Zimbabwe: many churches have done nothing

Bishop Levee Kadenge. Photo: ©Peter Kenny / ENI

Zimbabwe bishop says many churches have done nothing for people
Peter Kenny

Zimbabwe Advocacy in Geneva

The leader of Zimbabwe's largest functioning alliance of Christians says the country's main grouping of traditional Protestant churches and the African and global umbrella church organizations with which it is affiliated have been notable for their silence on what is happening in his country.

"The Zimbabwe Council of Churches has done nothing. The churches should have been speaking without fear of favour, just speaking on behalf of suffering masses of Zimbabwe. Their absenteeism is so pronounced," said Methodist Bishop Levee Kadenge, the convenor of the Zimbabwe Christian Alliance.
The bishop, who has been detained without trial five times by security
officials and is scheduled to return home, was asked if he was not afraid to
speak out.

"Yes I fear. God yes, I fear, I am a human being. I'm afraid. That
does not stop me doing what I have to do," Kadenge told ENI. "That is the
difference. If I say I'm not afraid, I'm dead. But I'm convinced there is a
bigger force beyond me that takes care of those things."

Still he said, "Churches at grassroots level are very active and that is why the church
continues to be there. But I don't think that is enough."

All here.


Meanwhile, if you happen to be in Sweden in a couple of weeks time you can attend a seminar on:
the political future of Zimbabwe after the power-sharing deal

co-organised by the Nordic Africa Institute, Living History Forum and the Swedish Institute for International Affairs.

Leading the seminar will be:
Bishop Sebastian Bakare, Anglican bishop of Harare, recipient of the Per Anger Prize 2008
Amanda Hammar, Zimbabwean researcher, Programme Co-ordinator at the Nordic Africa Institute
Anders Möllander, Former Swedish Ambassador to South Africa
Moderator: Jan Joel Andersson, Programme Director at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs

The seminar will be at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs, Drottning Kristinas väg 37, Stockholm. Please contact the Institute in advance to confirm your attendance. E-mail: programverksamhet@ui.se or tel. 08-511 768 14

All here.


Continuing troubles in Botswana

Bishop Mwamba with Solomon Ngubevana, the oldest parishioner in the Diocese (left), November 2007
Botswana: Bitter Recipe Brewing for Bishop Mwamba

from: Mmegi/The Reporter (Gaborone)
28 October 2008
Bame Piet

The sour relationship between the Anglican Diocese of Botswana, Bishop Trevor Mwamba, and some congregations around the country has reached acrimonious dimensions, it has emerged.

After revealing his intention to appeal against the recent High Court judgment in which seven priests successfully challenged their dismissal from the church, some congregations are said to be brewing a plan to oust Mwamba.

It is reliably learnt that some sections of the congregation are
planning demonstrations against the bishop for next week Friday.

The St Peter's Anglican Church in Mogoditshane has written him a
strongly worded letter dated 20 October 2008 in which they dissociate themselves
from the intentions to appeal.

The congregation responded: "That during your visit to the congregation
of St Peter's Parish in Mogoditshane, you said the priests had not taken the
bishop to court but the diocese of Botswana. The congregation therefore
dissociates itself from the bishop's decision to appeal the High Court of
Botswana ruling in favour of the seven Batswana priests," the letter

The congregation also urges the Botswana diocese to dissociate itself
from the bishop's decision to appeal the ruling. "The St Peter's congregation
will cease payment of assessment to the diocesan office with immediate effect,
and urges all Anglican congregations in Botswana to do the same," the letter

The congregation further warned that it will not take part in any
fundraising activity for the diocese including 'Count Your Blessings', Sunday
Collection, upkeep for the incumbent and others, and urged all Anglican
congregations in the country to do the same.

"The St. Peter's congregation will channel all its contributions
towards meeting the legal costs of the seven Batswana priests," says the

The Mogoditshane congregation is concerned that Bishop Mwamba continues
to take drastic actions without consulting the membership of the Anglican
Family, ignoring their advice.

"The St Peter's Mogoditshane congregation stands by its letter in which they advised the bishop to involve the church in decision making, and to adopt reconciliatory engagement when dealing with sensitive issues in the church," the letter proposes.

The Mogoditshane congregation revealed its frustration with the appeal,
saying it would lead to a serious rift in the church. "History will judge us
harshly should we be known not to have taken pre-emptive measures to avoid a
split in the church, by engaging in an unnecessary appeal against a court
judgment," states the letter.

On October 15, the Lobatse High Court ruled in favour of seven priests,
Aubrey Molatlhwe, Botshabelo Beleme, Moreri Leteemane, Mooketsi Mokgatlhe, Paul Beleme, Essau Mosima (deceased) and Patrick Ncaagae after challenging the
Anglican Diocese of Botswana and Bishop Mwamba for revoking their licenses to
practice as priests.

The Bishop accused them of trampling on the church rules
whilst the priests and some congregations said the Bishop was paving way for
expatriate priests. Early this year some angry members of Molepolole
congregation nearly assaulted the priest accusing him of abusing his office and
disrespecting them.

Meanwhile, diocesan secretary, Father Benjamin Moleko denied any knowledge
about any intentions to appeal the court ruling. "All I know is that we are
meeting with the governing body this week to discuss the judgment. We will make
official position thereafter," he said. He would not discuss our any further
details, referring our enquiries to the church lawyers.

Congratulations to Bishop Bakare

Bishop Bakare receiving an earlier Peace and Justice Award, March 2008

Zimbabwean bishop wins Swedish human rights prize

From Business Day (South Africa)

Stockholm - An Anglican bishop from Zimbabwe was today named winner of a Swedish human rights prize for "having given voice to the fight against oppression."

Bishop Sebastian Bakare was also cited for his work to promote "freedom of speech and of opinion in a difficult political situation." He was due to accept
the 2008 Per Anger prize at a ceremony in Stockholm on November 10, said Johan Perwe of the government agency Living History Forum.

Bakare, installed as bishop of Harare earlier this year, was also due to be keynote speaker at a human rights conference in Lulea, northern Sweden.

The agency said Bakare was an "important voice" who has "received threats
as a result of his open and clear criticism of the government, his condemnation
of local police brutality and his defence of human rights" in Zimbabwe.

The prize, worth 150,000 kronor, was created in 2004 in honour of Swedish
diplomat Per Anger and honours "people and organizations that risk their own
safety to defend the rights of the individual against oppression and
inhumanity." Anger was a close associate of Raoul Wallenberg, credited with
saving thousands of Hungarian Jews during World War II.

The Living History Forum has been commissioned with promoting issues
relating to tolerance, democracy and human rights. Last year, Colombian human
rights group, Organizacion Femenina Popular (OFP), received the Per Anger


There is no doubt this prize is well deserved. It will also undoubtedly be used by the regime against him and the faithful Anglicans of Zimbabwe. Nonetheless foreign recognition is an important protector and all that can be done to keep the spotlight on the Mugabe regime is to be welcomed.

Bakare has been a brave man, refusing to be cowed by the authorities in Zimbabwe. Let us pray he will also be victorious.

More machinations in Malawi

Sunset over Lake Malawi

ANGLICAN-INFORMATION reports news of acting Provincial Dean Albert Chama’s visit on 21st October to the vacant Upper Shire diocese in Malawi.

Upper Shire diocese was former Archbishop Bernard Malango’s diocese. Provincial Bishops have been trying to impose their preferred episcopal candidate Alinafe Kalemba who is currently Dean of Leonard Kamunga Theological College, Zomba.

Unfortunately Kalemba is not a popular choice and the priests and people have been in dispute with the Provincial Bishops since abortive elections which culminated in a court injunction taken out against the bishops. For the meeting acting Dean Chama, nervous of the people as he is deeply unpopular, arrived with fellow countryman Bishop William Mchombo of Eastern Zambia.

