Connecting with Kimberley and Kuruman

The Revd Carol Starkey came to England from South Africa to see the parishes that are linking with our partner Diocese of Kimberley and Kuruman. The Door finds out more.  

by Jo Duckles

THE link between St Mary’s, Hitcham in Buckinghamshire and St Mary Magdalene in Ritchie in K&K, is based on the two communities getting to know each other and developing relationships.

From Left, churchwarden, Jill Atkins, Breyon Knowles, Carol Starkey, the Revd Derreck Lee-Philpot and churchwarden Janet Knowles, showing off a stole made for Moulsford by people from Huhudi.  Photo  Jo Duckles

From Left, churchwarden, Jill Atkins, Breyon Knowles, Carol Starkey, the Revd Derreck Lee-Philpot and churchwarden Janet Knowles, showing off a stole made for Moulsford by people from Huhudi. Photo Jo Duckles

Geoff Day, who took over leadership of the Link Group in Hitcham last year, said the basis of a successful link is getting to know not only the other parish’s geographical, community and social setting, but particularly the members of each other’s congregation.

He added: “A link is not just about visits and the provision of financial support – the foundation of any link is the exchange of prayers, information and consultation.”

“…the foundation of any link is the exchange of prayers, information and consultation.”

Ritchie is a township of some 20,000 people situated 25 miles from Kimberley, in the North Cape Province. The link with Hitcham was created in 1995 following an initiative by the then Vicar, the Revd Tom Hewson.

Geoff said: “Thanks to the hard work of the members of our group steadfastly led initially by the Revd Rosie Hewson and followed by Sandra Boothroyd and Sonia Hart, our link has been successful in surviving the distance between the two parishes and the subsequent difficulties in communication.”

The main focus of the link has been friendship and prayer support, with the Mothers’ Union, Sunday School and Men’s group being continually in their prayers. Projects have included the purchase and renovation of a Rectory in Ritchie, a soup kitchen, an HIV/AIDS Clinic, a school for disabled children and a five-day children’s club with worship, teaching, sport, drama and craft.

The Northern Cape and North-West Province economies are relatively poor and morale can be low as can the number of stipendiary clergy. Ritchie has suffered from lack of clergy over this period but last year Father Verwant was installed as Vicar of St Mary Magdalene.

Last September the Church in Ritchie was vandalized, and everything except furniture was either damaged or stolen including crosses, candle holders, Communion Chalice and paten and clergy vestments. Geoff says: “From our funds we sent a donation to assist them with the replacement of altar and communion furnishings at St Mary Magdalene and our PCC have agreed to send them sets of spare vestments which we have not used for many years.”

St John the Baptist, Moulsford and Huhudi

During her visit Carol visited Moulsford, in Oxfordshire, where she was given a tour of St John the Baptist Church, which has been newly re-ordered, before hearing about the successful link between the two communities and how the congregation are supporting five families in Huhudi in K&K with blankets, food and clothing.

The Revd Andrew Petit, from Moulsford, and the Revd Boikanyo Tong, from Huhudi, have a statement on the Living Faith WorldWide website: “We, the above, rejoicing in our unity as brothers and sisters in the Lord, wish to encourage each other in the work of sharing the good news of Jesus Christ and building the kingdom of God in our communities. We wish to grow together in understanding and love and to learn from each other about our calling, our vision and the challenges that face us. We will seek to achieve this by: regular communication and, where possible, personal visits, the giving and receiving of practical and spiritual support, the assurance of our love and prayers. We will monitor actions taken within this agreement annually and review it every four years.”

Janet and Breyon Knowles first went out to Huhudi in 2007, after Janet retired from her job at Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital. They met the locals who took them to the church and a tour of the community.

Janet said: “We have put aside 10 per cent of all our income for outreach. Five per cent is spent locally and five per cent goes to Huhudi.”

The Newbury Deanery and Batlharos

The Hermitage Team has had links with Batlharos since 2007. Chair of the Link Committee, Wendy Willoughby-Paul, said 16 people went out to tour K&K and were taken with Batlharos. Since then small groups have been out to K&K four times, staying in the village. “It is a very large and spread out area, not like our idea of a village,” says Wendy. “We have stayed with them, gone with the priests visiting the sick

and were there in 2012 for their centenary celebrations.”

In 2011 a group of Batlharos residents were treated to a trip to the Newbury Deanery, which included a visit to London, a trip down a canal and Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford – their favourite place.

The parish to parish link is with St Michael and All Angels in the Northern Cape and the Newbury Deanery. Carol had visited Hermitage on her second day in the UK. “She joined in worship and said a few words which was lovely.”

It is important to note that the link is a two-way project. Wendy explained that while they help people in Batlharos by giving materially, the Batlharos community helps the Newbury Deanery as their way of worshipping rubs off on those who visit.

