Sunday, 19 December 2010

The problems of snow.....

Check list for clergy in snowy rural areas anticipating the forthcoming Christmas
services. If the answer is yes, stop at that question: 1) Do you live near the church ? 2) Do you have a 4 by 4 ? 3)Have you taken a course on a skid pan ? . If the answer is 'yes' by now you are blessed. Go and do your duty.....3) Do you have good lay people who can take the service ? 4) Can someone read a service sent to them by email ? 5) Can you cancel the service ? If the answer is 'yes' by now settle down in the warm in the knowledge that you have delegated wisely, if not 6) Do you know a friendly farmer who can give you a lift? 7) Can you walk ? 8) Is it worth the risk ? If you have answered 'yes' now then think about making 2011 the year of training the laity...... if you are still answering 'No' pray that no one else turns up either and blames the vicar for not trying hard enough.... or blame the archdeacon.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Sermon preached at the Holy Family Hospital in Bethlehem

I grew up with the Bethlehem Carol Sheet! Now in its umpteenth edition, it gave me my first glimpse of the Holy Land. As I accompanied my parents to church and joined in carol services year after year, I learned about the plants, the trees and the buildings of this place. And of the special projects supported by the Biblelands Charity.

I don't know about you, but Bethlehem has always been that special place of Jesus' birth, almost known in the imagination created by Christmas cards and Advent calendars, with the stable and the star always central. Our travels so far have helped us understand too the long journey taken by Mary and Joseph to be counted as they obediently travelled to David's town. Silhouettes of Mary, Joseph and always that donkey again as seen on Christmas cards on my mind.

Then as a grew up I began to see the nativity - that star and stable in a wider context. Understanding the chaos of a town full of people bidding for the last hotel room - each with their own agenda, but still there in the middle that stable scene - now including smelly cattle, straw and a feeding trough.

More recently however, I have learned of new images of this town - of peace lines and incursions, of watch towers and walls, of soldiers and civilians, of guns and rocket fire, of religious groups, of turmoil, of unrest, of oppression, of rights, of freedom, of land, of different visions, of ideology, of violence, of hatred. The image is strong and leaves little room for a stable and a vulnerable baby.

O little town of Bethlehem, how still be see thee lie?
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by
Yet in the dark streets shineth the everlasting light
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

And now we are here. I wonder what you are thinking ? I wonder how you are feeling?

God needed a place and that place was here, however for us to understand the true meaning of the event of over two thousand years ago we have to move on from the images, be they true or imagined. It seems appropriate that we worship today literally in a place of birth. The birth of Jesus changed the course of history, however as every good Christmas sermon goes, in order to experience it we have to take the baby out of the manger.

St John's gospel helps us to do that best. It helps us to see reality in a different way, to see historical events in the whole of salvation history. That what happened here then, was part of the plan which continues with us today. For those involved in the life of the church, by the time 'O come all ye faithful' is sung for the 20th time on Christmas Eve any joy of the season has almost gone. Sorry, to shatter any illusions the laity here may have but most clergy want to get the 8am and the 10am services on Christmas Day over and done with as soon as possible so they can get home, have a strong drink and perhaps a mince pie, before falling asleep before the Queen's speech. Christmas is always such a busy time so it is good to think about the story out of its December slop and reflect on what the birth of Christ means personally for each one of us.

God's plan was very simply to reveal his love. A love which began in a time and a place and was revealed in flesh and blood, and a love that transcends time and place and dwells within us and with us today. God loves you and God loves. Let's first allow that to sink in this morning.

Jesus was born for us. In a world where love is transient, where power and success and pedigree matter, where people trample over others to get what they want, the things that really matter is God's love for us and our response to him. God loves us as we are. His light longs to shine in our darkness. It was no mistake that Jesus came in humble surroundings to a world which couldn't find a room for him. He wants space in our lives, he welcomes those who seek him and he pours out his love more and more if we open ourselves to his tender touch. As Bishop John said a few days ago pilgrimage can be a time to do just that. The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.

As well as the Word this week we have been open to those sights and sounds around us. God works through our senses and so the down to earth realism of crying babies, smelly cattle and the push and shove and pain of birth are all part of the experience, as is the mess of our lives, our tears and pain and the turmoil around us as we meet here today. So Jesus was born for each one of us and Jesus came for the world.

I have become quite a fan in recent years of Gareth Malone, Choir master extraordinaire. Gareth has a great gift of bringing the best out of people, of taking something which appears hopeless - be it a community with no soul, or a delinquent with no future, or a child with no self-confidence and turning them around. He develops potential, gives that warm encouragement that can made all the difference.

I also like watching the programme 'Secret Millionaire' Seeing someone with millions living undercover in the toughest of situations and not only being able to make a difference by giving money to key projects or selfless individuals, but being changed by it themselves. I have termed these programmes redemption programmes because they reveal something of the light shining in the darkness. They move me - and I often have to resort to blabbering into a tissue by the end of the programme.

Christ may not always be named, but if we take time to look carefully though, away from the TV, into our communities, in our neighbours, our world we too will see glimmers of light in the darkness, in acts of generosity, selflessness and compassion. It is our call to affirm the signs of God's kingdom in our midst.

One of the most memorable events for me in the year 2000 - apart from visiting the dome of course - was working with my congregation delivering 2000 candles to every household in the parish. It was a real effort, turning out night after night for about eight nights, ringing on doorbells. The instructions were clear - we could not just stick it through the letterbox, tempting though that way, nor leave it on the doorstep or hanging from the door handle. We had to hand the bag, containing the candle and the prayer to the person behind the door.

And because we made the effort we had some wonderful conversations. The most amazing thing being the astonishment that we were actually giving them something at all! 'How much do they cost?' 'Nothing.' 'Can we give you something?' 'No'. 'Can we keep it?' 'Yes'. I don't know what many of them did with the candle - I hope they lit it in a meaningful way and said a prayer - God knows.

How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given
So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of his heaven
No ear may heard his coming, but in this world of sin
Where meek souls will receive him still, the dear Christ enters in.

As we spent time in this country of contrasts, if we take time to look, we too will see glimpses of that light shining in all the struggles. We too will encounter the hope that never disappears, we will meet Christ in signs of generosity, love and welcome.

And as we leave this special place. We hopefully will have courage to take the scene out of the Christmas card and live it in our lives, knowing Christ in our own hearts and taking his light to others in our day to day encounters, no matter how chaotic, apathetic or hostile they may be.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Day 25 - Into the future.....

The Final:

Spain 1 v Holland 0

These 25 days have taken us on a trip around a complex and rich diocese. On the face of it, the Northern Cape is the forgotten part of South Africa. The World Cup matches may have passed it by, but the spirit of the game is all around. Tourists who visit, discover a beautiful landscape and a deep and fascinating history, which includes one of the oldest skulls ever found, Baden Powell, gold mining and a fight for justice and freedom.

However, it is the people who hold the key to Kimberley and Kuruman's vibrancy. They all have stories to tell, and each church holds within it a deep spirituality, which celebrates all that is good about life.

The Oxford diocese, have much to learn...but also much to give. In comparison to our affluence, the needs of the poor in South Africa, for good housing, water and sanitation; the needs of the clergy for resources and support in an often lonely and isolated role; and the needs of the diocese for clergy, good administrators and central financial support, are stark reminders of how unequal the world still is.

The plight of HIV/AIDS cannot be ignored, and whilst better distribution of more effective drugs are helping individuals to have a better quality of life, the number of orphans and vulnerable children increases. We also need to take some responsibility for the scars that remain in Kimberley and Kuruman from the greed of the past - corporations who mined without thought for what they would leave behind in terms of environmental damage and health problems; those who took the riches and, literally, left a hole behind; those who fought for the superior good of the white man which has led to division and inequality.

So as a diocese we remain firmly committed to our neighbour, for what we can give and receive. Let us continue to pray...and as we do let us remember these verses from 2 Corinthians 4.

'For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness,"made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. '

These verses unite both dioceses in our mission and ministry, in our separate settings of Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire, the Northern Cape and North West Province, but also as we continue to see Christ in one another.

God bless Africa
Guard her children
Guide her leaders
and give her peace;
for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Day 24 - Hope for the Living

Today's match:

Germany 3 v. Uruguay 2

Hope for the Living is an extremely important project which ministers to orphans and vulnerable children, the sick and those infected with HIV/AIDS.

Vegetable gardens have been planted in the backyard of St Francis Church in Roodepan. The aim being to grow carrots, spinach, tomatoes and other nutritious food to supply the weekly food distribution programme for the orphans. An experienced team 'The Green Team' support the community by serving as care workers and maintaining the garden.

The team are also encouraging individuals to develop vegetable gardens in their own backyards, teaching them to grow their own food and to supplement their diet. Many homes house 5 or more people, so home grown food is much appreciated.

The orphans and vulnerable children (about 70 of them) also gather once a week at the church, for activities and to be served a hot cooked meal.

During our recent visit to Kimberley and Kuruman, we were delighted to join the team in doing some visiting, seeing some of the gardens and to serve the children dinner. I often think pictures can tell a better story than words:

We pray:
  • for the Revd Carol Starkey, co-ordinator of Hope for the Living
  • for the development of individual vegetable gardens
  • for a sharing of the world's resources
  • for those caring for children, grand-children and great grandchildren affected by HIV/AIDS
  • for the Green Team, giving thanks for their cheerful spirit and care for all
  • for the church in Roodepan, its outreach and ministry
  • For the distribution of medicine, the provision of sanitation and the availability of water in the poorer areas of South Africa

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Day 23 - Around Kimberley

Today's match:

Germany 0 v. Spain 1

There is a real dedication to the gospel within the Anglican churches in Kimberley.

St Barnabas has just held its Patronal Festival. The congregation model themselves on the generosity of their patron saint. They made it possible for the Bishop to host a gathering of the clergy and spouses on Easter Monday, they cater for the Diocesan Council and have recently given the diocese a financial gift to form a trust to assist in the training of Lay Ministers, named after one of their one long serving lay ministers.

St Augustine's is full of committed and able people, who contribute to the life of the diocese, and offer a ministry to the needy living on the outskirts of Kimberley. Behind St Augustine's Church is the St Monica's House of Prayer, a home offering hospitality and prayer to the diocese, run by Sister Camilla Mary, from the Sisters of the Precious Blood. These sisters have houses in Masite, Lesotho and at Burnham Abbey - another demonstration of the rich and diverse link we have as two dioceses. St Augustines is linked with the Parish of Owlsmoor

St Matthew's is linked with the Parish of Finchampstead, who support a pre-school set in the grounds of the church. Here's a recent report from there:

'We are all fine here in S.A. despite the cold weather we are beginning to experience. Well irrespective of the cold ,our spirits are high for the FIFA WORLD CUP. Yes there is a buzz of the SOCCER FEVA all over our country, not forgetting St Matthews Pre-School. Every Friday we celebrate soccer Friday by wearing our soccer T- shirts and blowing our VUVUZELAS.'

Members of the parish have visited Kimberley and recent donations have helped the pre-school to buy tracksuits and the school fees for 5 pupils for 3 months.

Barkly West is a town with 16,233 inhabitants on the north bank of the Vaal River west of Kimberley. It was the site of the first major diamond rush, in 1870, and was initially known as Klip Drift. This Dutch name means "stony ford". Briefly the Klipdrift Diggers' Republic was declared. It became, with Kimberley, one of the main towns in the Crown Colony and was renamed Barkly West. Like Barkly East, the town is named after Sir Henry Barkly, Governor of Cape Colony and High Commissioner for Southern Africa from 1870-1877.

Barkly West is sometimes erroneously spelled as "Barkley-West" (even in road signage). In Afrikaans the town is known as Barkly-Wes. The Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin was the first Anglican Church to be built on the Diamond Fields. Sir Henry Barkly laid the foundation stone in February 1871.

We pray:
  • For Father Arthur Gilbert, Parish Priest at St Barnabas
  • For Father Russell Visser, Parish Priest at St Augustines
  • For Sister Camilla and St Monica's House of Prayer
  • The Finchampstead link with St Matthew's and the work of the pre-school
  • For the life of the Anglican Church in Kimberley
  • Giving thanks for the founders of the church and for our ongoing responsibility in the gospel for one another.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Day 22 - Galeshewe

Todays match:

Uruguay 2 v. Holland 3

Galeshewe is the satellite township that adjoins Kimberley and was originally built under the apartheid laws to house the area's African population. It is still largely populated by African people. The township's existence dates from 1871 and for many years it was known as Number Two Location, until 1952 when it was named after Chief Galeshewe of the Batlhaping tribe. He was an important figure to the local African population and spent many years in jail after he rebelled against the Cape Colony Government several times to protect his people.

Galeshewe rose significantly in importance during the struggle against Apartheid, and was second only to Soweto as a centre of political activism. It was home to Robert Sobukwe, the leader of the Pan African Congress (PAC), who spent the last days of his life under house arrest in Galeshewe, following his imprisonment on Robben Island. Sobuke practiced law from an office nearby. He died in 1978.

The township has a population of ca. 103,228 people

In Kimberley, the Transvaal Road Police Station still stands. During the apartheid years the sixth floor was notorious for many unexplained and mysterious deaths. Among them was Phakamile Mabija who died in 1977 and has a memorial plaque on the wall of St James’ Church, Galeshewe.

The first democratic elections in South Africa took place in 1994 and the following year the Marlow Team started a companionship link with the parish of St James Galeshewe. It is reviewed every five years when new objectives are set. Over the years there have been a number of visits from members of the congregation to Kimberley and Kuruman, and more significantly an exchange visit by the church choirs.

Earlier this year the PCC in Marlow and St James’ Vestry agreed to explore another five years together with a specific emphasis on young people. The reason for this is two-fold. First, Marlow now has Stewart Grenyer as a youth worker and this area of ministry is starting from a small but firm base. Secondly, St James has a high proportion of young people in its congregation (most of whom did not know the apartheid times).

We pray:

  • for the continued Marlow and St James link with its new emphasis on the youth

  • for those still oppressed because of colour or status
  • for those working for the freedom of others across the world
  • for St James, Galeshewe - its ministry and mission
  • for church groups and organisations throughout South Africa
  • Giving thanks for the involvement of young people in the life of the church both in the UK and in Kimberley and Kuruman

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Day 21 - Tamar Shelter

Today's Matches:

Argentina 0 v. Germany 4
Paraguay 0 v. Spain 1

It is difficult to get reliable statistics on violence against women in South Africa. Although the number of reported cases is very high, many cases go unreported. The incidence of battery or domestic violence is particularly hard to measure because the police do not keep separate statistics on assault cases perpetrated by husbands or boyfriends.

Many women are still unaware of their rights when reporting abuse and even informed women traumatised by an assault are unlikely to be assertive and insist on their rights. Many women are afraid of further violence from the perpetrator if they attempt legal action. This is even more compounded by the introduction of the new Domestic Violence Act which a lot of women have not yet grasped. The challenge exists for the Act, including the regulations to be made an accessible form of legislation to benefit and protect women in all areas of their lives. Effective implementation of the Act also needs to be ensured, for effective legal preventative measures (protection order) and police escorts to abused women.

The gendered nature of domestic violence has unfortunately also seen an increase in the number of women being murdered by their intimate male partners. Lack of statistical information on this form of killing makes it very hard to measure the extent of the scourge but newspaper reports on this issue, leave little to one’s imagination. These killings demonstrate the culture of male violence against women and sexism that still pervades African society. Women have fought and succeeded in getting many basic rights yet in the private sphere of their homes, the inequality between men and women is still a battle ground.

The Department of Justice estimates that 1 out of every four South African women are survivors of domestic violence. (450.311 Domestic Violence: Submission to the South African Law Commission in the Light of International and Constitutional Human Rights Jurisprudence Part 1, May 1997)

Canon Justus Marcus, Dean of Kimberley from 1992 until 2002, was the first ‘Coloured’ priest to hold that position. Marcus supported the ordination of women and he helped prepare the first two women to be ordained deacon (and subsequently as priests) in the Diocese (by Bishop Ndungane) in 1995. Whilst in Kimberley he initiated a project to establish a ‘Tamar House’ place of safety for abused women and Rape Crisis Centre.

The Tamar Centre is the only safe and secure refuge for abused and battered women in the diocese of Kimberley and Kuruman. The Oxford Diocese has supported this project, with a number of churches helping to assist. It is a place where small donations can make a significant difference. The security of the building has been upgraded to enhance the safety of the occupants. Electrical fencing has been installed to safeguard the women and children living there. The next project is to upgrade the bathrooms, so the women can feel both clean and pampered in a safe environment.

The centre, not only offers an immediate place of refuge for those fleeing situations of domestic violence, but also legal advice, training and development, to enable women to make clear decisions about their own lives. The centre provides treatment too and counselling to strengthen women and prepare them for independent living.

Please pray:
  • For all victims of domestic violence
  • For the live-in caretaker at the Tamar centre
  • For the management board in the further financing and developing of the centre
  • For continued safety and security in such a vulnerable place
  • For continued support from the wider church.
  • That women will have the confidence to speak out and walk away

Friday, 2 July 2010

Day 20 - St Cyprian's Grammar School

Today's matches:

Holland 2 v. Brazil 1
Uruguay 1 (4) v. Ghana 1 (2)

St. Cyprian's Grammar School in Kimberley, is a co-educational English-medium private school for Grades 1-12, attached to the Cathedral. In its present form it opened its doors to 83 students on 21 January 2009.

The Parish of St Cyprian on the Diamond Fields played a crucial role in establishing Kimberley’s first schools from the early 1870s. A Mission School (later called Perseverence), a St Cyprian’s Grammar School, and a Girls’ School (later St Michael’s) were established. The Grammar School and St Michael's went into decline in the 1890s after government schools were opened. In the early twentieth century Perseverance became a training school for teachers and from it, at a later stage, would arise the Gore Browne Training School (named after first Diocesan Bishop Wilfred Gore Brown). Under apartheid education and the Group Areas Act they were taken over, and eventually closed.

In 2007 Archbishop Emeritus Njongonkulu Ndungane was making it a special project to bring historic church schools back to life as centres of educational excellence. St Cyprian's Cathedral in Kimberley, then celebrating the centenary of its cathedral building, was inspired by this vision and its own legacy to revive a role in education, and by June 2008 was taking active steps to bring St Cyprian's Grammar School to new birth.

Opening on 21 January 2009, in buildings within the cathedral precinct, the music and arts focus finds expression in weekly performing arts hours on Fridays and a monthly concert.
The school was dedicated on the 101st anniversary of the cathedral's dedication on 13 May 2009, when the Head of the School, a Head Student and Chaplain were licensed. The school produces a weekly news sheet called St Cyprian's Scroll.

The mission of the school is to prepare young people for life and leadership in a place which strives for quality in academic and musical and arts programmes, in a trusting and supportive, learner-centred, Christian environment that promotes self-discipline, social enrichment, motivation, and excellence in learning. The following values inform the vision

St Cyprian’s Grammar School strives to be:
- grounded in Christian values that affirm our faith in a creating and redeeming God.
- founded upon a commitment to learning, to justice, to individual achievement and to wholeness.
- a centre of excellence with a teaching/learning ethic reflected in hard work, intellectual rigour and an openness to ideas and debate.
- a school that values tolerance as a positive good, promoting a care ethic implicit in respect for others.
- a school that promotes programmes in social enrichment and leadership to equip students for fulfilling lives and service within and beyond the school.
- a school that engages the needs of our society, seeking to serve where it can in complementing public education, to build skills, social capital and reduce inequality wherever this is possible.
- defined by a richness of symbol, story and ceremony to promote these values.

A number of bursaries, to enable poorer families, from outlying parishes to send their children to the school have been funded through the diocesan link, particularly by Christ Church Cathedral, in Oxford. It is hoped that in the future some children from the school will visit the diocese to perform a series of concerts. These bursaries have been extremely gratefully received by the families of extremely talented children and young people.

During a recent visit to Kimberley, a group of us were treated to a fantastic performance by the children.

Please pray:

  • For Head Teacher Anne Solomon who oversees the work of the school
  • For the Governing Body as the school continues to develop and grow.
  • For wisdom about admissions and the outworking of the school's values and ideaology
  • For additional premises to enable more classrooms and 'space'
  • For the provision of additional bursaries from money raised within the Oxford diocese to enable talented children from poorer backgrounds to be given the opportunity to attend the school
  • For the relationship between Cathedral and School
  • For all the teaching and administrative staff

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.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Day 18 - Kimberley


Today's matches:

Holland 2 v. Slovakia 1
Brazil 3 v. Chile 0

Kimberley is the capital of the Northern Cape. It is located near the confluence of the Vaal and Orange Rivers.

In 1866, Erasmus Jacobs found a small brilliant pebble on the banks of the Orange River, on the farm De Kalk leased from local Griquas, near Hopetown, which was his father's farm. He showed the pebble to his father who sold it. The pebble was purchased from Jacobs and turned out to be a 21.25 carat diamond. In 1871, an even larger 83.50 carat (16.7 g) diamond was found on the slopes of Colesberg Kopje on the farm Vooruitzigt belonging to the De Beers brothers who were prospecting at the time and this news sparked off the famous "New Rush" which, was practically a stampede. Within a month 800 claims were cut into the hillock which were worked frenetically by two to three thousand men. As the land was lowered so the hillock became a mine – in time, the world renowned Kimberley Mine.

The Cape Colony, Transvaal, Orange Free State and the Griqua leader Nikolaas Waterboer all laid claim to the diamond fields. Following the mediation that was overseen by the governor of Natal the decision went in favour of Waterboer, who placed himself under British protection. Colonial Commissioners arrived in New Rush in 1871, to exercise authority over the territory on behalf of the Cape Governor. New Rush became Kimberley, by Proclamation dated 5 July 1873.

As miners arrived in their thousands, the hill disappeared, and became known as the Big Hole. From mid-July 1871 to 1914, 50,000 miners dug the hole with picks and shovels, yielding 2,722 kg of diamond. The Big Hole has a surface of 42 acres and is 463 metres wide. It was excavated to a depth of 240 m, but then partially infilled with debris reducing its depth to about 215 m; since then it has accumulated water to a depth of 40 m leaving 175 m visible. Beneath the surface, the Kimberly Mine underneath the Big Hole was mined to a depth of 1097 metres. It yielded 400 tons of diamonds. By 1873, Kimberley was the second largest town in South Africa; it had a total population of 13,000 whites and 30,000 blacks.

The various smaller mining companies were algamated into De Beers, and The Kimberley under Cecil Rhodes and Charles Rudd. In 1888, the two companies merged to form De Beers Consolidated Mines, which to this day today still retains a monopoly over the world's diamond market. Very quickly, Kimberley became the largest city in the area, partly due to a massive African migration to the area from all over the continent. The immigrants were accepted with open arms, because the De Beers company was in search of cheap labour to help run the mines. Another group drawn to the city for money was prostitutes, from a wide variety of ethnicities who could be found in bars and saloons. The mine was closed in 1914, while three of the holes – Du Toitspan, Wesselton and Bultfontein – closed down in 2005.

On 14 October 1899, Kimberley was besieged at the beginning of the Second Boer War. The British forces trying to relieve the siege suffered heavy losses. The siege was only lifted on 15 February 1900, but the war continued until May 1902.