The subsequent meeting, supposedly for discussions, was held in a building surrounded by armed police commissioned by Chama Zimbabwe style to suppress any trouble!

The three priests, Frs Joel Malanda, Roy Makupe and Ernest Mphaya who had brought the court injunction on behalf of the diocese were forbidden entry. Those who were allowed in were not permitted to ask questions but instead has to listen as Chama announced that at the next Provincial bishops’ meeting to be held (safely away from Malawi) in Zambia on 21st December the bishops would impose a candidate of the bishops’ choice on the diocese of Upper Shire.

A member of the laity who asked why the bishops could not call a synod to allow the people to express their views was firmly put down.

ANGLICAN-INFORMATION comments that: This typical autocratic approach on the part of Chama, bodes ill for the diocese. Disaffection for the bishops is running high in Malawi and the fact that neither of the two remaining Malawian bishops were at the meeting is significant.

Recent annual UMCA (Universities Mission to Central Africa) celebrations of the arrival of Christianity in Central Africa were very badly attended by priests and people from the dioceses of Upper Shire and Lake Malawi – not surprisingly as the two dioceses have been so badly treated. Bishop James Tengatenga of South Malawi is said to have ‘lamented’ this fact as it is a national celebration. He of all people should realise what the problem is and why people weren’t there.

Reported theft – no more no less
Meanwhile as an outward and visible sign of the deterioration in morale and good order there are reports of Archdeacon Thom Mpinga of Mangochi East Archdeaconry ‘selling’ a valuable engineering tooling lathe belonging to the Malindi Church Workshops. This ‘sale’ produced Malawi Kwatcha 196,000 (GB Pounds 880 or US dollars 1400 Euro 1100) a huge amount of money in Malawi.

Mpinga ‘sold’ the lathe to a company in Blantyre, Malawi. Understandably the company will now only return the lathe if the money is returned. Unfortunately the Archdeacon cannot now account for it and has apparently confessed to his Church Council. The original value of the lathe was much higher but its ‘loss’ has damaged production at the Church Workshops and threatened jobs.

The Diocesan Chancellor James Kalaile is aware of the problem but the priest has not been disciplined as it is said ‘pressure’ from above not to ‘rock the boat’ at this time has been applied.

We await clarification of this matter from the bishops and will gladly publish their side of the story – however, we imagine we will have to wait a long time!

Zimbabwe Diocese of Harare:
All of this rather sours the launch of the Nehemiah project by Bishop Sebastian Bakare in the Nelson Mandela Hall in the Zimbabawe Agricultural Society grounds, held Sunday 26th October.

Like the Old Testament prophet Bishop Bakare is seeking to rebuild his diocese ‘brick by brick’. The Cathedral is still occupied by ‘Archbishop’ Nolbert Kunonga but that’s almost a relief because with 5000 present and a confirmation of 1385 candidates during the 8 hour service they would never have squeezed in.

The machinations of Kunonga with his armed police like those in Upper Shire diocese will never overcome God’s people. As a banner at the service proudly read ‘The Diocese is the People. The People are the Diocese.’

From Anglican Information


Never Say Die: Why We Can't Imagine Death

Why so many of us think our minds continue on after we die
By Jesse Bering
Key Concepts:
  • Almost everyone has a tendency to imagine the mind continuing to exist after the death of the body.
  • Even people who believe the mind ceases to exist at death show this type of psychological-continuity reasoning in studies.
  • Rather than being a by-product of religion or an emotional security blanket, such beliefs stem from the very nature of our consciousness.

In fact, the only real mystery is why we’re so convinced that when it comes
to where we’re going “when the whole thing’s done,” we’re dealing with a mystery
at all. After all, the brain is like any other organ: a part of our physical
body. And the mind is what the brain does—it’s more a verb than it is a noun.
Why do we wonder where our mind goes when the body is dead? Shouldn’t it be
obvious that the mind is dead, too?

And yet people in every culture believe in an afterlife of some kind or, at the very least, are unsure about what happens to the mind at death. My psychological research has led me to believe that these irrational beliefs, rather than resulting from religion or serving to protect us from the terror of inexistence, are an inevitable by-product of self-consciousness. Because we have never experienced a lack of consciousness, we cannot imagine what it will feel like to be dead. In fact, it won’t feel like anything—and therein lies the problem.

All here

Don't ask, don't tell

There's always hope - Gay Anglicans parade in Toronto 2006

Gay divinity school graduate must stay in the closet to be ordained

Local man says Anglican Church 'hypocritical'

The Belleview Intelligencer

Posted By By Barry Ellsworth 26.10.08

George is also graduating from the University of Toronto divinity school in May,
qualifying him to be ordained as an Anglican Priest.

But the ordination is not going to happen, if he continues to openly acknowledge his sexual orientation.

“There is a fair amount of hypocrisy in the issue,” George said in an interview during a workshop at Belleville’s St. Thomas Anglican Church. If you keep the fact you are gay to yourself, even though others may know about it, the Anglican bishops can pretend you are straight and ordain you, he said. “As soon as you are open about it, you are treated differently,’ he said.

“Don’t ask, don’t tell. Nobody acknowledges the hypocrisy.”


There is another door to hypocrisy, too.

If you are gay, the bishop will ask if you will remain celibate, and if the answer is yes, you are in the door.

“Nobody asks the straight single clergy, ‘Are you willing to be celibate until you are married?’” George said.

All here.


The damage such structural hypocrisy does is real and difficult to quantify. Those who struggle with their sexuality can get torn apart. Those who are confident in their sexuality can, and quite reasonably should, get bitter and resentful and often lose both faith and membership.

This is a power game. The inherent duplicity enables those who wish to, to abuse their position and the people for whom they are responsible. And they do.

More deeply wounding is the fact that structural dishonesty is built into the church and its activities - particularly, but not exclusively, in relation to sexuality. In the Church of England dishonesty has been seen for generations in the church's desire to see itself as more important than it really is. On top of this ground it was easy to sow dishonesty relating to sexuality.

I long to see an inclusive Church. But before we get there we will need first to begin to move towards an honest church.

Meanwhile in Zimbabwe

Meanwhile in Zimbabwe it’s a case of plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.

With the power sharing deal between dictator Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai now in a predictable state of shambles the people continue to suffer. The Anglican Church has been particularly affected through the actions of excommunicated ‘Archbishop’ Nolbert Kunonga who as a vocal supporter of the Mugabe regime continues to disrupt and damage. Until Mugabe falls there is little chance of getting rid of the pernicious Kunonga who as we have reported previously is now also interfering elsewhere in the Anglican Province.

Bishop Sebastian Bakare the official caretaker bishop of the diocese of Harare has bravely criticised the Mugabe regime directly. ‘Good governance, justice and peace remain a pipe dream for many in Zimbabwe’, he wrote in a recent Pastoral Letter. He is risking his own person in speaking up so courageously.

ANGLICAN-INFORMATION wonders when acting Dean of the Province Albert Chama and former Archbishop Bernard Malango would ever be prepared to say something similar? – the answer is of course never. Hence the major conflict of interest that lies within the very heart of the Anglican Provincial House of Bishops – Malango and Chama’s, still never personally renounced, closeness and friendship with Nolbert Kunonga and the fearful Zimbabwe regime.


From a correspondent in Zimbabwe,

A first-hand account of a nasty little story from one church in a Harare township, St Joseph's, Dzivaresekwa. (DZ)

The priest at this recently built church is a Kunonga man, referred by the locals as 'TheBoy David'. He is running a creche in the church on weekdays, using the money to support himself and Kunonga, who is now living in another township, Kuwadzana. On Saturdays he conducts weddings. On Sundays he has a poorly attended service, except for one earlier this month when Kunonga came bringing a number of outsiders and they held a Confirmation. The main (official Provincial) congregation of two or three hundred have a new priest but are still forced to worship in a classroom at Dziveresekwa High 2.

