People and Places 2021


People and Places, December 2021

November began with Local Government elections taking place all over South Africa on the first of the month. We congratulate Ros and Roger Embling’s son Geoff on his election as DA Councillor for Ward 4, and Jane Bradshaw on being elected as one of the five Proportional Representation Councillors who have taken their seats as members of a new local party, the Makana Citizens’ Front. We pray for them, among the 13 opposition councillors, and for the 14 majority (ANC) councillors, that they will work together to ensure honest and efficient delivery of services to all citizens of Makana.

Spring in the Sub-Deanery garden

Anyone who travels through Makhanda in a vehicle will have felt the difference with pleasure, when passing down Somerset Street, New Street, Hill Street or High Street. These have been completely re-surfaced (not just patched!) The work was paid for by the Provincial Roads Department, not the Municipality, and we only wish they had extended it further. We also give thanks for bounteous supplies of rain, although prayers are needed for communities in the Southern Cape which received too much rain at one time, resulting in floods and the loss of properties and possessions. The garden of the sub-deanery has responded well both to the rain and to the careful attention of Whitie the gardener, with new and colourful growth.

Canon Andrew Hunter

Warm congratulations to our former Dean, Andrew Hunter, now Rector of St Faith’s Plumstead. At the recent meeting of the Synod of Bishops he was honoured by being made a Provincial Canon. This is an honour similar to ‘Honorary Canon’ within a Diocese, but is awarded to priests whose service is felt to be of special value throughout the whole of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa. How good it is that Andrew’s contribution to the ACSA has been recognised in this way!

Crystal Warren

Book Dash is a non-profit organisation which aims to flood South Africa with high-quality African picture books for little children in many languages. Among the many authors and illustrators volunteering their talents is our Cathedral Artist-in-Residence Crystal Warren. She was thrilled to see in print her first Book Dash publication, ‘The Best Nest’, with lively and colourful illustrations by Megan Vermaak. Not only that, but she has just had a poem accepted by the AVBOB Poetry competition. You can read it here. Well done, Crystal!
Our sympathy and prayers go to Zikhona Mbonde, the Cathedral Office Intern, on the death of her grandfather Jackson Mbonde. We also remember Robin Murray, a former Rector of St Paul’s Port Alfred, who had retired with his wife Vanessa, also a priest, to Johannesburg. Robin suffered a stroke after contracting Covid, and never recovered, dying on 1 November. We hold Vanessa and the family in our prayers. November, with All Saints’ Day, All Souls’ Day and Remembrance Sunday, is a month with a focus on those who have gone before us. It was a great joy to welcome back the Cathedral Consort to sing at the evening Eucharist for All Souls on Sunday 7 November. The Cathedral Consort is a small group of highly skilled adult singers, which often sings unaccompanied. On this occasion they offered several movements from the Mozart Requiem, which were accompanied on the piano by John Jackson. You can listen to them singing the Introit and Kyrie, and the ‘Lacrimosa’, on our YouTube channel. There were only eight singers on this occasion, and even more remarkably the pianist (who did the work of a whole orchestra) was also the preacher. To read John Jackson’s enlightening sermon click here.
Pat and Sally Terry are rejoicing in the news of the birth of a third granddaughter, born to their daughter Helen in the UK. Known as Tilly, her full names are Matilda Bluebell. Grandma Sally observed that is what you get if you allow a three-year-old sibling to name a baby, but added, “bluebells are my favourite flower”.
The vital meeting in Glasgow, known as COP26, at which representatives from almost 200 countries met to hammer out an Agreement on tackling climate change, ended on 13 November. Inevitably, as delegate after delegate spoke on the draft Agreement, everyone was a little less than satisfied. Many countries were reluctant to give up reliance on fossil fuels. Others, especially tiny island nations whose names were new to most of us, felt the draft lacked urgency. Unless global warming can be halted, their homes will literally disappear under the waves. But an Agreement was signed by all, for which we thank God. It was therefore a huge shock to realise that South African government ministers seemed to have ignored the promises made by our representatives, and had already given permission to overseas firms to look for gas under the sea, both off the Wild Coast, and as far south as the Garden Route. The process of surveying involves using a high-powered air gun to blast the sea floor every ten seconds for weeks on end. The effect on marine life will be nothing short of disastrous, with further appalling consequences for the fishing industry. We pray earnestly that sense may prevail, and this evil process may be halted. We also pray that all countries may honour their pledges made at COP26, and strive to go even further than their pledges, that together, we may save the Earth!