The Kimberley Comprehensive Urban Plan (1998) estimates that Kimberley has 210,800 people representing 46,207 households living in the city.

On 2 September 1882, Kimberley became the first town in the southern hemisphere to install electric street lighting.

'Standing next to the gaping, empty mouth of a spectacle called the Big Hole. Large void -reminding us of the emptiness there remains in the hearts of those who seek wealth and pleasure in the wrong place.

Kimberley - a place full of empty promises where giant corporations once raped and pillaged the wealth of God's earth - leaving empty, hollow hearts - hearts that will continue to be restless until they find their rest in God.

God has planted us a church to bring a message that those who are poor may know that they are blessed by God and that the kingdom of heaven is theirs. We are called to remind people that they are blessed when they hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be satisfied. God will fill the gaping holes in our lives and give us what we need when we continue to trust him.

Kimberley - out of the way - remote - forgotten dumping ground of hope - dumping ground of those to be forgotten such as Robert Sobukwe (lead of Pan African Congress): birthplace of hope - birthplace of Sol Plaatjie, leader, poet, statesman....

Kimberley, remote, forgotten - no rugby tours, no soccer tournaments; but a place remembered by God; close to God's heart - precious stones in human form... '

We pray:

  • For a sharing of the world's resources, particularly with the poor
  • For those whose hope has been snatched away through illness, bereavement, unemployment, or external circumstances
  • For those living and working in Kimberley, particularly those with influence, resources and power and that these may be used wisely
  • For the Diocesan staff and local clergy, that they may have a part to play in the wider community and decision making process
  • For young people tempted by what a larger town has to offer, that they may have security, wisdom and skills to make good decisions now and in the future.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Day 17 - Prieska

Today's matches:

Germany 4 v. England 1
Argentina 3 v. Mexico 1

Prieska is situated on the south bank of the Orange River at the foot of the Doringberg and it was originally named Prieschap, a Khoisan word meaning "place of the lost she-goat". The town is 240 km south of Kimberley and was founded in 1882. In 2007 the town had a population of 11,187.

A story:
In Prieska Robert Devenish has resigned himself to an agonising death of asbestos-induced cancer, a silent but cruel killer stalking mining communities in South Africa’s Northern Cape province. “Nobody wants to die suffering, but we don’t all have a choice,” said the 64-year-old former mine employee who was diagnosed with mesothelioma last December and given months to live. Mesothelioma is a non-curable cancer of the lung lining that can take up to 40 years from asbestos exposure to develop. It condemns its victims to a painful and breathless end, usually about 18 months after diagnosis.

Devenish is one of tens of thousands of South Africans, most of them in small Northern Cape towns, who contracted asbestos-related diseases - a hangover from the country’s heyday as one of the world’s top producers of the substance believed as far back as the 1920s to pose serious health risks. Asbestos mining stopped in South Africa in the mid-1980s, but people are still being diagnosed with ARDs like mesothelioma and asbestosis on a regular basis, while many more continue to be at risk from unrehabilitated sites.

Foreign-owned mining companies have in the past six years paid out tens of millions of dollars in settlements from which an estimated 10,000 South African victims of their asbestos extracting activities have benefited so far. Mesothelioma sufferers like Devenish got 28,000 rand (just over 4,000 dollars, 2,800 euros) each, small comfort for a dying man. At a time that he should have been welcoming retirement, Devenish is instead packing up house with his wife, Anna, and moving from the remote settlement of Marydale to a smaller home in a bigger town where she can remain after his death.

Prieska doctor Gideon Smith said his longest surviving mesothelioma patient died two years after being diagnosed. But some are known to have lived for five years. Smith says he diagnosed five to 10 cases of mesothelioma per year in the town of about 20,000. “Every time somebody comes to me with a lung ailment, the first thought is asbestos. It is almost always the case,” said Smith. One of his patients, 68-year-old Petrus van Nell, has taken to bed with mesothelioma without much hope of rising from it again. Like many others, he grew up on asbestos mines and worked as a youngster at crushing stones for pocket money.

In a small house nearby, mesothelioma sufferer Magrieta Esau, 52, is on a permanent course of morphine. She grew up on asbestos mines, later worked on one, and lost both parents to ARDs.
“The asbestos was everywhere, even our homes. But nobody ever warned us,” she said. “As children, we played on the asbestos mine heaps. And we were sometimes paid small change for helping to crush the stones. “I am angry. It is hard to make peace with the fact that the rest of my life will be full of pain.”

Studies have put the prevalence of ARDs in Northern Cape mining areas as high as 50 per cent of the population. Yet piles of raw asbestos fibres are still to be found dumped and uncovered, while rehabilitation work has yet to be done on several mine dumps that threaten communities within a 100-kilometre (62-mile) radius with wind contamination. Some secondary roads in the province contain asbestos fibres visible to the naked eye, and many schools and homes in towns like Prieska still have asbestos in their frames.

“If this was Europe, huge areas would have to be evacuated. They are not safe for people to live in,” said lawyer Richard Spoor, who has represented dozens of ARD sufferers in court.
In a provincial budget speech in June, Northern Cape environment minister Pieter Saaiman said rehabilitation of derelict, ownerless asbestos mines was progressing well. “However, secondary asbestos pollution remains a matter of concern,” he said, without proposing a course of action.
Anti-asbestos activist Sol Bosch watched his father die cruelly over three years of the lung disease asbestosis. Bosch is bitter over what he perceives as mining companies’ past callousness and the current government’s inertia. But on a personal level, fear of sharing his father’s fate is never far from the surface. “I am too scared to go for an X-Ray,” he said. “I would rather not know.”

'Global warming- carbon footprint - pollution. God's beautiful creation is spoiled by greed and thoughtlessness. We often denigrate those who will not embrace the industrial revolution; calling them backwards and primitive. Yet those who are primitive and live close to the ground can really appreciate that the land is alive; that it needs to breathe - needs to rest....

We think about the great pain and suffering that "development" has brought to so many people. Asbestosis in the Prieska area - the denuding of the forests around Kimberley for the mining industry - the spoiling of the land because of crop dusting - unseasonable weather patterns because of our carbon transmission'.

Lord, we confess our day-to-day failure to be human.
Lord, we confess that we often fail to love with all we have and are, often because we do not fully understand what loving means, often because we are afraid of risking ourselves.
Lord, we cut ourselves off from each other and we errect barriers of division.
Lord, we confess that by silence and ill-considered word we have built up walls of prejudice.
Lord, we confess that by selfishness and lack of sympathy we have stifled generosity and left little time for others.
Holy Spirit, speak to us. Help us to listen to your word of forgiveness, for we are very deaf. Come fill this moment and free us from our sin.
(Cathedral Church of St George, Cape Town)

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Day 16 - Vryburg and Huhudi

Today's matches:

Uruguay 2 v. South Korea 1
USA 1 v. Ghana 2

Vryburg lies in a rich cattle-farming area, situated halfway between Mafikeng and Kimberley. It has a population of aaround 60,000. The name comes from Africaans meaning 'fort' and came from the period in the 1882s when Vryburg was established as the capital of Stellaland. The Republicans call themselves Vryburgers (free citizens), hence the name of the town. In 1882 a site for a township was selected and first named Endvogelfontein, soon the name was changed. In December that year, newly laid out plots were apportioned to the volunteers by means of a lottery and by February 1883 some 400 farms had been established. On August 16th 1883, Administrator Van Niekerk proclaimed the Republic of Stellaland with Vryburg as its capital and himself as President. Stellaland split into two rival factions - those who supported annexation into the Cape Colony as mooted by Cecil Rhodes, and those who preferred independence. In February 1884 Stellaland was made a British protectorate with the Reverend John McKensie appointed Commissioner to British Bechuanaland. During the Second Boer War, the British built a concentration camp here to house Boer women and children.Vryburg today is the industrial and agricultural capital of the Bophirima (Western) region.

