Rival Anglican parishioners clash

From SWRadioAfrica

The Zimbabwe Journalists website reports that a Harare man was shot and injured by police, who were protecting a rebel service held by ousted Bishop Nolbert Kunonga’s people. Police fought running battles with parishioners in Budiriro and Glen View, who had tried to reclaim their churches from Kunonga’s people.

Bishop Bakare told Newsreel the formation of the coalition government has done nothing to stop the lawlessness affecting the Anglican Church. He said for the past 4 weeks their services have been disrupted by Kunonga’s thugs, who have no following within the parishes.

On Sunday two priests, a church warden, a youth member and another church member, all loyal to Bishop Bakare, were arrested during the skirmishes. Bakare said the police are openly telling them they are out in full force to protect Kunonga and his people.

Bakare began the defiance last week in Mabvuku when he defied attempts by riot police to remove him from the altar during a service. The riot police however turned on the parishioners, driving them away from the church. He told Newsreel he urged his parishioners to defy the police and reclaim their churches.

On Sunday the members of the different parishes did exactly that, but riot police were deployed to suppress them. Angry parishioners demanded to know why the police were protecting Kunonga and some sang church hymns outside.

‘Some started throwing stones at the police as the police used force to try and force the parishioners out of the church yard and building. Gunshots were subsequently fired resulting in a local who was relaxing at his home being shot and injured in the arm,’ the Zimbabwe Journalists website reported. Bishop Bakare said he was still trying to verify the details of the shooting, but confirmed the skirmishes, saying they were quite serious.

From the Herald, 31/4/09,

SEVEN people were arrested in Harare on Sunday as police fired teargas to quell clashes between rival Anglican parishioners battling to control church properties.

Parishioners aligned to the Church of the Province of Zimbabwe led by Bishop Nolbert Kunonga and the Retired Bishop Sebastian Bakare-led Church of the Province of Central Africa clashed in Highfield, Glen View, Budiriro, Kambuzuma, Warren Park, Kuwadzana, Glen Norah and Mufakose.

Harare provincial police spokesperson Inspector James Sabau yesterday said parishioners turned hostile towards police leading to the arrest of seven in Glen Norah.

He said police resorted to using teargas to repel attacks from clashing parishioners who had turned hostile to details trying to maintain law and order.

"Police were patrolling different places to maintain law and order as usual targeting mostly the crime prone zones and some parishioners turned hostile towards them.

"In Glen Norah, some members of the church started throwing stones at the officers leading to the arrest of seven parishioners who were charged and paid deposit fines for criminal nuances. Police only used teargas when the rivals turned violent," he said.

Insp Sabau confirmed the clashes between rival factions at St Andrews in Glen View adding that they only moved in to quell the violence.

He appealed to the parishioners not to turn against the police.

"Our duty is to maintain order and prevent the destruction of property, so we would like to discourage people from turning against police details carrying out their duties."

The latest clashes have raised the ire of residents who live close to the churches who were affected by the tear smoke.

Residents who spoke to The Herald yesterday urged the factions to deal effectively with the differences affecting the church.

A resident from Glen View Area 8, who lives next to the St Andrews Parish, said residents have had no peace because of the clashes between the rivals.

"We have had no peace since these clashes started. The teargas that was used to quell the fights affected many people living next to the church.

"Our children were also affected by the smoke and we are not living in peace. We call on the police to deal effectively with this dispute because we are now afraid that our property will also fall victim to the clashes," she said.

Ms Shyllet Mwedzi, a caretaker at St Faith Parish in Budiriro, said the rival factions had been holding their services outside church premises before the clashes on Sunday.

"The church doors were locked since the dispute started and the latest clashes have been quite disturbing," she said.

Ms Mwedzi said parishioners clashed at the church leading to police firing teargas and one woman was injured in the resultant melee.

She called on the rival factions to solve their dispute and concentrate on church business.

According to eyewitnesses, the clashes started at St Andrew’s Church in Glen View where both factions had been shut out of church premises.

"Parishioners from the Church of the Province of Zimbabwe had access to the church while their rivals were holding their services at a local secondary school.

"When the latter got wind of the latest developments, they mobilised to hold their service leading to the clashes," one Glen View resident said.

The priest-in-charge at the church, Reverend Zifoti, believed to be aligned to the Church of the Province of Zimbabwe, however refused to comment on the matter referring all questions to the police.

Reverend Wilfred Zhuwakinyu, the priest-in-charge at St Paul’s in Highfield blamed the clashes on the police.

"We have been holding our services at different times for the past three weeks and we were surprised to see the police blocking the church’s entrance," he said.

Rev Zhuwakinyu also expressed concern on the way the dispute was affecting residents living next to the church.

The rival provinces have clashed in Harare after Bishop Kunonga withdrew from the Church of the Province of Central Africa to form the Province of Zimbabwe over the issue of homosexuality.

The two factions have since been clashing over the control of church properties.


Covenant matters

Anglican Provinces struggling to steer in the same direction in Cambridge.

The Covenant Design Group will meet March 29-April 2 in Cambridge, England. Come to think of it I'm going to Cambridge some time in the next week or two. Perhaps I'll call in and listen to one of the design Group's open session. I wouldn't mind being a fly on the wall.

The group will report to the ACC meeting in May in Jamaica. When the next draft of the Covenant will be released is not clear but my guess would be when the papers go out for that meeting. It's too large a group to keep everything quiet.

A two-thirds majority is required for ratification, but since the Primates inserted themselves into the ACC that's less of a hurdle than it should be.

Living Church reported that

As the Covenant Design Group readies its handiwork for deliberation by the Anglican Consultative Council, the group’s chairman acknowledges that selling a unity document to a divided communion will be neither automatic nor easy.

Retired West Indies’ Archbishop Drexel Wellington Gomez identified current Episcopal Church attitudes as a danger to ratification of the proposed Covenant.

Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori already has said General Convention this summer should decline to take up for consideration the design group’s yet-to-be perfected recommendations for measures aimed at respecting local autonomy while providing accountability for divisive actions.

“The Episcopal Church has its own agenda,” Archbishop Gomez said in Dallas March 22, “and that agenda does not have much accommodation with the rest of the Communion.”


Archbishop Gomez said a new fourth section of the now-three-section covenant will address the question of “how we get agreement on how we stay together and work together.” He noted that many Anglicans are “not fond of being told they are wrong.

“That’s our biggest fight, and that fight is not over,” he said. Nonetheless, he said in answer to a question, “The bigger body has to take precedence over the lesser.”


The Scottish Episcopal Church has published its formal response to the St Andrew's Draft (pdf), just before the Design Group meets. (Oddly this is not on the SEC site yet but has come to Thinking Anglicans via Kelvin Holdsworth's blog. Just shows the difficulties of managing information release in a wired aged.) We can expect a number of these reponses which the group have had for some time to be made public in the next couple of weeks.

I'm pleased to say that the Covenant Design Group ordered copies of my own booklet Who Steers the Ship? The poverty of the Draft Anglican Covenant, for distrubution to its members as part of their preparatory reading. (Available from this page, or directly as a pdf here.)

Pluralist, who has been playing with new software, thinks the Scottish document is a holding document. It is cautious.

They reiterate their uncertainty about not only the wording but also the very idea of a covenant.
While they don't think there are any extensive changes necessary to enable the process of adoption (a little too broad brush in my opinion, given their later comments) they do point to possible legal difficulties.

As a general principle, however, the more a proposed Covenant moves into considerations of proscription and sanction, the harder it will be to reconcile it with existing canonical structures (and, possibly, with the requirements of the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator, for which the Code of Canons is the Constitution of the Scottish Episcopal Church).
It does not suggest that these are insuperable, just a matter of the time the process will take.

They raise again concerns which have been raised repeatedly before:

  • The term 'Covenant' (raised and dismissed in the Introduction to the St Andrew's Draft).

  • Concentration of powers and consequences for representation and the manner of appointment.

  • The meaning of 'common mind' and 'matters understood to be of essential concern'.

  • The efficacy of a Covenant: will it really stop cross-border intrusions?

  • Unseemly haste at the cost of consultation.
These are not peripheral issues. They go to the heart of what the Covenant is, its conceptual frame, and its application. But they are expressed in Anglican-speak. Perhaps because, as Gomez said, many Anglicans are “not fond of being told they are wrong."