Director of Music with Advent hairstyle

Advent Sunday fell on the last Sunday in November and seemed to start in sombre fashion, without choir, organ or piano at the 9:30 service, when the organist was unwell. However, our ever-resourceful Director of Music (sporting an Advent hairstyle) was soon joined by fellow musicians Obianuju Njoku and Asakhe Cuntsulana. Three lovely voices, one volunteer on the piano, another on the adungu and drum, and the congregation was inspired to join in with enthusiasm. In the evening there was an Advent Procession with a volunteer choir singing the Advent Prose and other lovely traditional music for the season, and once again the organ rang to the sound of Peter Black’s playing.
As November drew to a close we were all suddenly made aware of a new word: “Omicron” – the latest mutation of the Covid-19 virus. Cases of this variant were multiplying rapidly, especially in Gauteng. The long predicted “fourth wave” of infection was on its way. To the relief of South Africans, in his address to the nation on Sunday 28 November, President Ramaphosa introduced no new restrictions, but kept the lockdown at Level One. His emphasis was on getting the maximum number of people vaccinated as soon as possible, with the intention to introduce compulsory vaccination in some sectors. Most unfortunately, before he had a chance to consult and then speak to us, the UK, USA, EU and a number of other nations had already slapped travel bans on South Africa and our neighbouring African countries. This action flies in the face of science, and the advice of the World Health Organisation. Our President included in his address an appeal to his fellow world leaders to lift the ban, to save our struggling hospitality and travel industries. We pray for all those whose livelihood is affected, for those affected by the disruption of their holiday plans, for the uncertain and confused, as well as for those infected. We pray for a brave determination to accept the free vaccines offered, for the good of all humankind, as without maximum immunity the virus will continue to mutate freely and never be defeated. And may the blessed Christ Child, who came to be born among all the mess and uncertainty of our world, grant us peace and joy in our hearts this Christmastide!

People and Places, November 2021

Hilton Adonis at home in the Sub-Deanery

Three months after Dean Mzi and his family moved from the sub-deanery into the deanery, Sub-Dean Melany Adonis and her family were due to follow them into the refurbished sub-deanery on 30 September. But once again the weather had something to say about that, and their move was delayed by rain until 1 October – which happened to be Melany and Hilton’s 30th wedding anniversary! It is good to report that the move went smoothly, and after a few days away to recover, they are happily settled in. We give thanks for all the blessings God has given to this special couple over the years, and pray they will continue to be blessed in their new home. The other good news we received on 1 October was a further relaxation of lockdown regulations, all the way to Level One. We can give thanks to God for the reduction in Covid infection rates which made this possible, and also for the increase in vaccination rates. Now that even teenagers are allowed and encouraged to “get the jab” let us not forget that the most vulnerable are the frail and elderly, and do our best to make sure that they are protected too. Some of our young people have been confirmed, though the services did not take place in the Cathedral. Bishop Ebenezer Ntlali confirmed Ayamnkele Dongwana, son of Revd Lunga and Yoliswa, and Tristyn Burger, daughter of Ronaldo and Michelle, at St Andrew’s and DSG. One of our Iimvumi (junior choristers), Junaid Douglas, was confirmed in the Methodist Church. We rejoice with them all, and wish God’s blessings on them in the next stage of their spiritual journey.

Congratulations, Dr Uju!

