Further troubles in Avondale Parish
From Anglican Information and Avondale Parish, combined.
Another disturbing report is carried below from Avondale Parish where Bishop Sebastian Bakare is bravely trying to oversee his diocese in the face of violence from dissident ‘Archbishop’ Nolbert Kunonga. Nolbert Kungona is a protégé of former Archbishop Bernard Malango who remains silent about the growing level of atrocities committed by his friend.
In the tangled web that is the Central African Anglican Province the bishops are also largely silent but they are gathering today in Lusaka, Zambia for their last meeting of the year. Here they are safely away from Zimbabwe and (from their point of view) the ever-troublesome Malawi.
High on their agenda is the intention to force acting Provincial Dean Albert Chama’s favoured candidate Alinafe Kalemba upon Bernard Malango’s former diocese of Upper Shire in Malawi. Readers will recall that this candidate was decisively rejected by diocesan representatives on 16th February earlier this year. Priests and people continue to assert that they will not accept any imposed bishop.
Instead of addressing the real issues of Zimbabwe and speaking out publicly against the state-sponsored violence and now alarming development of cholera*, sadly the bishops continue to indulge in their own internal political purposes and remain at odds with the people and priests they are supposed to serve. Funding agencies have largely stopped supporting diocesan initiatives in Zimbabwe and Malawi due to a growing lack of trust of episcopal oversight and management.
*Cholera has now appeared in Malawi carried by fleeing refugees from Zimbabwe.
From Avondale Parish, Harare, Zimbabwe:
Update on the events that have occurred at St Mary Magdalene, Avondale Parish, Harare this week.
On Monday 8th December Kunonga requested the use of the parish ostensibly for a Retreat for approximately 45 of his clergy prior to an ordination in the Cathedral on Sunday 14th December. They occupied the Hall, Youth Room and prevented our staff from using the kitchen to prepare their lunch. They also barred people from using the car park when they came to the office and the use of the chapel and church. On Wednesday they demanded to use the Reception Area of the office. Then on Thursday when the diocesan effects were being moved out they grabbed the master key from the Verger and have been using the offices to sleep in. The equipment from the reception was locked in the Administrator's office and lock blocks inserted.
On Saturday 13 December at about 9:45pm about eight men hired apparently by Kunonga demanded the bunch of keys from the staff. They beat up all the staff on the property but did not manage to get the keys. In a rare bit of good news, one of the thugs was apprehended by the police and is in custody and they have since arrested two more.
A meeting was held with Munyanyi one of Kunonga's bishops and representatives from the Church Council and parishioners this evening (14th December) at the Avondale Police Station.
They are adamant that they will remain on the church property and claim this is political and they really are wanting Bishop Bakare. They demanded the three to be released but the police have remained firm and they will be taken to court on Monday 15th December 2009 on a charge of assault.
Bishop Bakare moved from the office at Avondale on Monday 8th December and is now occupying offices at in Milton Park. As this is not church property we trust that Kunonga will not attempt to interfere with his activities.
This may only be the beginning of another round of attempts by Kunonga to gain hold of the diocesan property especially as he has ordained more priests. In September he occupied the Curate's House at Avondale when it was temporarily vacant.
Please pray for the eviction of the occupants at Avondale Church and the safety of the staff. The work by the parish staff has been halted as a result of the illegal occupation of the property at a time when we are preparing for our Carol Service on Sunday 21st December 2008 and Christmas Day services.
Despite everything the light of Christ cannot be extinguished and the Carol Service will now be held at Arundel School Chapel at 6.30pm.