Pastoral Letter from the Bishop Of Grahamstown, the Rt. Rev E.S. Ntlali, in the wake of the current suffering and pain of our African brothers.

 

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23 April 2015

I, Ebenezer, Bishop of Grahamstown call upon all Anglicans in our Diocese and all God- fearing people to join us in prayer during this difficult time in our country. We cannot be silent when people are being displaced and killed. Our communities could be quiet now but, nobody knows when things like these would reach our communities. It is opportune for us to make our voice heard and together stop these unacceptable behaviours. I would like to draw your attention to Exodus 23: 9, “You shall not oppress a stranger; you know the heart of a stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”
We therefore cannot detach ourselves from misery and pain that we see before us. Our beloved country has lately taken centre stage globally, unfortunately for the wrong reasons. The defacing of statues has not helped our national unity and social cohesion programmes. It has led to even more gruesome incidents where the target now shifted to foreign nationals with looting of their businesses as well as unprovoked and unwarranted physical assault directed at them which have resulted in loss of lives – with the grim picture of the callous murder of the recent victim of such attacks -Mozambican national, Emanuel Sithole (may his soul and all others departed in like manner, rest in peace and rise in glory on the Day of the Lord), indelibly imprinted in the minds of the people of this Land and reminiscent of the murder of Abel by his brother Cain instigated by jealousy. In these circumstances the voice of the church has to be heard and registered, in accordance with her dynamic prophetic and voice of conscience mandate accorded her by the gift of the Holy Spirit from the Risen Christ!
We are encouraged by the remarks of the Primate of the Anglican Church in Southern Africa, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, who registered that our brothers and sisters from neighbouring African States are also created in the image of God ,in whom we are as well. There can be no justifiable or defendable reason for taking life in the manner it is happening; we also add our voice of concern and alarm at these happenings in our country. We have been fortunate, so far, that there have not been incidents reported in the Province of the Eastern Cape yet. The pro-active attempts by the leadership across the Political, Religious, Business and Community Structures are highly appreciated and lauded.
We now join forces to also add our own voice of reason in cautioning the people of God in the Land, to please, in the Name of the Prince of Peace, desist from these acts of violence that have now assumed unacceptable proportions, and to harness their anger and lay down all weapons restoring peace within the communities, and to embrace our .foreign national brothers and sisters in keeping with the Great Commandment to love one another. This enjoins all of us to truly be our brothers’ keepers! The impact of this wave of violence has far-reaching implications for the country as a whole, impacting on the economy, community stability and the global image of the country, as well as detracting from the gains of democracy in the last two decades, Unabated, this could escalate and reach proportions that have the potential to plunge the whole country into a conflagration that will be impossible to extinguish. The country took the noble stand in doing away with the Death Sentence. Amongst the limitations God imposes on His people in the Decalogue are: “Thou shall not kill, Thou shall not steal. Thou shall not covet thy Neighbour’s belongings.” These lynchings and kangaroo court justice practices constitute a contravention of God’s Commandments.
In these situations it also behoves leaders, in all spheres, to exercise caution and restraint when on public platforms, so as not to add fuel to the fire but rather quell the damage. As South Africans we are a great nation well known for being tolerant with one another, having entrenched a Constitutional framework that is an envy of the world, embracing values based on Ubuntu, fundamentally being a God Fearing Nation!
Let us, for the Love of God and His sake, relent and humble ourselves before God and repent of this grievous sin. God made this promise to the children of Israel which could apply to us as well: “If my people who are called by my Name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from Heaven, and will forgive them their sin and will heal the Land.”
I implore all of you to actively participate in all attempts to prevent this from happening in our communities and also pray that this wave of xenophobic attacks be silenced and calmed in the Name of Christ. Let us dedicate the first Sunday- in May to a Diocese-wide prayer day for end to Xenophobia.

Yours in the service of the Shepherd of shepherds

Bp Ebenezer sig

BISHOP of GRAHAMSTOWN

The death of Professor Beth Dickerson

It was with sincere regret that the Cathedral Parish has learned of the death of Professor Emeritus Beth Dickerson, at about 02.30 on the morning of 22 April 2015.