The lovely voice of Obianuju Njoku (Uju) is well known to us in the Cathedral, but fewer of us knew that she was working away at her doctorate. This is now complete, and we congratulate her on the award of her PhD in Ethnomusicology. Dr Uju has been offered the chance to begin post-doctoral studies immediately, which is good news for us as well as for her, as we won’t be losing her! Congratulations also to Nqobani Dabengwa, 2021 Chair of the Cathedral Student Ministry, on being appointed Professional Development Director under the Rhodes Golden Key Society Chapter for 2022. The Golden Key is an international society that celebrates academic excellence, leadership and active community engagement. At the Graeme College prize-giving our Head Chorister Xolisa Foley and Junior Organ Scholar Bayanda Mthetho each received a Certificate of Achievement and a Senior Music Prize. Xolisa also got a Service Award for outstanding contributions to school life, and Bayanda the Lawrie Shuttleworth Prize. This is awarded for excellence and leadership in music performance in the senior school. Another chorister who deserves special congratulations is Siyolise Sandi, who reached the semi-final of the Miss East Cape Teen competition. Well done to all of them! Jessica and Glyn Lloyd-Jones enjoyed a visit from Jessica’s parents, Alfred and Leonie Smith, who have a mission to Tibetan Buddhists in McLeod Ganj, in the foothills of the Indian Himalayas. The Cathedral congregation had an opportunity to hear a little of the exciting and very different life which God has called the Smiths to lead, when Alfred preached at the morning services on 10 October. Julia Mann reports from the UK that she and her daughter Amy have found a flat to rent together in Hampstead Garden Suburb, London. They will move in after spending Christmas in the USA with Amy’s brother Luke and his wife Kim. Paul Walters recently had to have carpel tunnel surgery to both hands. He gives thanks that this was a success, and we pray that the discomfort which remains will soon go away.

Melanie and Dylan Haarhoff

It is a rare and special occasion when a member of the Cathedral family gets married in the Cathedral, and Covid-19 has made this even more difficult to achieve. So it was with delight that we can report that Melanie Appollis, daughter of Katie, was married by the Dean to Dylan Haarhoff on 9 October, in the Cathedral! And they are continuing to live right here. May God indeed bless this happy couple most richly in their life together! Now that larger gatherings are permitted, with appropriate Covid precautions taken, the Cathedral is once again able to welcome the public to musical events. On 8 October Kutlwano Kepadisa’s Kwantu Choir hosted the visiting Zolani Youth Choir for ‘A Night of Song and Dance’. Kepa was honoured to be one of a handful of local artists selected by the National Arts Festival to be part of the Makhanda Project, with funding from the National Arts Council. Each artist had one or more mentor, and produced a digital work, among which was the beautiful ‘Weyisile’ (Conquered) sung by the Kwantu Choir, with choreography by Thembani Buka. The Makhanda Project was launched at the Monument on Thursday 28 October, and all the works can be watched for free on the National Arts Festival website until 13 November. On Saturday 23 October the restoration of the organ was celebrated in style with a lunch-time recital by no fewer than four organists: Our own Senior Organ Scholar Jonathan Hughes and Junior Organ Scholar Bayanda Mthetho, together with their teachers Justin Stone (from Gqeberha) and Peter Black. They played works by Bach, Parry, Howells and Scott. The final work, ‘Suite Gothique’ by Léon Boëllmann, is in four movements, and each of the organists played one movement. Click to listen to recordings of the first movement: ‘Introduction – Chorale‘, played by Bayanda, and the second movement: ‘Menuet Gothique’ played by Jonathan. The last weekend in October was chosen as the time to celebrate the Cathedral’s Patronal Festival, and this year we were able to do it in style. Katie Appollis and her family and friends laid on a tasty fund-raiser on Saturday 30 October, with orders for curry or cakes taken in advance, and raised in the region of R4000. Well done! That same evening Kutlwano Kepadisa gathered some of the many musicians of Makhanda to offer their talents at a Prestige Concert in the Cathedral, ably emcee’d by Asakhe Cuntsulana. We were able to enjoy a variety of high quality music: not only, as we might expect, the Kwantu Choir, Asakhe on the adungu, Jon Hughes on the organ and Bayanda Mthetho on the piano, but also Jon Hughes on the flute, pop solos sung by head chorister Xolisa Foley, a violin solo by Tyreece Burger, a rap song by adult chorister Sinqobangaye Sibisi – and more! The Revd Dr Bill Domeris, a former Rector of the College of the Transfiguration, came to preach at the two morning services on our Patronal Sunday, 31 October. The Cathedral Choir was present at the 9:30 a.m. service, at which the Dean inducted the Choir School Committee, the Director of Music Kutlwano Kepadisa and Choir Intern Jonathan Hughes, as well as the Head Choristers for next year, Siyolise Sandi and Ambesa Cagwe. A special excitement was the robing of two new choristers, who had completed their time as probationers: Zizibele Matikinca (in Grade 7 at Good Shepherd) and Thima Dipa (in Grade 8 at P J Olivier). We give thanks for them, and pray that they will be blessed in the Makana Choir School. The children processed with waving flags, and the worship was full of joyful music in praise to Almighty God, even including a setting of the ‘Kyrie’ composed by Head Chorister-elect Ambesa! We look forward to hearing more of his compositions. We had the privilege of hearing another lovely violin solo from Tyreece Burger: ‘You Raise me Up’ by Rolf Lovland. In the evening a special service of Festal Evensong took place in the chancel. Music was led by a small choir gathered by Kepa specially for the occasion, including Namso Nyamela. They sang a number of appropriate anthems, among which was the Sanctus from AJ Bethke’s ‘A Little Requiem’, and Peter Black as guest organist also gave a 45 minute mini-recital before the service began. The service was ‘site specific’ as artists describe it, for the emphasis was on the many angels depicted in the stained glass windows in the chancel. To describe them for us we had Jeanette Eve, whose historical researches are contained in the second part of ‘Grahamstown Cathedral – A guide and Short History’ originally written by Charles Gould and published in 1924. When it was reprinted and updated in 2011, it was Jeanette who was responsible for the new Preface, Introduction, and final 25 pages recording ‘New Developments’. The book can be obtained from the Parish Office. We give thanks for the enormous contribution Jeanette has made to the Cathedral in so many ways over the years, and wish her many blessings as she prepares to move to the Western Cape to be closer to her daughter Catherine. As I write this issue of ‘People and Places’ leaders and representatives from all over the world are gathered in Glasgow, Scotland, in the UK, to take decisions which could literally save the earth. We pray for them, that they may think deeply, decide wisely, and most importantly, go out valiantly to persuade those who hold power in their home countries that action must be taken NOW. Who will save our land and people?  

