St Luke, Nxarhuni

Diocese of Grahamstown

By Bill Gould

One of the four church missions established in the Eastern Cape during the 19th century, St Luke’s came into existence in 1854 as a result of the grant by Chief Mhala of an extensive tract of fertile land on the banks of the Nahoon River as a result of, some say, his enthusiasm for the Anglican missionaries or, as others say, because of his concern that he and his people might be dispossessed of their lands by the colonial governor of the day, Sir George Grey.

St Luke’s Anglican Mission became one of the four established church missions in the eastern cape region which were named after the biblical Gospel writers. It grew from strength to strength with the construction of a solid church building which remains today, and a school which is no longer open and whose fabric has seen better days. The stone rectory next to the church was reportedly burnt down, and has been replaced by a modern house.

In recent years, started by Bishop David Russell in 1998 and continued by Bishops Thabo Makgoba and Ebenezer Ntlali, St Luke’s has developed a comprehensive programme involving agricultural development (180 hectares were donated to 45 beneficiaries in 2008), residential development with a sub-division providing for over 200 houses, and community facilities including a police station, medical clinic, post office, a sports-field and other services. The fruits of this programme are visible for all to see. Some of these continue to face challenges of capacity and commitment within the external structures that must be engaged to drive these projects forward.

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