The Scots have also issued a Response to the Anglican Primates' Letter of February 2009 (pdf).

MadPriest is very annoyed with them:

What is the point of being Scottish if all you are going to do is behave like the English?
The paper is leery of the idea of moratoria - it's not clear how and when the moratoria will end, and suggests a suspension of a practice that was previously acceptable. Nonetheless they almost say they will not consecrate as bishop someone in a same-sex partnership, but not quite. They say they are internally divided over the issue with the strong implication (as MadPriest observes) that when a sufficient majority of Scottish Anglicans think such an appointment would be acceptable they could they get on with it.

This is normal. Churches have always followed public opinion (while simultaneously clinging to a fond belief in their own counter-cultural qualities).

Equally they say it would be 'premature' to formally authorise a liturgy for blessing same sex unions, with the implication that, when they are mature, the Scots will take this step. In the meantime 'informal pastoral responses to individual situations' will carry on: don't ask, don't tell - This Is Not A Policy.

Finally, like everyone else excpet those doing it, they deprecate cross-border incursions. It's not them.


Listening and learning

Adult education in Minnesota.

From a recent CofE press release here

The Church of England has joined other organisations in signing a pledge to use its network of people and buildings to support a drive to create more ‘informal adult learning’ opportunities across the country.


Revd Janina Ainsworth said, “The Church shares the aim of enriching individual’s lives so that they can fulfil their God-given potential, and welcomes the chance to formalise its historic commitment and investment in projects which boost people’s skills and confidence, both in faith-related activities and less obviously churchy ones.

“This is a simple way of showing that the Church is passionate about learning and the development of the whole person. Christians believe this is God’s hope for every person.”

By signing the pledge, the Church of England’s Board of Education has joined a wider movement of ambassadors for informal adult learning, including the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), the Museums Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) and Business in the Community (BITC).

The pledge includes seven overarching commitments:

· Support the core principles of informal learning and encourage others to sign up

· Advocate wider participation, especially by those who have benefited least from learning

· Find flexible ways of using our existing spaces, or opening up new spaces, for learning

· Encourage and support learning activities organised by people for themselves

· Embrace new ways of learning, including the use of technology and broadcasting

· Find and work with new partners to increase learning opportunities

· Celebrate our successes

Really? How will this work in practice do you think? And will the church apply it to itself?

A culture in which the laity tell clergy and clergy tell bishops what they think the other wants to hear is antipathetic to learning. And a church in which those laity and those clergy do tell clergy and bishops respectively exactly what they think are then marginalised, regarded as trouble and generally unheard, is a church incapable of listening.



Hear, hear Duane!

From SW Radio

Today, Duane commends Bishop Sebastian Bakare and the Anglicans in Zimbabwe. In a time of illegal takeovers it is great to see a righteous take-back . There is a great need for people at all levels to push the boundaries and reclaim their rights and freedoms.

Listen here:


Most of the piece is a general commendation of justice and righteousness over prevailing reality in Zimbabwe.

Buying a driver’s licence

Selling old paper to tourists

From Sokwanele

To get your learner’s license in Zimbabwe costs US$20 and ditto for driving test.
I got a call from a friend who I tested for his learners before he sat the test and I can vouch that he really knew it well.

But he failed 3 times. He was distraught. His neighbour said, ‘Don’t be stupid - clearly they want a bribe’.

So my friend went back to the VID, and asked how much it will REALLY cost.

‘Ooohhhh’, they said, ‘80 for learners, 100 for driving license - and don’t worry, if you come with the money you don’t have to re-sit the exam’.

My friend was convinced he’d already passed three times anyway so he paid and passed. This means that instead of costing US$40 bucks it now costs US$220 to go through the whole process of getting your licence: the official US$40 plus US$180 for what it REALLY costs.

Corruption runs so deep in Zimbabwe it seems impossible that it will ever end: from doctors hi-jacking medical equipment donated for use in hospitals, to nurses selling their donated stocks to patients.

I give blood regularly, FOR FREE, and I am reliably told by a colleague that he had to BUY blood at the government-run hospital at R300 for a pint.

However the days of runaway inflation seem to have passed with the effective dollarisation (and, simultaneously, randisation and pulaisation) of the Zimbawean economy. So what to do with all that cash?
Zimbabwe's wily street hawkers have finally found a use for the worthless 100-trillion-dollar banknotes that were issued here in January. They sell the bizarre banknotes as souvenirs to foreign tourists for $2 each. The currency with the never-ending string of zeroes is quickly fading into history, just two months after the latest notes were printed by the inexhaustible central bank. Also disappearing is Zimbabwe's phenomenal level of hyperinflation, which last year reached a stunning 89.7 sextillion per cent (a number expressed with 21 zeroes), making it the most extreme hyperinflation crisis of any country in modern times.
The stabilisation of the economy has had positive effects:
SOMETHING extraordinary is happening in Zimbabwe. Supermarket shelves that were empty three months ago are once more stacked with produce. Prices, practically doubling daily at one stage, have been going down.The simple explanation for this apparent miracle in Zimbabwe’s broken-down economy is that everything is now priced in US dollars or rands.
Though this report ends,
And the government’s promise to public sector workers is a risky one. Economists reckon that without an injection of foreign exchange, the government’s ability to honour its pledges in dollars will run out towards the end of next month.
Of course, dollarisation doesn't suit everyone. One consequence is that South African (and other) goods are coming into the country while local producers cannot keep up. A dodgy power supply, the destruction of agriculture, lack of capital and loss of workers are all making life difficult for local business.

Government is also trying to control key prices:
Energy Minister Elias Mudzuri on Friday reduced electricity tariffs and set new fuel prices in a move he said was part of efforts by the government to jump start Zimbabwe’s economy. Mudzuri reduced from US$0.9 cents to US$0.7 cents the average electricity tariff with backed to February, ... The price of diesel was set at US$0.85 per litre, US$0.95 for petrol, and US$0.80 for both Jet A1 and paraffin.
Though, historically, price controls have been a recipe for smuggling and black marketeers.

The government's financial situation is dire and unless it is resolved it will have increasingly severe effects on ordinary people. Unpaid bills closed a large part of the telecomms network and access to the internet for a week till part payment was made. More crises could follow. An internal government memo said that by February,

Zimbabwe owed Equatorial Guinea US$222 million for fuel, Noczim US$26,5 million, Noczim-pipeline US$4 million, lines of credit US$195,4 million, GMB US$106,05 million, corporate loans US$240,74 million, diplomatic missions US$30 million, fertilisers US$35,6 million, army/intelligence/police US$20 million, Air Zimbabwe US$10 million, Zinwa US$5 million, China US$5 million, the Registrar-General US$5 million, presidential scholarships US$4 million, Zesa US$40 million, seed US$12 million and currency printing US$100 million. "This amounts to US$1,061,29 billion. Government needs to swiftly raise this money to keep running," the memo says. "Failure to pay some of these obligations urgently would further weaken the country’s credit rating in regional and international markets." The memo says government is facing a serious financial crisis and would need to move with speed to raise funds to save the situation. The crisis is aggravated by a total stock of external debt of over US$5 billion.

Perhaps next week the future will be clearer. The Zimbabwean economic crisis is high on the SADC agenda, though they only seem to be discussing a $2bn package. Maybe that's a clue as to why a sensitive internal memo was leaked.


Hesitancy and disquiet

From Anglican Information

MALAWI – Diocese of Upper Shire: The recent failure of the Anglican Central African Provincial bishops to endorse their candidacy of the Rev’d Brighton Malasa as the new Bishop of Upper Shire diocese indicates a hesitancy about his extreme youth and more especially continuing allegations against him for embezzlement, immorality and drunkenness. The House of Bishops is divided between those who want a thorough investigation of Malasa (who was former Archbishop Bernard Malango’s one time chaplain) and those who want to push ahead. Laity and clergy keep a close eye and ear on the bishops, who are given to unguarded comments overheard as reported from Malawi below:

‘We are very embarrassed with some comments from some bishops from this Province of Central Africa saying that their proposed bishop “should not worry about accusations leveled against him” because they too were “in the same situation and we still went through courts of confirmation and consecrations”. This shows some of our bishops are spiritually bankrupt. Bishops need to be people with holiness, integrity, sound morals etc and not be bogus holy men.