As some churches have now managed to return to their buildings (it’s not all bad news) the Churchwardens at DZ went to Boy David to suggest that they should follow the court order which was to share the buildings until there was a definitive ruling as to who owns them. He apparently agreed and it was arranged the Bakare group should worship at 12 o'clock when the others were out of the way.

However, the first Sunday, when they arrived they found the church locked. The next Sunday a number of them went early and sat quietly outside singing. When Boy David came out he appeared to think they were going to molest him, got into his car and drove away fast hitting a child who had to be taken to hospital with an injured elbow.

That night the police came from a central police station, Southerton, and arrested the enrolling member of the Mother's Union, and the caretaker's wife.They were left at the DZ station. It was very dirty and, although they were not put in the cells with drunken men and violent offenders, they were very uncomfortable and badly bitten by mosquitoes. Later in the night, the Member-in-Charge said he could not understand why they were being held and let them go home.

The next day the Southerton police came again and this time they were held for two days. The charges were not clear. Fortunately Bishop Bakare had been alerted and sent a lawyer. When they were taken to the magistrates court Boy David did not turn up, and they were released with no case to answer. While this was going on the Mother's Union member's husband, a retired teacher, was also taken to the local police station and charged with kidnapping. It seems he gave them a lesson as to what is meant by 'kidnapping' and they changed the charge. He too was released, but the story shows how Mugabe is still very much in charge and Kunonga’s friends can use the police for their own purposes.


ANGLICAN-INFORMATION reports that cases of cholera are now feared in Zimbabwe together with a predicted famine. People are already surviving on roots and wild plants – or nothing. The economy remains afloat after a fashion because those many Zimbabweans who have fled the regime send money back to their relatives. Mugabe gets his money primarily not from relatives but from the neo colonialist Chinese to whom he has ‘sold’ extensive mineral rights. Surrounding him there is a coterie of about two hundred high level supporters who as a result have access to great US dollar wealth with which they maintain a grip on power. At the same time inflation in the local currency is at scarcely conceivable world-record level of 241 million percent.

Until, not just Mugabe but the whole the elitist ruling group are displaced it is difficult to see how the regime will ever fall. Hence the conundrum for some of the Central African bishops who, thinking only of their own futures, prefer not to step out of line too much.

The solution to the Zimbabwe problem actually lies with those foreign outsiders who are pay-rolling and banking the members of the regime. Perhaps the hoped for new President of the United States might have the courage to freeze their secretive Swiss and London accounts? Ironically, as the world economy is now having such a shake up, it might be possible?

Who knows, it’s all a heady and uncomfortable mix God and mammon. Of the 52 countries in Africa, 17 can be described as having despotic and autocratic dictatorships with correspondingly oppressed peoples. Zimbabwe is now the worst example but if ever (God willing) its regime were to fall it would set quite an example for the overthrow of the others and perhaps be the best thing to happen to Africa since the end of the old colonialism?

So many wistful questions – we hope our many readers will match them with positive prayer, especially for those living, or more correctly surviving, on the front line.


Botswana's banned priests - another version

The flag of Botswana

From Religious Intelligence

This is another account of the Court hearing here (see also Anglican Information's comment here). This has some further detail or, perhaps, a different perspective.

The article was mistakenly entitled 'Burundi bishop in court rebuff' and illustrated by the flag of Burundi.

Clergy are church employees and are subject to the protection of state
labour and contract laws, a high court judge in Botswana has ruled. In a case
brought by seven suspended priests, Judge Key Dingake held that the Diocese of
Botswana must comply with its internal constitution as well as state law in
clergy disciplinary proceedings and ordered Bishop Trevor Mwamba to restore them
to office.

Last year, Bishop Mwamba suspended the seven priests, stopping their
pay and ordering them to vacate their rectories, after they turned to former
Harare bishop Dr Nolbert Kunonga for aid.

The seven, ethnic Batswanas — the dominant tribal group in Botswana — had charged Bishop Mwamba, a native of Zambia, with favoring foreigners in church patronage appointments. On Aug 25, 2007 six of the seven priests, wrote to the Primate of Central Africa, Archbishop Bernard Malango, stating they had no confidence in Bishop Mwamba’s leadership.

They charged Bishop Mwamba with being profligate with church funds, and
for having brought “shame” onto the diocese by appearing in a BBC film
adaptation of Alexander McCall Smith’s 1998 best-seller, “The No 1 Ladies
Detective Agency,” which was filmed in Botswana. They also charged their bishop
with backing the line on “homosexuality as propounded by the American

Dr Kunonga came to the aide of the seven priests at the 2007 provincial
synod, denigrating Bishop Mwamba in a speech to the gather, while his surrogates
in Harare attacked the bishop through the state-controlled press.

However, when the Province removed Bishop Kunonga from office, Bishop
Mwamba revoked the licences of the seven rebel priests prompting the

In testimony before the High Court in Gabarone in February, Bishop
Mwamba stated diocesan canons granted him the authority to “grant, withhold,
revoke or renew” a priest’s license “as he may see fit.” The seven had been
engaged in “factionalism in association with a certain Dr Kunonga, who is a
schismatic and not recognized in the Province and the Anglican Communion
Worldwide,” he said.

However in his ruling, Judge Dingake held that the diocese had not
complied with the government’s laws regulating charitable organizations nor its
own constitution in suspending the seven priests. The judge further held that
the bishop should have granted a hearing to the seven priests to respond to the
charges levelled by Bishop Mwamba.

Judge Dingake rejected the argument proffered by the diocese’s lawyer
that “because the church is a voluntary association, the principles of natural
justice do not apply to it.” Voluntary associations were obligated to treat
their members fairly by conforming to their constitutions.

The judge also rejected Bishop Mwamba’s third defence, saying that priests were church employees, not independent contractors employed at will.

"The decision by the bishop to withdraw and revoke applicants' licences
to practice as priests of the Anglican Church is hereby set aside as being
contrary to the Acts of Diocese of Botswana and or the Constitution and Canons
of the Anglican Church," Judge Dingake said.


What seems clear is that, on the one hand, the seven disaffected priests, affliated themselves with ex-Bishop Kunonga as a source of authority in opposition to their Diocesan. On the other hand Bishop Mwamba appears to have acted arbitrarily and to have sought to evade both the written law (though there seems to be no clarity as to why amendments to the canons were not properly registered) and also the principles of natural justice.

Bishop Mwamba is legally qualified. The arbitrary exercise of power, irrespective of the reason, is always wounding of the body of Christ.


Zimbabwe: Bakare condemns the government

Raw sewage runs through the street in Harare's Kuwadzana township

From Ecumenical News International

Harare (ENI). The head of the Anglican church in Zimbabwe, Bishop Sebastian Bakare, has blamed State corruption and political patronage for a collapse in social services in Zimbabwe, where at least 20 people have died of cholera in recent weeks.

"Good governance, justice and peace remain a pipe dream for many in Zimbabwe," Bakare said in a pastoral letter circulated to Anglicans in the southern African nation in early October.
"Selfish leadership has no room for the neighbour. As you all know, most people have been without running water in their homes for months, let alone electricity, and there are no affordable food items," Bakare wrote.

He stated, "Cholera, a water-borne disease, has claimed several lives in Chitungwiza. In short, we have been messed up by a few men and women who have ravaged our economy through corruption and patronage." (See also: Cholera threatens to become endemic)

Talks between rival Zimbabwean political leaders about the composition of a national unity government remained deadlocked on 17 October, a month after the signing in Harare of a power-sharing agreement to resolve the country's economic and political crisis.

Under the terms of the agreement, Robert Mugabe, who has led the southern African country since independence from Britain in 1980, was to remain as president. His rival, Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change party, was to serve as prime minister, with Arthur Mutambara, the leader of a smaller MDC faction, as deputy prime minister.

Mugabe had been declared winner in a presidential run-off election in June boycotted by Tsvangirai, who cited violence and intimidation against his supporters.

