Botswana: diocesan respose to critics

Building a church in Botswana

The Anglican Diocese Of Botswana Sets The Record Straight

From Mmegi (Gabarone)

As members of the Diocesan Standing Committee, which is the legally constituted Governing body of the Anglican Diocese of Botswana, we wish to set the record straight with regards to the recent stories which appeared in the papers regarding the Judgement from the High Court and the rumours flowing from that decision.

The Standing Committee of the Diocese of Botswana is grieved by the publication of such reports purporting to be talking about the actions of the bishop.
The bishop at no time did he 'decide' to appeal the judgment, other than to say he had received it and was taking advice in respect thereof.
It's unfortunate that Mmegi writer (Mmegi 28 October, 2008), on a basis of a letter written by people, casts aspersions on the character of the Bishop of the Diocese of Botswana, the Rt. Rev. Musonda Trevor Selwyn Mwamba, by publishing unsubstantiated assertions: that he runs the Diocese without consultation and decides on issues unilaterally. To regurgitate such assertions is mischievous and only intended to tarnish the image of the Diocese. The least he could have done was to establish the accuracy of the assertions.
In addition, after this judgment, it was only proper for the applicants to return to the Bishop [who is their Chief Shepherd] and ask for his placement in accordance with the Canons and Constitutions of the Province of Central Africa, which clearly state that it is only the Diocesan Bishop who places clergy in parishes.
The Anglican Church is Episcopally led and Synodically governed. This means the Bishop is the head with particular responsibilities, which include training, ordination, appointment and discipline of clergy and laity; and the Synod is the legislative Body whose responsibility is to pass Diocesan Acts, and from time to time amend existing ones to be in line with Constitutions and Canons of the Church of the Province of which Central Africa, of Botswana is part.
The Synod, consists of the Diocesan Bishop, and his Assistant Bishop, The House of Clergy consisting of any priests and deacons holding the Bishop's licence and the House of Laity, being representatives chosen from each and every parish in the Diocese.
In between Synods the Diocesan Standing Committee comprising elected members of Synod is mandated with the power to act on behalf of Synod.
Each Diocese has a Registrar and a Chancellor both of whom must be learned in law, in order to help the Bishop and Synod and related structures not to act ultra vires. As can be seen above, Structure defines us and both the laity and the clergy are represented in the Diocesan Standing Committee.
This is the committee that the Bishop works with hand in hand, before he takes any so called "drastic" decision.
The suggestion that the Bishop has taken unilateral decisions and continues to do so is baseless and incorrect. There has never been a time that the Bishop has taken "drastic actions without consulting the membership of the Anglican family".

It is a lie that the Bishop does not want reconciliation. It should be put on record that Bishop Mwamba has always been in a reconciliatory frame of mind, hence his approach in handling the issue of the 'concerned clergy'.
He deliberately avoided taking these clergy to a Diocesan Court, and tried other avenues, such as using the Clergy school forum, inviting the concerned clergy individually to his office, sending mediators, as well as inviting the whole group and sitting down with an independent listener.
All these efforts were spurned. In the letters of revocation of the licences of these 'concerned clergy', Bishop Mwamba left the door open for them to reconsider their position and come back to discuss whatever issues they had with him as their Chief Shepherd. Instead of taking these reconciliatory opportunities, these clergy decided to take the Bishop and the Diocese to a Civil Court.
The Diocesan Standing Committee is therefore very concerned that the Church Wardens of St Peter's write in such a manner which suggests that the Bishop is not reconciliatory. We believe in reconciliation as given in Matthew 18: 15-20.
The Judgement did not deal with the issues that led to the revocation of the licences. Those still stand before us to deal with. The Anglican Church is about order and discipline which will not be compromised whilst upholding mercy and love.
As the leadership of the Diocese of Botswana, we wish to inform the whole Diocese that we are all concerned with what we are going through as a Diocese, and that every effort will be made to bring about healing and reconciliation.
We commend all God's people to the care and help of Almighty God through whom all these challenges will be turned into stepping stones to a peaceful, stronger and happy future.
By Order of Diocesan Standing Committee,
The Reverend Father Benjamin Moleko
Diocesan Secretary

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