RESTORING ANGLICAN CATHEDRAL OF THE HOLY CROSS HERITAGE
By Derrick Sinjela
UNITED we stand, divided we fall, as indicated in a parlance of old stressing the importance of unity of purpose is being used as a catchphrase to reiterate The Anglican Cathedral of the Holy Cross, status as a national heritage.
Initial efforts to take good care of the Anglican Cathedral of the Holy Cross are being themed under ‘Restoring a National Heritage’ through a broad-based ecumenical partnership.
It is against this backdrop and facet that local, regional and international partners are being wooed into recommitting their emotional, material and monitory support in an initiative dubbed ‘The Cathedral Corporate Ball.’
Friday, 17th October has been set as the date for the Cathedral Corporate Partnership Ball.
Cathedral Corporate Partnership Ball organising committee chairperson, Shem Simuyemba says as an emphasis to the monumental status of the edifice as a national heritage the event will coincide with the 2008 Independence Anniversary celebrations, which shall fall on October 24th.
Since Zambia attained liberty after years under British control, the Anglican Cathedral of the Holy Cross has unwaveringly continued to host a numbers of state functions, such as national and international prayers, funerals, and wedding ceremonies.
“The Cathedral of the Holy Cross is a national heritage which gives Lusaka, the Capital of Zambia, its city status. And it is important to note that during the post and past independence era, the Cathedral has continued to play a part in Zambia’s national, state, civic and spiritual life,” says Simuyemba.
Historical background of The Cathedral of the Holy Cross
The Cathedral was built on a commitment and partnership involving the Church, the State, the business community and local inhabitants in Zambia and abroad.
Four years before it can clock half a century in existence, the cathedral stands as a symbol of a common vision and common purpose demonstrative of can be achieved through community spirit and civic partnership.
With the foundation stone having been laid in 1957, The Cathedral of the Holy Cross stands out as a magnificent national icon and heritage now in dire need of urgent refurbishment to restore the edifices monumental status.
The initiative is grounded in the evident desire to restore the roof structure, stained glass windows, parts of the foundation and quarters for the Dean and clergy resident on the Cathedral grounds.
In addition, due to growing national, state and civic demands, stakeholders have noticed a need for the construction of a multi-purpose hall meant to accommodate the aforesaid events.
It is important to mention the fact that The Cathedral of the Holy Cross is also the mother parish for the Anglican Church in Zambia and equally supports a number of charities among them, the Chainda Orphanage and Saint Frances Hospital in Katete, Eastern province, arguably the largest mission medical facility in Zambia.
The Cathedral also a Poor Fund, as a response to socio-economic vulnerability and various ministries and charities.
Simuyemba is confident that stakeholders will come forth with support in kind and material owing to the pen door policy espoused by The Cathedral of the Holy Cross, since its inception 46 years back.
Up till now, says Simuyemba the responsibility of maintaining and preserving the edifice has rested on the shoulders of the Cathedral community, despite it embracing national prayers and events.
In line with encouraging stakeholder participation, the forthcoming Corporate Dinner is therefore offers itself as a turning point, intended to rekindle the spirit of the founding fathers of the Cathedral, that of partnership in achieving a common good.
Among those being sought out to offer support to this noble cause of refurbishing The Cathedral of the Holy Cross are the business, diplomatic, international institutions resident in Zambia and abroad, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO’s) and the community at large.
Genesis of The Cathedral
Did you know that Lusaka, the Capital City of Zambia earned its City status in part because of the presence of The Cathedral of the Holy Cross.
The Cathedral plays an important role in hosting a variety of civic, national, state, regional, international and spiritual functions of inter-denominational character.
Since its construction in 1962, The Cathedral of the Holy Cross has hosted a number of religious services, state funerals, including weddings, anniversaries.
In addition, The Cathedral’s imposing structure has enhanced the city status of Lusaka, more so as it is cited on a hill, and thus adding to the latter’s beauty and grandeur.
The history of The Cathedral is truly fascinating since Lusaka took over from Livingstone as need mounted for a church building to play a role in state and civic affairs.
In this regard, the Church of All Saints was dedicated on 5th November 1933 at the present day Zambia Nation al Service (ZNS) headquarters.
However, the particular structure in question now houses a ZNS cafeteria, along Church Road.
In 1935, Lusaka became the capital City of the then Northern Rhodesia, and the Colonial office erected State house for the residence of the Governor and central Government offices.
The Church under the University Missions to Central Africa (UMCA) was part of the State machinery, and it therefore became imperative to have a Central and Bishop’s residence to complete this partnership between the Church and the State.
In 1946, the need for a Cathedral was discussed at a Synod meeting and the decision later communicated to the Church of England.
The driving force behind this vision and eventual realization of the Cathedral was Bishop Francis Oliver Green-Wilkinson, who later became Archbishop of the now Province of Central Africa, encompassing Botswana, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
His father was the Chaplain to the Royal Family at St George Chapel at Windsor and therefore Bishop Green-Wilkinson had a lot of influence beyond the Church of England.