Vryburg hosts one of the largest cattle sales in the Southern hemisphere with an enormous turnover of more than 250 000 head of cattle per year. It is this, along with its perceived image of being a frontier town that has given it the nickname “Texas of South Africa”. Maize and peanuts are important crops produced in the district.

The town today is a thriving industrial and agricultural hub, which radiates an atmosphere of prosperity. Its modern architecture blends naturally with its surroundings and the well-preserved old buildings are carefully maintained.

The township Huhudi (Tswana for "running water") is situated just south of the town. The Tiger Kloof Native Institute was set up south of the town by the London Missionary Society in 1904. The stone church on the premises is a national monument.

The church of St Stephen, Vryburg was established in 1891. The first Rector being the Revd Sedgewick who came with his wife from England. He oversaw the building of the church and its separation from the parish of Kimberley. the Revd Sedgewick went on to become bishop of Wairuru in New Zealand. Today the church continues to be a hub of community life being oversee by the Revd Drake Tshenkeng and his wife Hope.

St Philip's, Huhudi is linked with the parish of Moulsford in Oxford diocese. Representatives from that parish visited Vryburg in 2009. Here's some of their report:

"Fr Tong, the parish priest, was clearly very excited at the prospect of a visit from two overseas strangers who seemed to be aware of his patch. (Fr Tong worked full time as a head teacher in a school 90 km. from Vryburg leaving home on Sunday afternoons returning Friday evening to carry out his spiritual and pastoral responsibilities over the weekend.) After welcoming hospitality with Drake and Hope we set off to see St Philip's church and were amazed to see the progress that had been made since being given a postcard of a small almost derelict church by Fr Brian Beck in 2007. The roof was on, foundations for the floors laid and the brickwork was up to the windows. The building was now of sufficient size to meet the worshipping needs of the congregation and to provide areas which could be used for other activities- children's needs, the blind, community activities etc. There was great awareness that 'we live once and so must leave a footprint'. Earlier debts had been cleared and the congregation was moving forward as and when they had the funds available. We heard how they were raising funds to support the building programme but were really impressed at how much such an impoverished community could achieve with so little material resources - what commitment!

We had several sessions with key members of the church exploring ways of working together to support the church building and, of equal importance, how the Huhudi and Moulsford congregations could grow their Christian faith together. Inevitably, time was spent on financial issues. We were impressed at the administrative processes established by Fr Tong and his Committee and were pleased that the congregation in Moulsford had been able to assist, in a small way, with the re-building of the church. Our major discussions, however, centred around spiritual matters and the creation of a 'vision of hope' for the next three years with the development of a shared prayer ministry being a key focus. An encouraging start has been made with the writing and exchanging of a prayer each month for use by both congregations at Sunday Mass…we look forward to seeing where the Spirit will lead us in the coming year.

A most memorable part of our visit was the opportunity to join the congregation in Huhudi in worship…..very different from the UK and an uplifting experience. The singing was in Tswana or Xhosa and soared out over the area as the walls of church remained at present open to the elements. The Peace was an amazing display of witness and joy- singing, clapping and dancing. The service after the post communion prayer became an exchange of greetings to us and we were invited to talk with the congregation. We explained the purpose of our visit and hopefully the mutually beneficial relationship we were keen to develop. We handed over the blankets made by the young people of Moulsford, a scrapbook of our church's year. We were humbled by the warmth of our greetings; amazed at what people can achieve with few resources; the strength of Christian commitment despite the huge social and health challenges. "

We pray:

  • For the local church of St Philips, thanking God for the vision to build and that God will continue to provide funding

  • For the parish of St Stephen Vryburg

  • For the work of two young peer educators working in the community, particularly during this time when children are off school, and who are using football to develop key life skills

  • For the continuing developing link between Huhudi and Moulsford

Friday, 25 June 2010

Day 15 - Training Centre in Taung

Today's matches:

Portugal 0 v. Brazil 0
North Korea 0 v. Ivory Coast 3
Chile 1v. Spain 2
Switzerland 0 v. Honduras 0

With significant financial help from the Oxford Diocese a former mission house in Taung has been transformed into a training centre for the diocese of Kimberley and Kuruman. Using local labour both sleeping and living accommodation has been provided, within what was just a shell of a building.

The original vision was for a Peer Education centre, training those delivering a teaching programme for HIV/AIDS prevention across the diocese, however the aims have now broadened to use the building in various ways, including providing a resource for the local church at Taung.

Following a meeting in Taung between representatives from both dioceses a small working group (made up of diocesan staff and local people) was set up to propose a use for the building and it has been recommended that the centre be used for:
  • the HIV and AIDS Programme in the Diocese eg. training Diocesan AIDS facilitators, Peer Education skills and development skills

  • that it be made available for AIDS patients and people in need of counselling which will be facilitated by trained personnel and be referred to specialised institutions

  • as there is a need for Spiritual Formation and Development in the Diocese the centre will be furnished to meet this need.

  • that in preparing the youth for future leadership in the Church. The Centre also be made available for Youth Development
We pray for:
  • the local church in Taung and Fr Lesego Senturumane the new self-supporting priest at St Chads and the Church Wardens
  • that the centre be soon used for the good of the local church and the wider church in the diocese

  • that it will become a beacon of hope, learning and healing

  • that people will be found to care for the building and co-ordinate the programme running from it

  • the continued release of funding for Peer Education, and wisdom in the use of money raised from donors in the Oxford diocese

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Day 14 - Taung

Today's matches:

Denmark 1 v. Japan 3
Cameroon 1 v. Holland 2
Slovakia 3 v. Italy 2
Paraguay 0 v. New Zealand 0

'Home of one of the oldest skulls - Africa the cradle of humanity. Here in remote and forgotten places with interesting names like 'Buxton' we are reminded that we are part of a wider family - we are reminded that we have to practice Ubuntu, not only preach it.

Taung, where we focus our hope on building a better and AIDS free society...where we rejoice in our partnership and thank God for the hands that reach out to help us.

We remain people of hope even though we live in places like pampierstad (Papertown) - not the glammer and glitz of a tinsel town but reminders of the fractious, tenuous, transitory nature of our existence. We hold on to hope because this is where God's plan for humanity first unfolded and we believe that God still has a purpose and plan for the crowning glory of creation.

God is still with us and God will never abandon us - as God journeyed with his people through a desert many centuries ago we believe God is on the journey with us here in the Kalahari too.'

Taung is a small town situated in the North West province. The name means place of the lion and was named after Tau, the chief of the Tswana speaking Legoya or BaTaung tribe. Tau is the Tswana word for lion. The Greater Taung Municipality is made up of the local areas of Taung, Pampierstad, Pudumong, Molelema and Reivilo. The Taung local area is the largest, containing 46 villages, while Reivilo has only four villages, and Pampierstad 17. The area is very rural.

In 1924 a skull (later named the Taung Child) was discovered by a quarry-worker in the nearby Buxton- limestone quarry. It was described by Raymond Dart in 1925 as the type specimen of Australopithecus africanus (southern ape of Africa) after he received a shipment of mostly fossil baboons, but also containing the skull and face of the child. Surprisingly, it would be many years before Dart would visit Taung to determine the exact location of the find. By that time, lime-mining had destroyed much of the area. Later in-situ excavations were conducted under the direction of Philip Tobias and Jeff McKee of the University of the Witwatersrand, who worked at the site from approximately 1989 until 1993. Although they failed to find additional hominid specimens, they did recover many important fossil baboons and increased the understanding of Taung geology significantly. The Taung Child is among the most important early human fossils ever discovered its age being estimated as 2.5 million years old. It later supported Darwin's concepts that the closest living relatives of humans are the African apes. The skull is now housed at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa.

St Chad's Church in Taung is linked with the Summertown and Wolvecote Churches Partnership in Oxford.

