People and Places, August 2016

Thelma at 100 – photo by Chris Walwyn

A highlight of July for the Cathedral family fell on the 22nd, when Thelma Neville turned 100. Congratulations poured in. The Bishop visited her on the day, the Archbishop sent messages, and Her Majesty the Queen did not forget her. On the following day Thelma enjoyed a splendid celebration at the Monument for about 60 guests, and fulfilled her ambition to dance at her 100th birthday party! We give thanks for the life and witness of this feisty journalist, and send her congratulations and best wishes.

IMG_6494The second half of the Festival saw the Cathedral hosting a Lucernarium on the Wednesday evening. This lovely candlelit service, which featured on Spiritfest for the first time last year, drew a larger group of worshippers this year, to the extent that the candles ran out. Penny Whitford’s group of young marimba players gave two concerts, and the tours of the bell tower continued to be popular. On the final Sunday of the Festival the choir of the Diocesan School for Girls led the singing, and the preacher was the Revd Gary Griffiths-Smith, Chaplain of St Andrew’s College. Meanwhile Spiritfest was also going on at Commemoration Methodist Church, which hosted an organ recital, choral concert, and a special Festival Service with their Bishop, Andile Mbete as preacher. The Spiritfest Winter School took place in St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church. Chris and Julia Mann presented a programme there entitled “Anxiety and Grace”, and AJ

Chris and Julia Mann present “Anxiety and Grace”

Bethke launched his book “Celebrating the Seasons”, selling all the copies he had available. Some of the book sales took place in the Cathedral, where Cathy Pringle and friends ran a most successful stall selling books, cards and other items. An Open Mic session took place in the Chapter House (“Cathedral Coffee Shop”) with Grahamstown poet Harry Owen as MC. Those who visited the Cory Room could enjoy the work of a number of Christian artists at the “40 Stones” exhibition, which was dominated by a huge loom. Visitors were invited to contribute to the art work by weaving in colourful strips of cloth and braid. It was explained that the loom represented a person’s life, and the inter-weaving by different people the way we all affect one another and contribute to the pattern. Grocott’s Mail and other publications gave Spiritfest excellent coverage, and Peter Stockwell had a photo published in the Cape Argus with his by-line.

Among the Festival guests, Mary-Clare Tracey Craigen with her husband Ian and three daughters came all the way from New Zealand. The happy Tracey family reunion combined celebrations of Andrew’s recent 80th birthday, Andrew and Heather’s 50th wedding anniversary, and Ian and Mary-Clare’s 25th wedding anniversary. Both Rachel and Nicola Hunter came home from Stellenbosch for the vacation, and the Festival. They were at home when the beloved family dog “Scruffy” died at a ripe old age (16½!) and the family were able to console one another. Visitors to the Festival were not all on holiday. Richard Antrobus came with his wife Megan, not only to visit his parents Margie and Geoff, but also as a performer with the return of his popular mime show “Suggestion Box”.

John Murray missed the Festival because the wonderful opportunity came up of going on a pilgrimage to Ireland and the Scottish island of Iona. This included a memorable visit to the Corrymeela Community in Ireland, a centre of reconciliation in the midst of that island with its painfully divided past.

After the Festival was over AJ Bethke travelled to two successive conferences, one in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and the second (with no break in between) in California. Jet-lag apart, these were a great success. He was no sooner back in Grahamstown than he was involved in the Big Hymn Sing, which took place for the third time in the Cathedral, on 24 July. Both the Cathedral Choir and the Rhodes Choir took part, alongside the senior and junior choirs of VG, Graeme College and Kingswood College. Anelisa Kelemi, a former junior chorister who is now studying at Rhodes and assisting as an intern with the Cathedral Choir, conducted them in their individual piece, “Indodana”, in front of a packed Cathedral. Fans of AJ and the Rhodes Choir can catch them during the season of “Varsity Sing”, a new competition for university choirs, which is airing on Kyknet on Thursdays at 8.30 pm between July and the beginning of October.

Prayers are asked for Lorraine Mullins, who has been in hospital, and for Jeanette Hodgson.

Chantel Tesnar has succeeded Anet Peter as Cathedral Office Administrator, and we welcome her to the parish office.

The Cathedral Student Services during August are focussing on “Women’s Month”, with a special sermon series: (1) “Will I ever be good enough? God’s perspective on self esteem”; (2) “Celebrating our diversity as the people of God”; (3) “Where was God when Tamar was raped?” (4) “Patriarchy and Paul – was Paul a sexist?” It is wonderful to see students inviting their friends and taking ownership of this ministry.

We wish Dean Andrew Hunter every blessing during his sabbatical from August to October. At the beginning of the year he registered at NNMU for a PhD, and he will use his sabbatical to immerse himself in his research on “Conflict resolution” .

People and Places is compiled by Maggy Clarke, Please send items of news to her at:, or as comments to this blog.