28 July 2020

Anglican Students Federation -- 60th Anniversary (Part 2: 1963/64)

In an earlier post Notes from underground: Anglican Students Federation -- 60th Anniversary I blogged about the first conference of the Anglican Students Federation of South Africa (ASF), at which it was decided to form the ASF.

I missed the next two ASF Conferencess in 1961 and 1962 (having failed my first year at Wits University, I worked for Johannesburg Municipality as a bus conductor for two years, before going to Natal University in 1963). But someone did record some of the papers of the 1961 conference on tape, so I was able to listen to Fr John Davies speaking on Religion versus God, which was my introduction to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Brother Roger, CR, speaking on More Pilgrims of the Absolute.

In 1963 I was at the University of Natal in Pietermasritzburg, and so was able to attend the Fourth ASF conference in that year. While I now have no contact at all with anyone who was at the first conference in 1960 -- everyone I knew who was at that conference is either dead or out of touch. So there is no one I know who shares those memories. I am, however, still in touch with several people who were at the 1963 and later conferences, and so I hope they will find these shared memories interesting.


Monday 1 July 1963

I took my mother to work, and then set out in her car for Modderpoort. I reached Kroonstad at 12.30, and had a hamburger for lunch at a roadhouse. Passing through Ventersburg I picked up a minister of the Christian Apostolic Church in Zion, and gave him a lift as far as Winburg. The road between Winburg and Marquard was now tarred. At Clocolan I turned off to Modderpoort, and as I drove in to the priory saw most of the Natal contingent going up the road. We wandered around talking for a while, and then went up to the Priory and sat by the fire. We had Evensong at 6, followed by supper, and then went over to one of the classrooms where we had reports from the various centres.

Tuesday 2 July 1963

Mattins at 6.30 in the Priory Chapel, followed by Mass. After Mass John Aitchison and I took the district nurse and Dr Barker to attend to a sick baby, and then came back to breakfast.

After breakfast Dr Barker spoke on Mission Hospitals, and challenged students to give a year of their lives after university to work in the church hospitals, before taking up their careers. Group discussions on the need for mission hospitals followed - paternalism was seen as a problem.

In the afternoon Canon Gilmore, Archdeacon of Zululand, spoke on The Future of the White Man in missions to Blacks. In discussions which followed, most people agreed that whites could still be involved in missions to blacks, but on an equal, and not on a paternalistic basis.

After supper Fr John Davies, the Wits University chaplain, led a Bible study on the letters to the seven Churches in Revelation. It was very good.

Notes and comments 

Dr Anthony Barker was Medical Superintendent of the Charles Johnson Memorial Hospital in Nqutu, Zululand. The hospital was nationalised, along with many other church hospitals, was nationalised by the National Party government in the 1970s. 

Wednesday 3 July 1963

Mattins and Mass in the Priory Chapel. After breakfast Prof. Oosthuizen of Fort Hare spoke on Christianity and Means of Communication, followed by discussion on ways of communicating the Christian faith.

After lunch there were no lectures, and five of us went to Maseru - John Aitchison, Clive and Kevin Leeman, Darryl Milner and I. We did not all have passports, and the law requiring them had only come into effect two days ago. Just before the bridge into Maseru there was a sea of mud, where earthmovers had scraped out a flat place, and in the middle of it was a little prefab hut with a customs officer wearing a cap with a magnificent floral arrangement as a badge. The Leemans had British passports, and he told them that by using them they could lose their South African citizenship. John Aitchison had a tourist passport, and I had an out of date tourist passport, while Darryl Milner did not even have an identity card. Eventually the customs officer said he would let us go if they let us through on the Lesotho side, which they did.

We went into the town, and then had a look at the Roman Church, after which we went to the post office, which was joyfully non-racial - a very pleasant experience after South African segregated ones. We went to a store where John Aitchison bought a blanket. We went to the local Rectory to pay our respects to the Rector, who was just going out, so we went to the Bishop's House, where a bloke came to the door and said curtly ``State your business'', and said that the Bishop was ill and would not see us. He was not at all friendly.

We returned to Modderpoort, and practised Patrick Appleford's setting of the Mass before going in to supper. After supper Alan Paton spoke to us about righteousness and whether it would triumph. He said that righteousness must be its own reward. In discussion most agreed that righteousness would not triumph in this world - the discussion continued until quite late.