People and Places, October 2021

Ambesa Cagwe (left) and Siyolise Sandi with Kutlwano Kepadisa, Director of Music

The Makana Choir School held its Annual General Meeting after the Sung Eucharist on Sunday 5 September. Dean Mzi Dyantyi had an easy task chairing the election of officers, as every member of the Committee was willing to stand again, and all were re-elected unopposed. We congratulate the Chairperson Glyn Lloyd-Jones, Treasurer Jessica Lloyd-Jones, Secretary Maggy Clarke, Fund-raiser Cathy Meiklejohn and Phumla Cagwe who represents the parents of choristers, as well as further Committee members Jonathan Hughes and Canon Melany Adonis. The Dean, Choir Chaplain (Revd Siphokazi Njokweni), Director of Music and Head Chorister are all ex officio members of the committee. Glyn Lloyd-Jones reported on an unusual year which, despite everything, did have its highlights, and his report can be read here. The Director of Music Kutlwano Kepadisa outlined hopes and aims for the year ahead. He also announced the Head Choristers for 2022, Ambesa Cagwe and Siyolise Sandi. We congratulate these two choristers, who are both now in Grade 10, and wish God’s blessings on them in their responsibilities next year.After four months of silence from the organ, at last the parts of our mighty instrument were all reassembled and painstakingly put together by the team from Pekelharing Organ Building. Senior Organ Scholar Jon Hughes had the honour of playing it for the first time at a Sunday service on 5 September. What a joy! You can hear some snippets on our YouTube channel. Jon Hughes was invited to play the organ at St Paul’s Church Port Alfred on 25 September, at the annual service which takes place on the Saturday of the Boat Races. The pipe organ at St Paul’s is a new one, donated in 2020 by Ramsay Brierly “for the glory of God” and “for 15 years of annual church services at St Paul’s and rowing joy on the Kowie River”, and boasts a brass plate naming it “The Boat Race Organ”. Kepa and the Rhodes Chamber Choir were also at the coast the same weekend, giving concerts in Kenton and at Trinity Methodist Church in East London. Kepa’s temporary absence from the Cathedral reminded us yet again how urgently we require someone to operate our live-stream at the Sunday morning 9:30 services on a regular basis. When Kepa is present, he has to take on this duty as well as his musical responsibilities! We are praying hard that some tech-savvy person will feel called to assist with this important aspect of the Cathedral’s ministry.