Beth has been a Cathedral parish stalwart for many years, known and loved by all with whom she came into contact.

She died in the Settlers’ Hospital and was at peace and free of pain. Our prayers are with her family and friends at this time.

Further details, concerning funeral arrangements and some pertaining to her remarkable life, will be made known as and when they come to hand.

May her soul rest in peace and rise in glory.

The Revd Mzinzisi Dyantyi
Sub Dean

From the Dean’s study

My dear friends
We have received with great sadness the terrible news of the terror attack, during Holy Week, by Al Shabaab, at a university campus in Garissa, Kenya, with 148 students killed, shot, beheaded. The killers appeared to have been targeting non-Muslims – so there would have been many Christians among the dead. Our hearts go out to the families and communities of all who died and we hold them in our prayers and love.
We continue to remember and to pray for the more than 200 Nigerian school girls, Christians, kidnapped by Boko Haram in April last year, forced into sexual slavery, forced to convert to Islam, with no prospect of release. We pray for their families. We pray for the new President of Nigeria, elected last week.
On Good Friday the National Church Leaders Forum called all Christians to pray especially for all in our communities who are victims of rape and domestic violence; for abandoned families and children without care; for those (especially women and children) who are held hostage through crime and violence; for all who live in poverty and deprivation. And we pray for an end to corruption and dishonesty in government and business.
As the diocese of Grahamstown, we also have a particular focus on building up families. During Holy Week, and especially on Good Friday, we acknowledged the struggles that face many in the context of the most intimate relationships: the scourge of domestic violence; the effects of verbal abuse, rejection and betrayal – all this as we remember the betrayal and violent death of Jesus. During the foot-washing on Maundy Thursday, we remembered Christ’s servanthood. We pray that pain and heartache that family members do face at times be transformed through the death and resurrection of Christ.
We are invited to see the crucified Christ amongst us; we are called to take up our cross and follow Jesus to Calvary. God enables us to share in the resurrection life, the new life, that Jesus came to bring – for “God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not die, but have everlasting life” (Jn 3:16). As Jesus said to his disciples, “I came that they may have life, and life in all its fullness.” (Jn 10:10a).
Today is informally known as Graduation Sunday – the Sunday after the series of graduation ceremonies held at Rhodes University. It is a time of great celebration, some serious partying, reunions, families rejoicing, graduates exulting in all that they have achieved. A number of those graduating have been members of the Cathedral during their time at Rhodes University and in Grahamstown. We extend our very warm congratulations to them, to their families, to their lecturers, and to all who have encouraged and nurtured them on their way. A very big part of what Grahamstown does – in some ways central to its existence – is to welcome, encourage and mentor young people, at school and university, during these immensely formative times in their lives; and then after a few short years, to send them out. That is certainly part of what we as the Cathedral have been doing over the past several years. Teenagers and students arrive here, are with us for a few years, and then leave. We have this incredible privilege and opportunity to be part of their lives, to sow seeds, to love and welcome and encourage them, to help them find their feet, to be there when they stumble and fall, to nurture them in their life of faith and trust, to demonstrate God’s love for them – and then to send them on their way, knowing that we have invested in their lives and given them some of the tools that they will need.
Our ministry as the Cathedral to our students is one of the highlights of what we do. The work of Paul Daniels, our YASCer student worker, with the Cathedral Student Ministry (CSM), and the work of Revd Monwabisi Peter as ANSOC chaplain, is of immense value: we thank them very warmly indeed for all that they do in the lives of our students. We thank God for them, for all our students; for Titi Morobe, our CSM chair, and for Lazola Kati, ANSOC chairperson and a Parish Councillor.
We also have a significant number of pupils from local schools who are worshipping members of the Cathedral during their years in Grahamstown. A large number of them are boarders, and we certainly feel their absence during the holidays! I am so thankful that at least some are day girls or boys living here in Grahamstown. A number of our young people are active as Choristers, as members of the Altar Servers, in our various marimba bands and as readers. And they are wonderfully and faithfully supported and trained by Cathedral parishioners. Our Director of Music, Dr Andrew-John Bethke, our Altar Servers co-ordinators, Sally Terry, Lunga Dongwana and Lynette Marais, our readers’ trainers, Jeanette Eve and Beth Dickerson, and our marimba team leader, Penny Whitford, all do an immense amount to teach, train and disciple our young people. So when we see and hear a superb choir, or appreciate a focused and on-the-ball servers’ team, or hear the marimba players give it stick during our service, or listen to the scriptures being wonderfully read, often in a language that is not a reader’s mother tongue, then we say a heart-felt thank you to those who have trained them and guided them.
There are so many signs of new life, signs of the resurrection, which we hold onto in the midst of darkness and evil. Let us not despair or give up.
My love to you all
Andrew Hunter sig

