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FW: African Independent Church leaders received

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  • Fr. John Whiteford
    From: Steve Hayes (hayesstw@yahoo.com) Subject: African Independent Church leaders received into Orthodox Church Date: 2001-07-30 23:10:51 PST Another step on
    Message 1 of 2 , Aug 1, 2001
      From: Steve Hayes (hayesstw@...)
      Subject: African Independent Church leaders received
      into Orthodox Church
      Date: 2001-07-30 23:10:51 PST



      Another step on the road to Orthodoxy

      Leaders of the African Orthodox Episcopal Church are
      baptised

      On Sunday 29 July 2001 three leaders of the African
      Orthodox
      Episcopal Church were baptised by His Eminence
      Metropolitan
      Seraphim, Archbishop of Johannesburg and Pretoria.

      They were August Thamaga (who took the baptismal name
      Simon),
      Collin Rakumako (Ioannis), and Franz Manyiki (Mark).
      They were
      baptised together with a number of candidates from
      other
      missions in the Archdiocese - Eldorado Park and Hyde
      Park, both
      suburbs of Johannesburg.

      It was in February 1997 that the committee of the
      African
      Orthodox Episcopal Church formally requested the then
      Archbishop, His Eminence Paul, to receive the AOEC
      into the
      Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and All
      Africa. August
      Thamaga, who was then the Archbishop of the AOEC, and
      Ernest
      Shilubane, the secretary of the AOEC committee, handed
      the let-
      ter to Fr Michael Visvinis of Pretoria, to pass on to
      Archbishop
      Paul. Since then the leaders have received instruction
      in the
      Orthodox Christian faith, initially by Dr Stephen
      Hayes, and the
      later stages by Fr Iakovos of the St Nicholas of
      Japan Parish
      in Brixton, Johannesburg.

      But the beginning of this process goes back a long way
      before
      1997, and the baptism of these leaders is the
      culmination of a
      long historical process going back to the 1920s and
      even ear-
      lier. It forms part of the saga of the history of
      Orthodox mis-
      sion in sub-Saharan Africa.

      History

      The African Orthodox Episcopal Church (AOEC) was
      originally part
      of the African Orthodox Church (AOC), which had been
      formed in
      Southern Africa in 1924, and had split into several
      factions in
      the 1960s.

      Daniel William Alexander of Kimberley was one of the
      bishops of
      the African Church, and was unhappy with all the
      leadership
      quarrels in that body. He read about the African
      Orthodox Church
      in an American publication called Negro World, and he
      and about
      400 others decided to leave the African Church and
      form a South
      African branch of the African Orthodox Church. In 1927
      Alexander
      travelled to America, where he was ordained as a
      bishop of the
      AOC, and came back to South Africa to organise it.

      Alexander really believed that he had joined the
      Orthodox
      Church, but the "Patriarch" of the African Orthodox
      Church in
      America had actually been ordained by an episcopus
      vagans
      (wandering bishop), Rene Joseph Vilatte. Vilatte had
      himself
      been ordained in dubious circumstances in India by a
      former
      Roman Catholic Monsignor who had just joined the
      Syrian Jacobite
      Patriarchate of Antioch. All these ordinations were
      irregular,
      which meant that Alexander was not a real Orthodox
      bishop, and
      not in the apostolic succession.

      A man in Uganda, Reuben Spartas, had also read about
      the African
      Orthodox Church in Negro World, and had written to the
      group in
      America. After the ordination of Daniel William
      Alexander,
      Spartas wrote to Alexander, and Alexander visited
      Uganda in
      1932. He ordained Reuben Spartas and a friend, but
      doubts were
      raised about Alexander's Orthodoxy by a Greek living
      in Kampala,
      and he put Spartas in touch with Fr Nikodemos Sarikas,
      who lived
      in Tanganyika (and was, incidentally, the first
      Orthodox priest
      in Johannesburg). Fr Nikodemos pointed out that the
      leader of
      the Orthodox Church in Africa was the Patriarch of
      Alexandria
      and All Africa, and as a result of this, Spartas and
      his
      followers joined the Orthodox Church, along with other
      groups
      started by Alexander in Kenya. Most of the Orthodox
      Christians
      in Africa now live in Kenya and Uganda, and spring
      from these
      early beginnings. Reuben Spartas himself eventually
      became a
      real Orthodox bishop, and was known as Bishop
      Christophoros.

      Daniel William Alexander himself returned to South
      Africa after
      his extended visits to Uganda and Kenya in the 1930s,
      but though
      he corresponded with (and may have met) Archbishop
      Isidoros of
      Johannesburg, he never himself joined the Orthodox
      Church.

      Alexander's African Orthodox Church grew and
      flourished in South
      Africa, however, and absorbed several other African
      Independent
      Churches (AICs) which united with it, including, in
      1960, a
      group from the Ethiopian Catholic Church in Zion
      (ECCZ). The AOC
      had parishes in every province of South Africa, and in
      all the
      large cities and many of the smaller towns. There were
      branches
      in Zimbabwe, and possibly Ghana and other countries as
      well.

