Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Day 19 - St Cyprian's Cathedral

Today's matches:

Paraguay 0 (5) v. Japan 0 (3)
Spain 1 v. Portugal 0

The Cathedral Church of St Cyprian the Martyr, is the seat of the Bishop of Kimberley and Kuruman. It became a Cathedral when the Synod of Bishops gave a mandate for the formation of the new Diocese in October 1911. The first Bishop, the Rt Revd Wilfred Gore Browne, was enthroned there on 30 June 1912.

The first gatherings of worshippers of the 'English Church' in the rough and ready diggers' camps of the Diamond Fields took place in tents in 1870-71, while successive "St Cyprian's" church buildings, known now only from the pages of history, were in Market Street, and, from 1880 until 1908, in Jones Street, Kimberley.

The first rector was Fr John Rickards, previously a curate at St Cyprian's, Marylebone, London. Rickards laid the basis for the Parish which is today the Cathedral Church of St Cyprian the Martyr in Kimberley.
The writer J W Matthew would recall something of the “primitive state of things existing”, as far as eccelsiastical arrangements were concerned, on his first arrival at the Diamond Fields in November 1871: worshippers gathered in a canvas tent billiard-room:
“On entering I beheld a full-robed clergyman officiating at one end of a billiard-table, which served for his reading desk, whilst a large and attentive crowd sat around the other end, some on rude benches which were fixed along the walls, others perched upon gin cases, buckets reversed, or any other make-shift that came to hand. The congregation behaved with suitable decorum, but I confess it was not easy to keep the mind from wandering to the incongruity of the surroundings. ..When the parson was praying or the people singing, it was not particularly edifying to be interrupted by the lively chaff and occasional bursts of blasphemy, which we could plainly hear through the canvas party-walls, which separated us from the adjoining bar and its half tipsy occupants.” For Matthews, “notwithstanding these drawbacks”, and despite the valiant but imperfect renditions of the appointed hymns, it was nevertheless “refreshing to hear the grand old service once again”.

As early as 1872, within a year of the founding of St Cyprian’s, Fr Crisp in Bloemfontein reported that “this New Rush Church has a surpliced choir accompanied by a harmonium. The singing is really very good.” Clearly intent upon consolidating a choral tradition here, St Cyprian’s soon replaced the harmonium with an organ, purchased from Grahamstown’s Commemoration Church in 1874 for the sum of £125.

Rickards promoted the important and neglected cause of education in what would become Kimberley (three schools originated from this work). The Revd C B Maude succeeded Fr Borton as Rector of St Cyprian's Church in Kimberley. Maude left an account of the still primitive conditions that prevailed in the diamond mining town which was then less than a decade old. "Every Sunday the church is crowded. It holds about 400. I hope we shall soon be able to build one more worthy of the worship of God. "

The foundation stone for the present Neo-Gothic church building that would become the Cathedral was laid in 1907 and the completed Nave was dedicated in 1908. The Lady Chapel was added in 1936 (when a vestry and a new organ were also built). The building was brought nearer to completion in 1961 with the dedication of the tower - which was built closely following the original cathedral design .

Every generation has been adding to the cathedral by way of stained glass windows, plaques, furnishings and ornaments. In the south transept are the magnificent Holy Spirit windows (central with two lancets), with thick glass set in concrete by the Pretoria artist Leo Theron. A Cathedral Hall and office complex was built in 1979. A Memorial Garden and Wall of Remembrance was consecrated on 5 March 2007 as part of the Cathedral's centenary.

Within the garden is a bronze statue by Jack Penn of Sister Henrietta Stockdale, 1847-1911, of the Community of St Michael and All Angels, and pioneer of nursing in South Africa who brought about the first state registration of nurses in the world.

Today the Cathedral stands at the centre of diocesan activities, and a meeting point for clergy and congregations to gather together from across the diocese. It has a busy programme of services and concerts, and supports the life of the diocese practically and prayerfully.

We pray for:

  • those who worship at the Cathedral, for a boldness to reach out to the city and be a beacon of hope to those around

  • for the Very Revd Brian Beck the Dean, who will be retiring in the next few months

  • for the Revd Canon Ann Bazzard, who looks after the Cathedral Office

  • for David Morris, Churchwarden and Lay Canon

  • for Anne Solomon, Director of Music

  • for the Bishop in the appointment of a new Dean

  • Giving thanks for all those who had a vision for a larger church in Kimberley, and for those who have served over the last 100 years or so.

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