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Published: 18 April 2020

By Andy Ross

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Cyrene and Serima Missions

Just outside the city of Bulawayo in Zimbabwe is Cyrene Mission which features a beautifully decorated chapel.

Cyrene Mission was started in 1936 by the Anglican Church and in 1940 the boy's school was begun. The whole ethos of the school was a focus on developing skills for primary boys but, as there was apparently no age restriction for primary school attendees for the rural black population in what was then Rhodesia, many of the scholars were in their teens and twenties. 

Gradually over the next twenty years the school gained a reputation for arts and crafts, led by Canon Edward Paterson. Canon Paterson was determined to create an art that was uniquely "African", and, along with Serima Mission's Father John Groeber who was working along similar lines, succeeded. Both churches have been lauded for their style and vision. 

I have not been to Serima Mission yet, but have been lucky enough to visit Cyrene Mission, celebrating a beautiful family wedding there a few years back. In fact, I started an embroidery based on the painting of the Virgin and Christ seen on this page (courtesy of zimfieldguide.com). Take a virtual trip out to see these buildings yourself by searching Google Images for either, and one day, when all of this is over and travel restrictions end, plan a visit in person. What inspiration for these troubled times!