A warm welcome to newcomers to our Cathedral, especially new students. We also welcome back those returning. This year we welcome two new faces in the parish office. Jackie Russion is the Office Cleaner and Messenger, while Zezethu Flani who has done computer training at Gadra, joins the team for a year as Office Intern, to gain experience. And if her surname seems familiar, yes, you are right, she’s the daughter of Dinah, who worked for the parish for so many years!
Throughout 2019 Maggy Clarke was involved at a distance with editing a book of many people’s memories of the early years of the Anglican Cathedral of the Holy Nativity in Pietermaritzburg, which was built while she and her family were living there, and dedicated in 1981. The book, ‘People of Reconciliation’ was compiled by the first Dean of that cathedral, John Forbes. Maggy flew to KwaZulu-Natal to attend the book launch on 30 November, which took place in the cathedral itself, and stayed with John and his wife Elaine. It was very special not only to meet up with the other members of the editorial team, but also with people who had lived and worshipped with her in Pietermaritzburg, some of whom she had not seen for over 30 years.
Tim Williams, a retired doctor and faithful member of the congregation, died on 16 January. We pray for his wife Debbie and the family.
During December, Heather Tracey slipped and fell, when she had been speaking at someone’s funeral in Port Elizabeth. As a result she broke some ribs, although the extent of her injuries was not realised at first. We give thanks that even when confined to a wheel-chair she retained her good spirits, and that she was soon back in the congregation and making a good recovery. Prayers are asked for Chris Mann and Elizabeth Breetzke, undergoing treatment, and for Jane Bradshaw’s brother Dave Mullins. Sarah James, who created the multi-media presentation Masithi Amen which can be found on our website, is recovering from having her wisdom teeth extracted, but plans to be back for the beginning of term, when she will be starting her History Honours. Please pray for her as she continues to live with scoliosis, while awaiting an operation towards the end of the year.
The Hunter family gathered in Stellenbosch in December to celebrate with Rachel on the occasion of her graduation. We congratulate her, and wish her well as she goes on to study for her teacher’s diploma at UCT. Her sister Nicola, with a year of Animal Science from Stellenbosch under her belt, is now registered at Pretoria University prior to veterinary studies at Ondestepoort.
The Rhodes Chamber Choir has the reputation of being an environment where romance flourishes. A generation ago that was where David (now the Revd) Lloyd-Jones and Barbara (also now the Revd Lloyd-Jones) met. And more recently, in what is perhaps a first for the RUCC, after their son Glyn met Jessica Smith in the same choir, a wedding was the result! Glyn and Jessica’s marriage took place in the Cathedral on 21 December, and the whole parish was invited. The service was predictably and delightfully full of wonderful music. A choir was gathered from far and wide, consisting of present and former members of the Cathedral Choir, Pro Carmine, Saeculum Aureum – and of course the Rhodes University Chamber Choir! The setting for the Nuptial Mass was Haydn’s Little Organ Mass, and the organ was played by our Director of Music Cameron Luke. Former Director of Music A-J Bethke was invited to conduct. He is now on the staff of the Music Department of the KZN University in Durban, and he flew with his three-year-old son Caleb to Cape Town, left Caleb with his parents and a day later took the overnight bus to Makhanda, arriving the morning before the wedding. Margie Antrobus, Sally Terry and a team oversaw the wedding reception, which was a splendid bring-and-share tea in St George’s Hall. Fellow chorister Charlie Antrobus was Glyn’s Best Man.
The evening after the wedding saw our Nine Lessons and Carols, another wonderful choral service, at which members of the Cathedral choir were joined by past choristers and friends. Most notably among their number were Glyn and Jessica Lloyd-Jones, with Jessica singing the solo verse at the beginning of ‘Once in Royal David’s City’. Cameron Luke and his Assistant Kutlwano Kepadisa (Kepa) shared the conducting, and the Director played the organ. Highlights included ‘Bogoroditse Djevo’ (Hail Mary) by Arvo Part, ‘The Lamb’ by John Tavener, and a delightful setting of ‘We three Kings’ by Philip Stopford. Unfortunately by that time AJ Bethke was on the bus again, on his way back to Cape Town.
During January Jessica’s parents, Alfred and Leonie Smith, came back to visit her while they were still on leave in South Africa. Since 2015 they have been based in McLeod Ganj, the home of the Dalai Lama in the far north of India, where they have been learning Tibetan, teaching English, and learning and teaching much about the respective cultures and beliefs of the Buddhist and Christian ways of life. During their visit to Makhanda they spent an evening with Geoff Antrobus’s Bible Study group and shared their fascinating story.
On Christmas Eve children and their families gathered in the Cathedral for a (very!) informal service of Blessing of the Crib, with an impromptu Nativity Scene, coordinated by Rachel Hunter. Singing of familiar carols was led by a group of nine talented young instrumentalists, mainly string players, conducted by Kepa. While many Cathedral families were away for Christmas, we welcomed a number of visitors, some of whom were old friends such as Dorothy Holder.
A film about Amasango Career School, made in 2015, was shown after SABC2’s ‘Slice of Light’ at 11:30 on Sunday 5 January. For those who missed it, it can be watched on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-HOWUIBhek
The now traditional Epiphany Service of Lights took place the same evening, followed as always by sherry and the ‘Three Kings Cake’. This is baked with a dry bean concealed in the dough, and the person who finds the bean in their slice is supposed to bake the cake the following Epiphany. Strangely enough at Epiphany 2019 nobody found the bean! And even more strange, although Penny Whitford, who kindly volunteered to bake the cake this time, definitely included a bean – once again nobody found it! A volunteer has again been found for 2021…