ANGLICAN-INFORMATION observes that this is sadly historically true. The previous bishop of Upper Shire, Bernard Malango, for example, came from Zambia under cloud of accusations and a court case regarding embezzlement.

The correspondent continues with a widely felt concern that Malawian appointments are now being stage-managed by outsiders:

‘We are no longer Rhodesia and Nyasaland but Malawians in Malawi. We deserve respect as a church here in Malawi. We are fed up with such kind of behaviors because of your attitudes towards Malawi Church. Please forthwith stop and leave Malawians alone, no interference. Leave us alone for our future in Malawi as a church. After all do you contribute anything to Malawian Church for its growth? It’s the poorest church in the Province. And yet you boast on what white man left for you in your countries’.

ANGLICAN-INFORMATION notes that there are now three dioceses in Malawi and one in Zimbabwe, without bishops:

  • Lake Malawi, whose people still insist on a proper Court of Confirmation for their elected bishop.
  • Northern Malawi, now vacant following the resignation of Bishop Christopher Boyle who is returning to England as an assistant bishop in the Diocese of Leicester.
  • Upper Shire, where the people are challenging the imposed candidacy of Brighton Malasa. Harare, where an election for a new bishop is due in April.



Anglicans Want Chihuri Charged

Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri

From The Standard

Saturday, 21 March 2009
BY Edgar Gweshe

THE main Anglican Church congregation loyal to Harare Diocese Province of Central Africa Bishop Sebastian Bakare, which has been embroiled in a long drawn battle for control of the church with a rival group led by renegade Bishop Nolbert Kunonga wants the police commissioner charged with contempt of court.

The group, now commonly referred to as the Bakare faction, says Chihuri is biased against them, adding they have evidence that the commissioner-general, who is also a sworn Zanu PF supporter, connived with Kunonga to destabilise their church.

Kunonga, who broke from the church’s hierarchy in 2007, is trying to wrest control of the diocese’s extensive assets from the faction led by Bishop Sebastian Bakare.

The dispute turned ugly last Sunday when riot police tried to disrupt a service led by Bakare at a parish in Mabvuku arguing Kunonga had won a Supreme Court challenge against a January 2008 ruling by the High Court allowing the two factions to share assets.

Bakare’s group now wants Chihuri charged with contempt of court for allegedly instructing the police to assist the bishop who uses his strong links to Zanu PF to intimidate opponents in his bid to drive Anglicans out of their churches.

The Diocesan Registrar for the Church of the Province of Central Africa, Michael Chingore, said they had filed a contempt of court application against Chihuri in the face of the continued disruption of church services by the police.

“We have already launched a contempt of court appeal against the police at the High Court,” he said. “The police have only been trying to stop our services instead of maintaining order.
“We are simply saying the police or commissioner-general should not be anywhere near our services.

He said on numerous occasions the police had interfered with their services as they tried to force them to make way for Kunonga’s faction in violation of the High Court ruling.

“It appears the police are now causing more problems than Kunonga’s faction and our case is not against Kunonga but the police,” Chingore said.

Bakare accused Chihuri of being biased against his group and said they had evidence that the commissioner-general connived with Kunonga to destabilise the church.

“Chihuri is sending people to provoke Anglicans and on the other hand he is saying he does not know anything about it,” said Bakare.

Chihuri has sought to distance himself from the Anglican church saga.

Three weeks ago the church secured an affidavit from Chihuri in which he denied any knowledge of instructions issued to force Anglicans out of their churches.

But Bakare said the disruption of church services proved that Chihuri was not being truthful.“The question here is that if Chihuri claims he does not know anything then who has been sending the police?

“For police officers to be so partisan raises a lot of questions.”

Last weekend police arrested three parishioners including the church warden Henry Musikavanhu at St Stephens church after they resisted attempts to force them out of a Sunday service to make way for the Kunonga faction.

They were released on Monday without any charges being laid against them.

“The police have been making numerous arrests but surprisingly enough no charges have been made and that is why we would like to believe they are deriving their orders from their seniors,” said Chingore.

But Bishop Alfred Munyanyi, speaking on behalf of Kunonga’s faction, claimed Bakare’s group was out to cause trouble.

“The police are coming because this other faction is failing to observe the status-quo. “They are simply doing their work,” he said.

“These people are just making noise but the constitution is very clear that Kunonga remains the head of the Anglican Church.

“Bishops are not fired but they are removed following clearly outlined procedures.”

Kunonga’s faction claims to have won a Supreme Court challenge that allowed them the sole use of the church’s premises, an assertion dismissed by Bakare’s group.

Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena defended the police saying they were only enforcing court orders.

“Our position is that we are following the law in resolving the dispute and they (Bakare and Kunonga factions) should follow the court orders,” he said.

The CPCA has also approached the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee which was set up to ensure the implementation of the Global Political Agreement.



Such a hateful God

Pinched from Episcopal Café

On the other hand ...

From the Church of England Newspaper

The end appears nigh for Dr. Nolbert Kunonga and his stranglehold on the Diocese of Harare, sources in Zimbabwe tell The Church of England Newspaper. Kept in power solely through the support of regime, “Mugabe’s bishop” appears to have lost the support of the security services.
On Sunday, Anglicans were able to worship unmolested inside some of their churches for over a year after the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) Commissioner Augustine Chihuri publicly withdrew his support for Dr. Kunonga.

Following his split with the Church of the Province of Central Africa in 2007, Dr. Kunonga created the Anglican Church of Zimbabwe. The Province responded by deposing Dr. Kunonga and appointing retired Bishop Sebastian Bakare to the see. Litigation over the control over diocesan properties ensued and last year the Harare High Court issued an order directing Dr. Kunonga and Dr. Bakare to share the use of church facilities pending the outcome of litigation.

Support for Dr. Kunonga is almost non-existent among the lay members of the diocese, and is confined to a handful of family members and clergy supporters. However, he has had the backing of the Mugabe regime, and supported by the security services he has defied the court’s order to share the properties.

Anglicans attempting to worship inside their churches have been met with force, with arrests and beatings at the hands of the police have been reported across the diocese. However, in the wake of last month’s power sharing agreement between President Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party and the opposition MDC led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, support for Dr. Kunonga appears to have softened in Harare’s corridors of power.

In a letter to his diocesan clergy sent earlier this month, Dr. Bakare reports that Police Commissioner Chihuri has signed an affidavit denying he ordered the ZRP to ignore the high court order. Dr. Bakare has urged his clergy and their congregations to return to their churches, and last Sunday led worship in one parish.

Sources in Zimbabwe tell CEN the security services entered the Sunday service while Dr. Bakare was presiding, but backed away from a confrontation. The Times’ correspondent in Harare reported that when confronted by the riot police—a special shock force used by the regime to quell dissent, Dr. Bakare stated, “If you want to attack me, I am in your hands.”
Confronted with the police commissioner’s affidavit and Dr. Bakare’s stand, the riot police backed down and the service continued.


Kunonga' people still active

Mr Nolbert Kunonga

From Anglican Information

ANGLICAN-INFORMATION reports that there have been sporadic hopeful reports in the press about an apparent weakening of the Mugabe regime and signs that the power sharing deal might have had some effect for the better. These need, in our opinion, to be treated with great caution. Here below for example is a report of events last Sunday from a Harare correspondent telling of more difficulties for Anglicans from the state-backed renegade ‘Archbishop’ Kunonga faction.

Update on St.Peter's Anglican Church, Meyrick Park, Mabelreign, Harare.
Sunday, March 15th 2009

During the week our ex priest (Prosper Muzambi, a Kunonga supporter) was taken to the Magistrates Court charged with assault and malicious damage to property. He was given bail and will be tried next month. His victim, the wife of our church caretaker, was taken to hospital. She has a medical report on the injuries to her back and a dental report. Two broken teeth will have to be removed.

This morning two or three hundred of us got to St.Peter's to find the police already there. This was somewhat expected as yesterday when the youth came to tidy up the church garden, Muzambi sent for the police and they were sent away.

