The Church of St John the Evangelist was established in 1880, and the present historic building dates back to that time. It is the first church in East London to have been built on the East bank of the Buffalo River. The architecture is late Victorian with Gothic arches and beautiful stained-glass windows. The well maintained Norman and Beard pipe organ, installed in 1902, is one of the finest in East London, and embellishes and inspires the worship Sunday by Sunday as well as being used for recitals.
The Church is situated in downtown East London and the 170 families belonging to the parish have chosen to worship there because of its Anglo-Catholic tradition and cathedral-style music. It has a multi-racial eclectic congregation drawn from many parts of the city and surrounding area. The Liturgy is conducted in English with a little Xhosa introduced for some of the sung parts of the 9 o’clock Sunday Mass.
The Church has provided ministry to the Buffalo Volunteer Rifles Regiment since the 1880’s, and two stained glass windows, laid-up Regimental Colours and memorial plaques reflect this association. During Lent 2004 the Regiment attended the Sunday Eucharist and heard various speakers around the topic of the HIV and AIDS pandemic. The Regiment also attends an annual Church Parade over their birthday weekend usually in late September.
The Church boasts a large and well-equipped hall and kitchen, adjacent to the Church. Both have just been re-decorated and new lighting fitted. The University of Fort Hare, along with other tertiary institutions, hire these facilities from St John’s for exam purposes. The hall also includes three Sunday School rooms. There is also an adjoining flat for the Caretaker/Cleaner and his family.
The Vestries were also decorated and refurbished last year. At the west end of the Church a small comprehensive Parish Library, is run by one of the parishioners.
The Rectory is an old home with a bright and sunny study which was added in recent years. There are 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a lounge, dining room, sewing/hobbies room, double garage, tool shed, and other outbuildings.
Being exactly one kilometre from the Church, the house is situated in a segment of the Quigney suburb called “Beach”. The Orient Beach, pool complex and the Esplanade are all a five-minute walk away, and provide a wonderful opportunity for swimming, walking and de-stressing!
The clerical staff consists of the Rector and two retired Priests, Canon Christopher Cook and Canon Graeme Deas, who also assist with occasional services and other duties. A team of Lay Ministers assist with Communion at the Sunday Services.
The Church employs a Parish Secretary who operates the Parish Office daily from 8.30am – 11.30am within the church complex.
It also employs a live-in Caretaker/Cleaner who lives within the church complex.
Worship and Other Ministries
ü Sunday Worship: All services are from An Anglican Prayer Book.
7am Said Mass in the Chapel – SAPB on the first Sunday.
9am Sung Mass - APB
(the total attendance for both the above services is approximately 120)
5pm Choral Evensong every 2nd Sunday of the month (SAPB).
ü Weekday Worship: Mass Tuesday at 10am (SAPB) .
ü Other Communion services: The retirement homes, “Woodholme” visited monthly, and “Langham” Frail Care bi-monthly.
ü Bible study – meets weekly at a parishioner’s home.
ü During Lent: The “Stations of the Cross” are conducted each week and Small Groups meet at various venues.
ü Music: Our Hymn Book is the “A & M New Standard”, but other modern hymns and songs are sometimes also incorporated and then are printed on the Sunday pewsheet. The Psalms are sung to traditional Anglican chants. Our Organist and Choirmaster is a professional musician (Doctorate in music). Under his enthusiastic and gifted leadership, the choir has increased to approximately 14 members who lead in the singing of a number of musical settings for the 9 o’clock Sung Mass.
ü Prayer Chain is in operation.
ü Small Groups:
· Wednesdays 10am Three Meetings a Month of a Bible Study Group
· Servers: We have a growing group of young people serving, cared for by one of the Lay Ministers
· Sacristy: A group of ladies look after the sacristy work.
· Outreach: we are an HIV/AIDS friendly congregation but the motivating committee needs reforming. “Salem Baby Care Centre” and a local school feeding scheme are being supported by some parishioners. Another parishioner collects items for recycling.
Fort Hare University
The East London Campus of Fort Hare University (previously Rhodes University) surrounds the Church, and our facilities are used by the students for prayer meetings and by the University for exams. We envisage and would encourage a ministry developing from the Parish to the staff and students of the University.
We have a brilliant Honorary Treasurer who is meticulous in attending to our finances. The Parish enjoys a sound financial support base but has, like other institutions, felt the effects of ‘global recession’. Parishioners are encouraged to join the Dedicated Giving Plan. (Dedicated Giving now starts in February), The Parish contributes one of the highest Assessment amounts to the Diocese of Grahamstown.
Our expectations for the new Rector:
Our prayer is for a Priest
We wish the Rector
Because of the location of the Church – not being in a residential area – it is not often that the parish gathers for evening activities. However, specific days are planned to bring the congregation together for fellowship. The Church council plans ahead, drawing in the Catering Committee and other people, to plan for fellowship activities, notably: Shrove Tuesday Pancake evening, Mother’s Day Lunch, a Golf Day, and this year a Jumble Sale and Annual Dinner are also being planned. Organ recitals and other musical concerts are sometimes organised by the Organist.
The Church Wardens and Parish Council are keen to see the outreach programme rejuvenated, and always encourage people to participate in the planning and participation of these various activities.
May God guide us all in the way ahead. We look forward to welcoming a new Rector among us.
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