Zimbabwe was seen as a model economy and regional breadbasket in the 1980s but agriculture went into rapid decline after the government began, in 2000, to seize white-owned commercial farms in a land reform programme.

Annual inflation rose to 231 million percent in August, according to official statistics while some independent financial analysts put the actual figure at 750 million percent. At least 80 percent of potential workers are without job, while about a quarter of the population requires food aid.

Three state universities have failed to open this term because, they say, they had failed to secure enough money to provide food for resident students and to pay their staff, who have been on indefinite strike. (See also: schools really out - like a war time experience)

An interdenominational Christian movement, Intercessors for Zimbabwe, has urged Zimbabweans to pray for the successful conclusion of the power-sharing agreement.

Zimbabwe News II

ZWNEWS is to restore their daily news briefing, having been giving funding to do so. (See below where Sokwanele had stood in to plug the gap). To reveive the mailing click ironhorse@zwnews.net and request that your name is added to the ZWNEWS mailing list.


Religious support for same-sex marriage

More than 2,200 ordained clergy have endorsed the Open Letter to Religious Leaders on Marriage Equality.

Clergy and religious leaders from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and representing more than 50 different faith traditions, have called for full marriage rights for same-sex couples. The Religious Institute encourages you to help build the momentum for marriage equality.

British Jesuits Launch Urgent Appeal for Starving Nation

Jesuit Missions UK

From the Catholic Information Service for Africa

LONDON, October 17, 2008 (CISA) -Jesuits in Britain have launched an urgent food appeal for Zimbabwe, following a request from the country's recently appointed Provincial.

In a letter to all Jesuit parishes, schools and communities, the Director of Jesuit Missions (JM), Fr Tim Curtis SJ, says they urgently need to raise 180,000 Sterling Pounds by the end of December.

In his letter, Fr Curtis explains that the Zimbabwean Provincial, Fr Stephen Buckland SJ, is trying to get two shipments of food to Zimbabwe before Christmas.

"We have managed to secure enough money for the first shipment (valued at 180,000 Pounds), and this will be leaving shortly. We are now trying to gather funds together for the second shipment," he wrote.

According to Independent Catholic News, JM has already made a substantial contribution, and the British Provincial, Fr Michael Holman SJ, has pledged some money from the Province to form the basis of a Jesuit Relief Fund for Zimbabwe, to be administered at Jesuit Missions.

Jesuit parish priests are being urged to hold a second or retiring collection or some other fund raising activity directed towards this project. Jesuit schools in Britain, which already have strong links with counterparts overseas, including Zimbabwe, are also being asked to find ways of helping to raise the extra cash needed for the shipment.

"While the protracted political negotiations continue, most ordinary Zimbabweans are starving," explained Fr Curtis. "Their currency is worthless and their salary does not even pay their bus fare to get to work. That's why Fr Buckland has made it an urgent priority to bring some relief to these people.

“Since taking over as Provincial earlier this year, he has been assessing the situation and working out what contribution the Jesuits in Zimbabwe can make to the country and its people. The Jesuit Relief Fund has been bringing in shipments of food and distributing it to the poorest of the poor for some time. Building on a successful track record Fr Buckland is trying to bring in two consignments of food by the end of the year."

Anyone wishing to donate to this appeal can do so on-line: www.justgiving.com/zimbabwefund or cheques can be sent to Jesuit Missions, 11 Edge Hill, Wimbledon, London SW19 4LR.


Absurdities at the Church Times Blog?

Thanks to Dave Walker.


Violence and Christians

A Christian in her burned home in the Indian state of Orissa.

There are further reports of attacks on Christians:

AFP reports Iraq pours in police to protect Christians:

"Two (national police) brigades were sent to Christian areas in Mosul and churches were surrounded and put under tight security," interior ministry spokesman Abdul-Karim Khalaf told AFP.

He said the reinforcements had been deployed from midnight in the restive northern city, considered by US and Iraqi commanders as the last urban stronghold of Al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Khalaf added that two investigation teams, one security and the other criminal, had also been deployed to probe a spate of attacks on Christians in Mosul since September 28, in which at least 11 people have been killed.

An AFP correspondent said police had set up checkpoints at churches in the city's four heavily Christian areas and were patrolling the streets on foot.

Nearly 1,000 Christian families have fled their homes in the city since Friday, taking shelter on the northern and eastern fringes of Nineveh province, according to provincial governor Duraid Kashmula.

There have been some arrests (CNN).

National Public Radio reports that the Christian response in some parts of Iraq has been to establish their own militias.
Many residents are delighted to see Christians standing up to defend themselves.
Some, however, worry about the political implications of this latest sectarian
armed force in Iraq and wonder where its money is coming from.

The New York Times has: Hindu Threat to Christians: Convert or Flee

The family of Solomon Digal was summoned by neighbors to what serves as a public
square in front of the village tea shop.

They were ordered to get on their knees and bow before the portrait of a Hindu
preacher. They were told to turn over their Bibles, hymnals and the two brightly
colored calendar images of Christ that hung on their wall. Then, Mr. Digal, 45,
a Christian since childhood, was forced to watch his Hindu neighbors set the
items on fire.

“ ‘Embrace Hinduism, and your house will not be demolished,’ ” Mr. Digal recalled being told on that Wednesday afternoon in September. “ ‘Otherwise, you will be killed, or you will be thrown out of the village.’ ”

There have been attacks on Christians in at least five States over the last six weeks.
The clash of faiths has cut a wide swath of panic and destruction through these
once quiet hamlets fed by paddy fields and jackfruit trees. Here in Kandhamal,
the district that has seen the greatest violence, more than 30 people have been
killed, 3,000 homes burned and over 130 churches destroyed, including the
tin-roofed Baptist prayer hall where the Digals worshiped. Today it is a heap of
rubble on an empty field, where cows blithely graze.

And Human Rights Watch has a longer perspective, associating the rise of attacks with the BJP rule from 1998.
Attacks against Christians throughout the country have increased significantly
since the BJP began its rule at the center in March 1998. They include the
killings of priests, the raping of nuns, and the physical destruction of
Christian institutions, schools, churches, colleges, and cemeteries. Thousands
of Christians have also been forced to convert to Hinduism. The report concludes
that as with attacks against Muslims in 1992 and 1993, attacks against
Christians are part of a concerted campaign of right-wing Hindu organizations,
collectively called the sangh parivar, to promote and exploit communal clashes
to increase their political power-base. The movement is supported at the local
level by militant groups who operate with impunity.

The death of Bishop Richard Wood of Namibia

Bishop Richard Wood with daughter and grandson

The death was announced earlier this week of Richard Wood, former Anglican bishop-suffragan of Namibia. He was 88.

From The Namibian (Windhoek):

As Suffragan Bishop of the Diocese of Damaraland, which is today the Diocese of Namibia, Wood succeeded Bishops Colin Winter and Robert Mize as the head of the Anglican Church in Namibia.

Like his predecessors, Wood's opposition to apartheid eventually irked the South African authorities to such an extent that he was expelled from Namibia as an "undesirable" person.

"I happily accept their judgement. I would be quite ashamed if I had not been a
'troublesome priest' to them," Wood commented to The Windhoek Advertiser after
he had been ordered to leave the country.


His reputation as an unconventional priest spread, fuelled also by his reluctance to wear traditional clerical dress, Mrs Wood recalled.

"If you wear a clerical collar people don't swear at you. When you dress as they do, though, they treat you as a human being," he said.

From Khanya

He was based at Keetmanshoop, which had not had a resident Anglican priest
for many years, and travelled about in a secondhand Volkswagen Kombi he had
bought. When he visited Windhoek he usually stayed with us in our commune, the
Community of St Simon the Zealot, and amazed us with his ability to concoct
delicious salads out of the most unlikely-seeming ingredients.

