‘A voice for the voiceless in the
Church of the Province of Central Africa’
How are we going to get that balloon down? The Rev'd Dr. Nicholas Henderson (right) and the Venerable Francis Kaulanda in Dr Henderson's church of St Martin, West Acton, London
ANGLICAN-INFORMATION reports that The Rev’d Dr. Nicholas Henderson of London, England, bishop-elect of the Diocese of Lake Malawi for the past four years, has written an open letter to the people of the diocese.
ANGLICAN-INFORMATION observes that in the letter Dr. Henderson thanks the people of the Diocese of Lake Malawi for their ‘courageous stand for justice’ referring to the period following the now notorious Court of Confirmation held in November 2005 that declared him to be of ‘unsound faith’. This was based, apparently, on his one-time membership of a theological society with which at least three of the existing bishops have close connections.
Dr. Henderson also writes, noting the recent election of the Archdeacon of Lilongwe, ‘Now, for the good of the Diocese of Lake Malawi and for the sake of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, I believe that it is time to support Francis Kaulanda (the newly elected candidate) and ensure that as far as possible the diocese is well-managed, the people are respected and the Gospel is preached’.
ANGLICAN-INFORMATION says: Dr Henderson’s letter provides a helpful and welcome opportunity for the Diocese of Lake Malawi to move on to the next stage. It is hoped that this will be possible after the many difficulties of the past few years.
However, we must also sadly note from our contacts that there is the potential for a permanent difficulty for the new bishop. In the absence of a resolution of the Court of Confirmation of 2005, Kaulanda’s electoral mandate is seen as being inadequate and almost entirely dependent on the arbitrary patronage of the provincial bishops. Despite frequent calls from the laity the bishops have been unwilling to subject the original Court of Confirmation to an independent Provincial Court for examination and resolution.
Consequently, there is danger that this will manifest itself in any future times of difficulty in the diocese. It could seriously weaken Kaulanda’s episcopate by offering an opportunity for people to challenge his authenticity as bishop. In recent history the salutary example of the dubious election of Nolbert Kunonga in Zimbabwe led inexorably in the same way to a time of great unrest and difficulty.
In this respect a failure on the part of provincial bishops to follow canonical proceedings has once again guaranteed uncertainty in a diocese that deserves better and handicaps an otherwise good candidate in the person of the Archdeacon of Lilongwe.
We applaud therefore Dr. Henderson’s timely and generous letter and encourage him in his efforts to support the Archdeacon of Lilongwe for the good of the people of Lake Malawi.