Titus on Mission continues to bring up-to-date news from Zimbabwe. Over the last month he has recorded:
December 5 - Harare Diocese conflict intensifies, Bp. Gandiya “very concerned”
December 9 - Police bar Harare Anglican churches on Advent 2, yet bishop sees “revival”
December 14 - Church disruptions continue in Harare Diocese in Advent 3
December 14 - New Manicaland bishop wrestles with conflict, threats and depleted finances
December 15 - Harare police disruptions “painful, cruel and pathetic,” but court rules in CPCA diocese’s favor
December 25 - “Alarming disturbances and developments” besiege Harare Anglicans at Christmas
You might see a pattern. In the latest of these posts Bishop Gandiya writes;
It looks like our people are not going to be able to worship in their churches on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day this year. It brings home the situation that prevailed at the time of Lord’s birth. No room at the Inn!Further messages from Bishop Gandiya are reported verbatim in SW Radio Africa here. On 23 December the Bishop had gone to St Clare's Mission only to find the Church occupied. Therefore the Bishop decided to hold an open air service although, at the last minute (and having informed the police of their plans) they were able to move into the Church. However,
As I was doing the thanksgiving prayer the dean noticed the police walking outside and he went out to see them and was not allowed back in the church. He and the churchwarden who had accompanied us to the police were detained in one of the police vehicles. There were about 10 policemen and 6 of Kunonga’s priests.
Just before we distributed the communion elements the police walked in and started driving people out of the building. They also asked us to vacate the building and so we quickly and unceremoniously cleared the altar and went outside. I tried to ask why they were driving the people out of the church but they just kept doing it.
The Zimbabwe Mail has a Christmas Eve report on the situation
In Mbare, Kuwadzana, Tafara, Warren Park, Budiriro, Glen View, Belvedere, Hatfield and Marlborough, riot police locked the doors of churches to keep worshippers out.A report (December 23rd) of a Christmas truce seems over-optimistic.
The disruptions, engineered by ousted Zanu-PF-affiliated Anglican bishop Nolbert Kunonga, is in contemptuous breach of a High Court judgement by Justice Rita Makarau, who ruled that the churches were to be shared between the Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) and the breakaway Anglican province set up by Kunonga, the former Bishop of Harare.
I wish everyone a happy and peaceful Christmas - so long as you understand this is intended to fly in the face of actual experience.