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It all started with our marriage plans

30 May 1971, Frank and Daphne sign the register with Revd Bruce Evans

By Daphne Manley

Our link with St. John’s goes back a long time to 1970.  I worked for an attorney called Peter Cronwright who was also the choirmaster and organist at St. John’s. He was also involved at Western Province Boys Prep, training their choir.  The boys used to come to church at regular intervals and would participate in the services with their beautiful singing. When Peter heard that Frank and I were to be married, he suggested that we come to St. John’s and speak to Bruce Evans (neither Frank nor I were involved in any church and were not believers).  We went to see Bruce and met Joan as well (both of whom impressed us so much that we decided there and then that we would start attending St. John’s!)  At that time it was customary for the priest to ‘announce’ the banns at the service for 3 weeks prior to the wedding, in case anyone objected.  So Bruce told us that it would be necessary for us to come for that, but other than that there was no requirement to attend church. We also had to agree to undergo a 6-week course on ‘Marriage Prep’. 

Bruce and Joan Evans instrumental in our faith journey:

So started our journey at St. John’s – we joined a house group and started attending services regularly.  At that time I lived in Elsies River with my parents and siblings.  Frank lived in Crawford and used to fetch me every week for the service.  Gradually my family also started to attend St. John’s – I have 6 siblings.  Every one of us was married either at St. John’s or at Christ Church. (Two of Daphne's brother, sister and two sisters-in-law are pictured below at an International Meal fundraiser at St John's, manning the Chinese food stall.)

We got to know and love Bruce and Joan Evans and visited them in P.E. on more than one occasion (as pictured). They were definitely instrumental in our faith journeys. Frank started  in the welcome team at the door, then later started teaching Sunday School, still later becoming a member of Pastorate. He worked in their family business which was the Dragon Inn on the Foreshore, CBD.  When Frank felt led to enter the ministry in 1980 his decision was not well received by his father.

Training for Ordination and early days of Ministry

We left for St. Paul’s College, (now called College of Transfiguration) Grahamstown, at the beginning of 1982, our boys David (almost 5) and Jonathan (almost 2).  St. John’s was our sending church so regularly supported us, in prayer and financially. I think we received a sum of R200 per month at that time! After our 3 years in Grahamstown Frank was sent to St. Stephen’s Pinelands, St. Aidan’s Lansdowne (where he completed his curacy). Thereafter we went to Bothasig in 1989. 

Bitten by a dog at a beach protest:

It was during that time that we (Frank, myself, David & Jonathan) went out to the Strand on a Saturday morning to take part in a peaceful march along the beach – which was reserved for Whites only.  When we arrived there, there were lots of police so we decided that the boys and I should stay in the car and wait for Frank to participate in the march. After some time we got news that Frank had been bitten by a police dog. He had been walking back to the car when he saw the police manhandling a person and stopped to question them. With that they set the dog on him and he suffered terrible injuries to his upper leg.  Luckily John & Di Hewitson were on the scene and they immediately saw to him and drove him straight to Groote Schuur Hospital where they worked.  The boys and I were driven home by Sid Luckett and I remember how shaken he was that day. (Editor's note: Daphne shared pictures of Frank's wounds, which I have not posted here. Suffice to say they are not pretty.)


It was also during this time that Frank became involved in Mosaic – an organisation assisting women who have suffered/ are suffering abuse, and empowering them. It was something quite new at that time and was headed by a lady called Rolene Muller. Frank felt led to this ministry and during his sabbatical in October 1994 he travelled to Washington DC and connected with the church there to explore this further. This was after we had voted for the first time in the 1994 elections!!

After Bothasig we were moved to Belhar in 1995 and we lived there until Frank retired because of ill health in 2001. (He passed away on 16 July, 2006.)

Mother's miracle:

One event that you may find interesting – my sister Barbara was married at St. John’s in April 1977.  On that very day my mother suffered a stroke during the marriage ceremony.  She was hospitalised and slipped into a coma.  After a few days my Dad got a call from the hospital to say that the family should all come to the hospital as my mother’s organs had started shutting down and it was a matter of time. I immediately called my cell group and asked them to go to the hospital to pray with her. While they were praying with my Mom her urine started flowing again and she turned the corner.  About 21 years later, at Mom’s funeral, I heard from Martin Coomer (who had been one of the cell group at that time) that they had never had a request like that before and were very nervous about going to pray for Mom but were so encouraged afterwards!!  Martin was later also ordained and ‘sent’ from St John’s.

Continuing influence of St John's:

St John’s was very proactive in the community since those days, helping others.  It used to happen regularly that during winter, shacks in Crossroads were demolished and people were left homeless.  St. John’s always provided shelter for the folk. We had many people who prayed for us and with us – Betty Dargin, Maureen Kearney, Laetitia Stevens, Corrie Fortuin,  Alan & Marian Stranex, Ian Watson, Gwen Mulligan and so many others.

Mary Jean Thomas-Johnson’s story of the Beach Protests:

“In August ‘89 we had campaign protesting against the segregations of beaches. We first met to pray in the church parking lot (it was all muddy -it had not been paved yet). We put on T-shirts printed with “All God’s beaches for all God’s people”- I still have one (pictured below) . We then went through to Melkbos and another group went to Strand. Frank Manley, Archbishop Tutu and others joined at Strand. They had said they were having a beach picnic, about 300 people. Police then cordoned off the beach, announced that they had police dog training and were not allowed. Frank was badly bitten by a dog. John Freeth, our rector at the time, was part of our group at Melkbos and was beaten 29 times. I was among those that ran away when police came with their batons.” 

The New York Times reported on the event: After the police dispersed them, some in the group went to a neighboring town, Gordon's Bay, where Archbishop Tutu held a news conference. ''It is incredible that the Government is prepared to use arms on people who wish to have a picnic,'' he said. ''Instead of getting rid of beach apartheid, they protect it with policemen, dogs and guns.''


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