Bishop's entry in Seshego with the Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Revd Desmond Tutu

                      St Mark's is the 18th Diocese in 140 years of the CPSA (Seek, June 1987, p12)

ONE hundred and forty years is not considered a long period in ecclesiastical history when compared with that of the ancient foundations of Canterbury and York. This year marks the 140th anniversary of the founding of the Church of the Province of South Africa.

It was in 1847 that Dr Robert Gray arrived in Cape Town from England to become the first Bishop of the Province. Robert Gray was the son of a former Bishop of Bristol. Throughout the early years of its history the Church of the Province was served by the very pick of the Anglican clergy.

In 1870 the Church of the Province drew up and adopted its Constitution. The Bishop of Cape Town was then accepted as Metropolitan. The diocese became an Archbishopric in 1897.

At Robert Gray's death in 1872 six dioceses of the Province had been established. Today they number eighteen, including the newly inaugurated diocese of St Mark.

Today, when another milestone in its history has been reached, it is fitting for the CPSA to look briefly at the development of the Church of the Province over the past 140 years.

Out of the vast Diocese of Cape Town there were taken four more Dioceses – Natal in 1853, Grahamstown also in 1853, St Helena in 1859 and then Bloemfontein in 1863, whose first Bishop was Edward Twells.

Bishop Twells, a much travelled man, was responsible for licensing the first clergy in the Transvaal. As a result of this, the Diocese of Pretoria came into being, in 1878, with encouragement from the Bishop of Zululand (Zululand Diocese having been founded in 1870), as he found himself being asked to give some help to people in the Transvaal, although Transvaal was outside the borders of his Diocese.

The Diocese of Pretoria was in fact the 9th Diocese to be founded in the Church of the Province of South Africa. This was in 1878, and its first Bishop was Henry Brougham Bousfield. At its foundation the diocese included Johannesburg. However, in 1922, Johannesburg and Pretoria Dioceses were divided, Johannesburg being the 12th Diocese to be founded in the Church of the Province of South Africa.

Since then, five more Diocese have been founded in what is now officially called the Church of Southern Africa, and the 18th Diocese, in this process of multiplying Dioceses, is the Diocese of St Mark the Evangelist founded in this year of grace 1987 – also, like the Diocese of Johannesburg, having been, up till its foundation, part of the Diocese of Pretoria.

 Banners of six Diocese, including the new Diocese of St. Mark the Evangelist, on display at Seshego Stadium

                      6000 see the birth of a new Diocese

Pietersburg – A congregation of more than 6000 attended the inauguration service of the new Diocese of St Mark the Evangelist at the Seshego Stadium, near here, on May 16.

This was the first move of the process of multiplying dioceses in the Transvaal and it increased the number of dioceses of the Church of the Province of Southern Africa from 17 to 18.

The Suffragan Bishop of Pretoria, the Rt Rev John Ruston, was officially appointed Vicar-General of the new diocese by the Metropolitan, the Most Rev Desmond Tutu who officiated and preached at the service. The highlight of the service was when the Chancellor of the Diocese of Pretoria, Mr D F Sheppard, read the Deed of Dedication of the new diocese and signed it. The Archbishop, Bishop George Swartz as the Dean of the Province and the Deputy Registrar of the Province also signed the Deed.

Shouts of Joy

The Archbishop said: "I proclaim the Diocese of St Mark the Evangelist duly inaugurated as a Diocese within the Church of the Province of Southern Africa and in fellowship of the Anglican Communion, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. May God Himself establish it."

This was followed by shouts of joy, dancing and singing. The music, mainly Anglican hymns and African traditional songs, was led by about 300 choristers drawn from several African parishes in the Diocese of Pretoria. Mr Michael Rantho of Atteridgeville was particularly outstanding with the entertaining songs.

In his sermon the Archbishop emphasised the need to love one another and quoted from the Gospel of St John. He went on to say Christians have to live like a family and share.

Peace, Justice

He said it was significant that Jesus wanted to be remembered through a meal (the Eucharist). When a family has a meal together there is a lot of sharing and this should be the spirit of life in South Africa.

If there was peace and justice in South Africa there would have been no need for a State of Emergency, children to be detained or people to be dumped as though they were rubbish.

Archbishop Tutu paid tribute to some of the people who have worked hard for the creation of the new Diocese. These included the Bishop of Natal, the Rt Rev Michael Nuttal and the Archdeacon of the Northern Region of the Diocese of Lebowa, the Ven Paul Matlala.