Later on the same thing happened to the Mothers Union. Today we did not even get to the car park as two police in helmets were stationed in the road. One a young girl with glasses seemed to taking practice swings with her truncheon. Later another policeman moved their car across the road to the annoyance of residents further down the cul de sac.

It was interesting to observe the different way people behaved. Most just stood quietly in the road, but a group of about ten Mothers Union members surrounded another woman policeman, all shouting at her at the same time, some raising their arms. She just stood her ground and tried to talk to them but the noise was too great. In contrast some of the senior men took the Member in Charge away from the noise and they talked quietly. The church warden had a copy of the affidavit from the Chief of Police stating that he had never turned anyone out of church. It was agreed they should go together to the Central Police Station to look for the Inspector who had ordered that no Anglicans were to be allowed into their churches today.

At this point it began to rain so we all moved away and went to the Hall of a local school. The headmistress is fortunately a member of our congregation, and was in the crowd. The altar cloth, candles and chalices which were in someone's car were quickly put out and we had a very nice Eucharist.

The church warden returned from town and reported that the whole city police force appeared to be involved in trying to prevent Anglicans from worshipping in their church buildings! He heard conversations with the group of police sent to Mabvuku where Bishop Bakare was celebrating. I have since heard that the Bishop is all right, and they managed to have the service. But I have also heard that at St Mary's Chitengwiza, Harare's satellite town, some Anglicans were beaten and have been arrested. Human rights lawyers have gone out there.

St.Peter's are now looking for somewhere to have their service next week, to be followed by Vestry Meeting.

Please keep praying.

ANGLICAN-INFORMATION reports that this is typical of the type of situation that the next Bishop of Harare will have to deal with when he is elected next month to replace bishop Sebastian Bakare. It remains our view that this is not a sensible time to replace him.



The Zimbabwe Church reasserts itself

From The Times
Sebastian Bakare, the Anglican Bishop of Harare, ignored the riot policeman at the altar trying disrupt his Sunday service, and carried on with worship. In front of the church’s first full congregation for years Bishop Bakare told the representative of Zimbabwe’s security services: “If you want to attack me, I am in your hands.”
A fortnight ago the Church secured an affidavit from Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri, in which denied knowing anything about a police operation to force Anglicans away from their churches. It was read to parishioners by Anglican priests wherever they met, and they were urged to return to their churches on Sunday.

Emboldened by the formation of the new power-sharing Government, the church’s flock is now beginning to return in force.

And from The Herald (March 14)

Harare — CHURCHES will soon meet Government to present their suggestions on nation healing, building and reconciliation, Zimbabwe Council of Churches president Bishop Naison Shava has said.

Addressing journalists at the Ecumenical Church Leaders Forum in Harare on Thursday, Bishop Shava said church leaders had agreed to put their input in the new political dispensation. "We have met to redefine our role in society as a church, among other issues so that the church takes an active role in nation building," he said.

The church, Bishop Shava, had the responsibility to contribute towards nation building. "We are however aware of the new political dispensation and we want to help by participating in bringing the nation together," he said.

Bishop Shava said political polarisation in the country had brought trauma to many people hence the need for a true and complete healing process.

"There are people who lost their limbs during that period and then they say the only retribution is to cut off the hand of the person who cut off his hand.

"As the church we are saying that kind of action will not help in healing the nation and we would like to raise the question on the approach and find some compromise where we have truth and forgiveness," he said. …


Has the tide turned?

Public execution of two gay men in Iran

I sense a tide has turned. There’s no way to know but it looks to me as though the future shape of the Anglican Communion is slowly emerging.

I guess there will be one grouping based on the present GAFCON, another on TEC, and a third, centred around the CofE, which collects together all those not wishing to fight ideological battles around the shibboleth of homosexuality.

GAFCON provinces will keep strong links with other conservative provinces who, in turn will have varying degrees of linkage with the middling group, some of whom will have strong links with TEC. The CofE will try to stay friends with everyone.

There will be compacts, or agreements, or even covenants to formalise such linkages. But I suspect that the reality of a wired world means that the majority of effective links are likely to be more fluid and more complex. Many will be small-scale (diocese-diocese, parish-parish, interest group based links) and cumulatively significant. They will be more horizontal, untidy and personal links, some brief and some long lasting. Others will be more formal and organizational, some deliberately designed to bind people together, other doing so incidentally. On some themes (e.g. a international Anglican history group) they will deliberately cross the stronger divides.

Some more provinces (Australia?) may break up, as TEC has done. There will be more cross-border interventions and more pain (and court cases) from internal readjustment before things more or less settle down (though I can see a continuing trickle of movement in one direction and another as personalities and issues in conflict change).
These predictions have been brewing for a while. They were sharpened by the way accounts of the actions of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) continue to spread across the Anglican blogosphere.

Thinking Anglicans have done their usual good job in rounding up press reports and have a 5 page pdf of the full submission of the church to the legislature. Colin Coward has pointed to the silence on the American right about the Nigerian events and rhetoric.

But the fact is that we are all using the issues of homosexuality as a means to an end: to influence the character of the future Anglican communion. We are attempting to use the Nigerian antipathy towards homosexuality as much as the development of authorised blessings of same-sex unions in the Diocese of Ottawa and Niagara. (The response of the Archbishop of Canterbury when he was told about Niagara was said to be 'less than fulsome.')

On the other hand we don't get worked up about what happens to gays in Iran - torture and execution. Nor about what happens to gay and lesbian people in other countries where their lives are in danger. Nor, for that matter, about the largely untroubled acceptance of gays and lesbians in Scandinavia. (See Wikipedia for a global overview).

In other words we are using the fate of gay and lesbian people for other purposes and losing sight that the primary concern of the church should surely be those people themselves: their love and self-fulfilment, their hopes and sufferings, their position in unjust social structures, and the use of systematic brutality to enforce social norms.

If I am even vaguely right about the beginning of the end of realignment then it is time to look away from the distractions of battle and towards the post-war settlement. Towards the end of the Second World War, but before it was over, the cry was taken up in the churches as in the political parties ‘We have won the war, now how can we win the peace?’ The wholesale disruption of civil society meant that, briefly, anything seemed possible.

We need to start up a similar cry in Anglicanism: ‘The war is coming to an end, how shall we shape the peace?

What will a new Anglicanism look like? How can Anglicanism in England be both open to all and inclusive in its attitudes at home if it is to be constrained by the impossible stretch of keeping in with everyone else abroad?

How, in a new and less fevered Anglicanism, can we welcome the marginalised and excluded into a new-old faithful church?

My guess for the three major groupings, based largely on ignorance:

The Diocese of Sydney, Anglican Church of North America, Bangladesh?, Burundi, Central Africa, Congo, Indian Ocean, Jerusalem & The Middle East, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, South East Asia, Southern Cone, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, West Africa, West Indies, Bermuda.

Australia (bar Sydney), Aotearoa, New Zealand & Polynesia, England, Hong Kong, Ireland, Japan, Korea?, Melanesia, Myanmar, North India, Pakistan?, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Scotland, South India, Southern Africa, Wales, Ceylon, Lusitanian, Spain, Falkland Islands.


Brazil, Canada, Central America, Mexico, Cuba.

How the relative weight of these groups is to be measured is another question altogether.


On the the noticeboard at the back of the Methodist Church this morning I saw a notice (paraphrased):

WARNING: Cocaine cut with ketamine is being sold in the area. It looks like the real thing and costs the same. But if you get an allergic reation you need to get medical help fast.
I was really impressed - I never knew Methodists, aged from their 50s to their 80s, had so much fun and danger.


Motes and beams

While I was browsing I read the Church of Nigeria's statement supporting the Nigerian Same Gender Marriage (Prohibition) Bill.

It was illustrative of the thinking of biblical literalists and their ability to fillet the Scriptures and arrange the pieces as social policy. Perhaps a random quote generator would lead to a more equitable society.

However one paragraph, one phrase struck me with some force:

Marriage is a creation of God between a man and a woman

(c) Those who argue for the legalization of this unwholesome practice [same sex marriage] on the claims of human rights must first of all recognize and respect the right of God to order his creation the way he wants it. Human rights therefore should not infringe on the right of God to remain God. (emphasis added)

First there's the hubris: isn't there some biblical quote on claiming to know the mind of God? Second, there's the idea of divine rights placed alongside human rights - not exactly a biblical idea.

