Last week we were blessed to travel to Johannesburg to meet with members of the Presiding Bishop’s Staff, the Presiding Bishop, and Archbishop Thabo (Archbishop of the Anglican Province of Southern Africa). Here are some of the highlights.
On Thursday, we joined the Rev. David Copley (Director of Global Partnerships and Mission Personnel for the Episcopal Church) and The Rev. Canon Dr. Isaac Kawuki Mukasa (Staff Officer, Africa Relations) for a tour of the Apartheid Museum and Soweto. Our very gracious host was the Rev. Clayton Moitsiwa, Rector of St. Michael and All Angels Anglican Church in Alexandra.
At the Apartheid Museum we viewed the temporary exhibit about Nelson Mandela and the permanent exhibition, a history that started with the San people and went through the adoption of the Constitution in 1996.
I’m very grateful we got to see the Apartheid Museum. I learned a lot more of the history leading up to Apartheid, during Apartheid, and about the bringing down of Apartheid. The surprising and disappointing thing was the lack of information about the churches’ role in ending Apartheid. There were a few pictures of Archbishop Tutu and some information about worship services in different areas, but I didn’t see much else.
After the Apartheid Museum, Rev. Clayton took us to the Hector Pieterson Memorial in Soweto. Twelve year-old Hector Pieterson was one of the first children killed in the Soweto uprising on June 16, 1976 by police. School children were peacefully marching in protest against the sole use of Afrikaans in schools. About 600 students were killed.
Following the Hector Pieterson Memorial, we visited Holy Cross Anglican Church, across the street from the Memorial. We then visited Nelson Mandela’s home on Vilikazi Street and Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s home nearby.
From Vilakazi Street, Rev. Clayton took us to Regina Mundi Church, the Roman Catholic church in which people held meetings to work against Apartheid. Several meetings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission were held in the church. During the Soweto uprising of June 16, 1976, when Hector Pieterson and hundreds more were killed, many people took refuge in the church. Police fired live ammunition into the church and inside the church. No one was killed, but many were injured. Bullet holes and damage to the altar and altar rails are still visible.
Beautiful stained glass windows commemorate the student march, those killed, the work of Nelson Mandela and others, and the Church as a source of hope.
In addition to many beautiful stained glass windows, my other favorite artwork is the Black Madonna, painted in 1973 by Laurence Scully.
On Sunday we attended the Cathedral Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Johannesburg. The Most Rev. Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, was the celebrant at the Eucharist. The Rt. Rev. Ellinah Wamukoya, Bishop of Swaziland, was the preacher. The Dean of the Cathedral is the Very Rev. Xolani Dlwati.
In the afternoon, following lunch at the Trevor Huddleston Center in Sophiatown, the Presiding Bishop presented The Bishop David Beetge Memorial Fourth Annual Lecture at Wits University. Find it posted on FaceBook. Listen, watch and be blessed and uplifted!
We were honored and grateful to be included in the visit of our Presiding Bishop and some of his staff members to Johannesburg.