Photo Credit: Anglican Church of Southern Africa
Bishop Dale Bowers, the new Bishop of St Helena, has become the first to be consecrated on the remote island in the South Atlantic. The island has played an important part in the history of Anglicanism in the area now covered by the Anglican Church of Southern Africa. It is the first part of the province to experience Anglican ministry; and is home to the oldest surviving Anglican church in the Southern Hemisphere. But its remoteness meant that a visit to the island required a weeks-long sea voyage – until an airport on the island opened in 2016.
The first Anglican chaplain to St Helena, a British Overseas Territory, was appointed in 1671. St James’ Church in island’s main settlement, Jamestown, is the oldest surviving Anglican church in the Southern Hemisphere. The Diocese, which includes a parish on Ascension Island, is the fourth oldest in the province of Southern Africa, after Cape Town, Grahamstown and Natal. It celebrated its 150th anniversary in June 2009.
The island is one of the remotest islands in the world, located more than 1,200 miles (2,000 kilometres) from the nearest landmass. It was the place of exile and death of Napoleon Bonaparte. The last visit by a metropolitan archbishop was more than 30 years ago and, Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba said, “has received less attention from the province than other dioceses.”
St Paul’s Cathedral in St Helena was packed with more than 300 people for the consecration of Bishop Dale Bowers, which was broadcast live on the island’s radio station, Saint FM.
Photo: Anglican Church of Southern Africa
In November, Archbishop Thabo, the Primate of Southern Africa, took advantage of the new airport to fly to St Helena with the Bishop of Matlosane, Stephen Diseko, Dean of the province; the Bishop of Pretoria, Allan Kannemeyer; and the Archbishop’s Chaplain, Mcebisi Pinyana; for the consecration of Dale Bowers.
The service, at St Paul’s Cathedral in St Helena, was broadcast live on Saint FM, the island’s radio station. An ecumenical lunch to welcome the delegation and honour the new bishop was hosted by the local Catholic Church. Bishop Dale is only the second of 16 bishops from the Diocese to be born in the island.
Writing in the monthly newsletter of the Diocese of Cape Town, Archbishop Thabo said: “Please pray for [Bishop Dale], for his, wife, Penny, his family and for the people and clergy of the diocese”.