Both of these seem to me to diminish God, to reduce God to a small town mayor struggling to cope with new people who haven't grown up in the place but who still want to have their say.

But maybe in our different ways we are all tempted do this: to co-opt God to our priorities, selecting the best fillets of scripture to support our view, reducing God to something manageable, and then telling other people they should follow what we believe - because, of course, it's not me, it's God that's telling you.

Perhaps contrition and a much sharper awareness of our own limitations before God, a continual recognition that we are judged as well as loved, and that our sins and failures are the sins for which we are primarily responsible, should be the dominant note of any religious foray into social policy. Could the CofE, perhaps, as a matter of religious principle start with a recognition of its own complicity in whatever public wrong its latest report condemns?

Perhaps this could be done before we start pointing at the mote in other people's eyes. Now, where does that come from?



Meanwhile, in Nigeria

The House of Representatives, Nigeria

Homosexuality is a 'moral and social holocaust' which threatens the 'continued existence of this nation' and brings 'disastrous consequences to mankind' - according to the Anglican Church (Nigeria).

From Gay Community News:
The House of Representatives in Nigeria has voted unanimously in favour of a new legislation banning same-sex marriage.

The bill "prohibits marriage between persons of same gender, solemnisation of same and other matters related therewith."

Representatives said that both Islam and Christianity, the prominent religions in Nigeria, condemn homosexual acts.

Pink News says:
Changing Attitudes Nigeria (CAN), an Anglican Church pressure group on LGBT rights, attacked a bill that would ban same-sex marriage and imprison anyone associated with promoting gay rights.

Davis Mac-Iyalla, head of Changing Attitudes Nigeria, warned that acceptance of the bill would see vast numbers of Nigerians fleeing to other countries to escape persecution.

"Already we are seeing an increase in homophobic behaviour and attacks, because people feel they can get away with it. The climate is already becoming intolerable", said Mac-Iyalla.

"Unless the government tones down its language and cancels the bill, we are going to see a flood of refugees as people flee for their lives," he warned.

But Emmanuel Onwubiko, a senior commissioner at Nigeria's Human Rights Commission told the BBC:

"Supporters of the same-sex marriage in Nigeria don't know what they are saying. As far as we are concerned, gay marriage is not allowed in Africa.

"If South Africa want to do it, that is their business. It is not Nigerian to by gay, let alone going ahead to legally get married as gay and even live as a family with adopted children.

It's completely alien to our culture," he added.

Colin Coward has written a letter (here, but not yet on his blog) arguing against the legislation partly because 'Very few Nigerian LGBT activists are free to speak out in a country which already has repressive anti-gay legislation on the statute book'.

But there were protests (This day):

Homosexuals yesterday stormed the National Assembly to protest over a bill which seeks to prohibit same sex marriages in Nigeria.

The group, comprising young males and females, said they were opposed to the bill because the United Nations charter on Human Rights guaranteed them freedom of association and freedom to sexual orientation, all of which the proposed law will deny them.

The protest was countered by a group of religious leaders who were in attendance at a public hearing organised by the House of Representatives Joint Committee on Human Rights, Women Affairs and Justice.


Rashidi Williams, leader of the Queer Alliance, one of the homosexual groups at the forefront of the agitation, said his group was opposed to all forms of discrimination against homosexuality in Nigeria, arguing that homosexuality was a private decision which does not in anyway affect the right of others who are not homosexuals.


“We believe that we are created by God and do not wish to be discriminated against, we seek your help and appeal to you all to lay this bill aside. We ask that the House of Representatives and our lawmakers work with us to understand the concept of sexuality and sexual orientation through our experiences and not create laws that punish us needlessly,’’ he said.

And this is what the church says:

Many of the legislators and religious leaders at the event were shocked to see young people openly identifying with an idea considered as sacrilegious and satanic.

In a presentation by the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), the church said “same sex marriage is out to foist on the world a false sense of the family, which will bring disastrous consequences to mankind.”

According to the clerics, same sex marriage ”apart from being ungodly, was unscriptural, unnatural, unprofitable, unhealthy, un-cultural, un-African and un-Nigerian. It is a perversion, a deviation and an aberration that is capable of engendering moral and social holocaust in this country. Outlawing it is to ensure the continued existence of this nation.”


When the rhetoric grows this loud and bombastic the only question that remains is: what are they tring to hide?



Zimbabwe: how many more must die?

Morgan Tsvangirai at the church service in Harare for his wife, Susan.

About 1,000 people attended the funeral of Susan Tsvangirai at the Methodist Church she attended.

The President, Robert Mugabe, spoke
"We shall do our best, our possible best to ensure that the environment that we create in the country is a conducive environment," Mugabe said in calling for an end to violence.

(AP report here)

The Times observed,
Mr Mugabe has rarely shown such a human, conciliatory side since 1980, when he made an impassioned appeal for reconciliation after the bloody civil war against the former white minority Rhodesian Government. He spoke then of “the age of love” and of “turning swords into ploughshares”.

A rally later at a sports arena was attended by several thousand people (15-30 thousand, depending on reports) but not Mugabe - and any mention of his name was booed.

From the MDC press release:
Giving a keynote address at Glamis Stadium, MDC Secretary-General and Finance Minister, Hon. Tendai Biti said the question everyone was asking was why this accident had happened.

“Most of us are in pain but the majority of us are so shocked we could not feel the pain,” he said. Hon. Biti said Amai Tsvangirai was an honest and loving grandmother, a Christian, a revolutionary and a mother of the struggle for change and democracy in Zimbabwe.

“She was an activist and revolutionary in her own right. She believed in the same values as her husband in wishing to bring about democratic change in Zimbabwe through a new, people-driven Constitution,” he said. …

“As a result we must take her passing on as an inspiration and must stop feeling pity for ourselves,” said Hon. Biti.

Reuters has video of the funeral and Voice of America has audio reports from the rally which followed. BBC report.

Mmegi asks, How long shall they kill our prophets?
The first real accident that happened to Morgan Tsvangirai and family was his mistaken belief that he could tame the old crocodile that has been eating the children of Zimbabwe from the days of Chimurenga. How many more should die to keep this man in power?

History is not forgotten.




I was looking at an article about the export of homophobia to Africa by the religious right (here) which cited SMUG: Sexual Minorities Uganda. Their new website is here, though it's too new to say much yet.

But it does say a lot about the new global world. Just as the religious right can proselytise for their views so others can proclaim their opposition: the technologies that bind us together are also the technologies which enable us to declare and promote our differences.

"There is a lot of misunderstanding about human sexuality," said Ugandan Bishop Dr. Christopher Ssenyonjo, who was expelled from the Anglican Church for supporting gay people. “This workshop is going to bring more conflict, greater hostility, increased intimidation. We need love ... in the long run, love will overcome."

The U.S. religious right has a history of exporting homophobia to Africa. With support from anti-gay organizations and faith leaders such as Family Watch International and Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church, Pastor Martin Ssempa from Makerere Community Church has attacked not only gay men and lesbians, but also women's rights and HIV activism. Pastor Ssempa has stated, "there should be no rights granted to homosexuals in this country." In 2007, he organized a multi-denominational rally against LGBT rights in Kampala, where one cleric called for the "starving to death of homosexuals."
Bishop Ssenyonjo has long been a supporter of LGBT rights. He retired as Bishop of West Buganda in 1998 and fell out in a big way with Archbishop Orombi when he 'came out' in 2001.


US Lutherans to ordain partnered gays and lesbians?

A blue-ribbon panel has recommended that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America lift its ban on partnered gay and lesbian clergy, but only after the church agrees in principle on gay relationships and agrees to respect the consciences of those who dissent.

A majority of the 15-member Task Force for ELCA Studies on Sexuality believes that "it is possible to devise guidelines and policies that would allow . . . some flexibility" in its ordination standards.

The 4.7-million-member ELCA currently allows gay or lesbian clergy who pledge to be celibate; partnered or sexually active homosexual clergy are technically not allowed in ELCA pulpits, though some buck the rules without punishment.

