Friends old and new
We had a fairly busy day today, meeting old and new friends in Pietermaritzburg.
We started the morning by going to visit Nkosinathi Ndwandwe, suffragan bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Natal. We went to the Cathedral of the Nativity in town, and in the car park met another old friend, Patrick Gumede, whom we had known in Zululand, where he had been a senior priest in the Anglican Church there, at Nkonjeni near Mahlabathini. He moved to Pietermaritzburg shortly after we moved to Pretoria, and we hadn’t seen him for 30 years. He is now retired, but is still helping with taking services in various places.
We went to see Bishop Nkosinathi, whom I also hadn’t seen for 30 years. I wanted to interview him for our research project on the Charismatic Renewal movement, as he has written a book on the IViyo lo Fakazi bakaKristu (the Legion of Witnesses for Christ), I hadn’t known him as well as Patrick Gumede, since he was away at college most of the time we ere in Zululand, as a student at the Federal Theological Seminary in Edendale.
Bishop Nkosinathi very generously gave us two hours of his time, and it helped us to catch up on some of the developments in Iviyoover the last 30 years, and it was very important, as it is clear that the charismatic renewal movement is not as moribund as it had seemed to be. The charismatic renewal movement in the Anglican Church started with Iviyo in Zululand in the 1950s, and has continued to spread since then. In the 1960s and 1970s it appeared among white and coloured Anglicans in South Africa, but in the 1980s it seemed to dissipate into factionalism and go into decline, but it continued to grow among black Anglicans through IViyo. Bishop Nkosinathi attributed this to the quinessentually Anglican nature of Iviyo.It was rooted in Anglicanism, and grew out of Anglicanism, and did not, like the charismatic renewal among whites, borrow heavily from Pentecostal sources and so IViyo did not become embroiled in controversies over things like infant baptism or Pentecostal pneumatology, which caused the shattering of the movement among whites in the 1980s, with many leaving to form or join Neopentecostal denominations.
We were then met in the cathedral car park by Michael Carstens, who came with us to show us the way to the Orthodox Church in Edendale, about 10 km to the west of Pietermaritzburg. Michael seemed to know so many of the same people that we knew that I was quite surprised that we hadn’t met before.
The Orthodox Church in Edendale was built, as far as I know, by our Bishop Damaskinos when he was a parish priest in Durban about 10-12 years ago, and is in the care of Reader Timothy Madlala, who attended the seminary in Nairobi. I had heard a lot about him (and the church) from other people, and so was pleased to meet him in person for the first time.
There is a house on the land, where Reader Timothy lives, and the church is built in the same style. There is also an outdoor baptistery, which can just be seen in the background of the picture above, with a cross-shaped font set into the ground.
Edendale has an interesting history. The land was bought and settled by black Methodists before the passing of the Natives Land Act of 1913 (which made it illegal for black people to buy land in “white” areas). But because it bordered on a black reserve, it was never expropriated by the apartheid government, and the people were never ethnically cleansed. It remained one of the few places where black people could own freehold land in South Africa right through the apartheid era.
While we were talking a group of young children came in and ran up and greeted us all with hugs and kisses. Michael Carstens remarked that such behaviour was very unEnglish, implying, I think that the hugging and kissing common in Orthodox culture was a little strange to the more reserved English-speaking cultures.
I think it would also seem strange in traditional Zulu culture as well, where children do not rush to greet strangers, but rather keep in the background, and are still, in many households, expected to be “seen and not heard”. I took it as a sign that these children felt secure and loved, and at home in the church.