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Visitors at Vespers

10 August 2009

We had a couple of visitors at Vespers at St Nicholas Church in Brixton last Saturday evening — Professor Masango, who teaches pastoral care at the University of Pretoria, and his daughter Tshepo Morongwa Chéry. We went to coffee afterwards, and decided the most convenient place to go to from Brixton was Killarney Mall. Melville is closer, but it’s difficult to find parking there. But Killarney Mall was strangely deserted. All the shops were closed, except Exclusive Books, as were all the coffee shops, with the exception of the Seattle Coffee Co, which is attached to the bookshop.

Val Hayes, Fr Athanasius Akunds, Prof Masango, Tshepo Chéry at the Settle Coffee Shop in Killarney, Johannesburg

Val Hayes, Fr Athanasius Akunds, Prof Masango, Tshepo Chéry at the Settle Coffee Shop in Killarney, Johannesburg

Tshepo is doing research into the African Orthodox Church, and wanted to ask Fr Athanasius about the appeal of Orthodoxy in East Africa (most of the Orthodox Christians in Africa live in the area around Lake Victoria). Fr Athanasius said that one of the attractions was that Orthodoxy was not associated with any of the colonial powers in Europe, and that during the Kenyan independence struggle many of the Orthodox clergy were detained in British conscentration camps. Another factor was that there were many things in Orthodoxy that seemed to fit in with African culture. Fr Athanasius is writing his doctoral thesis on Orthodoxy and Bunyore culture, from his home district in western Kenya.

I was interested to learn that Professor Masango, who ministers at the Presbyterian Church in Alexandra, Johannesburg, studied at the Federal Theoloigical Seminary in Alice in the 1960s, which I visited a couple of times in that period, so we may have met back then, and we shared a couple of anecdones about the old days, when the line between good and evil seemed to be much clearer than it is now.

Altogether a very pleasant evening, good Vespers, good company, and the coffee wasn’t unacceptable either.

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