Sunday, August 30, 2009

Klaarstroom’s Anglican’s start Church Restoration

- Jeremy Witts-Hewinson -

Spurred on by an offer of a donation by an anonymous donor, the small congregation of The Good Shepherd Anglican Church in Klaarstroom decided to start with a project paid for from their own funds. The little bell tower that stood half-finished for decades was ideal.

Years ago, a start was made and the bell hung, but funds ran out and it was never completed. At one stage the precariously balanced bell fell whilst in full swing, injuring the verger – the father-in-law of current chapel warden, Rose Booysen.

Booysen Snr has long since passed away and it has been left to his son, Kristo Booysen, a congregant and local builder, to re-build the tower. The project acquired the name “Klein Begin”, being the start of a much bigger venture.

The little ‘mock roof’ was completed by a congregant and hoisted up one afternoon with the help of a couple of passers-by who must have thought, “These Anglicans are crazy!” Now Alfred Wildschut, the current verger, rings the bell with as much faith, but a little more confidence one would imagine, than his predecessors - calling the faithful to the Eucharist every second Sunday of the month.

Plans are now afoot to complete the boundary wall – also an unfinished project – and erect a handsome set of gates that stood, until recently, at the entrance to the Anglican Cathedral in George since the early days of the previous century.
The Good Shepherd is also a significant landmark in the village from an architectural and historical viewpoint. As tiny as it is, it boasts a gallery offering the faithful an almost bird’s-eye view of the priest. Most local historians are aware of the two South African War graves that lie in the churchyard. The church, and what is now the hall across the road, served for generations as the school for the Coloured community until forced from the site by apartheid legislation. Many residents of the village regale stories of their experiences there as pupils.

The Good Shepherd also occupies a special place in cinematographic history when it featured as “Die Raadsaal” in the film edition of Andre’ Brink’s story Kooitjie Emmer – a delightful account of the traumatic transition of the village, Witgatwortlesfontein, to water borne sewerage!

As generous as the offered donation is, the project will need more funds to reach completion.

Any readers interested in making a donation are welcome to contact Fr Peter Minnaar in Oudtshoorn (044 272 7523) or Jeremy Witts-Hewinson in Klaar-stroom (023 5411474) for more details.

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