As the month of July progressed, the government kept adjusting the regulations of “Level 3 lockdown” one way, or another, giving an impression of uncertainty and leaving many frustrated. More children returned to school on the 6th of the month, but then on the 27th all public schools were closed for four weeks, with very little notice. The ban on liquor sales, and a night-time curfew, were reinstated with even less notice. But at the same time, the reality of Covid-19 was being brought home to us every day, not just in news bulletins, but in the lives of people we know well.
On 12 July the virus claimed the life of Trevor Cowie, and his wife Celeste was also infected. Our prayers are with her, and we pray for the Kepadisa family, Kepa’s parents and brothers, who tested positive for the virus. They have been treating themselves at home in Gauteng, while Kepa himself was here in Makhanda. We give thanks that they are all making a good recovery, and that Duma Myemane, who also tested positive, is now well again after a period of self isolation. Recent shock news was of the death of one of our local clergy, Mvuleni Mvula, Rector of St Clement’s. Our prayers are asked for all his family. Sadly, the mother of one of our choir members, and junior Organ Scholar, Bayanda Mthetho, died on 3 July in Cape Town (not of Covid-19). We pray for him, and for our Churchwarden, Lungile Penxa, whose mother Nomvuzo died here in Makhanda on 30 July.
Mandy Bridger had to go to hospital for treatment to her feet, which she had hoped to avoid at this time. We give thanks that this was successful, and we also give thanks for the success of the treatment which June Venn had on her eye, in East London. Lynette Marais, who has cancer, is especially in our prayers at this time.
The Revd Andy Kruger
In the midst of these troubles the Cathedral community is called to continue being the Church, the Body of Christ. The peak of the pandemic is not a good time to be opening a building for gatherings, so worship continues to be online. Bible studies and meditation take place via Zoom or Facebook. Services are live-streamed via the Cathedral Facebook page: on weekdays, Morning and Evening Prayer; on Sundays, services which include music, readings and prayers contributed by members of the Cathedral family, and sermons. Audio recordings or text versions of the sermons can be found on the Sermons page of our website. On 12 July Andy Kruger was our preacher at Evening Prayer. A former Assistant Priest at the Cathedral, Andy is now Rector of Trinity Episcopal Church, Cranford, in the Diocese of New Jersey, USA. He assured us that he and his wife Heather and baby Edward are all doing well.
At our most recent Zoom “Tea after Church” meeting on Sunday 19 July, local congregants were joined by three from Cape Town, A-J Bethke’s parents Tony and Erica, and Dorothy Holder. Dorothy is still teaching private pupils flute, double bass and piano, but now all remotely. She demonstrated the challenges involved in showing the teacher an instrument as large as a double bass, using only a cellphone camera!
The Cathedral Covid Care group continues to collaborate with Food4Futures in fund-raising, packing and distributing food parcels to those who are most in need at this time. It turns out that some of our wonderful team who pack food parcels for the hungry are also talented pantsula dancers! They produced a show on the National Arts Festival Virtual Fringe called ‘The Pink Busters’.
A highlight of the Virtual National Arts Festival was the launch, also on the Fringe, of ‘Three Years in the Making’, a documentary video showcasing the Makhanda Kwantu Choir. Congratulations to Kutlwano Kepadisa (Kepa) the founder, conductor and inspiration of this wonderful home-grown community choir, which includes a number of past and present members of the Cathedral choir. The professional standard of the film, made by Evaan Ferreira, was superb. The “lock-down” Kwantu Choir have also produced an album with the same name. This can still be accessed on the Virtual Fringe website, but Kepa hopes to have CDs available in September. As a spin-off, we have been enjoying more sound clips of Kwantu during our live-streamed Sunday services!
Other creative Cathedral people have been getting their work published. Poet-in-Residence Crystal Warren, has four of her poems included in a new anthology, ‘The only Magic we know’. And Theo Duxbury collaborated on an article in the journal “Qualitative Research’, titled ‘Understanding critical concepts in engaged research: The case of a rural health development project in South Africa.’
News from the UK is that Barbara and Wilf Stout are rejoicing in the birth of another grandson. Albert (known as Bertie) was born on 18 July to Emily, wife of their son Mick. Considering the major surgery and treatment which Mick went through in 2018, it is a special joy to learn that he and all his family are well.
After a year and a half as Youth Intern at the Cathedral, Tandiwe Gabavana has been appointed as a Community Health Worker at Fort England Hospital. We shall miss her, but congratulate her on this appointment, and wish her every blessing in this important work.
