St Mark's is the 18th Diocese in 140 years of the CPSA (Seek, June 1987, p12)
ONE hundred and forty years is not considered a long period in ecclesiastical history when compared with that of the ancient foundations of Canterbury and York. This year marks the 140th anniversary of the founding of the Church of the Province of South Africa.
It was in 1847 that Dr Robert Gray arrived in Cape Town from England to become the first Bishop of the Province. Robert Gray was the son of a former Bishop of Bristol. Throughout the early years of its history the Church of the Province was served by the very pick of the Anglican clergy.
In 1870 the Church of the Province drew up and adopted its Constitution. The Bishop of Cape Town was then accepted as Metropolitan. The diocese became an Archbishopric in 1897.
At Robert Gray's death in 1872 six dioceses of the Province had been established. Today they number eighteen, including the newly inaugurated diocese of St Mark.
Today, when another milestone in its history has been reached, it is fitting for the CPSA to look briefly at the development of the Church of the Province over the past 140 years.
Out of the vast Diocese of Cape Town there were taken four more Dioceses – Natal in 1853, Grahamstown also in 1853, St Helena in 1859 and then Bloemfontein in 1863, whose first Bishop was Edward Twells.
Bishop Twells, a much travelled man, was responsible for licensing the first clergy in the Transvaal. As a result of this, the Diocese of Pretoria came into being, in 1878, with encouragement from the Bishop of Zululand (Zululand Diocese having been founded in 1870), as he found himself being asked to give some help to people in the Transvaal, although Transvaal was outside the borders of his Diocese.
The Diocese of Pretoria was in fact the 9th Diocese to be founded in the Church of the Province of South Africa. This was in 1878, and its first Bishop was Henry Brougham Bousfield. At its foundation the diocese included Johannesburg. However, in 1922, Johannesburg and Pretoria Dioceses were divided, Johannesburg being the 12th Diocese to be founded in the Church of the Province of South Africa.
Since then, five more Diocese have been founded in what is now officially called the Church of Southern Africa, and the 18th Diocese, in this process of multiplying Dioceses, is the Diocese of St Mark the Evangelist founded in this year of grace 1987 – also, like the Diocese of Johannesburg, having been, up till its foundation, part of the Diocese of Pretoria.