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Vol 18 No 7
July
2007

iindabaONLINE

The official gazette of the Diocese of Port Elizabeth:
Anglican Church of Southern Africa

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PAGE 1

 •  Free at last!
 •  Bishop Bethlehem in prison
 •  Thoughts on a Church Window 


Free at last!
Although they are still behind bars, some of the prisoners in St Alban´s Maximum Security Prison are free at last - that is, the freedom from sin that the Lord Jesus Christ brings to those who give their lives to him.

First Confirmation in St Alban´s Maximum Security Prison

Sunday 13 May saw the first ever Confirmation Service in St Alban´s Maximum Security Prison when Bishop Bethlehem confirmed seventy candidates in a joyful service attended by over five hundred people, reports Howard Lancaster.

Several choirs and worship groups from the prison participated in the service which was also attended by about thirty members of St Luke´s, St Simon of Cyrene and St Mark and St John´s parishes. Our Diocesan Prisons Chaplain, Jogra Gallant, has been ministering at St Alban´s for a little over a year and has been thrilled at the response to the proclaiming of the gospel there. The service was the culmination of a six months' confirmation preparation course. The candi-dates and others are continuing their faith journey in the Abounding Love Bible School, which Jogra runs and which Bishop Bethlehem launched at the service. The Bible School now has one hundred students.

The Area Commissioner of Prisons,  Lineo Mokhetsi and the Revd Mzimane Jita, the Prison Chaplain, also attended the service along with the rector of All Saints', Howard Lancaster, representing TEE College, whose students were involved in leading the service.

One of the choirs had written a song featuring Bishop Bethlehem and much dancing and rejoicing ensued. Another of the songs "I Still Have Joy", summed up the mood, not only of the day but the joy in Christ that the inmates feel which even the prison walls cannot suppress. 

The Area Commissioner spoke after Bishop Bethlehem´s sermon and also brought an inspiring message including reminding everyone of their families and especially their mothers, as the day was also Mothers´ Day. What was encouraging was seeing the real rapport between her and both the inmates and the warders. An example of this was the announcement that on the following Sunday, the prison´s choirs would be recorded and a CD made. One had a real sense that this was truly correctional services rather than punitive justice and the forgiveness and transformation available in Christ is the key in making this happen.

Some parishes had donated Bibles for the candidates, a team provided packs of eats for those who attended the service and all was much appreciated.

Bishop Bethlehem commented that while he always prayed for the inmates, he was excited to visit St Alban´s for the first time and have the privilege of conducting the first Confirmation service there. The service was an extremely joyous event, which the leaders battled to bring to a close after four hours because the inmates had to get on with other activities!

Pics: Top: Those who made it happen - Bishop Bethlehem, Lineo Mokhetsi, the Area Commissioner of Prisons, Jogra Gallant, the Diocesan Prison Chapelain, and Mzimane Jita the Prison Chaplain.;  Bottom:  I lay my hands upon you - Bishop Bethlehem confirms two of the inmates of St Alban's Maximum Security Prison.


Bishop Bethlehem in prison
Arthur Fisher of St Simon of Cyrene, one of the team who minister in the prison, reports on the 'behind the scene' activities that helped to make the Bishop's visit to prison on Confirmation Day a great success.

On the evening of 12 May the team gathered at Jogra Gallant's home, which they turned into a 'factory.' The light-hearted banter helped to make the backbreaking task of putting together 400 plates of eats go faster. The eats were a special treat for those who were being confirmed, their guests and fellow-prisoners. We are very grateful to all those who contributed the eats to make this such a success.

The next morning saw all of us outside the prison gates at 08h30 and just after 09h00 we were let through what seemed like 'a million doors' to where the inmates were waiting for us. Praise and worship had begun and the Holy Spirit was very present with the genuine sincerity evident as the inmates soulfully sang, danced and clapped hands to the glory of Christ our Lord.

During the service, the scripture readings and the announcements were handled by the inmates and 'choirs from heaven' kept the spirit alive. We were in awe of the talent of those male voices raised in songs of praise.


Thoughts on a Church Window 

I paused awhile within my church to sit
And looked upon the stained glass window lit
By clouded gold of early morning light;
And resting there I pondered with delight
Upon the wondrous craft of such a man
Who from these countless scraps of glass,
Began to fashion thus a delicate design;
When through the window streamed a light divine,
And all the church was warmed with radiance bright
Reflected from this glorious holy light,
As every particle of glass was filled
With shimmering rays from golden sunshine spilled.

In great humility I knelt and praised
The Lord who by His own mysterious ways
Had shown that man must God Almighty ask
To bless and fortify his earthly task.
I thanked my God for granting me this time
>From worldly hours of selfishness and crime;
That through the window of His holy place
I'd glimpsed just once the beauty of His face.
- By Pamela ffolliott

Pic: The East Window above the altar at Holy Trinity in central.

Lent Course testimonies
Watch out for wonderful testimonies about the Diocesan Lent Course - next iindaba.

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