It is good to welcome Rachel Hunter back home, to continue studying for her postgraduate teacher’s diploma course online. The students have been told that they will not be returning to UCT physically, although at some stage they will be required to do a shortened version of the teaching practice which is required as part of the course. With government schools closed for four weeks, there is uncertainty over when that may be. In the meantime it is good to have her back in Makhanda.
Rachel was part of the panel which discussed questions suggested by young people, at a meeting live-streamed via Facebook on Wednesday 22 July. Her fellow panellists were Kepa, and Asakhe Cuntsulana, while Dean Andrew Hunter chaired the discussion. The list of hard-hitting questions sent in numbered 16, ranging from sex and drugs to evolution and climate change. Not surprisingly, there was only time to discuss the first question! This challenged the Church on how to stand up for justice, peace and hope in times of turmoil. The panel agreed that Christians are called to love one another and bear one another’s burdens, to listen compassionately and be non-judgemental. The next session will be made available on the Cathedral’s newly launched YouTube channel, and will focus on gender based violence. Do visit the YouTube channel and subscribe to it.
May God sustain us all in these uncertain times, and bless us and those we love.
People and Places, July 2020
This issue of ‘People and Places’ appears in the middle of the National Arts Festival, a Festival like no Festival before it. We give thanks for the courage and creativity of the organisers and many artists who have made a Virtual Festival possible. On the first Festival Sunday, 28 June, the Cathedral’s live-streamed morning service included contributions from a wide variety of our musicians and poets. We heard our Director of Music Cameron Luke on the organ, his Assistant Kutlwano Kepadisa (Kepa) singing with Bayanda Mthetho, Asakhe Cuntsulana singing and accompanying himself on the kalimba, Chris Mann singing one of his song-poems, Crystal Warren reading one of her poems, Tyreece Burger playing the violin, and an anthem from the Makhanda Kwantu Choir! If you missed it and would like to hear it, click here.
On the afternoon of Sunday 14 June a concert was premiered on YouTube, featuring choirs from all over South Africa. This included an item from Kwantu Choir recorded at last year’s Masicule. If you missed it, catch up with it here.
As the month of June began, South Africa took the first tentative steps into Level Three of lockdown, while at the same time the news reminded us daily of the rapidly climbing Covid-19 infection and death rates. Grades 12 and 7 returned to school, wearing face-masks, and sitting in single desks, widely spaced. Good Shepherd School, where Revd Claire is the Chaplain, was among those to welcome the Grade Sevens. Children who themselves had health issues like asthma, or who lived with elderly or sick relatives, were allowed to stay at home. Sadly however we soon heard of various schools having to cope with the result of one or more of the pupils or staff being diagnosed with the virus – closing for a few days, and then re-opening. We continue to pray for teachers, children and all concerned.
While most high schools which opened their doors to their Grade 12s at the beginning of June were able to use several empty classrooms to accommodate them, this did not apply to Gadra Matric School for obvious reasons. However, with the loan of extra hall space and some juggling of time-tables, all the pupils were welcomed in, and Cathy Meiklejohn reported that they were eager to get back to work.
The Parish Office reopened on 10 June, with all protocols in place to safeguard those who work there, as well as visitors. The Cathedral however has not yet reopened for worship, as this will be a far more complicated and challenging process. Discussions continue at parish and diocesan level. Meanwhile, the weekly distribution of food parcels continues, working together with Food4Futures, and we give thanks for the regular donations which make this possible.
One unexpected benefit of the lockdown is that “visiting” preachers need not stir from their own homes. On 14 June we had the joy of welcoming the Revd David Lloyd-Jones, father of Glyn Lloyd-Jones, to preach at Evensong, although he was at home in Kokstad. And a few minutes after that service ended, Revd Claire was the visiting preacher at a morning service in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, USA, at the invitation of her friend Mary-Ellen Ashcroft. Mary-Ellen is the Vicar there, and Nicola Hunter has been staying with her while waiting to see what arrangements can be made for her to return to South Africa. It is hoped that will be in August. The COTT students assigned to the Cathedral for pastoral experience are able to take a turn at preaching, as is expected of them. Bongumusa Thusini’s sermon was due to be heard on Sunday evening, 21 June, but due to technical problems went out instead on the Wednesday following. And Miseka Makaputa was the preacher at Evensong on 28 June.
We pray for the family of Stephen Holder, a well known organist and music teacher in Makhanda who died on 10 June. He was a driving force behind the popular annual Big Hymn Sings, and was among those who assisted by playing the Cathedral organ during 2017 after the departure of A-J Bethke. His memorial service which was live-streamed from Commemoration Church on 28 June was a feast of wonderful music, including contributions from Cameron Luke on the organ, and choral items by a handful of Kwantu choir members conducted by Kepa. It can still be accessed here. Prayers are also asked for a member of our far-flung online congregation, Elsa Blackbeard, on the death of her brother Owen. Like Elsa, he lived in Australia. Sadly among the many who have died of Covid-19 in recent days in the Eastern Cape was a lay member of our Cathedral Chapter, Nontobeko Moletsane. Her family are in our prayers, as well as her fellow members of Chapter.
