A brace of bishops in Malawi

Bishop Christopher Boyle, retiring from the Diocese of Northern Malawi

From Anglican Information

Upper Shire Diocese, Malawi:

ANGLICAN-INFORMATION reports that the consecration and enthronement of the Rev’d Brighton Malasa as bishop for the Diocese of Upper Shire, Malawi is to take place quietly on Sunday 7th June at the Cathedral of St Peter & St Paul, Mangochi.

Provincial bishops are wary of any potential objections at the ceremony. In the old colonial days Mangochi used to be called Fort Johnston and a spirit of defensiveness will be the theme of the day.

Brighton Malasa, as former Archbishop Bernard Malango’s one time chaplain and the provincial bishops’ imposed candidate, still attracts criticism in the Diocese of Upper Shire as an unwise choice. Latest reports speak of his unwillingness to conduct prayers.

Malasa has already moved into the Bishop’s residence and has been test-driving in the bishop’s car. On his consecration he will become the world’s youngest bishop with thirty – five years of episcopal oversight ahead of him Upper Shire.

Diocese of Northern Malawi:

Meanwhile, in the recently vacated Diocese of North Malawi clergy have been told by the bishops that they are to nominate one candidate only from amongst their own number for elections for a new bishop. The outgoing bishop Christopher Boyle, is shortly to take up a new position advising on immigration issues in the Diocese of Leicester, U.K.

However, a nomination to succeed him in the person of Fr Scott Wilson of All Saints Episcopal Parish, Weatherford, Texas has been made. Wilson who has led mission teams in South Africa and a Cursillo programme in Malawi was the ‘runner up’ to Bishop Boyle in 2001.

Unfortunately, since then Fr Scott Wilson’s parish, under his oversight, has joined a breakaway movement splitting off from the American Episcopal Church. As part of the former Diocese of Fort Worth his parish is now a member of the Common Cause Partnership – Federation of Anglican Christians in North America (A.C.N.A).

The status of this schismatic grouping is not certain and it is unclear whether it is in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury. Certainly A.C.N.A. bishops were excluded from last year’s Lambeth Conference and the movement continues as a source of disruption within the Anglican Communion.

The Anglican Central African Province has never been associated with the schismatic North Americans despite efforts on the part of former Archbishop Bernard Malango to persuade it to break with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

With allegiance to such a body, should Wilson be elected it would cause some significant tensions between the bishops within an already troubled Province. Bishop James Tengatenga of Southern Malawi has just been elected to a major position in the Anglican Communion as Chair of the Anglican Consultative Council. This is one of the four ‘Instruments of the Anglican Communion’ and is a focus of world Anglicanism.

Nevertheless, such is the ferocity of the current struggles it too has been heavily criticised by the breakaway Americans and Tengatenga accused of being ‘open to manipulation’. Additionally, it is difficult to see Wilson working in the Province with the likes of the Rev’d Dr Chad Gandiya the recently elected Bishop of Harare, Zimbabwe, who has also been criticised by the Common Cause Partnership for his ‘liberalism’. Finally, what kind of relationship Scott Wilson would have with Bishop Trevor Mwamba of Botswana is unknown? Wilson’s new grouping has hysterically criticised Mwamba for being willing to associate with the American Episcopal Church and for suggesting that Africa might have other more pressing problems than those of religious infighting in the United States.

Fr Scott Wilson is reported to be preparing to visit the diocese of Northern Malawi next week. In which case he may need to do some hard explaining to the priests and laity who are largely unaware of his schismatic activities. He may also want to make his peace with his potential future episcopal colleagues who have been so vilified by A.C.N.A. and their supporters.

There is now potential for a divisive and schismatic scenario in Northern Malawi with the danger of an issue-based regime quite unlike the present. How the bishops of Central Africa respond to Wilson’s candidature will have the potential to affirm or destroy the Province’s status as a bona fide member of the Anglican Communion.

All eyes will be on what used to be an almost unknown part of the Communion but which over the past few years has become something of a bellwether if not a ‘basket case’. What the poor carpenter of Nazareth, in whose name this all takes place, would make of it all is anyone’s guess but he was rarely uncritical of those who misused their positions of authority.

Well? Any comment? The fact is that ACNA is not a recognised part of the Anglican Communion. But could collecting African sees be a way of blurring the lines?

If Wilson has left TEC to join ACNA (and I have no idea of these details) can even his nomination be valid? AI doesn't say where the nomination came from.


Awards for the Bakares

Ruth and Sebastian Bakare

Church Divinity School of the Pacific (CDSP) awarded honorary degrees to three distinguished individuals at the Episcopal Church-affiliated seminary's 115th commencement and Eucharist May 22.

Diocese of Harare, Zimbabwe Bishop Sebastian Bakare received the degree of Doctor of Divinity and Ruth Bakare, his wife, received the Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

Nigel Renton, for his ministries among the CDSP community and the larger Episcopal Church, also received the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.

The Bakares joined the CDSP and the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) communities in the early 1980s. From 1999 through 2006, the Bakares served in the Diocese of Manicaland in Zimbabwe. Ruth Bakare served as president of the Mothers' Union while Sebastian was the diocesan bishop. Together they worked for advances in health, education and ecumenism and for the eradication of hunger, AIDS and political oppression. They have continued their work and service to the church in the Diocese of Harare. The politics of church and state set the Bakares against police forces aligned with President Mugabe and Bakare's predecessor.

All here.

A more extensive article Zimbabwe diocese breaks chains of dictatorship is here.


The chains, now broken, once locked the doors to the Harare cathedral preventing Anglicans from worshipping in their church. Bakare led worship in the cathedral on Easter Sunday for the first time since coming to the diocese in December 2007. It was, he told Episcopal News Service, "our resurrection Sunday." ....

