Anglican Diocese of Mthatha

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Diocese of Mthatha
Country South Africa
Ecclesiastical province Southern Africa
Archdeaconries 19
Parishes 96
Rite Anglican
Established 1872
Cathedral St John's Cathedral, Mthatha
Patron saint St John
Current leadership
Bishop Sitembele Mzamane
Metropolitan Archbishop Thabo Makgoba

The Diocese of Mthatha is a diocese of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. Before 2006 it was known as the Diocese of St John's.[1] The diocese currently has 96 parishes, and the current Bishop of Mthatha is Sitembele Tobela Mzamane.


When the Diocese of Grahamstown in the south under Bishop John Armstrong, and Diocese of Natal in the north-east under Bishop John William Colenso were founded, they each included part of an area which in 1872 became the diocese of St John's.[2]

Bishop Henry Callaway was consecrated in Edinburgh in 1873 as the first bishop of the diocese. In Bishop Callaway's new diocese, apart from the mission station he started at Clydesdale, there were five or six other centres of missionary work. The oldest being St Mark's. The first part of Callaway's work was spent trying to find the best way to organise the diocese. The chief problem was to link Clydesdale with the St Mark's group in the south.[3] He first attempted to establish the See at Clydesdale, which was too far north, and then at St Andrew's, not far from Lusikisiki, which turned out to be inaccessible except by sea. He finally settled on a place on the Mthatha River. A town sprang up around the bishop's mission station and Pro-cathedral.[2]

The first Pro-Cathedral of the diocese was built of wood and iron and was also the first church in Mthatha. It could seat a congregation of 250.[4] It was dedicated at the Diocese of St John's second synod on 24 June 1876.[2]

By the turn of the twentieth century a stone-built cathedral had been erected on the top of a hill leading to the administrative and commercial centre of Mthatha.[5] George Fellowes Prynne was the architect and originally designed an impressive looking cathedral. His plan shows a cruciform church, with a nave 147 feet in length, by 36 feet in width, divided into 7 bays. The chancel is 67 feet long by 30 feet wide. The north and south transepts from chapels accommodating 189 and 146 people respectively. East of the chapels are the vestries and organ chamber, the latter being over the clergy vestry, and speaking into the south chapel and chancel.[6] Only the nave was completed, which is the present cathedral of St John the Evangelist.

In 2010 the southern part of the diocese, around Ngcobo and Butterworth, was separated and constituted as the new Diocese of Mbhashe.[7][8]

List of Bishops[edit]

Bishops of St John's
From Until Incumbent Notes
1873 1886 Henry Callaway (1817-1890)
1887 1901 Bransby Lewis Key (1838-1901)
1901 1922 Joseph Watkin Williams (1857-1934)
1923 1943 Edward Harold Etheridge (1900-1972)
1943 1951 Theodore Sumner Gibson (1885-1953)
1951 1956 Henry St John Tomlinson Evans (1905-1956)
1956 1980 James Leo Schuster (1912-2006)
1989 1984 Godfrey William Ernest Candler Ashby (b 1930)
1985 2000 Jacob Zambuhle Bhekuyise Dlamini First African incumbent
2000 2006 Sitembele Tobela Mzamane
Bishops of Mthatha
2006 Sitembele Tobela Mzamane

Coat of arms[edit]

The diocese assumed arms around the time of its inception, and had them granted by the College of Arms in 1954 : Azure, Saint John the Evangelist Argent holding a chalice Or.[9]



External links[edit]