What a lovely couple! Pat and Sally Terry.
Prayers are asked for Jennie McGarvie, Jane Bradshaw’s daughter, and Gill Meyer’s daughter Katie Fair. Among our “gathered congregation” who tune in to Cathedral live-streamed services, Namso Nyamela in Pretoria has been suffering from shingles, while Lesley-Ann Foster in East London has been diagnosed with Covid-19. We pray for them.
We give thanks that Paul Walters has improved in health sufficiently to be able, at last, to begin to take the medication which was prescribed after his operation in February. In Scotland, Wilf Stout fell ill at the beginning of June with suspected Covid-19. We give thanks that, although it took quite a while, he has now made a good recovery from whatever it was. Barbara, happily, has remained free of infection.
Warm congratulations to Pat and Sally Terry, on their Golden Wedding Anniversary! They were married 50 years ago on 27 June 1970. The restrictions of these times led them to be creative, and their Zoom get-together of relatives brought together members of both sides of the family from England, Scotland, Wales, Mauritius, South Africa and California, some of whom had never met each other before!
It is a blessing to be able to keep in touch with friends and family all over the world, and in some cases to make contact again with people we have not heard from for years. May God bless us all, and those we love and pray for.
People and Places, June 2020
Those who were members of the Cathedral family in 2011-2012 will remember the Revd Andy Kruger. He was attached to the Cathedral as a Deacon, and later an Assistant Priest, while living at the College of the Transfiguration and studying for his Masters in Theology with the University of KwaZulu-Natal. His girlfriend at the time was Heather Prince, a Rhodes student, and both were deeply involved in our student ministry. They announced their engagement in 2012, and left at the end of the year to return to the Diocese of Natal, where they married. Later they moved to the USA, where Andy is Priest-in-Charge of a parish in Cranford, New Jersey. They wrote to the Dean to share the exciting news that they were expecting a baby, and to invite anyone in the parish to “attend” a babyshower on 9 May via Zoom! The resulting party was enormous fun, with a tour of the nursery led by Heather, online guessing games devised by her sister (presumably in South Africa?) and prayers led by South African priest Bruce Jenneker. In fact it became quite hard to know where everyone was. At one time there were 89 participants – quite a crowd! Andy and Heather were looking the picture of health, and the baby was due on 4 June. However, Edward Nathaniel Prince Kruger was in a hurry, and made his entrance on 20 May! Our congratulations to the proud parents, and we pray God’s richest blessings on them and on Edward.
On Sunday 10 May we held our first “Virtual Tea After Church” via Zoom at 11:00, and a great many of the congregation put in appearances, Pat Terry with a beard most people had not seen before. We met for the first time one of the regulars at our daily live-streamed services, Neale Andrews, and learned that he is a lay leader in Prestbury, Pietermaritzburg. We also met his companion in lockdown, a delightful little blue bird called Percy who perched on his shoulder, and added a few tweets. At a second gathering on 24 May it was a pleasure to be joined by our Bishop, Ebenezer Ntlali.
The daily services of Morning and Evening Prayer which are streamed live on the Cathedral Facebook page by Dean Andrew and the Revd Claire are gathering a number of people from far beyond Makhanda, like former chorister and lay minister Namso Nyamela in Pretoria, and Maria Kirner in Sweden. Among our most regular attenders is Elsa Blackbeard in Australia. We held her in our prayers recently when she was in hospital with a stroke, and it was good to hear that she has now been discharged. We pray for her complete recovery. Christopher Moore, who was Director of Music at the Cathedral in 2005, and subsequently returned to the UK, “followed” the Cathedral Facebook page. On 31 May one lesson was read by Nicola Hunter in the USA. Her parents join her in attending services at “Spirit of the Wilderness” Episcopal Church in Grand Marais, where their friend Mary-Ellen Ashcroft is the Vicar. After they have finished live-streaming Evening Prayer here, Andrew and Claire attend their morning service!
We pray for Jenny Reynolds, Rose Buchner’s sister, on the death of her son Robert in the UK.
Prayers are asked for Canon James Hoyle, who had another stroke. The coronavirus is everywhere, and the reality comes home to us when people we know and love are among those infected. At the time of writing Wilf Stout, who with his wife Barbara started our Choir School and jointly led it from 2008-12, was suffering from the symptoms and awaiting a definite diagnosis in Scotland. We hold him and Barbara in our prayers. We have been praying for the Revd Wilfred and Debbie Meyer in Cape Town, coronavirus patients. Debbie required an operation, and we give thanks for its success. A former Dean of Grahamstown, Bishop Godfrey Ashby, now 89 and living in a care home in the UK, was also diagnosed with the virus, and we give thanks that he is now recovering.
We have good news from the Revd Idowu Akinloye in Ogbomoso, Nigeria, where he, like us, is locked down. He has been told that Rhodes University has approved the award of his PhD in Law. Warm congratulations to him! Idowu thanks us for our support, prayers and encouragement during his studies, and hopes that it will be possible in due course for him to return to take up his postdoctoral fellowship. He sends his kind regards, and those of his wife Aduragbemi and daughter Greatness, to all the Cathedral family.
Congratulations to Rachel Hunter on her 25th Birthday. She spent her birthday in lockdown in Cape Town, and was showered in love with messages from near and far!
Colin Lewis, Author
From Wales we hear that Colin Lewis has just had a book published, for teenagers and above. This is based on the story of a horse he bought and trained three years ago, and is called ‘Maisie, a Welsh Cob in mid Wales’. Maisie has been working at a trail riding centre “carrying clients across the roof of Wales” and recently gave birth to a lovely filly. Colin’s wife Marijke produces a weekly Covid news-sheet to circulate around their parish.
Crystal Warren, Poet-in-Residence
On 10 May Crystal Warren was installed and licensed as a Poet-in-Residence of the Cathedral. This event had been long planned for this date, but instead of it taking place in the Cathedral it was held in the context of a live-streamed Evensong. Crystal joins Chris Mann and Julia Skeen, the Cathedral’s other two Artists-in-Residence. At our services that day she read three of her poems, which can be found here.
Another planned event which was transformed in a similar way was the commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the arrival of the 1820 Settlers in the Eastern Cape. This took place at the 9:30 a.m. service on Sunday 17 May. Our usual gathered congregation of online worshippers from around the country and beyond was increased to over 500 when it was joined by descendents of 1820 Settlers, some from near at hand but others from Durban, Zimbabwe and Australia. A couple of them even discovered they had a common ancestor, which made them (very!) distant cousins.
Even before the further easing of lockdown restrictions to Level 3 on 1 June, it was possible for people to return home after extended stays. We welcome back Elizabeth Breetzke, who returned from Cape Town after her treatment there, during which she had been staying with her daughter. And Shirley Horan, daughter of Geoff and Margie Antrobus, flew home with her three sons to her husband Mark in Canada after a holiday in South Africa which had been intended to last four weeks, but which stretched to eleven! One of our “long-distance” congregation, Simone Tietz, who was a member of our student group some years ago and is now a teacher in Swakopmund, Namibia, was stuck for weeks in Germany, but is delighted to report that she will soon be able to fly home.
President Ramaphosa’s announcement that places of worship would be allowed to reopen their doors from 1 June came a surprise. The conditions are not easy to fulfil, and both the Parish Council and the Chapter of the Diocese will be holding discussions with much prayer before any steps are taken. In the meantime, the important point to remember is that, as the Dean said in his sermon of 17 May, the Church has never closed, only the buildings. We are the Church, and as the Body of Christ we can continue to worship him in our homes, and together via the internet, and we can be his hands and feet in showing compassion to those in greatest need, through the food parcel distribution. May God bless us all.
People and Places, May 2020
As I began to write this, I was struck by the relevance of a sentence from the Gospel for the 2nd Sunday of Easter, 19 April: “Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them, and said, ‘Peace be with you’.” Some of us are entirely on our own during the lockdown, and obeying the instructions to stay at home if we don’t work in essential services. Some of us are locked down in family situations, like Geoff and Margie Antrobus whose daughter Shirley Horan and her three boys are unable to return home to Canada. Whatever your situation, whoever and wherever you are, the Lord Jesus is right there with you, and none of us need to fear or to be lonely.
