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Gerald Francis remembers

Gerald, third from the right in back row, was a soloist in the choir in the time of Rev Wakeling

It was good to meet Gerald and Trish Francis at St John’s recently.  Now a retired Anglican Minister, he was rekindling assorted memories of long ago.


“I cannot be 100% sure of dates etc as my life in this Parish spans some 70 years but here is some history I have experienced at St John’s, a very special parish church in my life.


“First of all a little bit of history, maybe not in the correct order but interesting nevertheless.

"My family and our connections to St John’s, Wynberg, starts about 1943/1944 when I started school at the Springfield Convent behind St John’s. The reason I started at Springfield College was because of my dad’s sister, a Mother Superior at the time, who insisted that I be educated there. This lasted about two years, but while attending school there, we started at St John’s."

“After a number of years we left because All Saints Plumstead was a lot closer to where we  lived. Those days we walked to church but due to some family disagreement with the Rector of All Saints we left and a few months later started Sunday School at Wynberg Baptist Church where we remained up until 1953 when we rejoined St John’s due to Rev Wakeling asking Rev Osbourne if he had any Sunday School teachers to assist.


“We returned to St John’s, and I became a teacher under Mike Milligan and later took over from Mike as Sunday School Superintendent.  In the process I joined the choir and later became a ‘sub deacon.’ From there I went into the ministry, was booked into Oakhill in London but the Diocese said that they would not contribute.  If I wanted financial help I had to accept St Paul’s College.


“I was Ordained Deacon in December 1968 and priested in December 1969.  I have served in many places in South Africa and Zimbabwe.


" Some say that St John’s Parish was the first Anglican Church built in South Africa but this claim is also made by St John’s in Bathurst and St Francis Simonstown.


"We were part of the Association of Evangelical Fellowship of Anglican Churches i.e. known as EFAC. We were part of the meeting held in the Parish Hall (in Piers Road at the time) where it was decided to continue our association with the Church of the Province of Southern Africa (CPSA) now known as the Anglican Church of Southern Africa (ACSA)


Some of the clergy of the Parish I remember:

Rev Vernon de Smidt     (Peter Vernon – Deacon 1910 Priested 1911 – late Fish Hoek)

Rev Ernest Lasberry

Rev Stanley Wakeling

Rev Peter Akehurst

Rev Bruce Evans (later Bishop)

Rev Arthur John

Rev Reg Pearce

Rev Alan Stansbury (I think the first ordinand from Christ Church)

Rev Sid Middelmost

Rev Garth Counsell (later Bishop)

Rev Brian Hill

Rev Bruce Snyman

Rev Hugo Wallace


"I think that I have left out a few other assistants in between, but I cannot remember them all. If I remember, Alan Stansbury was the first ordinand from Christ Church.   I think that I was the first ordinand from St John’s.


Gerald and Trish Francis visit St John's in 2024

"It was also Rev Stanley Wakeling together with Dominee Dawie Botha (D.R.C. Sendingskerk) at the bottom of St Johns and Church Streets, together with Rev Jack Cook (Methodist), the Presbyterian Minister and also the Congregational Church who organized the first United Service on Good Fridays in Wynberg.


"We also lost our erf set aside by Garden Cities at Meadowridge for an Anglican Church there, simply because we could not raise enough capital at the time.)   The option was then given to the Baptist church who still occupy the site.

Today, each “Chapelry” as it was those

days referred to, are more independent than in the past.


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