A brace of bishops in Malawi

Bishop Christopher Boyle, retiring from the Diocese of Northern Malawi

From Anglican Information

Upper Shire Diocese, Malawi:

ANGLICAN-INFORMATION reports that the consecration and enthronement of the Rev’d Brighton Malasa as bishop for the Diocese of Upper Shire, Malawi is to take place quietly on Sunday 7th June at the Cathedral of St Peter & St Paul, Mangochi.

Provincial bishops are wary of any potential objections at the ceremony. In the old colonial days Mangochi used to be called Fort Johnston and a spirit of defensiveness will be the theme of the day.

Brighton Malasa, as former Archbishop Bernard Malango’s one time chaplain and the provincial bishops’ imposed candidate, still attracts criticism in the Diocese of Upper Shire as an unwise choice. Latest reports speak of his unwillingness to conduct prayers.

Malasa has already moved into the Bishop’s residence and has been test-driving in the bishop’s car. On his consecration he will become the world’s youngest bishop with thirty – five years of episcopal oversight ahead of him Upper Shire.

Diocese of Northern Malawi:

Meanwhile, in the recently vacated Diocese of North Malawi clergy have been told by the bishops that they are to nominate one candidate only from amongst their own number for elections for a new bishop. The outgoing bishop Christopher Boyle, is shortly to take up a new position advising on immigration issues in the Diocese of Leicester, U.K.

However, a nomination to succeed him in the person of Fr Scott Wilson of All Saints Episcopal Parish, Weatherford, Texas has been made. Wilson who has led mission teams in South Africa and a Cursillo programme in Malawi was the ‘runner up’ to Bishop Boyle in 2001.

Unfortunately, since then Fr Scott Wilson’s parish, under his oversight, has joined a breakaway movement splitting off from the American Episcopal Church. As part of the former Diocese of Fort Worth his parish is now a member of the Common Cause Partnership – Federation of Anglican Christians in North America (A.C.N.A).

The status of this schismatic grouping is not certain and it is unclear whether it is in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury. Certainly A.C.N.A. bishops were excluded from last year’s Lambeth Conference and the movement continues as a source of disruption within the Anglican Communion.

The Anglican Central African Province has never been associated with the schismatic North Americans despite efforts on the part of former Archbishop Bernard Malango to persuade it to break with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

With allegiance to such a body, should Wilson be elected it would cause some significant tensions between the bishops within an already troubled Province. Bishop James Tengatenga of Southern Malawi has just been elected to a major position in the Anglican Communion as Chair of the Anglican Consultative Council. This is one of the four ‘Instruments of the Anglican Communion’ and is a focus of world Anglicanism.

Nevertheless, such is the ferocity of the current struggles it too has been heavily criticised by the breakaway Americans and Tengatenga accused of being ‘open to manipulation’. Additionally, it is difficult to see Wilson working in the Province with the likes of the Rev’d Dr Chad Gandiya the recently elected Bishop of Harare, Zimbabwe, who has also been criticised by the Common Cause Partnership for his ‘liberalism’. Finally, what kind of relationship Scott Wilson would have with Bishop Trevor Mwamba of Botswana is unknown? Wilson’s new grouping has hysterically criticised Mwamba for being willing to associate with the American Episcopal Church and for suggesting that Africa might have other more pressing problems than those of religious infighting in the United States.

Fr Scott Wilson is reported to be preparing to visit the diocese of Northern Malawi next week. In which case he may need to do some hard explaining to the priests and laity who are largely unaware of his schismatic activities. He may also want to make his peace with his potential future episcopal colleagues who have been so vilified by A.C.N.A. and their supporters.

There is now potential for a divisive and schismatic scenario in Northern Malawi with the danger of an issue-based regime quite unlike the present. How the bishops of Central Africa respond to Wilson’s candidature will have the potential to affirm or destroy the Province’s status as a bona fide member of the Anglican Communion.

All eyes will be on what used to be an almost unknown part of the Communion but which over the past few years has become something of a bellwether if not a ‘basket case’. What the poor carpenter of Nazareth, in whose name this all takes place, would make of it all is anyone’s guess but he was rarely uncritical of those who misused their positions of authority.

Well? Any comment? The fact is that ACNA is not a recognised part of the Anglican Communion. But could collecting African sees be a way of blurring the lines?

If Wilson has left TEC to join ACNA (and I have no idea of these details) can even his nomination be valid? AI doesn't say where the nomination came from.


  1. Good Lord! What a story, it looks like Fr Scott Wilson is some kind of fifth column to be slipped into the Central African Province.

    This is a case of the boot being on the other foot. Up until now it has been conservatives attacking liberals but the conservatives are really schismatic which surely is where the real problem lies?

    I hope this gets wide coverage. Thank you for running it.

  2. I think it is a really worrying turn of events. Do the laity in Northern Malawi have any idea about the direction into which they are being pushed and how will Bishop James Tengatenga react? If I were him I should be looking to declare Fr Scott Wilson as truly being of "unsound faith", unlike others who have been falsely accused of this.

  3. Northern Malawi and Fr Scott Wilson. Sooner or later something like this was bound to happen. Given that there are a claimed 100,000 members of ACNA and they have almost as many bishops there will come a time when some of them, for one reason or another find their way into another Province.

    It's time for some clarity about who's in and who's out. Otherwise this is like the early Methodist schism which took quite a long time to delineate its

    The people of Malawi are the ones who suffer. I imagine that they are not much fussed about ACNA but rather the day to day struggle to live. As usual they are being let down by their bishops.