The plight of people who have suddenly lost their income is another matter. There are no cars for the car guards to look after, and informal traders find their customers have disappeared. Children who relied on school meals were left hungry when the schools closed. The Cathedral immediately put out an appeal so that there might be vouchers or food parcels provided for the hungry. In this we were not alone, and partnerships have developed with other groups in Makhanda such as Food4Futures. Between the start of the lockdown on 27 March and noon on 23 April, Food4Futures with the Cathedral gave out a total of 435 food parcels, and 288 food vouchers. By that date we had received R71,100 in donations to the Cathedral Covid Care fund and had spent a total of R50,390. On that day, 23 April, Cathedral members, with friends from Food4Futures and others from around town, met to pack food parcels in the Hall. We give thanks for the generosity of those who gave, and those who did the packing. Although the Government is also stepping in to provide increased funding, and food parcels for recipients of social grants, these do not stretch nearly far enough, and the efforts of civil society and the churches are vital. Everyone can help, whether it is packing or delivering food, or keeping those financial contributions flowing. Donations can be channelled through the Cathedral bank account: Cathedral of St Michael & St George, FNB Grahamstown, Account number 52320792164. Reference: “Covid Care”. For more pictures, see our Gallery.
Stones family members “in the congregation” in Jo’burg
Faced with the necessity to keep the Cathedral locked up, Dean Andrew and the Revd Claire have been live-streaming daily services on the Cathedral Facebook page: Morning Prayer at 9 a.m. and Evening Prayer at 5 p.m. On Sundays the morning service is at 9:30, with a homily and Spiritual Communion, as well as increasing musical input from Director of Music Cameron Luke, his Assistant Kutlwano Kepadisa (Kepa), and Asakhe Cuntsulana, and lessons read by different parishioners. The appreciation for these acts of worship can be judged from the fact that the “congregation” often includes people joining in from far and wide. It has been good to welcome among others Dorothy Holder and Rachel Hunter in Cape Town, Beccy Stones and family in Johannesburg, and even Cathy Euijen in Abu Dhabi. Dean Andrew and Claire have also started a Faith-Sharing WhatsApp group, sharing daily voice-note reflections, which anyone may join, by sending a WhatsApp to https://chat.whatsapp.com/KPIVZJ3p9Vi4Bqr0UK6R8J
Shortly before the lockdown, Lorraine Cassim, who had been living with the CR Sisters, left for Port Elizabeth. She is looking forward to moving into her own place in Buffelsfontein retirement centre. Our prayers and good wishes go with her. Jane Bradshaw has retired as Manager of the Eluxolweni Shelter, and handed over to Dansill Bouwer, who brings a wealth of experience to the job. Jane will retain her connection with Eluxolweni with a position on the Management Committee, as Treasurer. She is pleased to report that the boys, who initially rebelled against the coronavirus lockdown restrictions and tried every means to “escape”, have now come to the conclusion that the safest place for them is inside Eluxolweni.
News from the USA is that Nicola Hunter has finished her two months working with the delightful husky dogs in northern Minnesota, and is now staying with Claire’s friend Mary-Ellen Ashcroft, who lives not far away. She and the family are praying she will be able to fly home as planned in June.
The Dongwana family are in our prayers, after the death of Yoliswa’s aunt, Evelyn Nongazi Maxakala, in East London. And we continue to pray for Theodore Duxbury, his father and sister, together in Somerset East following the death of his mother. Their plans for a memorial service are on hold until large gatherings are again permitted. We pray for Heather Tracey, who fell again before Easter and broke her nose. The fall also injured again the ribs which she had broken previously. More recently Pat Terry fell in his garden and broke his ankle, and we pray also for his healing, as well as for Kungawo, grandson of Pinky Matya, and Joss Wortley’s son Ross. Although Elizabeth Breetzke has finished her course of treatment in Cape Town, she has not been able to return home because of restrictions on crossing provincial borders. She remains with her daughter and family, while Peter is still here in Grahamstown/ Makhanda. When Chris Mann finished his course of treatment in Port Elizabeth, he and Julia were allowed to travel home because there was no provincial border involved. Chris wasted no time in giving us a precious gift, in the form of three monologues on YouTube. These take us in imagination into the memories of three witnesses to the Resurrection of Jesus: one of the disciples at Emmaus, Mary Magdalene and “doubting” Thomas. They can be found on our Videos page. And on YouTube you can hear him singing his song-poem in praise of South African women, ‘Ms South Africa’.
Congratulations to John Suggit, honorary Canon of Grahamstown, who turned 98 on 15 April. A former Warden of St Paul’s College (now COTT), Rhodes Professor of Theology and Cathedral Chancellor, Canon Suggit has enjoyed a long retirement in the Western Cape which has been enormously productive, as he continues writing and publishing books. In the photo he is shown with the Archbishop, who said of him “In turbulent times, John Suggit’s writings have played an important role in underpinning our Church and its witness”.
News is just in that Philip Burnett, who as a young man directed the Cathedral choir during 2003-4, was awarded his PhD by Bristol University just before the UK went into lockdown. Congratulations to Philip!