      In 1960 Alexander was getting old, and wanted some
      other bishops
      to assist him, and to take over when he retired. Two
      bishops
      from the AOC in America came to South Africa and
      consecrated
      Surgeon Lennon Motsepe (Surgeon was his name, not his
      profession) and Ice Walter Mbina as bishops. Motsepe
      had been
      the leader of the group from the Ethiopian Catholic
      Church in
      Zion that joined the AOC.

      Within a few months, however, the Americans, perhaps
      jealous of
      what Alexander had achieved, deposed Alexander as
      bishop, and
      tried to take over the running of the South African
      branch of
      the AOC themselves, controlling it directly from
      America. They
      appointed Motsepe as "Administrator Pro-Tem", who had
      to report
      directly to them. Motsepe died soon afterwards, and a
      series of
      administrators was appointed to follow him, with a new
      split
      every time one of them became fed up with the American
      interference.

      The original AOC thus split into several factions, one
      of which
      came to be led by August Thamaga as its Archbishop,
      and changed
      its name by adding the word "episcopal" to distinguish
      it from
      the other groups. August Thamaga himself had grown up
      as a mem-
      ber of the Ethiopian Catholic Church in Zion, and had
      joined the
      AOC along with Surgeon Motsepe and his group.

      Note: If you would like to read some of the history in
      more
      detail, you can find an article on "Orthodox mission
      in tropical
      Africa" on the Web at:
      http://www.geocities.com/Athens/7734/orthmiss.htm

      The road to Orthodoxy

      Daniel William Alexander had himself undertaken the
      theological
      training of the clergy of the AOC. He ran seminaries
      while he
      was in Uganda and Kenya, and ran a seminary at his
      base in
      Kimberley. After the splits, however, even this
      rudimentary
      training was ended, and as time passed, fewer and
      fewer people
      knew anything about theology, or why they were called
      "Orthodox".

      Thus it was that some of the leaders of the various
      branches of
      the AOC, at different times and in different ways,
      began to
      approach people in the Orthodox Church, to try to find
      out more
      about Orthodoxy. In 1993 Fr Chrysostom Frank and
      Stephen Hayes
      started the St Moses of Ethiopia theological course in
      an
      attempt to meet these needs, when one of the groups
      appeared to
      be serious about wanting to become Orthodox. The
      course, which
      functioned as a kind of catechetical school, proved
      too
      ambitious and did not continue for long. While it
      lasted, how-
      ever, it attracted more people who were interested in
      learning
      about Orthodox, including August Thamaga of the AOEC.

      Some of them joined the Society of St Nicholas of
      Japan, which
      had the aim of encouraging Orthodox mission and making
      Orthodoxy
      better known among non-Orthodox, and so they continued
      to learn
      more about Orthodoxy through the society's newsletter
      Evangelion
      and books and pamphlets that were given to them.

      As a result of this August Thamaga approached Stephen
      Hayes in
      1995, and after more discussions, and visits to the
      con-
      gregations of the AOEC in Soshanguve and other places,
      the AOEC
      decided to ask to be united with the Patriarchate of
      Alexandria.

      The road ahead

      The baptism of the three leaders of the AOEC therefore
      marks a
      new stage in the progress of the AOEC towards
      Orthodoxy. Two of
      them, Ioannis Rakumako and Mark Manyiki, will be
      attending the
      theological seminary in Nairobi later in the 2001.

      More members of one of the congregations of the AOEC,
      at
      Soshanguve, are to be baptised in November 2001.

      There are several other congregations of the AOEC, at
      Klipgat,
      Mamelodi, Dennilton and elsewhere, whose leaders and
      members
      also need to be taught about the Orthodox faith, and
      baptised in
      their turn. Eventually temples will need to be built
      in all
      these places.



      The unworthy servant of God,
      Stephen Methodius Hayes
      Web: http://www.suite101.com/myhome.cfm/methodius
      Orthodox mission pages:
      http://www.fortunecity.com/victorian/stanmer/182/

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      * Fr. John Whiteford IC -|- XC *
      * ----|---- *
      * St. Jonah Orthodox Mission | *
      * Spring, Texas \| *
      * http://www.saintjonah.org/ |\ *
      * http://groups.yahoo.com/group/orthodox-rocor/ NI | KA *

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    • ndvander@yahoo.com
      ... This doesn t relate to anything, but Fr. Chrysostom Frank has now become a Uniate (Byzantine Catholic) and teaches at the Roman Catholic seminary in Denver
      Message 2 of 2 , Aug 1, 2001
        > In 1993 Fr Chrysostom Frank and Stephen Hayes
        > started the St Moses of Ethiopia theological course in
        > an attempt to meet these needs, when one of the groups
        > appeared to be serious about wanting to become Orthodox.

        This doesn't relate to anything, but Fr. Chrysostom Frank has now
        become a Uniate (Byzantine Catholic) and teaches at the Roman
        Catholic seminary in Denver (St. John Vianney Theological Seminary)
        which is within 2 miles of All Saints of Russia Orthodox Church.

        In Christ,
        Nathan Vanderhoofven
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