We pray:

  • For those living in remote villages away from the main centre of Taung

  • For the continued development of the Summertown and Wolvecote link and St Chad's

  • For those with little to do (unemployment is over 60%) and little hope

  • For the work of the Church in bringing Christ's peace to those around
Almighty Father, you have made of one blood all the peoples of the earth and sent your blessed Son to preach peace to those who are far off and to those who are near: grant that people everywhere may seek after you and find you; bring the nations into your fold; pour out your Spirit on all flesh and hasten the coming of your kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Day 13 - Mmabatho

Today's matches:
England 1 v. Slovenia 0
USA 1 v. Algeria 0
Ghana 0 v. Germany 1
Australia 1 v. Serbia 1

Mmabatho (Setswana for "Mother of the People") is the former capital of the North-West Province. In the apartheid era, it was the capital of the former "Bantustan" of Bophuthatswana. Mmabatho was the scene of a major uprising against the Homeland government of Lucas Mangope in March 1994 which resulted in a chaotic intervention by right wing Afrikaner nationalists, wide-scale looting and the deployment of South Africa troops.

Mmabatho contains many provincial government buildings, a shopping complex called Mega City, and a Sports Stadium formerly called the Independence Stadium. The University of the North-West, formerly the University of Bophuthatswana, is located in Mmabatho.

Situated just south of the Botswana border, the town is connected by main roads to Pretoria in the east and to Gaborone, the capital of Botswana, in the north.

The Church of the Resurrection, Mmabatho is linked with Deddington in the Oxford diocese. Over the last few years there have been a number of visits to and from Mmabatho, involving both Deddington Church and Deddington primary school. Most recently the choir from Mmabatho visited Deddington. These visits help build bonds of friendship, fellowship and understanding and also enable the participants to learn more about the church life, daily life and challenges of our brothers and sisters in Christ in South Africa.

The Deddington Link with the Church of the Resurrection in Mmabatho has a focus on helping children affected/infected by HIV/AIDS. What has become the Tsogo Project was a local initiative and is locally run. Deddington has contributed substantially to the building work necessary for it to become a reality. The former church building is now in use as a day centre for pre-school children. The name “Tsogo” means resurrection in Setswana, the main language of the area.

Tsogo is Christians in action ministering to widows and orphans. Tsogo is opportunity for volunteers and for the children. Tsogo is love.

The Tsogo - Resurection HIV/AIDS project, based in Mmabatho, was established in 2005 by the Resurection Church to provide care and support for children affected by the HIV/AIDS disease. The Tsogo Centre works to provide care and support to children who are infected and affected by the virus, aged 0 to 6 years -one of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable groups of society, whose parents, for financial, social and for health reasons, are unable to care for them. The problem of HIV/AIDS in South Africa is considerable with 5.5 million of the population believed to be infected; this includes 250,000 children. The problem doesn't end there. When parents die it is often one of the grandparents or the eldest child that has to look after the younger children. This often means that the older children miss out on education and other opportunities. The photo shows the children keeping warm in the winter (the current season in SA).

Recently the choir (and friends) from Mmabatho visited Deddington.

We pray:

For the Tsogo project and for all the people it is helping

For the link between Deddington and the Church of the Resurrection, Mmabatho

For work amongst orphans and vunerable children

For those involved in education, politics and local government in Mmabatho and its townships.

For us to capture some of the vibrancy of African worship in our own spiritual lives.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Day 12 - Montshiwa

Todays matches:

Mexico 0 v. Uruguay 1
France 1 v. South Africa 2
Nigeria 2 v. South Korea 2
Greece 0 v. Argentina 2

"South African children making a football from scraps". (The picture is "courtesy of Alive and Kicking")

The Parish of Kidlington with Hampton Poyle is linked to All Saints' Montshiwa and has been running a "Fund a Football" appeal to enable the distribution of footballs to some of the poorest children in Kimberley & Kuruman in June. From their link parish they are also supporting leagues for under 12s, under 14s, under 17s, supplying small equipment, and arranging coaching in the Mafikeng area, for both boys and girls. Schools will be shut in June and July because of the World Cup, yet most of these children will never even see the matches on television, and may have little to do and little to eat at the coldest part of the year. Especially for the thousands of orphans, this project will give a focus to their time out of school, and provide a safe place to be.

The aim in the near future is to use this base to incorporate HIV prevention teaching into the coaching, and for this to be part of a wider initiative seeking a safer and more positive structure for the OVC (Orphans and Vulnerable Children).

The link between Kidlington with Hampton Poyle and All Saints, Montshiwa has developed over the years. Group visits have taken place between the parishes. Kidlington was represented at the “Diocesan Family Weekend” in Mmabatho in September, 2005 and in Taung in 2009, and a group of 33 from Montshiwa visited Kidlington in July, 2006. The parish has also been supporting “Molema Memorial School” in the area, by supplying basic teaching materials, a suitable English course, and copies of “You, Me and HIV” a book designed for South African children to instruct in the understanding and prevention of AIDS.

The prevalence of HIV/AIDS is such an overriding problem in this very deprived area of South Africa, that the parish of Kidlington is currently concentrating its efforts on this topic. The “Mowana Project”, using puppets made from discarded materials, is currently been tried out in Montshiwa, to educate illiterate people in prevention. A group of parishioners also visited projects in Johannesburg in March 2007 to study ways of approaching this vital subject.

In reponse to some of the needs in South Africa an organisation ACHIVA was set up in the UK by Kathryn Ellis, also a member of the Oxford Diocesan Link Committee, to develop some of the project work with those suffering from HIV/AIDS this includes the puppet ministry, a peer education programme and contact with other agencies doing similar work in South Africa.

Please pray:

  • for all the sad and abused children, robbed of their parents by AIDS, who will be hungry, cold, and missing the safety of their school environment in June and July.
  • for the continued development of the Kidlington Montshiwa link
  • for those involved in Peer Education
  • for the Mothers' Union in its responsibilities for baptism preparation and work with young people across the diocese of Kimberley and Kuruman
  • for the work of Achiva in partnership with the Diocese of Kimberley and Kuruman and other agencies

Monday, 21 June 2010

Day 11 - Mafikeng

Today's matches:

Portugal 7 v. North Korea 0
Chile 1 v. Switzerland 0
Spain 2 v. Honduras 0

'Mafikeng - Mafika (Stones) Mafikeng (place of stones). Scene of one of the stupid battles of the Anglo-Boer War. Stage of racial, political, class of tremendous potential especially during the time of Boputhatswana. Politically unhealthy (Bantustans + home lands) but spawning healthy relationships when different people discovered that the sun will not fall on their heads when they live and work and play together.

Mafikeng is our beacon of hope and reconciliation. We are reminded that we are a diocese that should be a conduit for God's forgiving and reconciling love'.

Mafikeng – formerly known as Mahikeng – is the capital city of the North-West Province. Located on South Africa's border with Botswana, it is 1,400 km (870 mi) northeast of Cape Town and 260 km (160 mi) west of Johannesburg. In 2001, it had a population of 49,300. In 2007, Mafikeng was reported to have a population of 250,000 of which the Central Business District constitutes between 69,000 and 75,000.

It is built on the open veld at an elevation of 1,500 m (4,921 ft), by the banks of the Upper Molopo River. The Madibi goldfield are some 15 km (9.3 mi) south of the town. The name refers to the volcanic rocks that provided temporary shelter to Stone Age humans in their hunt on animals drinking water in the Molopo River. This name was given to the area in 1852 by early Barolong chiefs who had settled along the river, near the present day village of Rooigrond, after the upheaval of the "Difequane". The "Difequane" was a period of intertribal war, aggravated by the passage of the exiled Zulu chief, Mzilikazi, through the area. The town was founded in the 1880s by British mercenaries granted land by a Barolong chief.