As schools and universities embark on teaching in a new way, using online lessons and lectures, teachers find themselves having to learn new lessons themselves. Jessica and Glyn Lloyd-Jones are both engaged in this process. Former Director of Music A-J Bethke is spending the lockdown in Cape Town with his parents Tony and Erica. He is taking the opportunity to record his lectures for UKZN, while the grandparents play their part by keeping his little boy Caleb occupied. His aunt, the Revd Margaret Fourie, is in Johannesburg at present with her brother. She was visiting from the Isle of Man when South Africa was locked down – and so was her island home.
On the eve of Freedom Day over 1000 South Africans sang our National Anthem in a virtual massed choir. Among them were Kepa, with members of the Makhanda Kwantu Choir and Rhodes University Chamber Choir, including Aphiwe Mame, Tandiwe Gabavana and Xolisa Foley. You can hear them (and try to spot their faces!) on YouTube. The names of all the participants are listed at the end of the video.
The day this edition of ‘People and Places’ was published, 1 May, our national lockdown was eased from Level Five to Level Four. This writer was thrilled to take a walk outside the confines of her residential complex for the first time in five weeks – how beautiful the world is! We pray that the easing of restrictions will indeed benefit the economy, and especially our most vulnerable citizens, but that at the same time that people will take seriously the risk of infection, and obey the rules which help to keep us all safe. May God bless us all.
People and Places, April 2020
Who would have believed it? One month ago we were worshipping together, singing God’s praises together, having fun and fellowship. We were making new friends, visiting the sick, celebrating or commiserating together. Now we are apart. The Cathedral, and all the churches, are locked. The schools are closed. The streets are (at least supposed to be) quiet. The word on everyone’s lips is “Coronavirus”. We are in Lock-Down! But be not afraid – God is right here in Lock-Down with us. Strange though it may seem, even as the church doors have closed, prayer has become more popular. Unexpected people will say “God bless you” and mean it. The Lord’s Prayer suddenly becomes more meaningful. “Save us in the time of trial and deliver us from evil” can bring tears to your eyes. Generosity breaks out when people remember that “your can’t take it with you”. Life is unpredictable, and each day precious. Even though we cannot leave our homes, the sky and the flowers are there to be treasured. So, we look back down the telescope towards the beginning of the month of March, which somehow seems long, long ago.
This year we welcomed a wonderful group of new students, who have been attending our evening student services, as well as morning Eucharists. On the weekend of 29 February – 1 March new and old members of the group spent time together at Fairewood Outdoor Education Centre enjoying Fellowship, Friendship, Food and Fun. With members of the group coming from all over this country, plus Zimbabwe, Botswana and Uganda, there was scope to learn praise songs in each other’s languages, as well as hiking, swimming, playing biblical charades and praying with and for each other. As they are now forced to be apart, we know that this time of bonding will be all the more special as they look back on it. Many thanks to all in the Cathedral family who supported this weekend with financial donations, food and transport. For more photos, see our Gallery.
The same weekend saw the Choir welcome Junaid Douglas, who had been serving his time as a Probationer faithfully, and who was admitted to full membership as a Chorister. We pray God’s blessing on his ministry in music. A number of new Probationers have begun the same journey. Some from VG, Graeme and PJ Olivier had attended one Cathedral Sung Eucharist before the Lock-Down. A large group of younger children from Good Shepherd Christian School will in due course be taking musical instruction from Assistant Director of Music Kutlwano Kepadisa (Kepa) before they start singing in the Cathedral.
Masicule is a musical highlight of the Makhanda year, especially for young people, and this year’s Masicule concerts took place on Sunday 8 and Monday 9 March, less than a week before the declaration of South Africa’s State of Disaster, and before any cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed in the Eastern Cape. What memorable evenings! There were 500 youngsters singing their hearts out on the stage, and more who did not even fit on the stage. Our own Kepa was the Musical Director, and did much of the conducting, and all the choirs which he conducts featured: the Cathedral Choir, Kwantu Choir, Graeme College’s Leopard Voices, and the Rhodes University Chamber Choir which he co-directs with our Director of Music Cameron Luke. The guest artist was Nomfundo Xaluva, a jazz singer, keyboard player and composer. Her “Bayathetha”, arranged by members of the Kwantu Choir and RUCC, was for this member of the audience the highlight of the whole show. And, just when Masicule was fading from our memories, BBC Radio 4 broadcast a programme “A City that Sings” on 30 March, and made it possible for people all over the world to hear about it. To download the half-hour programme, click here. What a joy, when we were in lock-down, to hear Kepa’s voice, among others, and the wonderful massed voices of the young people! Congratulations to every single person involved in this tremendous event.