Notes and comments

The method of handling conference papers was apparently quite novel. Instead of having a general question and answer session the speaker would be asked to prepare a series of discussion questions on the topic of their paper, and then  we would discuss one or more of the questions in small groups of 4-5 people, and report any significant points back at a plenary session.

If we needed to go shopping, the nearest town to Modderpoort was Ladybrand, 9 miles away. Maseru was twice as far -- 18 miles -- but we preferred drive past Ladybrand to go shopping there, because in those days it gave a taste of freedom. 

Thursday 4 July 1963

We had Mass in the Test School Chapel at 7.15, celebrated by Fr Davies using the reformed rite.

After breakfast we had Bible study, followed by a talk by Robin Briggs and Doreen Gumede on the findings of the Nairobi All-Africa Christian Youth Conference. Discussion followed, but covered much the same ground as previous discussions at the conference - black-white relationships, missionary work, and the effect on young people of rural background of the drift to the towns.

In the afternoon John Davies talked about the future of the ASF. In the evening we discussed ways of breaking down the colour bar in churches. John Davies said it must be done without making a fuss about it, and then it would be more natural. Several people misunderstood this, and thought he meant we must wait until it happened naturally.

Later Robin Briggs showed a film of the Nairobi conference.

Notes and comments

Largely because of residential segregation (the Group Areas Act etc.) the members of most Anglican parishes were all of one race. If people of a different race attended a service, there was often a speech of welcome or explanation made,  drawing attention to their presence. This is what John Davies was referring to as "making a fuss". His point was that the Church should treat that as natural and normal and unremarkable, and regard segregated congregations as the abnormal practice.

Friday 5 July 1963

Fr Goldie (Chaplain at University of Natal, Durban) celebrated Mass in the Test School Chapel, using the reformed rite, and we sang the Appleford setting accompanied by Brian Pottan on guitar. After breakfast we had Bible study, and then had the Annual General Meeting.

After reports from the outgoing committee, there were elections. I proposed Stephen Gawe for President, but Michael Stevenson was elected. Kelleen Maynier was General Secretary, Stephen Gawe Vice-President, Doreen Gumede was Conference Secretary and John Aitchison Publicity and Publications Officer.
Victor Mkhize and Stephen Gawe
 After lunch we had a lot of motions about various topics, most of which were passed unanimously after a few amendments. I proposed one about the segregated state of church schools, which got Peter Anderson and Ego Goodyer really agitated, and eventually it was passed in much modified form.

After supper we had a concert. Some of us sang some songs, and Stephen Gawe acted a witchdoctor. Elgie Dano and Patrick Kotta taught some folk-songs: Ingwe nengonyama, zona zilale manzini.

We eventually got to bed about 3 am.

Saturday 6 July 1963

Wandile Kuse celebrated Mass in the Test School Chapel. We had Bible study after breakfast, and had a discussion about whether one should leave the Church in order to reform it, as Kierkegaard had done.

Fr O'Hara, the Roman chaplain at University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg, spoke on Christian encounter - about the new ideas and people students met at university, and how they might react to them. At tea time I went down to the Modderpoort Post Office to draw some money from my Post Office Savings Bank account, but they didn't have any money at the Post Office, so I had to travel to Ladybrand to get it. Tony McGregor came with me, and when we got back the discussion of Fr O'Hara's talk was over, and we listened to the report-back.
University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg representative at ASF 63

Ken Lemmon-Warde, Darryl Milner, Fr Gerard O'Hara, Roger Sparks
Peta Conradie, Jane Burchall, Bridget Bailey

In the afternoon John Aitchison and I climbed Spitzkop. Later we talked to Deisman Jonas about police beatings in the Transkei, and he told us about a headman who had been collecting money for a school-teacher, and he had a list of names of contributors, and on the strength of that was convicted of being a member of Poqo - a sort of Pan-Africanist version of the Broederbond.

I took Fr O'Hara back to a Roman monastery near Marseilles after supper, and they gave us wine. Wandile Kuse and Doreen Gumede had come with me.

