POPE TO VISIT SOSHANGUVE
His Beatitude Petros VII, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and
all Africa, will visit Soshanguve on Monday 4 November to baptise
up to 50 new members of the Orthodox Church.
The candidates for baptism will be presented to the Patriarch by
Fr Athanasios Akunda, a young missionary priest of the Orthodox
Church in Kenya, who has been working in South Africa since June
2002. Fr Athanasios, who studied theology in Nairobi and Boston,
USA, was ordained priest by Metropolitan Seraphim, the Orthodox
Archbishop of Johannesburg and Pretoria, last July, and sent to
Soshanguve in response to a request from a group of people there
to be taught the Orthodox Christian faith.
The baptism, which is to be held in the Halala Hall in Block H,
Soshanguve, will be the culmination of a historical process that
goes back more than 75 years, when a group of 400 people in
Kimberley, led by Daniel William Alexander, decided to form a
branch of the African Orthodox Church back in 1924.
In 1927 Alexander went to America to be made bishop by George
Alexander McGuire of the African Orthodox Church there. In the
1930s Alexander visited both Uganda and Kenya and planted
branches of the African Orthodox Church in those countries. The
leaders in East Africa, however, discovered that the Orthodox
Church in Africa fell under the Patriarch of Alexandria, in
Egypt, where the Christian faith had been established by St Mark
in the first century.
In 1946 the East African branches of the African Orthodox Church
were united with the Patriarchate of Alexandria. After a period
of hardship when they were suppressed by the British colonial
government, they flourished after Kenya and Uganda became
Mindful that the first news about Orthodoxy had reached Kenya
from South Africa, Fr Athanasios responded willingly to the call
from Archbishop Seraphim to help to repay that debt by teaching
people in South Africa about the Orthodox faith.
In South Africa most Orthodox Christians are of Greek, Russian or
Serbian descent, and most of the parishes are composed of
immigrants from those countries and their descendants. The new
parish of St Seraphim in Soshanguve will be the first one in
which the majority of members are South Africans.
Please pray for those who are to be baptised on Monday, for those who will be
baptised later, and for those who are teaching them, and for the priests and
peiople of the Archdiocese of Johannesburg and Pretoria.