Welcome to the page for the link between the Marlow Team and St James, Galeshewe. Click here to read a short history of the Marlow – Galeshewe link… or catch up with the latest news below.
For the two last weeks of September Father Reggie Leeuw, the priest from our link church of Saint James in Galeshewe, a township of Kimberley, South Africa, together with his wife Noma were with us here in Marlow. It was a delight to have them and to include them in activities across the parish. Although Father Reggie had been over here before and had attended a course at Cuddesdon Theological College, Oxford, Noma had never been out of their country before, so everything was very new for her. Father Reggie is also Archdeacon of the Karoo, a vast arid area south west of Kimberley and his responsibilities there involve traveling very long distances.
The day after their arrival they were invited to a “meet the parish” bring and share supper in the Church Hall. There was good representation from all the four Team Churches and Reggie and Noma soon showed how easy they are at mixing and relating to others. Right from the start they demonstrated their interest and friendship and were excellent ambassadors. Their activities were many and varied and they participated in everything with great enthusiasm.
There was a guided tour of All Saints Bisham, a day out in London including a river trip and the poppies at the Tower, Cliveden, Wycombe on market day and meals with different members of clergy and congregations. Father Reggie preached at 9.15 and 10.59 at All Saints Marlow, at 9.30 at Bisham and they attended the 4.30 Family Service at Saint John the Baptist, Little Marlow. He also spoke at morning assemblies at both Sandygate and Holy Trinity and enjoyed a House Group Meeting, Bisham Harvest Supper and was interviewed on Marlow FM.
A highlight of their visit was being able to join those attending The Grand Day Out centred on Christchurch Meadows, Oxford a lovely Diocesan get together celebrating John Pritchard’s time with us as Bishop of Oxford. Reggie participated in a question and answer session there with Bishop Andrew of Reading. It was also lovely to meet up with Bishop Ossie, Bishop of Kimberley and Kuruman and in his Archdeacon capacity it was good that Father Reggie was able to have several meetings with Bishop Ossie, Bishop Andrew and the Archdeacon of Berkshire enabling them to discuss the Diocesan Link with South Africa. They were also able to join in the Pilgrimage Walk with Bishop John on the stretch from Marlow to Maidenhead which was a very moving experience for them. On their final evening Saint Mary’s Marlow Bottom hosted a lovely farewell party for them with a special cake. They really appreciated the occasion which rounded off their activities around the parish beautifully. They have returned to Saint James with warm wishes of friendship and the hope of opportunities to build on our relationships. It highlighted the way that we have the same hopes, problems, joys and above all, faith. On their return they were excited to see their two small sons, Phemelo and Tumelo and one exhausted Grandma!
Sonke Bethu – together in Christ. This was the the message from Saint James during the year of celebration for 50 years since the church opened on their patronal festival 1962. James Valentine and I were delighted to be with them for this very special occasion.
Father Wade, vicar of one of the other churches, saw a need for a church there over 50 years ago. It was his vision that resulted in a metal frame being designed and erected and the local people then took ownership and did the brick building within the framework themselves. The result is a lovely church with a central marble altarpiece. The banner which Helen Munday in Marlow made showing the four Marlow Team Churches has pride of place and looks great. The service on Wednesday evening, the patronal festival, was attended by about 50 clergy including Bishop Ossie Swartz bishop of Kimberley and also the suffragan bishop Patrick Matolengwe. There was a large congregation and much lovely singing, often old English hymnal hymns but sung with an extraordinary African slant, much harmony, rhythm and movement and in Setswana. All the services we went to were Eucharistic. It was very moving. Afterwards everyone gathered in the church hall for rooibos tea and cake and chattering and it was wonderful to meet old friends. We were made effusively welcome.
On Thursday afternoon I went to Saint James for the MU meeting where I was able to give Nomi Tau, their chairman, news from Mary Baker as representative from Marlow. They are a very vibrant group all appearing in their uniform for meetings and many wearing it every Sunday for services – black skirt, white blouse, black sash and black beret.They are very smart and very proud of their group appearance. They were practising songs and dancing for the big celebration service on Sunday. Whilst I had been involved with this James had been experiencing something which I was very glad to have missed! Two cows and a number of sheep were slaughtered in the churchyard ready for the feast. They had also initiated the beer brewing process!
After breakfast on Friday it was off to Saint James for hard work. We prepared food for 500 for the Gala evening. This was held in the community centre next to the church and it had been beautifully hung with drapes etc. by a team run by a member of the congregation who organises it for weddings etc. It was quite a sight and although there were many there who were beautifully dressed in sophisticated clothing there were also many still in jumpers and woollie hats – a real gathering for everyone.
The evening was opened with a speech by the Lady Mayor, and various dignitaries. We were able to send our greetings from Marlow. Then the Youth Group excelled themselves delivering the meals which looked and tasted great. After that there was dancing. Saint James congregation certainly knows how to enjoy itself – a wonderful example of a warm, Christian community at play, celebrating the considerable achievement that the church there had made over the last 50 years during which there have certainly been downs as well as ups. We pray that the future will now continue with the devout and happy atmosphere that we were privileged to experience.
Saturday we were down at the church at 10.30 where we again prepared food for the Sunday celebrations. I was taken home at 10.30 pm but many were still working until the early hours of the morning. We were at Saint James at 8.30 for the service. Once gathered we processed around the township – about 1,000 people including our 2 white faces! The choir were all grouped together and there was great singing. What a demonstration of Christian commitment to Saint James’. The Service then proceeded and we had a sermon by Right Rev. Theophillus Naledi retired Bishop of Matebeleland, Zimbabwe who had been their first Rector. We felt so blessed to be there for this very special time. At lunchtime we progressed to Church Hall [as VIPs] whilst lunch for the majority was served in church. Their faith, church and church community form the central part of their lives and it is really heart warming to experience. We both felt very privileged to have contributed in a small way to this amazing event and we pray that Saint James’ grows and flourishes peacefully for the next 50 years. Over the rest of our stay we were able to visit the Cathedral, local schools, playgroups, the sights of Kimberley and experience life in this fascinating part of the world. We felt very blessed to have had this opportunity. Sue Glyn-Woods.