The Lutherans have been moving slowly and carefully towards a more accepting position for some time (see past post). This is not a done deal, not least because of cumbersome decision making processes, and there will undoubtedly be opposition, some of it vehement. There will probably be some splits and defections.

Nonetheless it is in itself a step towards the recognition of gay and lesbian people as fully human within full membership of God's church. It is a steps away from the 'don't ask, don't tell' duplicity that pervades much clerical life.

One day there will be no need to hide your loved ones away.

In the mean time there is a lot more thinking and debating to do:

In order to lift restrictions on gay clergy, the assembly must approve each of the following resolutions before the next can be considered:

• That the ECLA is committed to allowing congregations and synods to recognize and support "lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships."
• That the ELCA is committed to finding a way for people in such relationships to serve as clergy in the church.
• That the ELCA agrees to "respect the bound consciences" of church members who disagree on the issue.
• That the ELCA agrees to remove the blanket ban on partnered gay clergy.

Task Force leaders said the church must deal with underlying issues—how it feels about gay relationships and the lack of consensus in the church—before it can amend its rules.


How to use Zimbabwean dollars


Yesterday a woman in Harare went to the Tsvangirai home to offer condolences. When she arrived there the entire block was jammed with people, grieving for the loss of the Prime Minister’s wife. She was about to enter the house when none other than Gideon Gono arrived with his entourage of security personnel.

When the crowd realised who it was, they began to chant “Buda, buda” (go away) and spontaneously threw whatever Z$ at him. The unwelcome Governor of the Reserve Bank was forced to beat a hasty and ignominious retreat.

There is a new atmosphere in Zimbabwe. People are outraged at the untimely death of 51 year old Susan Tsvangirai, mother of six and support to the PM. There is no conclusion to the cause of her death, but the feeling is that regardless of the direct cause, Mugabe and his henchmen have blood on their hands - blood which goes back 29 years and will never be washed away, even if they are entirely absolved of blame for the tragic accident that shook the nation on Friday.

The pictures are the latest Zimbabwean funny money:

This is a coupon; the civil service, university staff and others in the public sector are now being paid with these coupons.

Each coupon is worth US$20 - but as you can see, this isn’t printed on the coupon itself. Some coupons have been issued by the CBZ (a private bank) and others, like the one pictured above, are issued by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (and because that’s Gono, they’re being called ‘goupons’).

Where is it all going? How will it end?



Rwanda statement on the Covenant

The Most Rev. Emmanuel Kolini

March 7, 2009

The Province of the Anglican Church of Rwanda has made its response to the proposed Covenant available. (Reproduced on the FoCA site.)

They endorse the idea of a covenant which must be based on Scripture and Anglican Doctrine.

In particular they endorse Lambeth Conference resolution 1.10 by which ordinations 'ought to be carried out according to Holy Scriptures and the Book of Common Prayer of 1662. (As applied to practicing homosexuals and lesbians)' and what applies to bishops should apply to deacons and priests equally.

They commit themselves to stand by the following statements:

A) The Lambeth Palace, 2003
B) The Dromantine Statement
C) The Dar-es-Salaam Statement,
D) The Road to Lambeth
E) The Jerusalem Declaration

In conclusion, having said the above, we hold very strongly, that as we continue to engage and develop this ANGLICAN COVENANT, we shall be identified by the Anglican Faith and Practice, based upon the Holy Scriptures, Doctrine and the Anglican Tradition as passed on by the Early church.

Signed by:
1. The Most Rev. Emmanuel Kolini Archbishop/chairman
2. The Rt. Rev. Onesphore Rwaje, Dean
3. The Rt. Rev. John Rucyahana
4. The Rt. Rev. Augustin Mvunabandi
5. The Rt. Rev. Jered Kalimba
6. The Rt. Rev. Josias Sendegeya
7. The Rt. Rev. Nathan K.Gasatura


This is clearly not an endorsement of the Covenant as proposed, still less one with reduced powers to sanction malefactors.

I am sure no-one wants an Anglican Covenant which is not based on 'Scripture and Anglican Doctrine'. The questions are which aspects of Scripture, understood by what criteria? Which elements of Anglican Doctrine? How are the Early Church teachings to be understood and appropriated today? But, unless there are further documents not made public, these necessary elaborations are not made.

As it stands this document cannot be used by the Covenant Design Group as it adds nothing and suggests no specific remedies to their imprecise complaints.

This is (and not surprisingly) an endorsement of the GAFCON branch of Anglicanism, increasingly separated off from the main river. It is a further step towards differing covenants - whether for cantonisation or schism.



A question for Inclusive Church

Eucharist at a previous IC conference

I attended an Inclusive Church roadshow in Newcastle a few days ago (not really a show, nor on the road, but an introduction to what IC does and hopes to do).

I put a question at the meeting and was invited to pursue it further. In a more worked form it became:
How may power in the Church of England be patterned such that there is a reasonable chance that it might move towards a sustainably inclusive church?
(Instead of the verb pattern you might substitute structured, embodied, enacted, realised, controlled, or others, each of which has slightly different connotations.)

Of course, the question could be put to any church but Inclusive Church is specifically focused on the CofE.

It's much easier to see contrary examples, of which parts of the Province of Central Africa has been a repeated refrain on this blog, but it is much harder to construct a positive framework, even theoretically, which might evoke godliness while guarding against the sins of the godly.

One might, for example, consider Mad Priest as a test case. His excellent sermon on bearing the cross of mental illness is well worth the read - including the way he was dealt with by the church, with a follow-up here. How might a truly inclusive church have acted?


Deny yourself

Another Sunday, another sermon, this time on the theme of 'deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me.'

The preached commended the goal and ideal of self-denial, of emptying one's self before God.

Without care, without nuance or subtlety, this is an hypocritical and pernicious teaching.

Hypocritical: how can clergy who enjoy their title and social status, who robe, process in to church, order worship, put words into the mouths of those who pray, who pronounce absolution and bless people, possibly preach self denial?

Pernicious: it is a denial of responsibility to say, in words or by implication, 'listen to what I say because it's not me saying it, it's God speaking through me' or 'not my command, but Scripture's.' The actual working out of this teaching serves to infantalise the laity, who must deny their selves, and deify the clergy who speak God's word (even if neither reach extremes). It is to equate godliness with the right to exercise power while denying responsibility for its exercise. It leads to claims to unchallengable autocracy and thence, in my book, the denial of God.

To be a child of God, even an obedient child of God, is not to be an infant. The task is surely to be a grown-up child of God, acting as a responsible adult amongst other adults, all listening for the prompting of God and all knowing that we act in ignorance, with very limited knowledge of past events and none about the future. It is to act faithfully, accepting responsibility for the consequences of those actions, and giving God neither the credit nor the blame.

Self-denial is a central and powerful spiritual discipline. It is precisely for these reasons that it is capable of being misused.

To her credit, when I put to the preacher after the service the question 'how does self-denial as a goal or ideal relate to being a responsible Christian?' she said she didn't know, she'd have to think that through further.



An accident?

Susan and Morgan Tsvangirai voting in Buhare

From the website of the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe
Prime Minister Morgan Richard Tsvangirai and his wife Susan, in a convoy of three vehicles, left Harare at 3 pm on 6 March 2009 to travel to their rural home in Buhera where the Prime Minister was scheduled to address a rally the following day.

Approximately 80 k from Harare, the vehicle in which the Prime Minister and his wife were traveling was involved in a collision with an oncoming truck. The Prime Minister’s vehicle was knocked off the road and rolled three times before coming to a rest.

Tragically, Susan Tsvangirai died shortly after the crash from the injuries sustained. Although suffering from cuts and severe bruising, the Prime Minister’s condition is stable and he is recovering.

Since then Morgan Tsvangirai has left and gone straight to Botswana. Not, it was said, because of any security concern. Perhaps because there he won't have to receive any more nauseating visits from the Mugabe family.

While the official MDC line in Zimbabwe is, we don't think this is foul play but it's still under investigation, a South Africa based MDC spokesperson was not so reticent and declared it was an assassination attempt.

Channel 4 news included in its report a clip from a press conference with Tendai Biti. He seemed to be saying not just that there was no police escort but that the MDC could not get the police to escort the Prime Minister. I may have misunderstood, but in Zimbabwe that sounds all too probable. In addition, while the accident happened near the Tsvangirai's home, it would seem that someone would have had to inform the assassin (if such it was) of the timing and that would probably have been someone in the police or security around the PM.

