For several years Icknield Benefice has enjoyed an active link with St Paul’s, an Anglican church in the black township of Mothibistad, in South Africa’s Northern Cape Province. We’ve been inspired by the energy of their worship and their determination to put Christ’s gospel of hope into practical action for the most vulnerable in their community. Warm friendships have developed between the two congregations. 11 of us have been welcomed to Mothibistad, and 16 people from the township have stayed with us in Oxfordshire. We’ve learned so much from each other, both about our shared faith and our approach to common challenges like schooling, health, and care for the elderly.

Mothibistad is in a mainly rural area with very high levels of unemployment and poverty. Over recent years HIV/Aids has devastated hundreds of families there. The Church has a vital role supporting people with the disease, and seeking to strengthen communities threatened by its impact. The congregations of the Icknield benefice are helping to fund community projects to provide “unconditional love, care and support” for local people infected by HIV/Aids in and around the township. One such project is the food-parcel service ‘Valley of Hope’.

The photograph shows members of a needy family waiting to be taken home with their monthly grocery parcel. The VOH team in Mothibistad collect them, bring them in to St.Pauls to collect the parcel; give them lunch then take them back to their village. Over time they are now starting to get to know other people from other villages, as well as us. This is also a way of making sure the family gets the groceries meant for them.

For further information go to

Contact person: Pauline Verbe This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


The Icknield Benefice is Linked with the Parish of Mothibistad, on the edge of the Kalahari in the Northern Province of South Africa. It was started in 1995 by Canon Tony Williamson as part of a wider relationship between the Oxford Diocese and the Diocese of Kimberley & Kuruman.

Canon Tony Williamson spent the formative years in forging relationships with the clergy. He visited them and they visited Watlington and in 2003 as the Link strengthened he asked three members of St.Leonard’s congregation to accompany him. A lot of the visit was spent in visiting the township schools and getting to know the teachers .

2006 at the height of the HIV/AIDS Pandemic saw the introduction of Pauline Verbe and Dorothy Ackerman who subsequently became very much involved in providing Grocery Parcels for the victims of HIV/AIDS, their orphans and their Carers. They concentrated in ways of getting the community to start helping themselves. Since that time we now see them making their own clothes, getting involved in sport and music and most recently in starting to grow their own vegetables and fruit.

During this time Revd Christopher Evans began visiting and spent much of his time in the rural villages ministering to the sick and dying, often accompanied by David Blake, who has come to be known as ‘Our Man in South Africa’ – due to the fact he lives in Capetown and is a great help to our Link.

2010 – saw the formation of the Icknield Benefice Churches own Charity – The Valley of Hope (UK) Charity whose current project is the raising of funds to provide for Grocery Parcels.

2012 – this is the year when we very much hope to progress further by seeing new people becoming involved and hope they will bring new projects and people to strengthen the Link Further

– See more at: