Sunday, June 10, 2007

Cape Town Day 5

Sunday morning Em and I went to the 11AM multilingual worship service at Rosebank Methodist Church (Mom, Dad and Dean Hill would be so proud!). In precise reverse to the Anglican church, here the clergy were both white and the sacristan was white but the congregation was either black or colored! Emily and I stuck out a bit because we were the only white people in the congregation. The 11AM service specifically catered to college students and was filled with young adults from the University of Cape Town. The singing was all in Xhosa, one of the indigenous languages of South Africa, and was projected onto the wall in the front of the sanctuary with English translations underneath. One of the interesting things to note was that all of the songs were clearly very English hymns (including “Abide with Me” which we sing every Wednesday at Evening Prayer at Marsh Chapel) and the hymn tunes were even the same. The thing was, they were sung in Xhosa, the harmonization was clearly African, and there were djembes and a cowbell being played! A very interesting mix of indigenous and colonial, to say the least. The service was mostly led by a black layman although it is really hard to say that he led it. He read the scriptures and announced each part of the service but whenever there was the slightest pause a woman in the congregation or in the choir would pick up with a Xhosa chorus that was not projected on the screen and we would sing that for a few minutes while whatever transition that was happening happened. One interesting part of the service was the induction of the executive committee of the Young Women's Manyano, a sort of cross between a United Methodist Women's group, a United Methodist Youth Fellowship, and a religious order. The pastor explained that there is both a Young Women's Manyano and a Women's Manyano, the former wearing white blouses with red collars and the latter wearing the inverse. They all wore white hats. They make a commitment to a life of prayer, holiness and social engagement, not unlike the Benedictine rule of prayer, study and work. This was the leadership committee of the Young Women's Manyano being inducted. Em commented after the service that she thought that it was strange that some of the women in the Young Women's Manyano appeared older than the one woman present from the Women's Manyano. This is because in Africa, womanhood is often determined by whether or not a woman has borne a child, not by age. After the induction was the scripture readings and the sermon, all accompanied by more Xhosa singing. The service concluded with communion which was taken with little wafers and then the grape juice in little glass cups. The pastor did not have a formal liturgy with words of institution, epiclesis, etc., but instead spontaneously and improvisationally made up the communion liturgy on the spot. It was quite a bit shorter than the formal version printed in the worship books in the pew racks but it had all of the elements of a communion liturgy. Afterwards there was a collection, announcements and a final song. After church we went and had lunch at an internet cafĂ© and then to Emily A's house so that the two Emilys could finish making plans for a nine-day excursion to Durban, Mozambique and Kruger National Park. We left with Emily A to meet a couple more of cousin Em's friends, Ilya and Melanie, at Madame Zingara's where the jazz-electro band Goldfish was playing. Em's Rotarian counselor's son is in the band. The place was packed and the band was amazing. We danced for two hours or more before heading into town to get a late night bite to eat and go home to crash.


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