Our Annual Vestry Meeting took place on 15 March, and the newly elected Parish Councillors and Wardens were admitted to their offices the following Sunday, at the last Sung Eucharist before the Lock-Down. We congratulate Churchwardens Lungile Penxa and Ronaldo Burger, Alternate Churchwarden Theo Duxbury, and the Councillors Katie Appollis, Rodney Bridger, Nomakwezi Gabavana and Tandiwe Gabavana, and pray God’s blessing on them in their leadership roles in this interesting and challenging year. Given that it is not so long that women have even been on Parish Councils, it is definitely the first time that a grandmother and her granddaughter have been elected onto the Cathedral PCC at the same meeting! The Cathedral Student Ministry (CSM) and Community of the Resurrection (CR) choose their own representatives, who are ex officio members of the PCC, as are all the clergy.
From 17 – 19 March, Revd Claire led a semi-silent retreat for nine members of the Cathedral’s weekly Meditation Group. The setting was the lovely Pomeroy Lodges, in a private nature reserve about 20 km from Port Alfred. They enjoyed corporate acts of worship (morning informal Eucharists and Night Prayer) interspersed with guided meditations and times of solitude. The early birds met at 6:30 a.m. for a hike in the reserve, and delighted in the beauty of nature including giraffe, zebra, blesbok, wildebeest, impala, kudu, waterbuck, warthogs and more (and got covered in tick bites!) During each meal, they intentionally got to know one another, by asking two people to share something of their life story. It was a very special time away to be renewed in faith and hope, in the face of the increasing spread of the coronavirus. They hope to make this an annual event.
Members of the Archdeaconry DYG (Diocesan Youth Guild) gathered at the 9:30 service in the Cathedral on 22 March, to renew their vows with Archdeaconry DYG Chaplain Revd Gwen Mvula. New member Chumile Mvula took her vows for the first time. We give thanks for the commitment of these young people from the Cathedral, St Philip’s and St Augustine’s Churches, and pray for them all. For more photos, see our Gallery.
Congratulations to John Walters, son of Paul and June, who moved to the UK with his young family at the beginning of the year in faith, but with no job. He has now been appointed Head of Art at the Pilgrim School in Winchester, which is the Choir School of Winchester Cathedral. This is a wonderful opportunity, and we pray that he will be greatly blessed when he can eventually take up the work after the extended UK Easter holidays.
We pray for Theo Duxbury, student leader and Alternate Churchwarden, whose mother died very suddenly just before the Lock-Down. We also pray for all Cathedral people who have family members far away, and do not know when they may be reunited. In particular, Nicola Hunter in Minnesota, USA, has no idea when and how she will return to South Africa, given that the flight she was booked on in June has been cancelled. We also think of Cameron Luke, our Director of Music, whose mother and siblings are in Cornwall, UK, and there are many others. Shirley Horan, daughter of Margie and Geoff Antrobus, and her three sons, are here visiting from Canada and are faced with similar uncertainty about their travel home.
There are some less cheerful moments when it feels like we are in a nightmare Lent which is going on indefinitely, when instead of merely “giving up” alcohol or chocolate we are forced to give up shopping and going for walks, hugs and visiting friends and even church and Lent courses! But viewed from another perspective it can be a time for drawing closer to Jesus, a time for reading, praying, thinking things through. Thanks to technology we have phones and email, and can communicate with friends and family. The Cathedral Facebook page has been collecting “likes” at a rapid pace. Dean Andrew is offering prayer times three times a day on the Cathedral Facebook page (09:00, 12:00 and 17:00 on weekdays) and there is an act of worship at 09:30 on Sundays which includes music and a Spiritual Communion. Please join us when worship is “live-streamed”, or catch up later.
May we all be kept safe, and blessed in unexpected ways.
I end with a prose poem which I believe has gone viral on social media, although I actually heard it on the radio – thanks to Pat Terry’s brother Peter on Classic 1027. It was written recently by an American retired teacher and chaplain Kitty O’Meara who lives in Madison WI, perhaps inspired by an Italian poem by Irene Vella whose husband was sick with the coronavirus. May it indeed be prophetic:
And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.
And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.
People and Places, March 2020
On the first Sunday in February learners from no fewer than nine Makhanda schools gathered in the Cathedral, wearing their uniforms, for what has become the traditional Back to School Service. Schools represented were Nyaluza High School, Nombulelo High School, Victoria Girls’ High School, Graeme College, Victoria Primary School, Good Shepherd School, PJ Olivier, DSG and Kingswood College. St Andrew’s College was invited, but was unable to attend. Dean Andrew’s challenging sermon addressed issues of bullying and violence in schools, and those present, learners, teachers, parents and guardians, stood up in their groups and made promises, to do their best in the year ahead. Some days before the service Kutlwano Kepadisa (Kepa), the Assistant Director of Music, got together a group of singers from the various schools to form a “Back to School Choir”, which led the singing with a swing. Listen to them singing “Bawo Thixo Somandla“, conducted by the Head Chorister of the Cathedral Choir, Nzulu Nzwana. For more pictures, see our Gallery.