After a couple of years of doing this he decided to go to the UK to look at various Anglican religious communities there to get ideas for forming such a community in
Namibia. On the same plane with him was Cathy Roark, a young American who had
spent a year in the diocese as a youth worker. She accompanied him on a visit to
one religious community, and they decided to get married. Richard wrote to
Bishop Winter with the bad news that he would not be establishing a celibate
religious community in Namibia, but with the good news that he had found one
other person to take life vows with him.

Soon after that Bishop Winter was deported from Namibia. Richard and Cathy Wood returned to Namibia, and when the Anglican diocese decided that it did not want Bishop Winter to resign, but to continue as bishop-in-exile, Richard Wood was elected as suffragan bishop, and served there until he himself was deported by the South African government, which then controlled Namibia, a couple of years later.


In his latter years Richard became somewhat disillusioned with and estranged from the institutional church, and especially with its failure to denounce Tony Blair’s warmongering.


Allan Boesak resigns in protest

Dr. Allan Boesak

Cape Argus (Cape Town) 8 October 2008

Activist and theologian Allan Boesak says he will continue his work as an extraordinary professor at the University of Stellenbosch after resigning all positions from the uniting reformed church in southern Africa.

Boesak resigned on Friday in protest at the church synod's opposition to his recommendation that gay parishioners be allowed same-sex unions.

It emerged today that the church may request Boesak to reverse his resignations, but Boesak said he would resist.

He said he had been dismayed at views expressed within the synod which denied gay people's rights "as normal, dignified human beings".

He accused members of the synod of "almost Mugabe-like views - that homosexuals are like dogs and animals not worthy of human consideration", as "monsters, as if they have some incurable disease".

Boesak said one synod member had, for example, said gay people had the same psychological disorders as kleptomaniacs.

Having resigned, Boesak said he would continue his work at Stellenbosch on the "globalisation project", dealing with links with German churches for the Beyers Naudé Centre for Public Theology, which dealt with important social issues, like the debates around homosexuality within the church.

Co-founder of the United Democratic Front, Boesak dismissed speculation that he could have a role in a possible ANC breakaway group - which would supposedly have strong links with the defunct United Democratic Front.

Zimbabwe news

Subscribe to Zimbabwe News and the Sokwanele Newsletter for up to date briefings on the situation in Zimbabwe.

All the news from Zimbabwe is bleak

With talks deadlocked or collapsed there seems little hope. And South Africa seems to be cracking down on Zimbabwean asylum seekers.

Poverty has spread across much of the country. Half the country needs food aid. Hospitals are closing and treatment depends of cash up front. The elderly suffer, there is not enough food in rural areas, you can go to prison to die. Life expectancy is 44 for men and 43 for women. Clean water can be hard to come by. It's little better in the cities.

This two-year-old from Tsholotsho has kwashiorkor which had not been seen for decades in Zimbabwe.

And why? So one group can keep power and the rest can go hang.

Pastor who wed gay couple is cleared

Janet Edwards

Friday, October 03, 2008 By Ann Rodgers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A church court of Pittsburgh Presbytery ruled 9-0 that the Rev. Janet Edwards did not violate scripture or the constitution of the Presbyterian Church (USA) when she conducted what she has always said was the marriage of two women in 2005. (See earlier post here.)

Since church and state define marriage as between a man and a woman, she cannot have done what she was accused of, the court ruled yesterday.
One of those who brought the accusations, the Rev. James Yearsley, attended the trial but flew back to Tampa, where he has since become a pastor, before the verdict. Before leaving, he said an acquittal would signal collapse
of church discipline. But he said he would not push for an appeal or leave the

"This is the church I was called to serve," he said. "I'm a Presbyterian and I'm going to stay and contend for what I think the church should be."

The Rev. Bob Anderson, interim pastor to Pittsburgh Presbytery,
said he knew some local Presbyterians would be disappointed in the verdict.

"It's a very sensitive issue. We in the presbytery offices are very sensitive to those concerns and we will keep this as a matter of prayer as we go into the future," he said.

When will it end?

I've been watching the slow dance of the culture wars over the last week or two, turning on the question of attitudes towards homosexuals.

October 12th marked the 10th anniversary of Wayne Shepard (and here), lynched in Wyoming for being gay. For some people this has not been a cold war.

Thinking Anglicans has reports from Nigeria of a direct conflict between those for whom 'Homosexuality is totally unacceptable' and the announcement of 'House of Rainbow, purportedly a church organisation piloted by a self-confessed homosexual, Reverend Rowland Jide Macaulay.' This in a country in which some people have denied the existence of homosexuality, let alone its acceptability. Also: "CHRISTIAN leaders in the South Senatorial district of Delta State have expressed shock at the infiltration into the country of the Gay Movement, made up of homosexuals and lesbians, saying it is a satanic plot" here.

In Kenya Revd Michael Kimindu has found himself excluded from his clergy chapter meeting because of his support for those in same-sex relationships. Michael is the Co-ordinator for Other Sheep Ministries East Africa.

GAFCON met in Uganda. The headline 'Anti-gay bishops meet' was an accurate description.

Across the pond in Califormia a referendum seems to be moving towards rescinding the State's authoriasation of same-sex marriages. Geoff Farrow, a Roman Catholic Priest, has been suspended by his bishop for publicly supporting same-sex marriage. He has made a statement to the effect that, although others will stay silent, his conscience would not allow him to do so. In some quarters he has been hailed as a hero. He is not alone, but he was the first.

On the other hand the Connecticut Supreme Court has ruled, albeit by a 4:3 majority, that the ban on same-sex marriage in that state is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court in California has come to the same conclusion.

In Norway the bishops debated and decided they would not permit same-sex unions in church, nor bless (heterosexual) civil marriages.

In Iraq "October 2, 2008 - A key figure in the clandestine Baghdad network of theassociation Iraqi lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender/transsexual(LGBT) was assassinated by an anti-gay Islamist death squad" here. Death threats had followed an article and photo in an Australian magazine. Read the whole article.

The Vatican refuses gay people and divorcees as ambassadors in its court. I guess it does not want to be tainted.

Back in the States the Diocese of Pittsburgh has split down the middle. The majority will follow Bob Schofield into some sort of affiliation with the Southern Cone; a minority (at least 20 parishes) will remain with TEC. It'll be a while before its clear what will happen about Trinity Cathedral. The expectation is that a new diocese will be created in North America round which conservatives will circle their wagons. This has no doubt been spurred a little nearer by the inhibition of 52 clergy in the Diocese of San Joaquin following its defection from TEC. Perhaps it'll be ready by Christmas.

A fascinating and sad account of how the Diocese of San Joaquin came to leave TEC and attempts at and failure of reconciliation is here.

In England the issue was the role of women. John Broadhurst, Bishop of Fulham, said (as reported in the Daily Telegraph) that the decision not to protect Forward in Faith from women bishops was 'sin' and that 'Synod is "unfit for purpose" because it does not consider God first and added to applause: "The sooner it is trimmed, culled, sorted or even destroyed, the better."' (Ironic really. It took 150 years for the CofE to patriate from Parliament the power to make spiritual decisions in the government of the church. And as soon as it exercises that power people walk off in a huff.) And Bob Duncan pops up to court conservatives. Does he want English conservatives to be a parish in the new American Province?

At the same time Reform is speculating out loud about the possibility of aligning itself with bishops outwith the UK. Not forgetting the chaplain to the Stock Exchange. You wonder about the company he keeps.


This post has been just two weeks in the making. I guess you could do a similar review of more or less any fortnight over the last few years.

What I noted first was the violence of words (the Bishop of Fulham, Peter Mullen) and fact (Matthew Shepard, Iraq). I believe there is a direct line (association, not cause) between language which demeans and dehumanises people and willingness (tacit permission) to use violence agains them. The victims of this culture war are those who are made less, who suffer in their lives and careers, who suffered abuse and beatings and death for their sexuality.

There is also a repeated use of minority status, not least the claim for those who suffer violence that they are martyrs, as weapons in the war. Conservatives claim to be victimised by liberals which somehow creates a moral equivalence to those who suffer violence. Each side no doubt diminishes the other, I am prone to do so myself, but I risk the assertion that no-one has yet been murdered or beaten up for being a heterosuxual conservative.

There is something inherent in religion which simultaneously creates the possibility of hope, peace, reconciliation, mutual regard and respect across difference, denies the possibility. (See Violence in God's Name, Oliver McTernan, DLT, 2003) I believe that the dominant word of religion is violence against the other - often in order to prove (give effect to) the truth of one's own claim by the denial of another. At the same time the model is inverted: the truth of one's own claim is proven (tested) by noble suffering. The model is in Foxes' Book of Martyrs: Bishop Farrar, for example, was burnt at the stake by Bloody Mary,
it is said that one Richard Jones, a knight's son, coming to Dr. Farrar a little
before his death, seemed to lament the painfulness of the death he had to
suffer; to whom the bishop answered that if he saw him once stir in the pains of
his burning, he might then give no credit to his doctrine; and as he said, so
did he maintain his promise, patiently standing without emotion, until one
Richard Gravell with a staff struck him down.

Or, in Ted Hughes' version ‘If I flinch from the pain of the burning, believe not the doctrine that I have preached.'

Violence - dehumanisation - control of the other - the claim to know truth and to the right to apply it over all other claims - and proof of truth by martyrdom - form a religiously validated complex of ideas played out today over the issue of sexuality.

When it ends, will it just be replaced by another issue, and more people suffer?

State corruption to blame for Zimbabwe collapse, Harare bishop says

From Episcopal Life

Bishop Sebastian Bakare of the Anglican Diocese of Harare, Zimbabwe, has blamed
State corruption and political patronage for a collapse in social services in
the country, where at least 20 people have died of cholera in recent weeks.

"Good governance, justice and peace remain a pipe dream for many in
Zimbabwe," Bakare said in a pastoral letter circulated to Anglicans in the
African nation in early October.

"Selfish leadership has no room for the neighbor. As you all know, most people have been without running water in their homes for months, let alone electricity, and there are no affordable food items," Bakare wrote.

He stated, "Cholera, a water-borne disease, has claimed several lives in Chitungwiza. In short, we have been messed up by a few men and women who have ravaged our economy through corruption and patronage."

All here.

Hope and Lies in Zimbabwe

Bishop Mwamba with his cathedral chapter. Fr Archford Musodza far right

The Church of England News describes the continuing struggle between the government-backed Nolbert Kunonga and Bishop Sebastian Bakare.

The article includes some details of an attempted smear of Archford Musodza, using forged letters,

On Sept 7 the state controlled press charged the former Dean of Bishop Gaul
Theological College in Harare, the Ven. Archford Musodza of conniving with
foreign powers and former members of the Ian Smith regime to overthrow the
government and oust Dr. Kunonga.

Driven into exile, Dr. Musodza is currently archdeacon of Northern Botswana. The Herald charged Botswana was a “financial, diplomatic and propaganda rear-base from which to divide and destabilise Zimbabwe on behalf of the British and the North Americans.”

Dr. Musodza and the Diocese of Botswana were agents of Anglo-American foreign policy, the Herald said, and were circulating a “shooting list of Zimbabwean patriots.”


Dr. Musodza explained “I am one of those that Kunonga does not want to see,” and the forged letters were a preemptive strike launched by controversial former bishop to discredit the opposition. However, the people of Harare will not be intimidated by Dr. Kunonga and his “stooges,” he said.

Bishop Bakare continues to build for the future:

On Oct 26, Dr. Bakare will kick off the Nehemiah Festival, with a service at the
Harare Showground, where he will confirm 1000 people. Bibles, Prayer Books,
devotional materials and other church goods will be offered for sale to raise
money to rebuild the diocese.

“Every Anglican in the Diocese of Harare has a role to play in the rebuilding of the church through donations in cash and or in kind,” Patrick Mahari, the Chairman of the Nehemiah Committee told The Zimbabwean.

All here

And the collapse of the power-sharing deal can only make things worse for almost everyone.


Zimbabwean poison seeps outwards

Central Kalahari Reserve

Zimbabwean poison seeps outwards into the Anglican Central African Province

ANGLICAN-INFORMATION reports the Botswana independent newspaper Mmegi (The Reporter) covering the story ‘Reinstate banned priests, orders court’.

This refers to an action brought by seven dissident priests in the Anglican Diocese of Botswana.

In a complicated case the seven are those who support excommunicated former Bishop of Harare, Zimbabwe, the notorious Nolbert Kunonga. Last year Kunonga, soon after breaking away from the Anglican Central African Province, made a flying illegal incursion into the Diocese of Botswana to stir up trouble in Francistown where he persuaded the seven priests to pass a vote of no confidence in Diocesan Bishop Trevor Mwamba. Mwamba responded understandably by suspending them from duties. See our reportage 12th November & 15th November 2007.

Now Lobatse High Court Judge, Key Dingake, has ordered the priests to be reinstated. This, it should be noted, is merely on a technicality as the judge legally had no other choice but it bodes ill for the increasingly beleaguered Central African Province.

In Zimbabwe, self-proclaimed ‘Archbishop’ Nobert Kunonga, a long-time mouthpiece of Robert Mugabe, continues to hold the authentic Anglican Diocese of Harare to ransom forcing closure of churches and occupying the Cathedral (there is a photograph of All Saints Cathedral on our website).

Bishop Sebastian Bakare, the caretaker Provincial Bishop, continues his brave work in caring for the Diocese in conditions that if anything are again worsening as the political power-sharing agreement between MDC Morgan Tsvangirai and Robert Mugabe is rendered meaningless by Mugabe’s usurping of power. This will remain the case until the Mugabe regime finally comes to an end, but now as Kunonga’s poison leaches into neighbouring Botswana there will be further trouble ahead. Likewise in Malawi, former Archbishop Bernard Malango remains close to his old friend Kunonga and a background influence on acting Dean of the Province, Albert Chama of Northern Zambia.

ANGLICAN-INFORMATION notes that although this involves nominally different countries in practice tribal allegiances, close proximities and an interwoven web of friendships and shared backgrounds links these three otherwise disparate bishops together in an unholy alliance of broad sympathy.

Ironically the Botswana case, whilst it leaves Bishop Mwamba with a group of troublesome priests, does explain why in Malawi for three long years the same Central African Provincial Bishops have procrastinated and tried to avoid the Lake Malawi and latterly the Upper Shire cases of improper legal conduct being brought against them by laity and priests. These cases are still outstanding bringing charges of the fiddling of Episcopal elections in both instances. As they are clearly guilty the Provincial Bishops may well lose and as the old saying goes ‘two wrongs don’t make a right’. In the meantime, whilst in Zimbabwe the people starve and in Malawi the churches are left bereft of their rightful bishops, Nolbert Kunonga is laughing (laden with US dollars) all the way to the bank.


Reinstate banned priests, orders court

Not the most flattering picture of Bishop Mwamba

Mmegi Online 16.10.08
BAME PIETStaff Writer

LOBATSE: High Court Judge, Key Dingake, has ordered that the suspended priests from the Anglican Church be reinstated and continue preaching the word of God.

The seven priests - Aubrey Molatlhwe, Botshabelo Beleme, Moreri Leteemane, Mooketsi Mokgatlhe, Paul Beleme, Essau Mosima (deceased), an d Patrick Ncaagae - will continue preaching at their congregations of Lobatse, Molepolole, Mahalapye, Broadhurst, Mogoditshane, Selibe Phikwe and Tonota with immediate effect.

Anglican Diocese of Botswana's Bishop Trevor Mwamba revoked their licences late last year, accusing them of contravening the Constitution and Canons of the Church of the Province of Central Africa. On the other hand the priests contended that he was pushing them out to pave way for foreigners, mostly from Zambia and Zimbabwe.

"The decision by the bishop to withdraw and revoke applicants' licences to practise as priests of the Anglican Church is hereby set aside as being contrary to the Acts of Diocese of Botswana and or the Constitution and Canons of the Anglican Church," Justice Dingake said. The costs were not awarded to any of the parties.

The seven priests went to the High Court after the matter could not be settled within the church. The court based its judgement on argument on the which of the Church Acts were applicable to the dispute; whether or not the applicants were employees of the Anglican Church; and what procedure the bishop should follow in revoking priests' licences.

It emerged during the hearing that someone trampled on the church Acts and had failed to notify the Registrar of Societies, as required. The attorney for the priests, Kgalalelo Monthe, had argued that the amendments should be nullified because they were not filed with the Registrar of Societies. He contended that it was not clear when the amendments were made. Justice Dingake concurred, saying it would be improper to recognise the amendments that were never filed with the registrar.

He stated that it was imperative to do so to avoid a situation where societies operate on two parallel constitutions. "This would be a recipe for disaster. I therefore, hold that any amendments by an exempted society that does not comply with Section 13 (1) of the Societies Act are invalid," Justice Dingake said. Furthermore, the judge found affidavits by Bishop Mwamba and Father Moleko, about the amendments, as "palpably insufficient to enable me to conclude that the amendments were effective as alleged. All I can say is that I am not convinced that such amendments were effected."

Justice Dingake also ruled that the bishop should have given the priests a hearing before revoking their licences. He said that they were never properly informed of the charges against them nor given the opportunity to respond thereto. "I cannot agree with the submission made by Mr Vegeer, that because the church is a voluntary association, the principles of natural justice do not apply to it," he said. He said voluntary associations have the obligation to treat their members fairly by complying with their constitutions.

Quoting RC5 document, the judge ruled that the priests were Anglican Church employees.
He said that there was overwhelming evidence that the priests were church employees, contrary to arguments raised by the bishop.


3,000 to leave CofE?

Reform is: squeezing even more hot air into the church

It's rubbish, of course. Or, more accurately, Reform posturing as part of the continuing campaign to bend the Communion in one direction or another. No accident then that the report is in the Daily Telegraph.

But given that many of the Reform congregations have more or less excluded themselves from the life of the CofE anyway, will it make much difference? Many have wholly or partly stopped paying their quota so it wouldn't even make much difference to Diocesan budgets.

It's clearly the North American let's have a Province to suit ourselves model being essayed in the UK. But if 3,000 is the top estimate then you might need a microscope to find a conservative Province that covered the whole of Europe.

The trickier situation would be if the congregations don't leave. They would carry on occupying parish churches, clergy drawing stipends and pensions as now, but merely march to the Foca drum. Just like now. I suspect that only if there were to be some explicit schismatic act (e.g. inviting a GAFCON bishop to conduct a confirmation, ordaining a person on their own cognizance, or making a statement of formal allegiance in contravention of the Oath of Obedience) could any action be taken against them.

Not so much a new province as old parasites.

Small poems

Sorry, another long gap.

Events, dear boy, events.

On the other hand I have put some small poems on another blog which I use intermittently. Just in case you might be interested.


Nehemiah rises

Part of the Jerusalem wall dated to Nehemiah's time

From the Zimbabwean

HARARE - The Anglican Diocese in the Church of the Province of central Africa (CPCA) has come up with a comprehensive programme named 'Nehemiah' to
rebuild the Diocese and resuscitate fellowship and worship among the Anglican community.

Spearheaded by the Bishop Sebastian Bakare, the Nehemiah Festivals will
kick off on October 26 at the Harare Showground with the confirmation of almost
1 000 people. Other festivities include the auctioning and selling of prayer
books, bibles and other biblical reading materials, and beverages, excluding

Nehemiah was an Old Testament prophet whose courage and conviction to
rebuild the fallen walls of Jerusalem inspired many to act with great bravery in
the face of persecution.

"Every Anglican in the Diocese of Harare has a role to play in the
rebuilding of the church through donations in cash and or in kind," Patrick
Mahari, the Chairperson of the Nehemiah Committee said.

The CPCA has been under constant attack from hooligans linked to the former
bishop Nolbert Kunonga since his withdrawal from the Church. Kunonga, with
police aid has barred Anglicans from Church buildings citing a non-existent
court ruling.

Justice Rita Makarau ruled that the break-away Kunonga followers can still
share services with the CPCA until the case of ownership of church property is
finalised but police officers acting 'on instructions from above' have illegally
occupied church premises in violation of the order.

Bishop Bakare urged Anglicans to jealously guard the Church heritage
against the continued provocation by Kunonga and his thugs.

"Let us re-write our own piece of history by shaming our detractors,"
Bakare said.

Thanks to Anglicans Ablaze.


A little good news from Zimbabwe

President Robert Mugabe shakes hands with Mr Morgan Tsvangirai in Harare on July 21

ANGLICAN-INFORMATION comments that the Zimbabwean power sharing agreement between the Movement for Democratic Change headed by Morgan Tsvangirai and the Zanu-PF Mugabe regime, as agreed on 15th September, does not look healthy. No real political progress seems to have taken place. Mugabe and his retinue are jetting around the world at US $2000,000 a time whilst Tsvangirai has yet to receive his passport. His position is reminiscent of that of the late Joshua Nkomo.

Zimbabwe is now becoming a US dollar economy with continuing hyper inflation and a grave risk of famine.

However, there are straws of good news in the wind regarding the Anglican Church that deserve mention.

From a correspondent in Harare, Zimbabwe 6th October 2008

‘The political stalemate of the last months seems to be tied to the impasse in the relationship with ex Bishop Kunonga in the Harare Diocese. But last week there was a move forwards in that a number of congregations returned to their church buildings. This is not universal, for example it is reported that the churchwardens at St Mary's, Chitangwiza were arrested when they went back. At St Peter's Meyrick Park, the diocesan registrar went to the local police station and spoke to the member-in-charge, who told him the orders “from above”were that no-one was to go back. It now seems to depend on the local member-in-charge as to whether or not he is willing to turn a blind eye. Many of them are of course Christians and Anglicans.

An old lady who had worshipped at St. Peter's all her life died last week. The ex-rector, Prosper Muzambi, still living in the rectory, was approached to see if they could have the funeral at St. Peter's. He rang Kunonga who said “Yes, provided you take the service”. Prosper is of course excommunicated (by the Province, see our news on the website 20th May 2008). The mourners went elsewhere.

Later this month Bishop Sebastian Bakare, will hold a huge confirmationat the Sports Stadium, where he was enthroned in February. We had a confirmation at St Peter's taken by Kunonga, after he had pulled out of the Province, but before he was excommunicated.

The parents worry as to whether they should havetheir children 'done again'.* I understand Sebastian is willing to do this. We continue to trust that the Lord will sort things out.’

*ANGLICAN-INFORMATION comments that perhaps Article 26 of the Thirty-Nine Articles is helpful here:

‘Of the unworthiness of the Ministers, which hinders not the effect of the

The Article explains that despite evil sometimes finding its way into those in authority this doesn’t diminish the efficacy of the sacraments.

Thank goodness, because the continued discreditable behaviour of some of the Central African Provincial bishops would otherwise have renewed ‘done again’ confirmations going on all the time!


In the absence of the rule of law

Mark Harris

Preludium (Mark Harris) has a couple of posts (here & here) from correspondents pointing out that the Southern Cone has no capacity under its own laws to recognise and receive into its jurisdiction foreign individuals or parishes (let alone dioceses).


2. The Executive Council of the Province of the Southern Cone has voted to receive the bishop and clergy into their midst "for pastoral reasons"... NOT the institution of the Diocese, as even in the Southern Cone they realize they can't
do it.

