The bishops of the central African province assembled at Lambeth
After the Lambeth Conference
ANGLICAN INFORMATION observes that the Central African Bishops* did not boycott the Lambeth Conference as they might have being technically part of the Global South alliance that has taken a hard line on the current crises in the Anglican Communion. They chose sensibly to attend Lambeth in a spirit of dialogue and concern for the unity of the Communion and in support of Archbishop Rowan Williams whose heroic efforts to avert schism seem to be paying dividends.
The Bishops from Central Africa did not, of course, include the excommunicated Nolbert Kungonga of Harare, Zimbabwe who is now claiming support from the GAFCON group most of whom stayed away from Lambeth.
Bishop Trevor Mwamaba of Botswana, formerly Dean of the Province, until arbitrarily sacked by former Archbishop Bernard Malango, has had a good Lambeth. He began in the pre–Lambeth week by delivering a keynote lecture to the annual Conference of the Modern Churchpeople’s Union in Hertfordshire, U.K. Chaired by the Archbishop of Wales this annual major academic gathering also featured several other distinguished speakers, including the former Presiding Bishop of the American Episcopal Church.
Mwamba’s lecture entitled ‘A Holy Mess and the Grace of Ambiguity’ is available online on the MCU website at www.modchurchunion.org. In a wide ranging erudite address he covered a sweep of Church history speaking of schisms and difficulties through the ages and tellingly quoting the third century Church Father and African bishop of Carthage, St Cyprian: ‘It but remains that each of us should in regard to this same matter, bring forward his opinion, judging no one, nor depriving anyone of the right of communion if he should think differently’.
Mwamba is an absolutely orthodox bishop but he is unwilling to allow that Anglicans should be divided amongst themselves. Nor is he willing that the current controversies about sexuality should cause Africans to divert their attention from the real issues of the day such as HIV/Aids, poverty, corruption and hunger.
Mwamba is quoted favourably by a number of international news agencies he said of the Lambeth Conference: ‘The Conference has been excellent I would even say it has been divinely inspired. There was a growing sense of oneness, a sense that we all have a lot in common. We have been transformed by the relationships we have formed’. Mwamba a favourite candidate: The press are describing Trevor Mwamba as a favourite for the position of next Archbishop of Central Africa, a position which remains vacant until all the currently empty sees are filled.
ANGLICAN-INFORMATION reports that Bishop Mwamba is highly respected by priests and people in the Province, not least in Malawi. Whilst he was Dean, he was on the point of achieving resolution of the longstanding impasse over the Diocese of Lake Malawi case by instigating an independent Provincial Court to investigate the unfortunate Court of Confirmation that failed to endorse the election of the new bishop, on the grounds of being a former member of the Modern Churchpeople’s Union. The then Archbishop Bernard Malango squashed this initiative – hence the continuing lack of resolution.
Mwamba is a relatively young man and future consideration of an Archbishop of Canterbury chosen from the wider Anglican Communion, as is likely within the next ten years, means that he must also be an emerging long-term candidate for the top position in the Communion. He is a bishop who is able to bridge the gap between the West and Africa and indispensable requirement in today’s Anglican Church.
* There is a photograph of the bishops of the Central African Province on our website taken at the recent Lambeth Conference, with thanks to the Diocese of South Malawi website. [Above]
Meanwhile back in Zimbabwe or more precisely South Africa: The International Herald Tribune reports the unexpected but welcome news that power sharing talks in Johannesburg between Zimbabwe’s rival parties which last week broke down, seem now to have picked up again.
Both sides also seem willing to extend any deadline for agreement. With the summit of the Southern African Development Community due to start in South Africa on 16th August, the Botswana government has said it will not recognize Robert Mugabe as head of state if he attends.
Nolbert Kunonga of Harare: We can only hope and pray that a resolution to Zimbabwe does emerge. It is essential for the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe, not least because as today’s Zimbabwe Daily News reports with a headline “Zanu –PF Bishop Kunonga at it again” the disruption of a funeral at St Mary’s Churchyard, Chitungwiza, 20 kms north east of Harare. Kunonga apparently directed the violent disruption by mobile ‘phone as group of his supporters vowed that the mourners (loyal to Bishop Sebastian Bakare) would never be able to conduct the funeral.
Intriguingly, the article claims that the Kunonga faction are now affiliated to the Anglican Province of Kenya – ANGLICAN-INFORMATION as yet have been unable to gain affirmation of this extraordinary claim.