One report says,
The truck, which had a USAID insignia on it, was purchased by US government funds and its driver was hired by a British development agency, the report said. USAID stands for the US Agency for International Development.

State media in Zimbabwe had earlier reported that the lorry involved in the incident belonged to the US government aid organisation, USAID, and was carrying Aids medicines to Harare. A US Embassy official in the capital confirmed that the vehicle had been contracted to USAID.

The driver is said to be in police custody, and is said to have said he fell asleep at the wheel.

Up to date news here and here.



Kunonga: non Anglican et non grata

Illegitimate Kunonga

From The Zimbabwean (letters page)

Kunonga not Anglican Wednesday, 04 March 2009


At the swearing in ceremony, Dr. Kunonga was referred to as bishop Kunonga of the Anglican Church. This is incorrect and we have since received some complaints about the above statement. The purpose of this letter is to set the record straight and assure our Anglican members and the public at large that Dr. Kunonga is no longer an Anglican. After he himself withdrew from the Church of the province of Central Africa in September 2007 and formed his own church, he cut all the ties with the Anglican Diocese of Harare and therefore with the Church of the province of Central Africa and he is no longer a bishop in the Anglican Church. Subsequently, in May 2008 Dr. Kunonga was excommunicated from the Anglican Church. We trust that this clarification will assist ZBC in the future.



Reported on Religious Intelligence

The British Treasury has ordered British banks to freeze any funds or assets held by the former Bishop of Harare, Dr Nolbert Kunonga.
Number 13 on the [UK] list is Dr Kunonga, whom the Treasury describes as a “self-appointed Anglican Bishop” whose “followers have been backed by the police in committing acts of violence.”

In 2002 the US State Department and the EU ordered a ban on Dr Kunonga’s movements, forbidding his entry into Europe or the US. The 2009 Treasury circular stated that “no funds or economic resources are to be made available, directly or indirectly, to or for the benefit” of Dr Kunonga or the list of banned regime supporters.
A long-time ally of the regime, Dr Kunonga is the only clergyman sanctioned by the EU or the US for his complicity with the crimes of the Mugabe regime. In a 2004 report the US State Department said that the Mugabe regime had “bypassed canonical law to install” Dr Kunonga as Bishop of Harare and had rewarded him for his loyalty to the regime. “In October 2003, Kunonga seized a formerly white-owned farm 10 miles from Harare and evicted 50 black workers to make way for his own staff.”



Fasting in a time of famine

Pastoral Letter Lent 2009

Have mercy on me, O God in your great goodness;
according to the abundance of your compassion blot out my offences.
Wash me thoroughly from my wickedness and cleanse me from my sin.
For I acknowledge my faults and my sin is ever before me.
Against you only have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight. .. (Ps 51)

My dear Sisters and Brothers

The spirit of Ps. 51 quoted above is one of repentance. Lent is upon us once again, a time of repentance for the sins we have committed against God and our neighbour. The Lenten season is not observed by all Christian traditions like Christmas for instance, but only by a minority.

There is nothing festive about Lent, nor can it easily be commercialized like Christmas. Lent is associated with the practice of fasting. Bishop Irenaeus who lived about 180AD speaks about fasting, and we also read about it in a document known as Apostolic Constitution which was in circulation among Christian communities around 390AD. There we read,
“If a bishop, presbyter (priest), deacon, reader or singer does not fast the fast for 40 days or the 4th day of the week, let him be deprived (i.e. of his ecclesiastical duties) unless he is hindered by weakness of the body. But if he is one of the laity, let him be suspended.”
We have come a long way and still observe the practice of fasting, or don’t we?

The question of fasting should not only be understood as fasting from eating. Otherwise most Zimbabweans are already fasting forced by circumstances with some only having a proper meal may be once a week. I have been told that some parents with many children to feed have to decide which child is getting food on what day.

But the Lenten fasting is not only about eating. It is a season that calls us Christian to a deeper meaning of fasting, that is to stop and reflect prayerfully on everything that has happened to us personally, to our family, community or nation during the past year.

During Lent we have the opportunity to reflect on the health of our faith (2 Cor13:5). It is a season of self-examination, a time to look honestly and openly at the state of our Christian life.

In Lent we are reminded ofthe temptation of Jesus in the wilderness and throughout his ministry. It is a time to listen to Jesus inviting us to a life of faithful discipleship, a discipleship that calls for a steadfast commitment to the way that leads to Calvary. We stop, reflect and ask ourselves personally whether we are willing to go with him to the ultimate end of his journey.

There is also need for us to stop and reflect about the state of our nation, where we have gone wrong. As Ps. 51 so clearly expresses, Lent is a time of repentance, and we therefore need to ask ourselves: what is it we have to repent for, both as individuals and as a nation?

Many things have happened in our nation that have affected us and have left ugly memories and scars. These include:

• the loss of loved ones through HIV and AIDS, Cholera, starvation and political violence

• the loss of employment and entire pension benefits

• the loss of homes etc.

• the denial of access to our church buildings in the Diocese of Harare accompanied by violent police interference in our services and gatherings.

None of us would want to experience such terrible things again.

Recently I attended a conference on restorative justice in Nairobi.There were participants from Burundi, Rwanda, DRC, Somalia, Kenya and Zimbabwe. We heard some hair raising stories about atrocities that took place in these troubled parts of our continent. One of the participants from Burundi spoke passionately and said, “Unless Africa raises men and women who have the ability to help us stop and reflect about these atrocities leading to loss of human life, the same atrocities will recur again and again. We Christians”, he went on to say, “should preach the gospel of repentance so that peace and justice may be experienced by our people once more.”

Zimbabwe has just opened a new chapter with the formation of a government of national unity. It was stunning to see our ministers taking the oath of office holding a Bible in their hands. Swearing an oath is a serious commitment to serve others diligently and responsibly. I want to believe that all those who took this oath holding a Bible will find time to stop and reflect on what has happened to this nation and brought it to where it is today before embarking on a new road.

Unless they admit the failures of the past, the government of national unity will remain a pipe dream. When we fail to stop and think we run into the danger of developing a habit of accepting what is unjust as just and what is evil as good.

In Lent we are invited to stop and reflect and beyond that, to dedicate ourselves to prayer and obedience to God’s will and not that of human beings. It was prayer that sustained Jesus during the times of being tested throughout his ministry. Unless we make prayer a priority in our lives, we may find it difficult to stop and examine the health of our faith.

Taking into consideration our human inability to follow God’s commandments, I recommend to you all to read prayerfully and meditatively Psalm 51 traditionally used during the Lenten season beginning from Ash Wednesday. I find it very enriching and it encourages me to look into my own life and be able to say, “God, I’m sorry, give me another chance to do better, to be with you on your journey to Calvary”.

God is merciful and compassionate to those who repent in faith. He gives them sufficient grace to follow him. May this Lent give you a chance to deepen your faith as you respond to God’s call to follow him.

Your Bishop

+Sebastian Harare


Take away, good Lord, the sin that corrupts us;
Give us sorrow that heals
And the joy that praises
To restore by grace your own image within us,
That we may make our place among your people;
In Jesus Christ our Lord.



An American Visitation

The Americans have been visitated and they're not happy. Still, their unhappiness has been a good bit of the problem for the rest of us for some time.

The process is worth watching closely. It is an intimation of things to come in several respects.

It seems that 'Pastoral Visitors' received a briefing from people across a spectrum of opinion in The Episcopal Church in a seminar at the Virginia Theological Seminary. They flew in at the behest of the Archbishop of Canterbury and report back to him.

Official accounts are here: ACNS Press Release, and Episcopal Life Online. (Pastoral Visitors seem to be too new to have their own area on the Anglican Communion site yet, despite an improved front page.) Thinking Anglicans describes how they came into being but it is odd, see below, that they should be in action before their existence is revealed to the world.

A fuller account is by the conservative Baby Blue. She puts the context as attempts by TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada to form an Americas alliance opposed to the Covenant and, especially, opposed to the centralising tendency that the covenant represents. She also complains of the spin put on the visit by TEC. No-one ought to complain about spin as none of us have clean hands, but she is right to analyse the difference between the ACNS and TEC press releases.