People and Places, April 2015

The Annual Vestry meeting was held on 15 March, and we welcome the newly elected churchwardens and parish councillors, and pray for them: churchwardens Jane Bradshaw and Wayne Jayes, alternate churchwarden Paul Walters; councillors: Claire Cordell, Paul Daniels II, Lunga Dongwana, Cathy Euijen, David Greybe, Duma Myemane and Patrick Pringle. They were admitted to their offices on 22 March, and at the same service our two new lay ministers received their licences, Thelma Maloko and Namso Nyamela.

After some months of filling the post of Parish Secretary on a “temporary” (but most efficient) basis, Chris Walwyn was among those who applied for this vacant position, and his appointment was announced at the Vestry Meeting. We give thanks, and pray that he will have a long and happy sojourn in the Parish Office.

At the beginning of March we were introduced to the College of the Transfiguration placement team for 2015: Bruce Woolley, Qabuka (Theo) Tshazi, Marlon Porter, Zinzile Mdululwa and Deon Manuel. We welcome them and their families as they share in the ministry here and gain practical experience. Congratulations to the members of last year’s module who graduated at the ceremony on 18 March: Naomi Alexander and Matthew Wright received the Certificate in Anglican Ministry, and those who passed the Diploma of Theology were Bertha Gowera, Ronald Dias, Nobuntu Mageza (with Distinction) and Shaun Cozette, who not only achieved a Distinction but also won awards both as Most Improved student and for Academic Excellence in the Diploma.

A very warm welcome to Ann Greybe, who has now arrived from Scotland to join her husband David here on a permanent basis. Other newcomers to the Cathedral include John Murray, who has moved to Grahamstown from George, and Lorraine Cassim, a long-time Associate of the CR Sisters, who has taken the decision to move from Port Elizabeth to live with the Community. A joyful occasion at the CR was the celebration of Sister Dorianne’s 100th birthday on 14 March. Seventy or more friends of all ages came to celebrate, some from as far afield as the UK. The party took place in the St Peter’s common-room on the morning of the big day. Sister Dorianne was happy to see them all, and to read all the many cards and messages which arrived for her.

More visitors from the UK over the same weekend were Christopher Helyer from Dartmouth, and one of the young volunteers for the Mayenziwe Project, Joseph Partridge. They were in the country to help with the construction of school classrooms in the King William’s Town area, and were able to join the Cathedral Choir for the morning Eucharist on the day of our Vestry Meeting.

Brother John OHC spent some time in hospital in Cape Town recently, for an operation on his brain which hopefully will cure his epilepsy. The surgeon who operated on him is a world leader in this relatively new procedure, and we pray that it will be a success. Pasha Alden had an operation on 17 February, and we pray for her complete recovery. Patrick and Cathy Pringle give thanks that their daughter Janet was spared serious injury in the accident which saw her car written off. Fiona Coyne spent more than a week in Settlers’ Hospital with pneumonia, and prayers are asked for her and her husband Basil.

We pray for Uminathi Anthony, one of the young tenors in our choir, whose father Theo died quite suddenly, and for Eunice Ncwadi our Verger, whose sister-in-law Irene Gawe Ncwadi has died. Prayers also for Jane Bradshaw on the death of her cousin George Barbour, and for our former Director of Music, Barbara Stout, whose father died in the UK in February.