Sunday 7 July 1963

We had Mass in the Priory Chapel, with the reformed rite, celebrated by the Bishop of Bloemfontein (Bendyshe Burnett).

Fr John Davies
After breakfast we had the last Bible Study on Revelation, and then John Davies spoke on Christian Art, which he illustrated with pictures and records. He said Christian art was not simply art which was done by people who happened to be Christian, or which depicted Bible scenes, but it must show the tension between the divine and the human poles, as in the incarnation.

He mentioned the Isenheim altarpiece of Grunewald, where the crucifixion was depicted as a gory death of an ordinary human being, and the divine pole was concentrated in St John's pointing finger, saying, in effect, "That is the son of God - believe it if you dare!"

General discussion followed, without breaking up into groups, and Picasso and Salvador Dali were mentioned.

After lunch Wandile Kuse wanted to buy cigarettes, so Joan Burchall, Peta Conradie, Roger Sparks and I went with him to Ladybrand. When we went into the shop they told Wandile to go round to the non-European section, so we all went round, and after that they were quite nice to us.

When we returned a Mr Matabeko (?) gave a talk on Christianity and the Spiritual Destiny of Africa which was very interesting, and stimulated a great deal of discussion.

Monday 8 July 1963

The conference ended after breakfast, and I took John Aitchison, Barbara Hutton and Cyprian Moloi back with me to Johannesburg. We went to say goodbye to Fr O'Hara first and he showed us round the Roman mission at Marseilles, and we had tea with them, and travelled through Marseilles, Westminster, Excelsior and Winburg.

We took Cyprian home to Meadowlands, and then went to see Fr Comber and told him about the conference. Mrs Comber had been fasting all day as a protest against the Government's destruction of family life.

Tuesday 9 July 1963

John Aitchison and I went to the NUSAS Congress at Wits, and saw Mike Stevenson and Kelleen Maynier there. Mike, Kelleen and I went up to the YMCA to see Stephen Gawe. In the evening Stephen Gawe came to have supper with us, and we talked about the SCA and the ASF. He is also a member of the SCA council, and they were having a constitutional wrangle.

Notes & comments

The SCA constitutional wrangle was because the Afrikaans section wanted it to split into four separate racially segregated bodies -- see below.

Wednesday 10 July 1963

John Aitchison and I again looked in at the NUSAS Congress, and we met Robert Molteno, who told us about the Church Schools Action Group, which aimed to make the church schools less godless. Peter Anderson and John Aitchison were asked to form committees in Transvaal and Natal.


During the ASF Conference, a photographer commissioned by SPG (Society for the Propagtion of the Gospel, an English missionary society) attended, with 6 cameras strung around his neck, and took vast numbers of photographs. He was travelling round the world taking publicity pictures, and obviously took so many that he couldn't remember where he had taken them all. One picture taken at the ASF Conference in the bitter cold of a Free state winter showed blanketed students listening to a lecture, and later appeared in a USPG publication captioned "Transkei Diocesan Finance Board"

At the end of its third year, the ASF had developed a pattern of working, and had begun to be more organized. It was definitely a Federation: other than the annual conference, all activity took place on the local campuses. The committee kept in touch by post, and met once a year apart from at the July conference. It was a low budget operation, and expenses were very few.

Nevertheless, ASF performed the function of enabling Anglican students to meet, and to reflect on their faith and on the situation in Southern Africa in the light of that faith. A good deal of the conference was devoted to input - the "business" took one day out of six, and the remainder was devoted to talks and discussion. This was in contrast to organizations like NUSAS, and the SCA, and later UCM, which spent most of the time at their conferences discussing business, motions and resolutions.

Another difference between ASF conferences and those of other student organisations at that time was that though there were parties at the ASF conferences, there was no alcoholic liquor. There was no rule against it, no one said there should be no booze. It was just that no one felt the need for it.

As can be seen, Anglican students were involved in both SCA and NUSAS. Stephen Gawe was a member of the SCA council, while others were representatives at the NUSAS congress.

The SCA at this time was under much pressure from the Afrikaans section (we assumed that this pressure originated with the Broederbond) to implement apartheid in its own organization, and to split up into separate Afrikaans, English, Coloured and African organizations. This was to come to a head 18 months later, and eventually led to the formation of the University Christian Movement.


I travelled to Modderpoort from Pietermaritzburg by car, after going to Durban to fetch my cousin, Jennifer Growdon, who was an Art student at Natal Technical College.


Monday 29 June 1964

Jennifer and I loaded our things into the car and went back to Maritzburg, and went into town where I bought a sleeping bag and some films. I went back to Varsity, leaving Jennifer in town, and wrote my Zulu exam. I wrote it in Mr Watson's room, alone, and he pushed off and said I could time myself and see when I finished. I finished early and went back to Res. for lunch, and afterwards started packing up my things to go to Modderpoort. At 2 pm we started loading the car, and it seemed impossible that we should get everything in. It took us half an hour. Henry Bird sat in front with his feet on a couple of sleeping bags. Wally Buhler was in the back with his feet on a case and his chin on his knees. We picked Jenny up at the City Hall, and drove up the old Howick Road through Wembley.

We passed through Ladysmith at sunset, and climbed up Van Reenen's Pass. The further up we got, the lower the engine temperature gauge dropped. A few miles outside Bethlehem we saw a lot of snow lying at the side of the road - it had been there from last week, and Jennifer and Wally wanted to play with it, as it was the first snow they had seen. We stopped at Bethlehem, and had coffee and hamburgers for supper. Near Paul Roux we nearly ran over two skunks which were crossing the road. I didn't know that there were such things in South Africa - I had always thought they were North American animals. Between Senekal and Marquard another skunk crossed the road in front of us.

On the last leg of the journey, between Clocolan and Modderpoort, we passed a Volkswagen with an Umfolozi registration, and they waved at us, so we stopped and found that it was Fr Midian Msane with some people from Zululand university. They were lost, and had gone all the way to Brandfort along the national road. We led them the rest of the way to Modderpoort, where we arrived about 10 o' clock.

Tuesday 30 June 1964

We had Mass in the Priory chapel. It was bitterly cold, and I wore my kaross (made of wild cat skins from Bechuanaland) while Dave Short wore my blanket. Soon many others were also wearing blankets.

After breakfast Fr John Davies, the Wits Chaplain, led a Bible study. Last year he had gone through the letters to the seven churches in Revelation, and now he decided to go back to the beginning, and began with Genesis chapter 1. We then went outside to be in the sun, and Fr Harker spoke on Church Schools and the Colour Bar. He was very factual, and gave very little of his own opinion, but quoted from headmasters he had written to. Most of them seemed to think that if the church schools (white) were to open their doors to all races, they would lose support, and would therefore lose money, and seemed to assume that money was the most important thing there is -- an attitude of "Christianity is all very well, but you have to be realistic, you know."

In our question for group discussion we had to say whether we thought it would be best to have fully integrated schools, starting from scratch, or admitting not more than 10% non-whites to an established school, in order to maintain traditions and so on. We all agreed that it was better to start an integrated school from scratch, because the 10% attitude was sheer arrogance, and assumed that the culture of the dominant group must be preserved at all costs, and rammed down others' throats.

There were only a couple of people in our group who really said anything - Elizabeth Homoller and Rick Houghton -- the latter is from America, and is now at Cape Town varsity collecting material for his Master's thesis in African History.

After the discussion there was a report back, and then we had lunch, and in the afternoon Miss G. Darrel (?), an English lecturer at Fort Hare, spoke on Christian doctrine in Shakespeare's plays. It was very good, but probably mainly of benefit to English Honours students.

After tea Bridget Bailey, Jill Hodli, Dave Short, John Thatcher, Wally Buhler and I went to Maseru to do some shopping. It took so long to get through the border, however, that all the shops were shut by the time we got there (the delays were all on the South African side). We tried to find a guy Wally knew, Andrew Ramalethe, who had been at UNP two years ago, and was supposed to be a big wheel in the Department of Justice. We were told he had gone to London to study how to overhaul the legal system of Lesotho before independence.

We then went to the hospital where Biddy, Dave and John Thatcher had smallpox vaccinations, to get back over the border. They each had to pay 60c. We then went along to the pub, and got talking to a chap called Desmond Sixishe, who wanted to know all about NUSAS, and promised to get us a white paper on the constitutional talks the next time we came.

We went to a cafe to get fish and chips, and went back across the border before it closed at 8 pm. Back at Modderpoort they were having a party, but there was only one record - the Beatles Please, Please me, which began to get rather boring after a couple of hours.

Notes and comments

John Davies later expanded his Bible studies on Genesis chapters 1-3 and it was published as a book called Beginning Now -- see here.

Wednesday 1 July 1964

We went to Mass down at the Test School, in the room we had used for lectures last year, but which had now been turned into a chapel, but it was a long narrow tunnel. Peter Hinchliff celebrated, facing the congregation, but from the back we couldn't see him at all.

After breakfast we continued the Bible study on Genesis, and then again moved outside for Peter Hinchliff's paper on Faith and History. He asked whether the historian could retain his intellectual integrity and still be a Christian in the writing of history. He said no historian could be completely objective, and he would have to select what he would put into his history, and what he would leave out. He would also, if he was writing history, and not a mere chronicle, put in some interpretation of the events he described.

After lunch we had a hockey match on an extremely bumpy field. Then Peter Hinchliff spoke again, this time on The Christian Meaning of Love, in which he talked about the old and new moralities - so-called. He said the "old morality" was legalistic, and not really Christian, and the "new morality" did not know anything about love, which it claimed was the only law for Christians, and cited the case of a man who was cured of his passion for little girls by committing adultery with a married woman. The adultery, say the exponents of the new morality, is all right, because it cured the man. This, said Peter Hinchliff, is saying that the end justifies the means, and that motives don't count at all. In this case the exponents of the new morality have failed to understand the Christian meaning of love, which includes faithfulness and commitment.

In our discussion groups we talked about divorce and premarital intercourse. We started off by defining the phrase "free love", which is often used to mean unlimited sexual intercourse, which is neither free, nor is it love. We thought it was love given freely, with no strings attached, with no hint of limitations or conditions, I will love you ...if, or when... or whether....We also all agreed that the church was too lenient about divorce, which was a denial of love. How could people who were divorced be admitted to communion if each had "married" someone else, and so there was no hope of them ever being in communion with each other. If they went to different churches, they could avoid being in communion with each other. We also thought that the church had become too tied up with the State over marriage, and the state had laid down conditions which were alien to Christianity, such as not allowing people of different races to marry.

After reporting back, we went to Evensong, and then to supper, and then all the Maritzburg people came over to the new Test School Chapel, where we had a practice for the Mass we were doing tomorrow. We decided that we didn't like the altar way over at one end, so we brought it to me middle and arranged the benches around it.

When we had finished, we went back to the common room, where we were having centre reports, and when we walked in, everyone from Maritzburg all at once, everyone else in the room burst out laughing. I gave the report, which everyone thought a tremendous joke, and it provoked roars of laughter. Afterwards Wally and Biddy said that Joan Burchall and Ken Lemmon-Warde had asked that the report be kept serious, but we didn't have a chance, when they started laughing the moment we walked in the door.

Michael Hays and Bennett Ramoabi talked about St Paul's and St Peter's Colleges, and showed slides of St Paul's. They were all very pious. I hate to think what Bennett's sermons will be like when he is ordained - he is very longwinded, and prefaces everything with ``Welll.....'' like ``Well, that's really all there is to say........welll........as far as .........''

Then there was another hop, with the same old record, so a few of us went for a walk down to the station and looked at the locomotives.

Thursday 2 July 1964

Mass in the Test School Chapel, using the Maritzburg rite, with Fr Sweet celebrating. Biddy Bailey read the epistle, Henry Bird and Anne Scott did the offertory, and I did the prayer for the church. We sang the Appleford setting, without the Lord's Prayer.

After breakfast and Bible study Canon Frederick Amoore, the Provincial Executive officer, told us something about the Church of the Province and what it did. In discussion groups we asked what our own parishes were doing about ecumenical action, and about such things as marriage problems. I suggested having house churches, and Shirley Davies (wife of John Davies, the Wits Chaplain) supported me, and everyone agreed.