Jim Naughton, on the liberal end, makes a very different observation:

If one were trying to make members of the Episcopal Church suspicious of the new "pastoral visitors" who have "named by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams to assist in healing and reconciliation given the current tensions in the Anglican Communion," here is what one would do:

  • Have the visitors consist primarily of members of the Church of England.
  • Make sure that none were women.
  • Have them meet for a private briefing before their appointments are announced.
  • Include on the briefing team at least one former member of the board of directors of the Institute on Religion and Democracy [Ephraim Radner], who urged that the provisions of the Primates communique from Dar es Salaam be imposed on the Episcopal Church against its will.
  • Make sure none of the briefers are women, either.

I lose track of how often I've said we're getting closer to the end, but we are anyway. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say there will be no end, just the continual process of disintegration and reintegration and continual jockeying to ensure that the new configurations serve my interests more than they serve yours.

For the future:

  1. If, as seems likely, an anti-covenant alliance is being sought, led by TEC, then we are talking about covenants (by whatever name) rather than a covenant in the Communion. I think this is a quite likely development, not least because it enables degrees of communion, just as we have now.
  2. By appointing and tasking these Pastoral Visitors the Archbishop of Canterbury has arrogated more power to himself and enacted a further step in the programme of centralisation. How many more provinces will have to be 'visited' before objections grow loud?
  3. Centralisation will be led by the existing elite and the people they know (and can trust to pursue the 'right' agenda). It will work against those already marginalised - such as women and lay people, let alone gay Anglicans in Mynmar. It's whole point is to concentrate power in the hands of the powerful.
  4. Therefore the whole project will eventually defeat its own ends: the focus is on internecine squabbles within the international elite of Anglicanism. Attempts to control will lead to the rejection of the controllers. And the Church is much bigger that they, and will follow social change in ways no-one will control, and will burst out of any attempt to predetermine how the church is church in practice (witness the Roman Catholic condemnation of birth control).

Church leaders are congenitally prone to believing in themselves. They might like to re-read Reinhold Niebuhr. He warns repeatedly that virtue, and faith in one's own virtue, are not sufficient grounds for action; in fact acting in such self-belief is most likely to lead to the most pernicious results. Furthermore:

Genuine community, whether between men or nations, is not established merely through the realization that we need one another, though indeed we do. That realization alone may still allow the strong to use the lives of the weaker as instruments of their own self-realization.

Genuine community is established only when the knowledge that we need one another is supplemented by the recognition that "the other," that other form of life, or that other unique community is the limit beyond which our ambitions must not run and the boundary beyond which our life must not expand.

The Irony of American History, p. 139

Niebuhr is talking about America in relation to the rest of the world. It seems to me to apply to the Anglican Church: real community entails (amongst other things) the deliberate curtailment of possible power to enable the self-realization of other members of the community in ways that the powerful would never have dreamed of or endorsed.

Incidentally, 'Visitor' is an interesting choice of designation. It comes with overtones of hospitality shared, but that's not its origin. The OED says ' One who visits officially for the purpose of inspection or supervision, in order to prevent or remove abuses or irregularities: a. An ecclesiastic, or a lay commissioner, appointed to visit religious establishments, churches, etc., for this end, either at regular intervals or on special occasions.

I also note, in passing, the South Africans have said they're in favour of a covenant, in principle, and with much work still to be done.



We wait to see

Bishop Cleophas Lunga of Matabeleland

From Anglican Information

MALAWI...Diocese of Upper Shire We have consistently reported extreme disquiet over the choice by the Central African Provincial bishops of the next bishop of Upper Shire diocese. There have been worries about their imposed candidate’s (The Rev’d Brighton Malasa) extreme youth. This has been coupled with serious accusations against him from parishes in the diocese regarding morals and embezzlement... ‘drunkenness, sexual immorality and misuse of church funds’.

ANGLICAN-INFORMATION hopes that wiser counsel may have prevailed, at least for the moment. As our correspondent reports:

‘The Court of Confirmation has been cancelled until a later date, not known as yet. The people here (in Upper Shire) are jubilant and praise the Lord for this cancellation. The question people have is why is there still to be another date when what they written is full of truth. They (the bishops) should just cancel the Court indefinitely because the imposed bishop has been rejected by parishes and especially by his home and own Cathedral parish of Mpondasi- Mangochi district. If a wife or own child tell people that dad soils the beddings is it true or not? The appointment was a disgrace to Upper Shire as far as behaviour of the proposed bishop is concerned. The Provincial bishops who made the appointment were and are blind and they need light to see. If they had evaluated Malasa’s term of office as Vicar General for the twelve months he worked they would have seen the problems. What type of leaders are they in this Province? Please remember us.’

ANGLICAN-INFORMATION observes that the attempt to ‘slip in’ the Court of Confirmation far away from the candidate’s diocese under the guise of a gathering in Zimbabwe did not allow the people (who could not possibly travel so far) to be represented. Ever since the disastrous Diocese of Lake Malawi Court of Confirmation in November 2005 (the consequences of which are still ongoing) Provincial Courts of Confirmation in the Central African Province have gained a reputation for ‘fixing’.

ZIMBABWE....Diocese of Matabeleland A welcome exception to the controversies of other episcopal elections in the Province also took place in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe this Sunday, 1st March as the bishops gathered for the consecration and enthronement of The Rev’d Cleophas Lunga. Lunga, a Zimbabwean who has been working in Coventry diocese, UK for the past five years as Team Rector of the Caludon Team Ministry was elected without controversy to the Diocese of Matabeleland last November. The Bishop of Coventry, Dr Christopher Cocksworth has said of Lunga, ‘he is an excellent priest who has given a great deal to the Diocese of Coventry.’


A confession: I've never really understood 'grace', as in the grace of God.

However a sermon I heard yesterday gave a simple and illuminating image I've been pondering since: grace is an open door. Or, because I can't leave well alone, opening a door is to be open to grace.

My instant image was of opening the door to the doorbell and finding a telegraph boy (no, I'm not that old) with a letter which shone, like sunlight, as though he was delivering a fragment of God-self. Accepting the letter made me a little different.

An open door: analogy for an open heart, able to receive, and also for an open hand, able to give. An open door to allow God in and to let me out.

Much of all our lives is lived behind doors, closed and locked. The door marks the divide between what is mine and everything else, between what I do (in private) and how I present my self (to the outside). The door symbolises the anxiety and insecurity which accompanies possessions. It is the focus of vulnerability, the point where the comforting walls have a necessary gap.

We externalise our self in our possessions and, in turn, they possess us (witness the sense of violation when someone is burgled). Doors lock us in with our insecurities, but we know them so well that they become a comfort to us.

To open the door is to be vulnerable to what and who is outside: vulnerable to rejection and vulneable to being wanted. To invite someone into my space is not only to show them more of who I am but also to risk being changed by them. To go out into the street is to be exposed to all kinds of people, all kinds of risks.

I am a private person. I have spent much of my life deliberately hiding myself from your gaze. I have spent much of it welcoming people into my home in the least open ways possible, protecting my space and my self from their intrusion. I have burrowed safety inside me in such a way as to hide everything I think important. I have built my security on my insecurities.

And so, by analogy, with God's grace.

To unlock and open a door is to be vulnerable to God-self shedding light in dark places - with the dual risk that they be shown up for the darkness they are or, just as worrying, shown up as not dark at all. The mesh of insecurities which I think holds me together becomes loosened and less effective. To open the door, to accept the telegram, is to be changed.

Equally, and simultaneously, to open the door is also to go through it, to step out of my self-possession, to put my head out of my shell and discover daylight. Because I opened the door I can risk meeting other people with my heart and my hand (a little) more open. I can, perhaps, loosen my habitual insecurities enough to offer strangers a little of myself and to do so with less fear.

In the giving and the getting God's invisible grace may be seen: fragments of God-self which change people.

Blooging is interesting in this regard - public, searchable, and always hidden behind a screen, not even with a photo of myself. Mostly I stick to the impersonal, to issues and the church elsewhere but, if you were interested, I do post very occasional poems - some more personal and some not so much - on another blog.