Congratulations to Tyreece Burger on being chosen as Head Girl of Victoria Primary School for 2015. Her photo appeared in Grocotts, and in the same issue the front-page picture featured Ongamela Peter and Nikilitha Gabavana, two of the young violinists of VP who played in a concert on 6 March. This was to raise funds to take the violin group to Cape Town for workshops, and a performance with the Buffalo Suzuki Strings from New York. And congratulations to Andrew Meiklejohn on being selected for the Rhodes first rowing team, and awarded full University colours.

Readers of the Sunday Times should look out for the by-line of Asha Speckman, a former Grahamstonian, Rhodes journalism student and Cathedral server. On 15 March an interview appeared in the Business Times which Asha had conducted with Mimi Mahlasela, who plays the part of Aggie Ngwenya on the soapie 7de Laan.

A former Cathedral Director of Music, Christopher Cockburn, has been honoured by the Royal School of Church Music by being made an Associate of the RSCM. The citation calls him a “leading organist”, mentions his academic posts and composing, and that he “has spent many years training both choristers and young organists and has dedicated much of his working life to the causes of the RSCM and church music.” Congratulations to Christopher, and also to our current Director of Music, Andrew-John Bethke. One of his compositions, “In the tender compassion of our God”, has been chosen to be featured in the London Festival of Contemporary Church Music in May, where it will be performed for the first time. Well done!

In the week before Palm Sunday the choirs of St Andrew’s College, DSG and the Cathedral combined to perform an “Easter Cantata” in the Cathedral, accompanied by organ and small orchestra. This was actually a service of nine readings and various musical items, taking us on a journey from Palm Sunday through Passiontide to Easter. This collaboration with our Anglican schools was something special, and the Cathedral was packed on both evenings.

Dean Andrew Hunter and his daughters Rachel and Nicola all took part in the Cape Town Cycle Tour on 8 March. Because of the huge fire which had only recently been extinguished in the Cape Peninsula, the tour was shortened to 47 km, less than half its normal length. The girls were probably relieved not to have to cycle the whole route as they were riding a borrowed tandem bike. Their “practice” on this machine was a mere quarter of an hour, just long enough to decide that they did better with Rachel in front and Nicola behind! As usual they sought sponsorship from friends and parishioners for the Bumble Bee Fund (for children with disabilities) and were delighted to raise more than R4000.

People and Places is compiled by Maggy Clarke. Please give her items of news at 046 622 7803 or mjclarke@imaginet.co.za

Far harder to build, than to breakdown

Much has been said, in recent days, here at Rhodes University and also at the University of Cape Town, regarding the legacy and place of Cecil John Rhodes at these two institutions. The debate has moved from there to discuss (among other matters) issues of privilege, institutional racism, the lived experience of those who have been oppressed, and the place of all of us, black or white, in this debate and in our efforts to find the way forward. There has been a great deal of anger, and communities are polarised and alienated. To what extent are we able to hear one another?

None of us find these debates easy, and it is hard at times for people to talk and reflect in a way that shows respect for one another. Anger clouds our judgement. Archbishop Desmond Tutu would often quote his own father who, in times of strong disagreement, would say, “Don’t raise your voice. Improve your argument.” Is there a Christian voice in all this? What is the basis for our engagement with one another?

The Christian community, the church, is a community of great diversity – language, background, culture, education, outlook, our varied experiences of injustice, struggle, suffering, dislocation. There is so much that can divide us, separate us, alienate us from one another. But what we offer to debates and interactions about issues that deeply divide us, is the underlying and life-changing reality and truth that we are brothers and sisters in Christ. We have been baptised into one body. We have been given of the one Holy Spirit to drink. We belong together. We are given a new commandment, to love one another as Christ has loved us, by laying down his life for us all. We are called to use a different sort of language, another narrative, and to live it out in our lives: a language of peace, reconciliation, forgiveness, love for one another, truth, respect, and courtesy. That doesn’t of course solve all our problems. But at least it is a basis for our conversation, and it is the foundation for our relationships.