“It just brings tears to your eyes to see the joy on their faces.”

“We raise money here and have bought them a sewing machine that allows them to make things to sell. They have made bags, quilt covers, pillow cases and little trinket things that help them become self sufficient. We have also given money towards a fence for the church garden and air conditioning for the church, which has made such a difference for them. They have started growing vegetables and without the fence the goats get in and eat the produce.”

Wendy described the joy of giving small presents to the Batlharos children. “We visited one or two schools and gave out balloons. It is wonderful to see how pleased they are when you hand them out. We also take little bouncy balls, which they love. They are things they wouldn’t usually get. It just brings tears to your eyes to see the joy on their faces.”

Carol’s visit to parish links in the Oxford Diocese may have marked her first time in the UK, but its only the latest expression of her commitment to seeing the Church look outwards. She told Maranda St John Nicolle her story. 

Carol Starkey in Mmabtho

Carol Starkey in Mmabatho

Carol was born in Kimberley. Her father worked for the municipality, and her mother cared for Carol and her siblings. In the apartheid-era laws meant that the family had to relocate to the city centre. Carol’s family continued to worship at the cathedral, a place which has been a key part of her faith journey. “I was baptised there, I was confirmed there, and I got married in the cathedral. So when I went back as a priest, I said to Dean Brian, ‘I’m only just coming home. The cathedral church to me is where my foundation was actually laid.”

Two priests had a particular influence: Father Pullen, who prepared her for confirmation and Bishop Crowther, whose outspoken criticism of apartheid led to his deportation. “We went to the airport when Bishop Crowther was deported and the police visibility was so huge there,” says Carol. An administrator by training – she worked for twenty years at a school and then for Farm Africa – she also became a Sunday School teacher, assisted in preparations for confirmation, and helped with baptism. Eventually, she became a lay minister, involved in visiting parishioners.

One woman who was HIV positive, inspired Carol to look in a new direction: “She was really open about speaking about her status … and I just loved working with this type of person, and I thought that this is what I want to do as part of my ministry in the church as well.” St Francis had – and still has – a groundbreaking programme called Hope for the Living, supporting people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS. Carol became involved with the caregivers and the spiritual side of the programme.

When a long-term sense of vocation led, after much prayer and waiting, to ordination, Carol’s gifts of administration and love of outreach found new scope. Starting as an assistant priest in the cathedral, she was given a role helping to engage more with the diocese and the wider world, something which at times could be a challenge. “That’s not just a cathedral issue,” she adds: “in some parishes it’s the same thing, we just look inward and that is a major thing that we need to change. Once we’re outward looking, we will see the needs of not only of our immediate congregation but the community around the church, and we will be able to minister to them, so that they can actually see the loving Lord.”

“We can help each other grow spiritually, I think, by just connecting..”

Carol’s cathedral ministry involved being a school chaplain, a chaplain to Kimberley’s main hospital, which is just down the road from the cathedral precincts, and diocesan coordinator for HIV and AIDS. She saw her work as taking the church to people who weren’t sure that they belonged: “ I think sometimes people think they are so alone in the world, and they need to know that they can come through the door of the church and we are there for them.”

Elected to the Link Committee shortly after ordination and elected as Chair in 2012, Carol sees her link work as another way of helping people widen their horizons and share God’s love : “The basic thing with the Link is actually to learn that we are not just in our own diocese, we’re in a wider Anglican Communion, where we have brothers and sisters all over the world.” It’s vitally important, she feels to learn from different cultures, to share our challenges, to pray and learn from each other. “We can help each other grow spiritually, I think, by just connecting,” she says.

Oxford parishes have given financial help to their links, and Carol expresses her and the congregations’ gratitude for that. “It’s amazing,” she says,” to see the passion people feel about helping their partners.” But at the same time, she’s adamant that the Link isn’t just about money. It’s a partnership, not an aid relationship.

“We want to say, ‘We’ll have a link: will you pray for these challenges that we encounter here on this side.’ And see how it develops, so pray for each other and just know that our brothers and sisters are there; we can talk to them.” She found it helpful to visit the Oxford Diocese to understand the challenges that face us and so that she can pray, and encourage others, to pray for us.

What was it that struck her the most about her visit? “The hospitality of everybody, their passion, and how they feel about their own immediate parishes really touched me. You can feel these are really people of faith, and they are involved with their own community. And it’s so good because that is why they can become involved further away. That’s outward looking. The fellowship all round was great and the love of Christ was felt all round. Thanks too from Bishop Oswald to the Link Committee and all link parishes.”

For more on K&K to Oxford links visit

Maranda St John Nicolle is the Diocesan World Development Advisor.


This is an older post. Please note that the information may not be accurate anymore.