(Note: A constitutional amendment needs to be approved by the Provincial Synod [I believe it requires 3/4 majority], then be submitted to the ACC for review, and then be approved by each one of the Dioceses. If one of the Dioceses does not approve the amendment, it fails.)

Mark Harris points out that it doesn't really matter because Pittsburgh is merely on its way to a new 'Orthodox' Province (strange how a necessary characteristic of the church can be used in such an insulting manner).

It doesn't really matter for another reason too: canon law is almost unenforceable. Individual breaches of canon law can be punished only so long as the individual does not have widespread political backing. Otherwise the applicability of law depends on the willingness of those with power to limit their own power by abiding by previously written law. Archbishop Venables (I put words in his mouth) would no doubt argue that the urgency of the situation and the seriousness of the challenge requires extraordinary and extra-legal action. Or, in my words, personal judgement aligned with personal power enables the destruction of previous conventions and agreements.

Laws are created and enforced by the continuous assent of those who agree to be bound by them. In the absence of a police force with the capacity to use force against offenders there is no recourse when that assent is withdrawn. (Anglican Religious Police - ARP?).

The argument for a covenant has been that the current (legal and conventional) arrangements have broken down and a new agreement is needed. Protests that Lambeth 1.10 has been treated as definitive when it is merely advisory is the converse: objection to a broad (but not universal) assent to a new framework.

At least three responses are visible.
  1. Distressed complaint that people no longer play by the rules. In practice this has been the response of many liberals for whom the rules, for the most part, remain adequate - and, for the most part, they probably have sufficient majorities to modify the rules in a liberal direction within the existing constitutions in the north/west. (I.e. liberals are conservative.)
  2. Appeal to higher rules - Scripture, the Church Catholic, or divine law. This looks opportunistic to liberals. To conservatives it is a willingness to critique everything - culture, church, individual lives - according to non-personal criteria handed down by God. (I.e. conservatives are radical).
  3. Expedience: spatchcock together sufficient agreement to keep as many people as possible on board - keep them talking - until such time as a new network of agreements can be established. In practice it is the powerful - those with the political capacity to veto any new agreement - who must be kept together while ever no agreement is in place. (Bloggers are utterly irrelevant - less than mosquitoes in a swamp.)
All three are visible. I have argued elsewhere against the proposed covenant that it has no foundation in Anglicanism (1) and that any new agreement must have widespread assent (3) not merely that of the few. I have also wondered at the arbitrariness of the conservatives' appeal to Scripture - a narrow reading of sexuality and no equivalence on matters of finance (2).

In fact all three are reasonable responses to rapid, global and cultural change. The character and quality of religious expression is being re-written in ways that no-one can predict or comprehend. It is being re-written in the everyday actions of clergy and congregations in every part of the world. Not until it is all over (and new troubles arise) will it be possible to give a coherent explanatory narrative to these events.

But there is a smaller thing which I believe to be important - to look at jurisprudence within Anglicanism in a way which moves off the unsustainable pieties of divine law arguments and which sets canon law in the context of power, politics, and the assent of the governed.

I know why we don't - it is too undermining of episcopal, even archiepiscopal, power to remind those with power of the consensual context in which they make decisions. And for that very reason I think debate on Anglican jurisprudence is essential.

Anyone willing to fund me?

The Bible in Catholicism

Pope Benedict XVI

From Voice of America News

To mark the opening of the second synod of bishops since his election in 2005, Pope Benedict celebrated mass Sunday at Rome's Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls. More than 250 bishops from around the world will be taking part in the three-week meeting to discuss the relevance of the Bible for contemporary Catholics.

The Vatican said this week that no bishops from mainland China would be attending the meeting, a clear sign there has been no breakthrough in the Vatican's efforts to improve relations with Beijing.

The synod is a consultative body created in 1965 to facilitate contacts among bishops and to help the pope set policies for running the Church. At this meeting, bishops will exchange their views on "The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church."

In his homily, the pope called on the Lord to assist all those taking part in the meeting to question themselves on how to make announcing the Gospel more effective in these times.
A document prepared for the synod rejects a fundamentalist approach to the Bible and says a key challenge is to clarify for the faithful the relationship of scripture to science.

For the first time, a non-Christian will be addressing the assembly. Israel's Shear-Yashuv Cohen, Grand Rabbi of Haifa, will speak on Monday about how the Jewish people read and interpret the Holy Scripture.

Cohen has said his invitation to address the synod of Catholic bishops was a "signal of hope bringing a message of love, coexistence, and peace for generations."

Protestant and Anglican prelates are also attending the gathering as observers. For the first time, the head of the Greek Orthodox Church Bartholomew the First will be giving a speech on October 18.


Gone. Fogotten?

Pluralist has the answer:

I guess a Foca site will emerge next.

The spark of God within us is truth, not empty words

Musonda Trevor Selwyn Mwamba, Bishop of Botswana

Bishop Mwamba has an article in The Times. You may recognise the opening story from his MCU conference speech. It's a good story, why not?

He ends,
What we should truly believe is that we are all incarnate thoughts of God. It is life-changing. We all need to be reminded of what the Greek stoic philosopher Epictetus said: “You bear God within you, poor wretch, and know it not.”

Doggy heaven, or not

This one you must see for yourselves: God hates / loves dogs.


Gay movement formed in Malawi

OK, just one more post, then I really must get on dealing with the outside world.

In a curiously worded article the Nyasa Times reports the creation of a Gay Rights Movement in Malawi:

Gays and lesbians in Malawi have formed the Malawi Gay Rights Movement (Magrim) to sensitise and lure Malawians into homosexuality.
Homosexuality is illegal in the laws of Malawi and punishable by imprisonment with hard labour.

But the movement said it will lobby amendment of the Panel Code which criminalizes homosexuality saying the constitution of the republic which has bill of rights does not condone discrimination.

"Doesn't our Republican constitution say everyone is equal, and that nobody
is more equal than others?" wondered Mc Leod. [Who kept his surname from the press]
"We have a place in Blantyre City Centre where we have been meeting for the
past six years," disclosed Gay leader.

He added that it also had plans to begin outreach activities, starting this November, to sensitise people that homosexuality is natural, and no cause for shame.

In addition to legislative change they may also want to work on better understanding in the media.

Blessing a civil partnership in Wales

St Hywyn's in Aberdaron.

From BBC Wales (23.9.08)

A vicar in Gwynedd has been reprimanded by the Archbishop of Wales for blessing a gay civil partnership between two women.

The service was conducted by the Reverend Jim Cotter at St Hywyn's Church in Aberdaron, with the approval of the local church council.

A complaint was made to the Archbishop who wrote to the Rev Cotter telling him he had exceeded his authority.

The Church in Wales said it had "no liturgy" for same-sex unions.

The vicar said he had been given approval by the local church council to carry out the ceremony in July, and he was not aware of any opposition locally.

He said around a dozen friends of the couple attended, along with three members of the church council.


Sorry this is old news. I used to know Jim a liitle and always had a great deal of regard for him.

And I'll be away now for a couple of days so after today I won't post again after today until the weekend.

Women bishops in Uganda?

From The New Vision (Uganda)

Female clergy in the country have demanded that the Church of Uganda starts
ordaining women bishops. Under their association, the Church of Uganda Clergy
Women Fellowship (CUCWF), they decried the low number of female clerics in the

"In Karamoja, there is only one female clergy. We need more female
parish priests. It is high time we also had women bishops," said Rev. Prudence
Kaddu, the acting chairperson of CUWCF.

“The Church of Uganda started training female clergy in 1964, but since
then, we have never had any female bishop, why?” Kaddu wondered.

“It is good for the leaders to see the talents we have and understand our spiritual gifts to the ministry. Women are effective. In fact, if anything, we are even better.”
She said there was nothing in the Church ministry that men could do that
women could not.

Even on the darkest day there is hope.