On the outbreak of the Second Boer War in 1899, the town was besieged. The Siege of Mafikeng lasted 217 days from October 1899 to May 1900, and turned Robert Baden-Powell into a national hero. In all, 212 people were killed during the siege, with more than 600 wounded. Boer losses were significantly higher.

Mafikeng served as capital of the Bechuanaland protectorate, even though it was outside the protectorate's borders, from 1894 until 1965, when Gaborone was made the capital of what was to become Botswana. It also briefly served as capital of the pre-independence Bantustan of Bophuthatswana in the 1970s before the adjoining town of Mmabatho was established as capital. Following the end of apartheid in 1994, Mafikeng and Mmabatho were merged and made capital of the new North-West Province.

Today Mafikeng is a vibrant provincial and commercial capital and a major tourism attraction for the aspects of the history, culture and wildlife of this unique region of South Africa. Mafikeng has five shopping complexes, 11 banks and the head offices of many provincial institutions.

The pictures show some contrasts between the main centre and some of the surrounding areas, the work in which I will write about in the next couple of days.

We pray:

  • For those working in commerce and industry
  • For those living in townships surrounding Mafikeng
  • For community relationships and a sharing of local resources
  • For clergy serving this large area - Joseph Pule, Raymond Holele, Manneseh Shole, Letta Mosadi, Vuyani Hlazo, Vincent Moche, Tebogo Sello and David Tapa.

Lord, make us instruments of your peace,

where there is hatred, let us sow love,

where there is injury, pardon

where there is discord, union

where there is doubt, faith

where there is despair, hope

where there is darkness, light

where there is sadness, joy:

grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console,

to be understood as to understand,

to be loved as to love

for it is in giving that we receive

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned

and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Day 10 - Upington

Today's matches:

Slovenia 0 v. Paraguay 2
Italy 1 v. New Zealand 1
Brazil 3 v. Ivory Coast 0

Upington is a town founded in 1884 on the banks of the Orange River. The town was named after Sir Thomas Upington, Attorney-General of the Cape. It originated as a mission station established in 1875 and run by Reverend Schröder.

'Although situated along the banks of one of our great rivers, Upington is very hot and feels dry during the summer heat that can rise to the mid-forties centigrade.' It seems that the people often reflect these inhospitable climatic conditions in their lives - drunkenness, family violence and abuse of children. Yet Upington has great winelands, stunning scenery and so many talented people. Their raisin festival is an annual highlight and well-attended - hospitality is generously offered.'

Upington is an area of strange contrasts - on your way to Upington and around it, you will find many miles of nothing but wild uninhabited veld. you will still see such sights as a donkey cart that is still in use and the only transport of the owner and you will find a shepherd, on foot, looking after his flock, but Upington is also a vibrant town with much industry (based around agriculture and wine making), 15 churches and a busy centre with many shops.

It is the closest large centre to the Augrabies Falls, arguably the greatest of South African waterfalls. The landscape is very arid but the soil is fertile and crops such as fruit are grown in irrigated fields. The area is best known for its export-quality grapes, raisins and wines, which are cultivated on the rich flood plains of the Orange river.

The Khara Hais municipality, which encompasses Upington and neighbouring settlements, has a population of 101,504, according to the 2008 figures. Of these, 64.4% were Coloured, 19.8% African, 15.7% White and 0.1% Asian. The city has a small Somali trading community.

Upington's most famous wines are produced by an organization generally know as Orange River Wine Cellars (OWC). The organization has six depots in the area (all of them on the banks of the Orange River) at Upington, Janoneiland, Grootdrink, Kakamas, Keimoes and Groblershoop. The wines from OWC are exported to Europe and the USA. The Upington region accounts for more or less 40% of South Africa's grape exports.

We pray:
  • For those experiencing violence and abuse - the silent and the silenced.
  • For all those working in the wine industry - from cellar owners to those picking the grapes in the extreme heat
  • For the unemployed and those who offer employment
  • For the work and witness of the church in Upington
  • For Frs John Christie, Andries Pretorius and Gift van Staden

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Day 9 - The Moffat Mission

Today's matches -

Holland 1 v. Japan 0
Ghana 1 v. Australia 1
Cameroon 1 v. Denmark 2

The Kuruman Mission was established by the London Missionary Society (LMS) in 1816 at Maruping near Kuruman where a town of about 10 000 Batswana were resident. Robert Moffat, Scottish missionary and his wife Mary arrived in Kuruman from Scotland in 1820, and soon organised permission from Chief Mothibi to relocate to the present position at Seodin in the valley of the Kuruman River.

Not content with this he was at the same time working on what would be his greatest legacy: the Setswana Bible. He taught himself Setswana, developed the orthography and (with a broader team) translated the Bible. Once this was done, he then proceeded to print it on a hand press - being the first entire Bible printed in Africa. The press is still used for printing at the mission.

Moffat (1793 - 1887) laboured at the mission for 50 years. His period is considered the 'Golden Age' of missionary work, especially amongst the Batswana. He was a man of considerable talent and oversaw the building of staff houses, a school house, store rooms and the 'Cathedral of the Kalahari'. The great, fabled church at Moffat Mission, opened in 1838 was once the largest building on the high veld. David Livingstone saw the stone building when it was still new and said it was massive enough "to withstand a cannonading." The church was built by Robert Moffat and Robert Hamilton with a band of local men and could seat 800 people.
The mission is also well known as the first African home of Dr David Livingstone. He arrived as an LMS missionary in 1841 and remained in contact with the mission through his marriage to moffat's eldest daughter, Mary junior.
The remains of the almond tree under which Livingstone proposed to Mary Moffat can still be seen in the homestead garden. Moffat retired in 1870, at around the time that diamonds were discovered in Kimberley, an event that changed the social and political landscape and the economy of the country forever. The methods and resources of the LMS in the area were forced to adapt to change.
While the mission struggled to fame Moffat brought to it, it continued its steadfast contribution to the mission work whose foundations were established in early times. The Mission suffered as a result of legislation such as the Group Areas Act during the apartheid period. With the development of written Setswana and the presence of a printing press, education became the central work of the mission. The mission school maintained an unbroken history for 126 years, and gave rise to the Moffat Institute and the reputable Tiger Kloof educational institute.
The mission fell into disrepair from 1960-70, but in 1981 the United Congregational Church (successor to the LMS) formed an Ecumenical Trust with the Anglican, Methodist and Presbyterian churches to revitalise the work of the mission. The historic buildings were restored and a conference centre built. The main buildings of the mission were declared a national monument in 1939. The historical buildings are open to the public. These include the Moffat church and homestead, the schoolroom housing the printing press, the Livingstone room, and a wagon house now used as the mission bookshop.
The Maphakela Centre provides accommodation for courses and meetings. It provides sleeping accommodation for 30 people, a hall, meeting rooms for small groups, a kitchen and dining room and meeting spaces outside.
For the last few years a week long 'school' for clergy has been held at the Moffat Mission. Funded by the Culham Trust based in Oxford (, this brings together trainers from the Oxford diocese with the clergy based in Kimberley and Kuruman to share in resource training and fellowship. It offers a rare opportunity for clergy to gather together and study away from their busy parishes.

We pray:
  • Giving thanks for all those who shared the good news of the gospel many years ago
  • For those who continue today serving God overseas and for missionaries in our own country and for the work of Bible translators
  • For those who work at the Moffat Mission providing hospitality to visitors
  • For the next Clergy School to be held in September, and for Olivia Graham and Michael Beasley who will be attending from Oxford
  • For continued opportunities for the scattered clergy in Kimberley and Kuruman to come together for study and refreshment.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Day 8 - Wrenchville

Today's matches:

Slovenia 2 v. USA 2

England 0 v. Algeria 0

Germany 0 v. Serbia 1

The Parish of St. Peter, Wrenchville is composed of Wrenchville and a few outstations - Khosis, Khathu, Dingleton and Deben.