In 1951, Government (British Colonial) donated the magnificent site on a hill on which there was cinema hall and a fuel station for the construction of the Cathedral.
A huge teak cross (currently standing on the South Grounds) was equally donated by a well-wisher and dedicated on 2nd August 1953.
In 1955, a small Working Party comprising African and European delegates from various parishes was constituted and in the same year, the then Archbishop of Canterbury launched the appeal to build the Cathedral by donating 100, 000 pounds.
The following year, in 1956, Mr. Richard E.G. Hope was chosen as the Architect of the Cathe3dral project and later, Her Margesty the Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother laid the foundation stone on 11th July 1957, which coincided with her maiden visit to Lusaka.
On 14th September 1957, which is Holy Cross Day, the Cathedral was christened Cathedral of the Holy Cross, its present day name.
However, after a three year wait, construction began in earnest in 1960 following substantial donations from well-wishers.
The Contractor chosen was Harold Mitchell, a well-known figure in Lusaka at the time given his (Harold’s) participation in civic affairs.
Bishop Oliver-Wilkinson turned the first soil and asked God’s blessing on the noble enterprise, and later as the project grew, people were known to stop and gaze at the sheer enormity of the Cathedral, as it was being constructed by Harold Mitchell.
There was only one concrete mixer and a small hand operated crane for the gigantic task.
It is imperative to note that the pre-stressed concrete frames for the nerve windows were fabricated on the Copperbelt.
There are five forty feet high windows on each side.
Still not quite complete, The Cathedral was opened for public worship for the first time in the presence of a large crowd during the High Mass on the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross on 14th September 1962, Holy Cross Day, with a brass band of the Northern Rhodesia regiment on a bright and sunny but also windy day graced by Bishop Francis Oliver Green-Wilkinson.
The memorable occasion was graced by the Governor of Northern Rhodesia, Sir Evelyn Hone and Lady Hone including the then mayor of Lusaka and Councilors.
The first Dean of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross was Alfred Webster Smith.
Facts about Cathedral of the Holy Cross
Aside from hosting a number of ecumenical activities and prayer sessions, the Anglican Cathedral of the Holy Cross holds a rich heritage in military and religious artifacts which are priceless.
For instance, Regiment colours of the Northern Rhodesia Regiment were moved from the All Saints Church near the Taj Pamodzi and Holiday Inn Hotel to the new Cathedral including plaques for the Royal Navy and Royal Air force.
In 1966, the Dean received from the Officer Commanding of the 2nd Battalion of the Zambia Regiment, colours of the Regiment. It is against this backdrop that currently, the Zambia Army colours are kept at the Cathedral.
Reverend Philemon Mataka was consecrated as the first African Bishop of the Anglican Province of Central Africa in 1970.
Filemon Mataka was an Anglican bishop in Zambiain the second half of the 20th century, he was the first African bishop in the Church of the Province of Central Africa.
Mubula was born in 1909 at Msoro. He was ordained deacon in 1941 and priest in 1943. After service as a priest in the Diocese of Northern Rhodesia he was appointed the Suffragan Bishop of Zambia in 1964 and the Archdeacon of Eastern Zambia in 1966. He was Priest in charge of St Peter, Lusaka from 1966 to 1969. In 1970 he was appointed Bishop of Zambia and in 1971 he was appointed the first Bishop of Lusaka.
The Cathedral was formally consecrated by Archbishop Francis Oliver Green-Wilkinson on 28th April 1970.
Archbishop Francis Oliver Green-Wilkinson’s remains are buried west of the Cathedral Grounds overlooking the High Court and Ministry of Finance.
Its stone reads: “Francis Oliver Green-Wilkinson. Bishop of Northern Rhodesia Zambia 1951-1964. Bishop of Zambia 1964-1970. Archbishop of Central Africa 1962-1970 Whose ashes are buried in the Cathedral Garden Chapel of Saint Francis and who was responsible for the building of the Cathedral which was dedicated by him in honour of the Holy Cross during the eleventh Synod of the Diocese 26th April 1070.
“Bishop Oliver loved and served,” read words by Dr Kenneth Kaunda, First Republican President of Zambia.
The interdenominational Service of Thanks Giving and Dedication on the attainment of Sovereignty and Independence on 24th October 1964 was geld at the Cathedral and has been commemorated since then.
The Anglican Cathedral of the Holy Cross is a Parish Church and an ever increasing congregation throughout Zambia.
The Cathedral continues to play an important role in Zambia’s National, State, Civic and Spiritual affairs thus the need for a cross breed of stakeholders to participate in its restoration process as envisaged by the organising committee of the Cathedral Corporate Ball.
The present day Dean of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross is Canon Charley Thomas, while his predecessor, Right Reverend David Njovu is now Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Lusaka.