it as an opportunity to develop their God-given talents. One such is Crystal Warren, and we congratulate her on having a contribution included in a new devotional publication “In All Things”, which is available online, and is also being published in book form. Those who know Crystal, one of our Poets-in-Residence, will not be surprised that her contribution is in the form of poetry. Congratulations!

The “Happy New Year” wishes which echoed around 12 months ago sound mockingly in our ears now. The pandemic is not over, but very much around us. Sometimes we feel helpless, but we have been told what we can do to help. The actions (or inactions!) are small and may seem insignificant. They have been repeated to us so often that we can say them in our sleep. But they should be second nature. Wear a mask! Sanitise your hands! Don’t get too close to other people! Don’t get tired of doing the right thing. Ungadinwa nangomso!

May God bless us all in 2021.