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…