We find the same shocking truth when we encounter issues of power and control. Power is a reality. People are placed in positions of power and responsibility and authority, to work and lead, to make decisions, and to exercise power. Like many things, power is open to being misused. We know how people in power can be abusive, or cruel, or controlling, blind to their own faults, self-centred. At the same time, we know how people in power can use their positions for great good, how they can be examples of service, of humility, of dedication. What a gift a wise, holy leader can be to a school, a place of work, a university, a church, a country. What is our model and example? Those in authority are called to follow the example of Jesus, who washed the feet of his disciples, and who came as one who serves. The story of Maundy Thursday, and the symbolic foot-washing that takes place at Maundy Thursday services during Holy Week, each year, following the example of Jesus Christ, is very familiar to us. At the same time it is radical and subversive.

Being baptised into Christ as a new community of brothers and sisters, washing one another’s feet, loving and forgiving, carrying one another’s burdens – this is a whole new way of relating to one another. This is the alternative community of the kingdom of God, the Easter people, people of the resurrection.

So let’s find the way forward, together, and let’s do it in a way that builds up the university, our community, our relationships. It is easy to destroy, to break down, to attack, to uproot, to discard. It is far harder to build, to plant, to create, to nurture. What path are we going to take?

The Very Reverend Andrew Hunter
Dean of Grahamstown

Believing without Belonging

The Very Reverend Kelvin Holdsworth, Provost of St Mary’s Cathedral in Glasgow in his blog of November 2014 gave six reasons why some cathedrals are doing well

  1. Cathedrals get to use the C word rather than the other C word
  2. People have worked to make things beautiful for a long time
  3. People haven’t just worked on good music they’ve worked on stopping bad music
  4. People like to volunteer for something that is bigger than them and which will carry on without them
  5. It is never wrong to do things as well as you can
  6. Innovation [sometimes] pays off

In the first point he discusses Believing without Belonging. Maybe it’s okay for people to attend Cathedral worship and not feel too much pressure either to belong or to believe.

People and Places, March 2015

A warm welcome to all students, whether returning after the long vacation, or new to this city and the Cathedral. That includes students of the College of the Transfiguration (COTT), and their families, as well as the new COTT Rector, Vicentia Kgabe. May their time here be blessed.

Many Cathedral people went away for Christmas, not a luxury available to the clergy, but after Christmas Dean Andrew went for an extremely brief visit to New Zealand, to attend his nephew’s wedding near Christchurch on the South Island. The wedding was a lovely occasion, at a seaside resort.

When the Rhodes Chamber Choir performed in Orientation Week in the Monument, Charles Antrobus sang a solo before the largest audience of his life – in isiXhosa.

Nuns never seem to look old, so it was a surprise to realise that Sister Carol CR was celebrating her 80th birthday. Her brother and sister-in-law came to visit her from Harare for the occasion.

We welcome two new Lay Ministers, both post-graduate students: Thelma Maloto and Namso Nyamela. Namso is also a server, and has rejoined the choir this year.

Many people have been praying for Claire Nye Hunter’s brother David Nye in Cape Town, whose continuing serious illness baffled the experts. Although it was never defined, we are delighted to hear that he is now well on the road to recovery.

Jeanette Hodgson has been in and out of hospital with heart trouble, and Angie Marriner has to have a major operation. Prayers are asked for them, and also for James Hoyle, retired priest at Christ Church, whose cancer has returned.

On the evening of Shrove Tuesday, 17 February, news broke of the death of Paddy Tandy, less than three weeks after he had been diagnosed with cancer of the liver. We give thanks that during that short time his son was able to visit him from Johannesburg, and they could talk together. Prayers are asked for his wife Joy and all the family.

The customary pancake evening on Shrove Tuesday at St George’s Hall was a great success, as ever. Even with eight gas burners roaring away, the succession of pancake-cooks could hardly keep up with demand! Some people took away piles of pancakes, others sat down and enjoyed them with salads at the tables. When the mixture ran out, and the takings were counted and expenses deducted, the Bishop’s Appeal was richer by in the region of R4,500! Well done to Sally Terry and the team of parishioners, adults and school-girls.

Warm wishes for blessings this Lent, and joy at Eastertide.