Taking the lead: Archbishop Thabo

The roll-out of vaccinations against Covid-19 in South Africa is at last gathering momentum, and we are assured that there are enough doses for everyone. Like Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, Dean Mzi made sure of getting both his doses as soon as he was eligible. The Dean sent out a strong message “You also can do the right thing to protect yourself and those around you!” This message was reinforced when the Provincial Synod of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa (ACSA) met virtually from 21-24 September, and passed a resolution calling for the mandatory vaccination of clergy, and urging all Anglicans “to seriously consider vaccination as an act of love for both ourselves and our neighbour.” Only when everyone (or nearly everyone) has the protection of the vaccine, will we be able to look forward to a return to doing many of the things we used to take for granted, like travel or attending concerts and sporting events. (Listen to a short video on the subject produced by the ACSA.) It was a step in the right direction when on 13 September South Africa’s lockdown was adjusted to Level Two. The main difference for the Cathedral is that we are no longer restricted to having only 50 persons present in the building at a service. The limit has been raised to 250, which should be taken as a challenge! News from the UK is that Julia Skeen Mann had to endure the expensive and tedious process put in place by the UK government before South African visitors or immigrants are allowed to enter Britain. At her own (considerable) expense she had to spend ten days in a ‘Quarantine Hotel’ in London. Other travellers had given her the impression that she could expect to be shut up in a room on her own with only the internet as a lifeline. But as it happened, Julia arrived at the same time as some of the thousands who had left Afghanistan as the Taliban took over. As soon as she had passed one Covid test with a negative result, she was allowed out for a daily exercise period in a car-park. There she met crowds from Afghanistan, of all ages, including some playing cricket, children running around, women chatting. At one point she counted over 200 people out there! So she need not have worried about being lonely. Quarantine over, she is now enjoying pleasant autumn weather in the south of England, staying with a friend while looking for more permanent accommodation. From Scotland Barbara Stout reports that the “wee” choir at their church is allowed to sing again, after a long time when only a cantor was permitted to sing. During those weeks she and Wilf played and sang, as well as recording lots of items for their lively new woman minister. We pray that the British authorities will speedily act to take South Africa off their “red list”, and reopen tourism between our two countries.

Canon Vicentia Kgabe

Prayers are asked for Nombashe Soxujwa, whose grandmother Busisiwe has died, and for Sarah James and her family after the sudden death of her uncle. Congratulations to Canon Vincentia Kgabe, Rector of the College of the Transfiguration, on her election to be the next Bishop of Lesotho. We wish God’s blessing on her in this new role. She will be missed at the College, and in Makhanda. Throughout October we shall be counting down to the municipal elections on 1 November, and we pray for all involved: for political parties, candidates, and for all those who have the responsibility of exercising a vote. May we be led to choose councillors who will be honest and hard-working, and always ready to put the interests of the public first. And may God bless Makana Municipality!  

People and Places, September 2021

Obianuju Njoku sang ‘Bless this Church’

With the relaxation of lockdown level from Four to Three, worship resumed “in person” in the Cathedral on 1 August. It was a mere six days since the President appeared on TV with this welcome news, so the Cathedral team did not have long to prepare, but nevertheless even without marimbas, choir or organ, the music was memorably beautiful, led by Director of Music Kutlwano Kepadisa (Kepa), soprano Obianuju Njoku (Uju) and our Junior Organ Scholar Bayanda Mthetho on the piano. You can hear Uju’s rendering of ‘Bless this house’ here.

We congratulate Bayanda on being awarded Cultural Honours, and our Head Chorister Xolisa Foley on achieving Full Cultural Colours. These two Matric boys were the only pupils who received Cultural Awards this year at Graeme College. Well done!

Ministry to youth and children has been particularly hard hit by Covid-19 restrictions. A promising new start was made with an ‘Our Children’s Service’ at 9:30 a.m. on 29 August, to which parents were encouraged to bring their children. The songs were children’s favourites like ‘Jesus loves me’, and ‘Shine Jesus shine’, and Canon Melany Adonis had a special story for the children. Listen to them singing ‘He’s got the whole world in his hands‘, led by Director of Music Kutlwano Kepadisa and the choir. More extracts can be found on our YouTube channel. The number of people vaccinated against Covid-19 is a cause for rejoicing, with even 18-35 year-olds now welcome to “get the jab”. Our Director of Music Kutlwano Kepadisa is a young man who hurried to set a good example. Young and old are encouraged to follow him! It was a relief to hear that Michael and Adrienne Whisson’s daughter Rebecca was recovering from Covid, as well as their daughter-in-law. But there was sad news nearer home, in that both Prop and Jacky Olckers, parishioners at St Barnabas Alicedale, were infected and hospitalised, and Jacky died. Jacky was a well-loved stalwart of that little congregation where Sub-Dean Melany takes services once a month. Some may remember her at past St George’s Fairs, selling lovely farm meat and venison. Our prayers are with Prop and the family, as well as the Alicedale community. We pray also for Leela Pienaar, on the death of her brother-in-law in KwaZulu-Natal, and for the Revd Luyanda Fete on the death of his aunt, Thembisa Sulo.

