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Parish History


ST FRANCIS CHURCH JUBILEE 1955 – 2005

By Margie Caine

St Francis Church WalkervilleSt Francis Chapelry began in 1955, under the Parish of Vereeniging, worshipping in the Arthur Walker Memorial Hall in Grasmere Road. Eighteen years later, in 1973, the building of the little A-frame Church started at Plot 30, Golfview. The late Mrs Noel Parris of Apple Orchards (mother of Evelyn Keartland who is now a Priest at Eldorado Park) designed the Church. When the original contractor went into liquidation, the Church was finally completed with many parishioners involved in the finishing touches. The Women's Guild played an important role in their dedication to fundraising.

The following quote taken from the minutes indicates what a big task it was, and how excited the parishioners were about finally having their own church. "I think that 1972 will always stand out as one of the most momentous years in the History of the Church at Walkerville, for it was the year when we made our great decision to build our Church; it was the year in which the foundations were laid. As I understand it, it all required an act of faith, and because of its very nature, that act of faith will bear fruit in the future." The Church gardens, designed by Billy Williams from Sweetwaters, were laid out, and various projects completed throughout the year. In 1978 the Sunday School room was built by Brian Bland of Walkerville. Rand Water Board water was laid on in 1982 and John Ward, Church Warden from Hartzenbergfontein completed the Bell Tower.

"There are also two days which will go down as very special days in the history of St Francis. On Sunday January 21st 1973 the Foundation Stone was blessed, and then laid by Mrs Muriel Walker. And on Sunday February 18th "The Lord Bishop of the Diocese came to dedicate the building."

In 1986 the Church separated from Vereeniging and Fr Cliff became the permanent priest to Henley and Walkerville. In the same year the Rectory of St Francis was built. John Nicholson had been licensed as a lay minister and two more lay-ministers were licensed to serve at St Francis, Peggie Kent and Evelyn Keartland. The following year electricity was installed and the Chapel roof was finally painted. In 1988 the Parish of Vereeniging approved the independence of Chapelries and the inauguration of the Parishes of St Paul and St Francis took place.

Raising funds was always an important aspect in the early days — the youth ran a hotdog stall at the Walkerville Showground's, where Dave Caine built a covered stall alongside the arena on behalf of St Francis, and the Women's Guild organised various other events.

On the 24 February 1990 the Diocese of Christ the King was inaugurated. The service was conducted by Archbishop Desmond Tutu at the Portuguese Hall in Turffontein, and the St Francis' Women's Guild made a banner for the procession. The Elective Assembly, to elect a Bishop for the Diocese, was held at St Francis in April. Numerous families in Walkerville hosted visitors from all over South Africa for this special election. In the same year John Ward completed the Garden of Remembrance. John's son David's ashes were laid to rest in the garden after he had been killed in an ambush in Angola where he was serving as a member of the permanent force.

On 10 June, 1990 Peter John Lee was consecrated as Bishop of the Diocese of Christ the King at the Apostolic Faith Mission in Lyndhurst. He was enthroned at St Cyprians, Sharpeville on the 30 June. In 1997 Rev Martha Macgill from Virginia, USA was licensed as Priest-in-charge. 1998 the caretaker's house was built as a Lenten project. Also the 1st Alpha course was held. In 1999 the building of the hall began. The first fete was held. The blessing of the Foundation Stone of the new Hall by Bishop Peter Lee took place on the 16 April 2000. Rev Martha and family returned to the USA. On the 19th November 2000 Reverend Joan Hepburn was instituted as first Rector of the Parish of St Francis. St Francis has a dedicated "catering" team who organise various events as an outreach to the community, as well as raising much needed funds for various projects. In 2005 when Archdeacon Aaron John left Lenasia to go back to India, Rev Joan Hepburn was licensed as Archdeacon for our Diocese. As a result, St Francis Church now has an Archdeacon residing in the Rectory, which means we don't have to wait for an Archdeacon to visit us for special occasions. Our oldest member is Madge Millman who spent many hours of her time drawing pictures for our Pew Leaflet and Newsletter.

St Francis Church Sketch

 

St Francis Church looks forward to the next 50 years in Walkerville. Unfortunately many of us will not be around to celebrate it, but maybe some of our names will also appear in dusty old records and minute books for future parishioners to learn just how much St Francis Church means to the community and how much we loved our little A-frame Church on the main road.

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