There is very good leadership in all departments, Mothers Union, Anglican Women Fellowship, layministers, servers Guild, Sunday school, Youth Club, Church choir and Anglican Mens Fellowship. Sunday services begin at 8.30am on Sundays and at 8am on Tuesdays. The parish priest visits the out stations once a month. The Sunday attandance in Wrenchville is approximately 90 members. The people speak Afrikaans and a little English, in Kathu the majority are Tswama speaking. The parish priest conducts the service in Afrikaanse but preaches in English or his own language.

Most of the people in Wrenchville are working in the mines in Hotazel (Manganese) and Kathu. In Wrenchville there is one High School and one Primary School. Kathu is rapidly growing with a beautiful shopping mall and many people are flocking to this area for opportunities of work.
Kathu, 31mi southwest of Kuruman, is the youngest town in South Africa, founded only in 1980. Its name means 'town under the trees, after the Camel Thorn forest it is situated in. It now has a population of almost 10,000. The town owes its existence to the Iron and Steel Corporation (ISCOR), which has erected modern functional buildings here and in the neighboring settlement of Sishen to house miners working the nearby deposits of iron ore, believed to be one of the five largest open-cast iron ore mining operations in the world.
There are many needs in this vast parish - people with HIV/AIDS, people suffering from asbestosis and a shortage of things for young people to do.

We pray:

  • For scattered communities and the demands on the local priests
  • For a new partnership between Wrenchville and the parish of Lane End in Buckinghamshire
  • For those working in the construction industry and in the iron ore mines
  • For those with little to occupy themselves, who are driven to alcohol and drugs.
  • For Fr Thebeethata, the parish priest

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Day 7 - Mothibistad

Today's matches:

France 0 v. Mexico 2
Greece 2 v. Nigeria 2
Argentina 4 v. South Korea 1

For 11 years the Icknield Benefice in the Oxford Diocese have enjoyed an active link with St Paul’s, an Anglican church in the township of Mothibistad. They’ve been inspired by the energy of the worship there and the determination to put Christ’s gospel of hope into practical action for the most vulnerable in their community. Warm friendships have developed between the two congregations. The churches have learned so much from each other, both about our shared faith and our approach to common challenges like schooling, health, and care for the elderly.

Mothibistad is in a mainly rural area with very high levels of unemployment and poverty. Over recent years HIV/Aids has devastated hundreds of families there. The Church has a vital role supporting people with the disease, and seeking to strengthen communities threatened by its impact. The congregations of the Icknield benefice are helping to fund community projects to provide “unconditional love, care and support” for local people infected by HIV/Aids in and around the township. This work is growing month by month as 'The Valley of Hope' project. There is too much to write here so take a look at the web site:

Through a chance contact with Pauline Verbe, one of the co-ordinators of 'Valley of Hope', EastLeigh (Lancs) Youth Football Club have been donating football kit/ balls/ nets to Mothibistad for the past 3 years. No money is involved, it is just God bringing different people together from different parts of the world to help each other. The photo above shows some of the boys trying on their kit.

Here's a photo of winners and losers after the match. Both team captains lock hands at front and all team members mingle and join arms. There are 3 teams in this very rural village - They take any problems they have with each other out on to the field and all are in fierce competition with each other as to which team can become the fittest!!!
Instead of drinks and drugs-these young men are out training after college and school. The older men are 'coaching them' and the youngsters are being trained by the older ones. One of their main priorities is to work the vegetable garden for the sick people, which they started entirely on their own initiative, to thank the Icknield Benefice for all they are doing and continue to do for them. Knowing that we believe in them and that people 5,000 miles away know the names of their football teams has given them such confidence and hope that their lives will be different to those of their parents, many of whom have died from HIV/AIDs.

Winners: Logaganeng - Rangers - Blue and red stripe
runners-up - Logaganeng - Hungry Lions - Yellow and blue stripe

Prayer for today:
The Icknield Benefice ask us to give thanks that God has shown them a way to bring hope, motivation and encouragement through sport to the youngsters in the rural villages of S.Africa.
  • We pray for the Valley of Hope project and for continued encouragement for those involved
  • We pray for the development of more community vegetable gardens
  • We pray for all those orphaned as a result of HIV/AIDs - that they may experience hope in their lives.
  • We pray for young people that they may have interests which keep them away from drink and drugs.
  • For Fr Moses Mothibi the Parish Priest

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Day 6 - Bathlaros

Today's matches:

Honduras 0 v. Chile 1
Spain 0 v. Switzerland 1
South Africa 0 v. Uruguay 3

A Story:

In 1964 Meshack Nkadimang was growing up near Postmasburg in the Northern Cape when, one day, the bulldozers came. A big iron-ore mine was being developed in the area and the people were told that they would have to go. “My father was a chief and he told his people that they should not leave. He said this was his land, their land, and that he would die there,”

Because of South Africa’s apartheid-era forced removals, places such as Johannesburg’s Sophiatown and Cape Town’s District Six are world famous, but in the remote, sparsely populated semi-desert areas of the Northern Cape, the eviction of Meshack Nkadimang’s community was barely noticed. Few, if any, people outside of Postmasburg ever knew about the pain suffered by his people and the brutal treatment handed out to Meshack and his father.

“When they came to remove us, and my father refused to be moved, they beat him almost to death. I was a young man and I tried to defend him. All I had was my kettie [catapult]. It was only me and my father. Then they beat me too.”The community Meshack had grown up in was dispersed and, most painfully, their ancestors summarily exhumed and their bodies dumped in a communal grave. Moved some 10km from their ancestral lands, Meshack and his people were, tragically, evicted again in 1977, eventually making their way to the village of Bathlaros outside the town of Kuruman.

Here, in 2004, a remarkable entrepreneur opened a quite unique hotel; the Hotel Kgalagadi. Unemployment is rife in Bathlaros and many of the local people have stories to tell of great suffering but, as Meshack says, you won’t find the slightest trace of bitterness in the village. What you will find, he says, is a community that is ultra-welcoming and which takes pride in the one-of-a-kind hotel that Meshack has designed and built in their midst. This community will welcome you into their homes, take you for a donkey-cart ride, and happily share a dop [drink] with you as the sun sets, in blazing shades of orange, red and pink, over their desert landscape.

Some 600km from Johannesburg, like Meshack’s hotel, the region around Kuruman is unique. Since its opening, the Hotel Kgalagadi has become a tourist drawcard in its own right. Entirely designed by Meshack, the hotel has 23 rooms, including 10 chalets, 12 standard rooms (all airconditioned with TV sets, bar fridges and en-suite bathrooms) plus one executive room.

The restaurant, serving a blend of African and western cuisine, seats 66. There are conference facilities for up to 200. Hotel Kgalagadi even has its own cinema, seating 56.As Meshack says, in the harsh, isolated environment that is the far Northern Cape, one has to work hard to eke out a living. He restores vintage cars, the hotel’s bar generates some income, as do his art and sculpture. “I’ve got so many businesses, I can’t count them all,” he laughs.

One of the crafts he learnt (while working at Sun City) was that of artificial rock-making, a craft he has made extensive use of at the Hotel Kgalagadi. The swimming pool is fed from a waterfall cascading down rocks Meshack created himself, framed by banana trees he planted himself.As much as the hotel is a testament to one man’s creative, entrepreneurial vision, it is also about the empowerment of a rural community. Eight people have permanent jobs at the Hotel Kgalagadi, while four are employed part-time. Then there are the people who earn money making things, as per Meshack’s example, fashioning things of beauty out of cast-off materials.

The Church in Bathlaros, St Michael and All Angels, is linked with Newbury Deanery, who support the local community with regular visits and uphold it in their prayers.

Today we pray:
  • For all those who find themselves uprooted from their homes
  • We give thanks for individuals who bring life and hope to others
  • That we who have plenty may have generous hearts and give to others
  • For the work undertaken by the church in Bathlaros to support the local community
  • For Fr Henry Joseph the Parish Priest