Visit to Johannesburg

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.

Joe and me with the Rev. Clayton Moitsiwa and the Rev. Canon Dr. Isaac Kawuki Mukasa outside of Regina Mundi Church (photo by David Copley)
Since the Rev. David Copley generously serves as photographer for most events, he rarely appears in the photos. Here he is at work before the Eucharist at the Cathedral in Johannesburg Sunday morning.
The Rev. Canon Dr. Isaac Kawuki Mukasa in the Cathedral on Sunday morning.

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.

Representations of rock paintings by the San people
After entering through the separate entrances (Whites/Non-Whites). Photo by David Copley

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.

While looking at a photo display about the jazz musician Hugh Masakela, Rev. Clayton told us that Masekela (“The Father of South African Jazz”) received his first trumpet from Bishop Trevor Huddleston.

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.

The sign says “To Honor the Youth Who Gave Their Lives in the Struggle for Freedom and Democracy.”
The photo at the Memorial of Hector Pieterson being carried by a classmate after being shot.

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.

Photos by David Copley

In addition to many beautiful stained glass windows, my other favorite artwork is the Black Madonna, painted in 1973 by Laurence Scully.

Our guide in the church, Mr. Danny points out one of the forks, representing the suffering of the people of Soweto.

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.

The Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers, Canon to the Presiding Bishop for Evangelism, Reconciliation, and Creation, and The Rev. Canon Chuck Robertson, Ph.D., Canon to the Presiding Bishop for Ministry Beyond The Episcopal Church.

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.

  1. Thank you for sharing, Amy. It makes me so sad to see the parallels between Apartheid and Segregation in our two countries and the horrible violence and loss of life associated with efforts to end both.

    Also appreciated are your updates on the water situation in Grahamstown. Such a basic necessity of life! I pray that both water and racial tolerance (if not harmony) be abundant and soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So happy you and Joe had this experience to actually be there. These are the things we read about but being there makes it so real.
      Miss both of you very much but think about you all so often.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It had to be a very moving experience for you and Joe.

    Godspeed Peter

    On Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 8:17 AM Amy and Joe Go to Africa wrote:

    > Amy Richter posted: ” 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 Thursda” >

    Liked by 1 person

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