People and Places, April 2017

The Cathedral is delighted to welcome Deacon Bertha Gowera, who is doing the fourth year of her Bachelor in Theology at the College of the Transfiguration. This year she is required to spend two seven-week blocks on a “parish placement”, which is what brings her to the Cathedral. She is a Zimbabwean, married to a teacher, and herself worked as a teacher before studying for the ordained ministry.

Luke, Cameron
Cameron Luke

The Dean announced another new appointment on 26 March, that of a Director of Music to succeed AJ Bethke who leaves after Easter. Cameron Luke will be coming to us from Cheltenham in England, where he has been Director of Music at All Saints’ Church for ten years. He already has experience of working outside the UK, having been Kantor (organist) at a church in Nesbyen, Norway, before he went up to Worcester College Oxford to study music. Unfortunately the date of his arrival in Grahamstown cannot yet be announced, as it is dependent on how long it takes the South African authorities to grant him a work visa. In the meantime the Cathedral music will be in the hands of a team of organists and pianists, the Choir School Committee, and the choir intern Kepa (Kutlwano Kepadisa) and marimba intern Asakhe Cuntsulana.

Shrove Tuesday fell on 28 February this year, and Sally Terry and her wonderful team of volunteers of all ages produced a record number of 840 pancakes. Due to the generosity of many who had contributed to the ingredients, the money raised from their sale was almost all profit. The sum raised for the Bishop’s Lent Appeal was a whopping R7,931. In addition to this, the evening was a tremendous social success, with many of the customers sitting down to eat and chat together.

IMG-20170228-WA0011 IMG-20170228-WA0010

The solemn evening Eucharist which marked the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday was unexpectedly held by candle-light, due to a serious power-cut which in the centre of town lasted well into the next day. The result was beautiful and memorable. As members of the choir sang plainsong in Latin and Greek (Kyrie Eleison), we felt united with the church throughout the ages. And then we were brought right into the here and now with African Amens and the Prayer for Africa.

The Annual Vestry meeting saw the re-election of all Churchwardens and Parish Councillors with the exception of Lunga Dongwana, who as a Deacon is now an ex officio member of the Council. We congratulate them, and wish God’s blessing on the important roles they fulfil in the parish. They are: Churchwardens Ronaldo Burger and Ian Meiklejohn, Alternate Churchwarden Paul Walters, and PCC members Jane Bradshaw, Rose Spannenberg, Cathy Euijen, Rodney Bridger and Patrick Pringle. Sister Carol CR represents the Sisters. The Cathedral Student Ministry and ANSOC are also entitled to send reps. When the Dean admitted the Wardens and Councillors on 12 March, he also licensed the Revd Luthando Madiba on behalf of the Bishop. Luthando received a ‘General Licence’ rather than being licensed to the Cathedral, in view of the nature of his work as Media Officer, which involves travelling all around the Diocese.

Our sympathy to the Dongwana family, on the death of Yoliswa’s brother Mpilo Ian Ngxilo, to Sub-Dean Mzi whose aunt Muriel Bam has died, and to Thelma Neville on the loss of her beloved sister-in-law Molly Thorndyke, who died in East London.

On Saturday morning 18 March Andrew and Heather Tracey were attacked in their home by two young men, who hit Andrew and tied them both up. We give thanks to God that their injuries were not serious, and that one of the perpetrators was immediately arrested by Hi-Tech, who also recovered Andrew’s precious laptop. Released from hospital after a few hours’ observation, Andrew was able to go home to Heather the same afternoon, and the two of them attended the 09:30 service at the Cathedral the very next day. We pray for their complete recovery from the trauma of the event.

The CSM students enjoyed a double feature movie night recently, and raised R220 towards their forthcoming camp next term. The Sunday night  “God and the F____ word” series has been well received, with plenty of opportunity for engaging and discussing the input in small groups in the context of the services. A Bible Study group for students plans to meet every second week in term time. The Young Adults “Connect Group” is finally starting at the end of March, rather later than planned due to various unexpected delays – not least that Anna Talbot was part of an overseas music tour with the KZN youth orchestra!

The annual Masicule concert presented by the National Arts Festival and directed by Gareth Walwyn, featured school choirs and singing ensembles from across the city, in a packed Monument Theatre. Among them were the choirs of Nombulelo High School, the combined choir of DSG and St Andrew’s College and Kingswood College Senior Choir, as well as their Band. Kepa conducted the Kingswood choir. Most of the junior members of the Cathedral Choir took part in either the VGHS Choir or the Leopard’s Voice (Graeme College small choir). In addition some VGHS members of the Cathedral choir sang in an a capella group called #_Official. Their choice of ‘Chandelier’ (definitely not church music!) was enthusiastically received, and they must be congratulated on arranging the music themselves.

It is proving hard to let go of our well-beloved Cathedral Director of Music AJ Bethke. As proof of the affection and esteem in which he is held by the parish and the wider community in Grahamstown, a whole series of farewell events have been organised. Some of these will be described in the next issue of People and Places, but to begin proceedings he gave a recital on the organ of Kingswood College, consisting entirely of the works of J S Bach, on the occasion of that composer’s 332nd birthday. It is too easy to take the talents of an organist for granted, when the music is a background to movement or prayer in a service. But in the context of a recital we were given a glimpse of what is involved – playing one tune with the right hand, another with the left, and yet another with the FEET! Next came AJ’s last Evensong conducting the full Cathedral Choir with the Juniors, on 26 March, at which Pat Terry paid tribute to him for the contribution he has made to the choir and Cathedral.

AJ Bethke with Heather and Andrew Tracey

Andrew Tracey organised a grand Farewell Concert in the Cathedral on 27 March. To open proceedings, AJ was honoured with a breathtaking fanfare on kudu horns, after which Paul Walters spoke movingly on behalf of the Cathedral community. Kepa, the choir intern, also gave a word of thanks. A number of choirs took part: the Cathedral Choir of course, conducted by AJ himself, the Pro Carmine Singers, University Madrigal Singers and the Rhodes Chamber Choir. All of these include members of the Cathedral Choir. The St Michael’s Marimbas performed, and AJ gave us another wonderful Bach Fugue on the organ. There were solos by soprano Jo-nette Le Kay, with guitar and recorder accompaniment. Poets from among the congregation offered items; Chris Mann performed ‘the Jesus of the Holy Land, a psalm for today’. And what would such an occasion be without one of Pat Terry’s delightfully witty parodies? He and Charles Antrobus treated us to a responsorial psalm which resonated with choir members in particular – e.g. “Some have mouths and open not/ eyes have they and look not. They have ears and listen not/ music they have and read not”. The finale consisted of all the choirs together, with singers from Graeme College, singing a Brazilian song and a final “Hamba kakuhle!”

Hamba kakuhle!
Hamba kakuhle!

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

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