I left the discussion group early so we could go to Maseru - we wanted to get there before the bank closed so Henry could get his money. Six of us went - Henry, Ernest Mkize, Barbara Hutton, Ann Scott and Gail. We arrived at Maseru as the bank was closing, and Henry ran round the back and did some fast talking, and they gave him some money in the end. Then we went to the chemist, and got some cough sweets, because we all had colds. We then went to the pub, while we were waiting for the hospital to open so Ernest and Ann Scott could be vaccinated. In the pub we met a newspaper reporter who had been there the other night, and a couple of people from Roma. After Ernest was vaccinated we went to Roma, and took the wrong road a couple of times, but eventually arrived there, helped by Ernest's limited knowledge of SeSotho to ask directions.

We drove around the university, and then stopped by the side of the road to take photographs. While we were doing that, Fr Sweet drove up with Biddy Bailey and Wally Buhler and we had a picnic there, a late lunch, as it was nearly 4 pm. After some car problems - the steering box had worked loose, we returned to Maseru, and went to the pub and sat by the fire, which was not very bright. Desmond Sixishe came up to join us. He had given us a copy of the white paper on the constitutional conference earlier in the day when we met him outside the hospital. Now he wanted to talk about NUSAS, which we did for a bit, and then went to get some supper at a tea room near the Roman Cathedral, and returned to the land of 90 days and police snoopers. As Fr Davies said in his Bible Study, if one wanted to write a play, the first two lines of which would embody the present situation, they would be "here's somebody outside checking up on something."
Roadside picnic at Roma, Lesotho
 We drove back to Modderpoort very slowly, with the steering box going klonk klonk every time we hit a bump. There was another party when we returned. The parties were not as good as last year, and people did not seem to get to know each other as well as they had last year. Sleeping accommodation was segregated, except for the first night - apparently the SSM fathers had discovered some old Free State law dating back to republican times which prohibited blacks and whites from sleeping under the same roof, so we had all had to move.

Friday 3 July 1964

I woke up feeling sick, so did not go to Mass, but got up for breakfast at 8 am. Then Miss D. Aitken, principal of the Rhenish High School at Stellenbosch, spoke on Evolution, Science and Christianity, which was largely based on Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.

In the afternoon the Bishop of Bloemfontein gave a review of The Primal Vision which was interesting, but not of much use to people who had not read the book, and most hadn't. Reports from discussion groups showed that most people had dismissed it as being of no value whatever.

Noel Lebenya
In the evening we sang songs, and then later on a few of us - John de Beer, Noel Lebenya, Stephen Gawe and I, sat around talking long after midnight. Noel told us about his many girlfriends, and his steady in Bloemfontein. The rest of us argued with him about this -- saying that if he expected to be able to trust his steady, she should be able to trust him. He is a nice guy, went to school in Thaba Nchu, and then worked for a while, and is now in his first year at Turfloop, doing social work. He had taken to wearing a blanket around the place, and it seems to suit him. His grandfather was a Mosotho.

Everyone else drifted off to bed, and only Stephen Gawe and I were left. We played a couple of games of chess -- he beat me easily both times. Then we talked about people at the conference, and who would be suitable to elect to the executive at the AGM tomorrow. Mike Stevenson was the obvious choice for President, if he would stand again. Stephen thought Clive Whitford for Vice-President, and I thought Jeremiah Mosimane would be better. He is doing 2nd year BA at Turfloop. We both thought Mavourneen Moffett would be good as Secretary. Then, as it was about 4 am, we said Mattins together, and prayed, and went to bed, lying next to the fire in the common room.

Notes and comments

Two books that were quite influential in theological circles at that time had opposing messages. The Primal Vision by John V. Taylor said that the Western church had embraced secular modernity too much, and so could not communicate very well with African mythological thinking. Harvey Cox, in The Secular City said that the church was not modern and secular enough, and out to demythologise everything. Back then we did not use words like modernity, premodernity and postmodernity. Perhaps the book's time has come. You can read more about it here.

Saturday 4 July 1964

We woke up when Clive Whitford came into the common room to get some chairs, and found that breakfast was halfway through. We rushed in an managed to get our porridge, and then came Bible Study, where Fr Davies gave a magnificent exposition of the Fall in Genesis 3.

