By Deacon Stephen Hayes
Eight people were baptised at St Thomas’s Church by Father Pantelejmon (Jovanovic) with the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Seraphim, Archbishop of Johannesburg and Pretoria. They are Margaret Mphela of Klipfontein View, Midrand and her four children, and Nina (Joyce) Aphane and her daughter Sophia (Sophie), and Margaret Mphela’s niece, Mary (Valencia) Semenya of Mamelodi.
When a group of people in Tembisa asked for Orthodox services to be held there in 2005, Margaret Mphela’s niece, Nektaria (Thabitha) Ramohlale of Mamelodi, who was already an Orthodox Christian), was staying with them in nearby Klipfontein View, and attended the services. Soon Margaret and her children were attending as well. Unfortunately most of the people at Tembisa dispersed for various reasons, leaving only Mrs Rosina Thamaga, widow of the late Father Simon Thamaga. With the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Seraphim, we began holding the services in Margaret Mphela’s house in Klipfontein View, and Margaret’s neighbour Joyce Aphane and her daughter Sophia began attending as well.
The house was small, however, and again with the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Seraphim and Father Pantelejmon, we began to take the people from Klipfontein View and Tembisa to the Divine Liturgy St Thomas’s Church, which was the closest Orthodox Church.
Father Spyridon of St Thomas’s attended several of the services at Tembisa, and Father Pantelejmon and Father Seraphim also attended the services in Margaret Mphela’s house at Klipfontein View. Margaret’s neighbour Joyce Aphane and her daughter Sophie also attended the services, and came to St Thomas’s for important occasions, such as Christmas, St Sava’s day, and the Vidovdan commemoration, and when Fr Pantelejmon and Father Spyridon returned to Serbia in July 2006, they came to the Hours and Readers Service at St Thomas’s and helped to lead the singing.
Now they have been baptised, and are fully Orthodox. As Margaret Mphela remarked on the way home from the baptism service,
“Now we are free”,
for, as we sang during the service,
“As many as have been baptised into Christ have put on Christ.” (Galatians 3:27)
And it was good that during the baptism service we had three young people who had come from the USA to help to share the Orthodox Christian Faith in South Africa. They were Seraphima Carl, John Diamantis and Alex Goodwin. They, like many other visitors, and the baptism candidates themselves, found the baptism service most impressive, and a sign that the Orthodox Church in South Africa is growing.