People and Places is compiled by Maggy Clarke. Please give her items of news at 046 622 7803 or mjclarke@imaginet.co.za.

People and Places February 2015

Here we are, well into 2015. Warm wishes to all Grahamstown Cathedral members and friends for this new year. Means of communication in this 21st century just keep on multiplying, and for a variety of reasons it has been decided to reduce the number of printed issues of The Spire produced each year. At the same time we can take advantage of the wonders of the Internet to maintain the monthly instalments of “People and Places.” So welcome to the new P & P, whether you read it on the Cathedral web page, or in low-tech form pinned up on a notice board. Please keep the news coming.

Many Cathedral people went away for Christmas. Perhaps the most exotic destination was Goa, India, where Cathy and Patrick Pringle joined their daughter Janet for a family Christmas followed by fascinating sight-seeing further afield on the sub-continent. But at the same time there were visitors here, including Margie and Geoff Antrobus’s daughter Helen Pfister and her family, from New Zealand, and Dorothy Holder who visited from Cape Town before Christmas.

Four members of the Cathedral Choir spent a week over the new year attending a Summer School organised by the Royal School of Church Music in Cape Town. David Foulkes, Aphiwe Mame, Sesona Bay and Maggy Clarke greatly enjoyed the fellowship, fun and high quality musical training. The excellent visiting conductor from the USA was none other than Garmon Ashby, who spent his childhood in Grahamstown. After 13 years teaching at Bishop’s (Diocesan College) in Cape Town, he left in 2000 to further his training as a church musician at Yale, and stayed on to work first in Tucson, Arizona, and now in Houston, Texas.

Congratulations to Claire Nye Hunter on the 20th anniversary of her ordination as a priest. Peter and Elizabeth Breetzke welcome a new grandson, Levi, born to their daughter Jane in Cape Town.

On 14 December the Mothers’ Union of the Cathedral admitted two new members: Zukhanye Mtuze and Noluthando Ncaca. We give thanks for the growth in the MU and pray for their work. At the same service three little Matyumzas, grandchildren of Joyce, were baptised: Luzuko, Thandile and Liyabona, along with one adult, Debbie Myburg. We welcome them into the Lord’s family! Three days later Debbie was married in the Cathedral to Corné Labuschagne, who had renewed his baptism vows when Debbie was baptised. All good wishes for every blessing on them in their life together.

Rodney Bridger gives thanks that his father, Ernest Bridger, is recovering well after a gall-stone operation. Beth Dickerson was rushed to hospital in Port Elizabeth before Christmas with blood clots on her lungs. We give thanks that she survived this alarming experience and was discharged within a week. Audrey Holmes spent two weeks in Settlers’ Hospital but is now back at St Luke’s. Also out of hospital and back home are Jeanette Hodgson, and Thembeka Peter, Monwabisi’s mother. We give thanks for the improvement in their health and pray for their complete recovery. Special prayers have been asked at this time for Claire Nye Hunter’s brother David Nye in Cape Town, whose continuing serious illness has baffled the experts. Pray that tests will reveal the cause and point the way to a cure. Pray also for Lunga Dongwana and the family on the death of his uncle, Lulamile Dongwana.

Congratulations to Jonathan Jayes on his outstanding Matric results. He achieved six A symbols in the IEB exams, and is going to further his studies at UCT. Back after a most enjoyable gap year teaching in the UK, Rachel Hunter has now started at Stellenbosch University.

Jessica Smith having finished her teaching qualification at Rhodes at the end of last year, has been appointed at Victoria Girls’ High School, and has moved into accommodation on the school campus. Paul and June Walters’ son William is also embarking on a teaching career, moving to Kimberley. We wish them well. William’s brother John and his wife Cath have returned from the Far East and John has been appointed to teach at St Andrew’s College. It is good to see Mike Skipper, who is back on the staff of DSG and also teaching at St Andrew’s and Prep, after many years in the UK. The choir were happy to welcome him back into his place in the bass row. His wife Sue will be following him later in the year.

People and Places is compiled by Maggy Clarke. Please give her items of news at 046 622 7803 or mjclarke@imaginet.co.za.