Mike Stevenson and Doreen Gumede (President & Secretary) had gone to the bank in Ladybrand, so we could not start the AGM until they were back, so Noel, Henry Bird and I went down to the post office to get some money. We went back for the AGM which followed after tea. Mike Stevenson was re-elected president. Roy Knifton from St Paul's was vice president. June Darby was Secretary, Mavourneen Moffett was Conference Secretary, and I was publications officer.

We then went on to pass some resolutions, and that continued after lunch. After that Fr Norman Montjane, the chaplain, spoke about the Toronto Anglican Conference.

After supper all the Natal delegates got together to decide on the date and speakers for a regional conference, and decided to ask Prof Edgar Brookes, Dr Roger Raab, and Dr Anthony Barker to speak. After that we had a concert, with various people singing and acting. Fr Davies & Fr Montjane did a bit from "Beyond the Fringe", introduced by John Greig -- "You've heard of Abbott and Costello, Lewis and Martin, This beats the lot. As usual, there is a short fat one and a long thin one -- Davies and Montjane".

Sunday 5 July 1964

Mass at 7.15 am, breakfast and the last Bible study. Dr Currie gave a square and conservative talk on Christian National Education. He talked a lot about Lord Milner, and seemed to like what he had done -- attempting to Anglicize the country. Another Rex Simpson. Later someone said that he had remarked about the fact that some of us were wearing blankets, and said that that was what he had been fighting against all his life. No doubt blanket-wearing does not uphold the traditions of the Empah! He talked a lot about the history of Christian National Education, but said very little about what it meant today.
Henry Bird, Dave Short, Jerry Mosimane, Noel Lebenya Steve Hayes
 After lunch Fr Mark Tweedy, of the Community of the Resurrection, talked about Christianity in Russia today, and the contribution it could make to the Church of the future. When he spoke about the relationship between church and state he said the Russian Church had to keep very quiet. He said that Eastern Orthodox Theology generally was behind that of the West, and they had few books, and little contact with other theologians. We did not have group discussions after his paper, but a general discussion.

In the evening after supper we had a play reading, John Osborne's "A subject of Scandal and Concern". A few of us were singing round the fire afterwards, and I found John Davies broad-brimmed black hat lying in the coal bucket so I picked it up, and shook some cigarette ash off it. Shirley Davies grabbed it and said "Don't clean it!", and she sat on it, crumpled it up and put it under her arm. She told us that three priests in Joburg had been sacked without reasons being given. We talked about how rich the church is -- too rich.

Monday 6 July 1964.

The conference ended.


A few weeks later, Stephen Gawe and three other Fort Hare students were detained under the 90 day detention clause. They were later charged with furthering the aims of the African National Congress (ANC), and Stephen was sentenced to a year's imprisonment. More about him here.

John Aitchison, who attended the 1963 conference, was banned in May 1965.

By the 5th conference the ASF had developed something of a tradtion, p[assed from one generation of students to another. One of the traditions at this point was the relationship with the SSM (Society of the Sacred Mission) fathers who were based at Modderpoort. The conference would usually begin with people climbing the hill to worship in the priory chapel, passing the frozen goldfish pond on the way. Then arrangements were made, as in 1964, for later services to be led by a group from different centres. But the enforcement of segregated sleeping accommodation in 1964, changed that, One of the resolutions passed at the business meeting was to look for a venue that did not enforce such a rule.

And since some people who were at these conferences may still be around to read thus, please add your own memories in the comments. 


lets TALK said...

Just wondering what or who helped you all Financially during this times did the church sponser the cost of conference ? Seeing that today the church is financially paralyzed what do you think went wrong, bcz what i understand is that the church had schools which geberated income, it had land and lots of properties but today it looks like it in only starting yesterday what do you think we can do today to save the church to rivece such a safe space to interact and learn, in todays ASF

Steve Hayes said...

I forget how much the conference fees were, but they were mainly for the cost of food and such at the Modderpoort Conference Centre, then run by the Society of the Sacred Mission (SSM). People paid their own fees, and those who could not afford it got help from their home parishes and similar sources. There was no central subsidy or anything like that. Students from the theological seminaries were sometimes subsidised by the seminaries.

There were also travelling expenses, and people paid their own, or got help from family or friends. Modderpoort was chosen because it was central. In my case, my mother lent me her car (which meant she had to go to work by bus). Others travelled by train.


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