The Revd Dr John Stubbs

John Stubbs was Dean of Grahamstown from late 1999 until the end of September 2006, and is remembered fondly by older parishioners. It was with sadness that we learned that on 16 August he died of cancer in Chicago, USA, where he was living. He was 68. The Cathedral held a virtual Memorial Service on 26 August at which Ebenezer Ntlali, Bishop of Grahamstown, gave the homily, and tributes were shared in voice notes. Paul Walters, parish councillor, alternate churchwarden and lay minister under John, praised his ground-breaking contribution to promoting diversity at the Cathedral. Bishop Moses Madywabe of the Diocese of Khahlamba spoke warmly of him as a colleague on the Grahamstown Cathedral Chapter. And Dr Nommso Stubbs shared with us the dramatic call to follow Christ which saw John abruptly drop his engineering studies at Wits, buy himself Bibles in Greek and Hebrew, and embark on a completely different course, founding the ‘Nomads’ youth programme and devoting himself to theological study and parish ministry. The whole service can still be accessed on our Facebook page. Click here. Towards the end of the service there was a technical problem, but the last section of the service was also live-streamed. The link is here. To read the tribute and biography compiled by Professor Paul Walters, click here. We pray for Lorraine Mullins who sustained a number of injuries in a fall, but is reported to be making good progress. We continue to pray for our former Dean Andrew Hunter, that he may finally be free of the pain caused by his shingles. It was a great relief to learn that the repairs to the sound system and organ, damaged in the lightning strike back in May, will be covered by the Cathedral’s insurance. The work is being done by the Gqeberha based firm Pekelharing Organ Building, and it is exciting to see the Pekelharing brothers hard at work putting our mighty instrument back together again.

Julia Skeen Mann with Meditation Group friends

It is with sadness and gratitude that we say goodbye to another of our Artists-in-Residence. Following the death of poet Chris Mann, his wife and fellow artist Julia Skeen made the decision to relocate to England, where her daughter Amy is based in London. Not only has Julia given us wonderful art works, some of which will be placed in the Cathedral on a permanent basis soon (more of that in another issue) and, with Chris, many memorable Festival programmes, but she has been a beloved and inspiring leader of the Meditation group which meets on Tuesday mornings. She has already left Makhanda, and is flying to the UK on 1 September. We pray God’s blessing on her as she embarks on the next stage of her life’s adventure. Among the many complaints about service delivery in our municipality, water is usually at the top of the list. One of our Lay Ministers, Tandiwe Gabavana, is doing her bit to help improve matters. She is employed by Imvusa Trading, a firm which is laying a new water pipe made of strong material that will not burst every few weeks! Tandiwe divides her time between being on site and at her employer’s office, but People and Places caught up with her on Hills View Road. We rejoice to see their progress, even if it makes a temporary mess, and pray that our city may soon have a reliable water supply for everyone, EVERY DAY!  

