News updates: Harare, Lake Malawi, Northern Malawi and fears for the next Archbishop of the Province

The Church of the Province of Central Africa consists of four countries:
Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Botswana

ANGLICAN-INFORMATION reports: We’ve been off line for a while as there has been little news except of course the continuing violence in the Diocese of Harare perpetrated by ‘Archbishop’ Nolbert Kunonga who seems to have the regular backing of the police despite court rulings. Leaked documents reported on the Internet confirm this.

Most recently the church of St Luke in Rhodesville has been targeted. Two interesting comments: a police spokesman said to ‘The Zimdiaspora “We have discovered that as the police are being used to fight Kunonga’s personal battles, we have closed the church (St Luke’s) and no one is allowed to enter every Sunday until sanity prevails.” That’s quite a positive admission considering the circumstances – perhaps he’s an Anglican.

But here’s a more depressing report form the same source: ‘A member of St Luke’s church said many Anglican parishioners were now attending Sunday service at the nearby Roman Catholic church as they were tired of the in fighting within the church.’ He goes on, “This is no longer religion. The Anglican Church is now a laughing stock of the country because of these unending fights. Kunonga and his politics must just go and leave us in peace.”

ANGLICAN-INFORMATION comments that unfortunately there is no sign of Kunonga going away as long as the Mugabe regime is still effectively in power. Former Bishop Sebastian Bakare and Bishop Chad Gandiya are left defending a very difficult situation – without, it seems these days, very much obvious support from acting Dean of the Province, Bishop Albert Chama or the other bishops.

Diocese of Lake Malawi: Albert Chama has decided to press ahead with the consecration of the Venerable Francis Kaulanda as the new Bishop of Lake Malawi on Sunday 2nd May at All Saints’ Cathedral, Nkhota-kota. Kaulanda had been opposed by an unprecedented large number of objectors but their court injunction against him has now been lifted.

People from the Diocese of Lake Malawi have communicated various sentiments to us about the bishop-elect. In Nkhota-kota both the Mothers’ Union and Fathers’ Union have staged traditional singing and dancing up to the Cathedral in welcome and affirmation. Elsewhere in the diocese the mood is more ambivalent, some welcome the chance of a new start others remain dissatisfied about what has happened since the last election.

Mixed views are hardly surprising but Kaulanda has received the backing of the former Bishop-elect, London based the Rev’d Dr. Nicholas Henderson (as reported by us in August 2009). Dr. Henderson asked the people to support Francis Kaulanda by ending their ‘long and courageous struggle for justice’ against the contrived 2005 Court of Confirmation in order to bring stability and a fresh start to the Diocese.

Fr. Kaulanda has gained a good reputation as the Archdeacon of Lilongwe and many have high hopes for him. Doubts about his legitimacy will remain as his Achilles heel throughout his reign but the ANGLICAN-INFORMATION team wish him well and advise him to remain a ‘Father in God’, resist autocratic tendencies and never to lose touch with the people, which is often the fatal mistake of ‘prince bishops’.

The Diocese of Northern Malawi: Often seen as a forced candidate Fr. Leslie Mtekateka’s Court of Confirmation (which had been held in a clandestine fashion) has been nullified because of serious challenges and objections regarding his behaviour and personal conduct. Almost certainly there will now be fresh elections for the post.

Plus ça change (plus c’est las même chose) – ‘the more things change, the more they stay the same’. We hope that our African and international readers will forgive us for lapsing into French but it is the consensus opinion of the ANGLICAN-INFORMATION team that throughout our long period of reportage regarding the Central African Province the problem has always been the same. That of autocratic episcopal oversight and, with some noble exceptions, the bishops seeing themselves as a caste apart, willing to manipulate elections, imposing their own candidates and ignoring the wishes of the people. The Central African Province has some fine priests and an increasingly powerful laity but as yet this has not produced the changes that are required to face the new century and to convince the rest of the Anglican world. Unfortunately, over the past few years, matters have got rather worse with donor apprehension, the madness of Zimbabwe and contrived episcopal elections in Malawi. The Province deserves better…

Nevertheless, despite rather than because of their episcopal overlords, faithful Christians are attending services in their thousands - over 600 Easter day communicants in one parish in Nkhota-kota alone this year.

Acting Dean Albert Chama of Northern Zambia: who now styles himself as ‘acting Archbishop’ has had oversight of the deteriorating situation for the past four years. A hasty appointee of the now discredited former Archbishop Bernard Malango, who had sacked the then Dean Bishop Trevor Mwamba for following correct procedures, he has yet fully to gain the confidence of the Province. When the time comes (when all diocesan sees are finally filled) to elect a new Archbishop very careful thought and prayer should be given as to the best candidate – for sake of Christ’s Church and people in Central Africa.

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1 comment:

  1. The Central African Province is probably the most troubled in the Anglican Communion. It's miracle that it's stayed out of the hands of the North American conservatives. Even they won't touch Nolbert Kunonga who actually says all the things they believe in.

    As for Bishop Albert Chama, four years into the job and not much to show for it. Give it back to someone else is what I say.