The following week there was an evening service with a completely different atmosphere, but equally moving. The small choir Saeculum Aureum, consisting almost entirely of adult members of the Cathedral Choir, led the singing at a service of Choral Evensong to celebrate the life and works of the poet-priest George Herbert. Several of Herbert’s poems are in the English Hymnal and well-loved (e.g. “Teach me my God and King” and “Let all the world in every corner sing”). Others were read out, and one was the anthem, “Ah my dear angrie Lord”, to a setting by Christopher Cockburn, a former Director of Music at this Cathedral. The Canticles were by another former Director, A-J Bethke.
A warm welcome to Jonathan Hughes, a first-year student from Port Elizabeth, who has been appointed as a Cathedral Organ Scholar. Studying chemistry and music, Jonathan will have organ lessons from our Director of Music Cameron Luke, and receive a bursary paid for by the sponsors of the Makana Choir School. You may spot him singing in the bass line of the choir, or in the organ loft with Cameron.
Since the departure of Ayanda Dabengwa at the end of last year, the Cathedral community has been praying for someone to assist Ikhona Mvaphantsi with Children’s Church. We are delighted that our prayers have now been answered, with the arrival in the congregation of Pinky Matya, a recently retired teacher with Children’s Church experience. We give thanks to God for her, and pray for her ministry together with Ikhona.
Mopping up in the Lady Chapel.
Prayers for rain have been amply answered in this area, and the Deanery tanks and many others happily overflowed. Less happy was the discovery was that when the rain is extremely violent, the roof of the Lady Chapel leaks! Considerable mopping-up operations ensued, and an insurance claim is pending. Another mishap on church property was when Geoff Antrobus stumbled in the lane next to the Bishop’s office door, and landed flat on his face, which required stitches, but we give thanks that no bones were broken. Another senior Cathedral member nursing bruises is Andrew Tracey, who tripped over his cat at home, and landed on his back. We pray for their complete recovery.
Please pray also for Paul Walters, who after an operation in Greenacres on 13 February, had to be taken back to Port Elizabeth to deal with blood clots in his lungs. We give thanks that after a few days in St George’s, giving him a chance to compare hospitals, while June stayed in a B&B, he was discharged and sent home with strict instructions to remain as immobile as possible (though not actually in bed) while recuperation continues.
Ernest Bridger died on 24 February. He was the father of Rodney and Donovan Bridger and Michelle Burger, father-in-law of Ronaldo Burger, and Mandy and Davidean Bridger, and very much a part of the Cathedral family over many years. We give thanks for all that he contributed over the course of his long life, and pray for his many relatives. We pray also for Sub-Dean Mzi Dyantyi on the death of his aunt on 12 February, and for Lou-Anne Liebenberg whose uncle died on 17 February.
It was good to welcome Tom and Dorothy Linthicum back on a visit from the USA. They were previously on the staff at the College of the Transfiguration. Lorraine Nicholson, a former stalwart of the Cathedral AWF, attended a service on 23 February, while visiting from Devon, in the UK.
News from the far north of the USA is that Nicola Hunter has quickly settled into her temporary job at Points Unknown in Minnesota. She has already mastered the art of driving a sled drawn by a team of husky dogs, which is called “mushing”! Having registered as a Vet student in Pretoria this January, she was given credits for the first 6 months thanks to her years of Medicine and Animal Science at Stellenbosch University, and will only need to report for lectures in July at the start of the 2nd semester. So she seized the moment and has taken up this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to gain veterinary experience with working dogs. The Revd Dr Mary-Ellen Ashcroft (who has preached at our Cathedral) lives nearby, and has opened her home to Nicola on her days off.
Pancake Pandemonium reigned in St George’s Hall on Shrove Tuesday, 25 February. The hot weather did not deter Sally Terry and her hardy band of pancake makers. One estimate was that around 1000 pancakes were made! The word went out far and wide, and throngs gathered to enjoy their supper on the premises or buy pancakes to take home. After deducting expenses, the profit of just over R7,750 went to the Bishop’s Lenten Appeal. Congratulations to the team! For more pictures, see our Gallery.
Lent began with a solemn Ash Wednesday choral Eucharist, at which the Revd Claire in her sermon challenged us on giving, praying and fasting. May Lent be a blessed time for us all.
People and Places, February 2020
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…