People and Places, August 2021

It is good news that Dean Mzi Dyantyi, his wife Lilitha and the children Sambesiwe and Samila moved into the Deanery on 27 July. Unexpected but welcome rain delayed their short move from the Sub-Deanery, but in the end the removal firm was able to complete the job before the end of the month. We give thanks for this, and for the magnificent renovations which have been done to this historic house by the parish. We pray that the Deanery family will be greatly blessed in their new home. We are so familiar with the parable of ‘The Good Samaritan’, that we generally forget to imagine what it sounded like when Jesus first told the story to his audience of Jews. Now we have been given a real-life story of ‘The Good Taxi-Drivers’! The very same group of people who have featured in so many negative headlines about violence, bad driving and aggression, suddenly became our heroes. While many towns in KwaZulu-Natal, and parts of Gauteng, were for a few terrible days in July overwhelmed with mobs looting and burning, here in the Eastern Cape the taxi drivers were among those who drew the line, and refused to allow lives and livelihoods to be lost. We thank God for them, and for the thousands of people of goodwill who rushed to assist in the days that followed the unrest, cleaning streets, delivering food and water, restocking supermarket shelves, and comforting the bereaved. We pray for our country in the days and months ahead.
Cathy Meiklejohn was in KwaZulu-Natal at the time of the violence, intending to visit her mother, but she was staying with Wayne and Marian Jayes in Tongaat when the rioting began. This meant she had to delay travelling on to her mother in Howick, but we give thanks that she was able to visit her after a few days, and is now safely home again. During July our Sub-Dean Melany Adonis and her husband Hilton went to Paarl to be with his sister Hillary Jacobs and her family. Hillary, her husband Joachim and their niece Cindy, were all infected with Covid-19. Joachim was admitted to hospital, and very sadly he died. Melany and Hilton stayed on to attend the funeral. Melany’s uncle George Arendse and his wife Bertha were also infected, and hospitalised, although thankfully they have both now been discharged. Our prayers are with the whole family, and with parishioner Geoff Brown on the death of his wife Wendy. Please pray for Rebecca, Michael and Adrienne Whisson’s daughter in Cape Town, who has Covid-19. Robin Murray, a former Rector of St Paul’s Port Alfred and St John’s Bathurst now living in Johannesburg, has suffered both Covid-19 and a stroke, and is in hospital. Our prayers are asked for him and his wife Vanessa. The Dean and Parish Council have announced that, now that we no longer have a Parish Administrator since 30 June, the parish administration requirements are being taken care of by Ms Viv Quin of Your Accountable Solutions. We give thanks for the appointment of this firm, and pray that parishioners will feel confident to give generously to the Cathedral, knowing that their gifts will be wisely used in accordance with the parish budget.

St Thomas’s Rondebosch worship group

Aphiwe Mame, who was a member of the Cathedral Choir as a schoolboy, and subsequently, is now living in Cape Town. Not only is he worshipping at St Thomas’s Rondebosch, but Revd Claire Hunter is putting his musical talents to good use in their music group!

Bayanda Mthetho and Asakhe Cuntsulana singing in ‘Let my Love be heard’

The National Arts Festival was entirely online this year due to Lockdown Level Four, with the exception of some eye-catching wall-paintings commissioned by the NAF which appeared around the town, and which will remain to entertain locals and visitors alike. Spiritfest, which did not attempt a virtual presence in 2020, this year ventured into this new field, with three pre-recorded lectures, a poetry reading, and an interview/ book launch which went out live but was also recorded, to be available afterwards. Congratulations to Asakhe Cuntsulana on a splendid performance by the St Michael’s Marimbas, prudently recorded in advance so that it did not have to be cancelled when the lockdown level was altered. This group’s level of professional musicianship just goes from strength to strength! Their concert, and the other items mentioned above, can still be accessed on the Spiritfest Facebook page. Not on Spiritfest, but on the Virtual Fringe, was a choral concert, ‘Let my Love be heard’ conducted by our Director of Music Kutlwano Kepadisa. A group of just twelve singers drawn from two of the choirs he directs, the Rhodes Chamber Choir and Kwantu Community Choir, sang a beautiful selection of sacred songs from many traditions. Singers included our Junior Organ Scholar Bayanda Mthetho, and Director of Marimbas Asakhe. As July drew to a close, President Ramaphosa was able to announce a return to Lockdown Level Three. After a whole month of online services only, we could look forward to the opening of the Cathedral for in-person Sunday worship, from 1 August. The building had to remain closed on weekdays for a little longer, due to Silulami Mize (Sly) having broken his ankle, and being in plaster. We pray for his complete recovery. We give thanks for the reduction in positivity rates among those tested for Covid-19, and in hospitalisations and deaths, which have made possible the adjustment in our lockdown, as well as for the accelerating vaccine roll-out. Vaccination is now easy to access. If you haven’t yet been vaccinated, when you get the opportunity please “get the jab” – for your own sake and for the sake of those more vulnerable than yourself!  

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.