October 2015 was a disturbing month, in Grahamstown as well as in other university towns around South Africa. Leaders of faith communities, among them our Bishop Ebenezer Ntlali and Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, were firm in their support of the campaign to make university education affordable to all students, while at the same time calling on protesters to refrain from violence and destructive action. Students at COTT joined the protest in solidarity with Rhodes and East Cape Midlands College students.
Here in Grahamstown the fee protest coincided with an unconnected outbreak of xenophobia. This was especially sad in a city which had previously prided itself on its welcoming attitude towards foreigners, but it was encouraging to hear the calls from students, religious and business leaders, for people to open their hearts and give generously to those who had been forced to flee their homes and shops. Many voices were raised in the neighbourhoods served by foreign-owned shops, expressing regret at their closure. We pray that these hard-working people may be welcomed back and allowed to live their lives in peace.
The Dean of Grahamstown has for many years carried the extra burden of being Archdeacon of Grahamstown. We rejoice that Dean Andrew is being relieved of this duty, and warmly congratulate Sub-Dean Mzi Dyantyi on his appointment as Archdeacon of Grahamstown. At the same time we congratulate Cynthia Webbstock, the Bishop’s Personal Assistant, on being appointed Archdeacon of Albany, to succeed Robin Murray. We pray for them both as they take up these important additional duties.
Congratulations to the Chair of ANSOC, Simphiwe Gumede, on being this year’s recipient of the Rhodes University Student Leadership Award. Well done!
Once again Cathedral parishioners carried off a number of awards at the annual Grahamstown Flower Show. Ann Stockwell’s roses were among the prize-winners, as were Marian Jayes’ herbs and flowering shrubs. The Hartzenberg sisters also scored with their roses. Special congratulations to Sally Terry, who won awards with lettuce, herbs, arum lilies, and roses, and deservedly walked away with second prize overall in the show. St Philip’s Church again received first prize for a community garden with their overflowing boxes of “Spring Harvest”.
This year’s St George’s Fair, on 31 October was blessed with perfect weather, no rain but not too hot. The hard-working team led so capably by Marian Jayes is to be congratulated on an event which gave people a great deal of joy, as well as raising a sum in excess of R34,900!
The short film about Amasango Career School, which was shown at the Festival in 2014, has now been expanded into an hour-long feature, in which there are a number of interviews with Jane Bradshaw. This film was shown twice on SABC2 in October.
We give thanks that June Walters is making a good recovery after her recent operation.
Sally Ashby, wife a former Dean of Grahamstown Godfrey Ashby, died of pancreatic cancer on 7 October, in Exeter, England. Many of her family were able to be with her in the time leading up to her death. Prayers are asked for Bishop Godfrey and the family.
The funeral of David Hodgson was held in a packed St Andrew’s College Chapel, most appropriately for someone who was not only a past pupil, but a member of staff for many years. He was treasurer of the Old Andrean Association for 51 years, and attended meetings until very recently, even though he was in a wheelchair. We continue to pray for Jeanette and the family.
On 18 October the Cathedral welcomed back Roderick Walsh as our preacher and celebrant, together with his wife Jenny. Rod and Jenny had lived in Grahamstown when they were studying, and a few years ago came here to look after the Cathedral parish for some weeks while Dean Andrew was overseas working on his Masters degree. Peter Silva, a former Chaplain of DSG, and his wife Penny, a former churchwarden of this Cathedral, also visited South Africa in October, and worshipped at the Cathedral. Penny is still working part-time for the Oxford English Dictionary in Oxford, England. She last visited here after the death of her mother, Peggy McCoy, three years ago, but Peter had not been back to South Africa for fifteen years. Wilf Stout joined his wife Barbara here for a few weeks. They spent time sorting out the contents of their Grahamstown house, but as they are not selling it, we hope to see them again in the not too distant future. During their visit they added their special voices to the Cathedral Choir on more than one occasion.
The Rhodes Chamber Choir gave their last concert of the year in the Rhodes Chapel on 15 October, once again thrilling the audience with their polished and lively performance of a variety of works, ancient and modern, from around the world. Congratulations to A-J Bethke, who conducts this choir as well as the Cathedral Choir, which only two weeks later gave a concert of sacred music “Hymns, Psalms and Spiritual Songs” on Friday 30 October. That was the beginning of an intensive weekend of music for the Cathedral choristers, as the following day they recorded a CD which we hope will be available shortly, and on the Sunday sang A-J’s beautiful “Little Requiem” at a moving evening Mass for All Souls’ Day. The recording and editing of the CD was done by Peggy McCoy’s son David.
Matrics and students are writing exams at the moment, and on 1 November we said farewell to the College of the Transfiguration students who had assisted so devotedly at the Cathedral throughout 2015. Bruce Wooley had already been made deacon before he finished his studies, and he returns to the Diocese of Natal. Marlon Porter goes to the Diocese of False Bay, Theo Tshazi to Mthatha Diocese, Olebile Galebotswe to the Diocese of Botswana, Zinzile Mdululwa to Mbashe Diocese and Deon Manuel to the Diocese of George. We wish them all God’s blessing as they write their final exams, and then begin their ministry as deacons.