"People were fed up with his methods," Bakare said of Kunonga. "He was a dictator. He didn't give lay people a chance to express themselves."

"It's untraditional to argue with a bishop and so you say, 'yes, my lord,' but underneath it's 'no, my lord'," the bishop said, explaining that his culture's inclination to respect people in certain positions "makes it possible even for dictators to thrive when they exploit that kind of traditional understanding of authority and power."

Ruth Bakare, who sees her call as working with the women of the diocese, said that "they were ready to take charge, but they weren't used to it" because they had "quite a bit of experience of dictatorship as well from the previous bishop's wife" who ran the Mothers' Union in Zimbabwe. .....

Bishop Bakare said women have been arrested more often than men in the disputes with the riot police. He recalled seeing women pointing their fingers in the faces of the armed riot police or actually taking the officers' guns away from them. Bakare also knows of a woman who returned to church three weeks after she was chased from her church and beaten so severely by police that she lost the child she was carrying.
"To me that was too much to expect," the bishop said.

"It helped my faith, these women. They really deepened my faith; they gave me courage," he said. "If they can do that, why shouldn't I?

Women have been a source of inspiration in what I have been going through." ....

The Bakares said that the diocese has grown remarkably as Anglicans have returned to their parishes, but that numerical growth is not as important as the depth of spiritual growth that the members have achieved.

The struggles have suggested to the bishop that "maybe the church needs to be persecuted in order to understand what it means to be Christian, to know what the cross means."

All here.



Via The Zimbabwean

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams and The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, have this week seen public donations for their joint Zimbabwe appeal reach £292,330. The appeal highlights the support needed by churches, which are struggling to feed the hungry and provide health care.

The Archbishops said,
"Our brother Bishops in Zimbabwe have highlighted the need for immediate relief activities to address the cholera epidemic and starvation, but also that we support programmes that provide long term solutions to poverty. So at their request we will be providing seed-corn for crops in time for the planting season which normally starts end of October.

"More of the dioceses of Zimbabwe are expected to send in their specific requirements in the next few weeks, and they have told us that their focus will be on the most vulnerable in their communities; those living with HIV, the elderly as well as children."

All here



A curious corner of the Church of Nigeria

Bishop Peter Imasuen of Benin

The Diocese of Benin in the Anglican Church of Nigeria seems a troubled place. And I was intrigued to find they have an official Dir. Of Security/Protocol, the Revd Canon Nosa Ben-Shallom. I wonder how many other Dioceses in the Communion have a director of security?

But I guess they need it. In October 2008 police protection was sought apparently because Igbo worshippers wanted exclusive control of a Church in Benin City. The church was shut down:

It was observed that the presence of plainclothes security men, the men of the Special Anti-robbery squad and the conventional policemen led by the Divisional Police Officer of the New Benin Police Station, Mr. Joseph Omoruwa, a Superintendent of Police, prevented the breakdown of law and order in the church.

Besides, the owner of a security outfit in Benin, Mr. Efe Stewart, who said he is the Chief Security Officer of the Anglican Diocese in Benin, was on the ground with his men and some of the youth to secure the church and indeed all other Anglican Church properties in the diocese. (emphasis added.)

The protesting youths who carried placards condemned what they described as undue ethnicity in the Church of Christ some of which read, “No to Christian tribalism, No to Igbo seizure of Anglican Church, Christians arise against ungodly behavior, Anglican Church is for all, not for Igbos alone.”

Before then, however, one church leader had alledged that Bishop Peter Imasuen had threatened his life which led to the police interrogating the Bishop. All here.

Another, longer and dramatic, account of the conflict (from October 2008) concludes that only the security forces could prevent the outbreak of wide tribal conflict and 'the total breakdown of law and order in the state'. It reports the

mobilisation of the youths to disrupt the service of the church for two Sundays, vandalising the church signboard and deflating the tyres of the church bus because of the refusal of the Vicar to allow the inscription “Igbo Speaking’ on the church bus, because according to him, it always subjects him to derision whenever he uses the bus.

Between 1995 and at least 2001 it seemed there had also been ethnically charged conflict in the Church this time between Bini and non-Bini members, apparently resulting some non-Bini members leaving the Anglican Church (here).

But what caught my eye was a report in the last few days of a court case against senior Anglicans for printing material defaming the Bishop. The allegation, made last year, is that the Bishop made a church member, Gladys Adetokhai pregnant and then procured an abortion for her.

Those in the dock are notable: Dr Abel Guobadia is a past Ambassador to South Korea and a past Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission and Samuel Uroghide described as a prominent Benin lawyer (here). The case proceeds.

Not a happy place.

real issues

Focus on real issues, says Anglican bound for Zimbabwe 'hot seat'

Anglican Media Melbourne, Wednesday, 13 May 2009
By Trevor Grundy

The Rev. Chad Nicholas Gandiya believes he might acquire a "crown of thorns" when he is confirmed as the new Bishop of Harare by the Church of the Province of Central Africa next month.

Yet he believes that if all Anglicans pray for him he can succeed.

As he prepared to leave for his new position, Canon Gandiya made an impassioned plea for Anglicans to concentrate on "the real issues" facing Africa, which he said is dogged by hunger, ignorance, corruption, famine and the spread of diseases such as HIV and AIDS and malaria.
"We have many more problems than the well-publicised problem of rights for gay men and lesbians," Ganiday said in an interview with Ecumenical News International.


"Because of our colossal social and economic problems, the Archbishop of Canterbury and York [the two best known and most senior leaders of the Church of England] are helping us to establish new feeding programmes throughout Zimbabwe.

"We Anglicans want to be able to help hundreds of thousands of people at the start of the next rainy season [October and November] by providing seeds and by training young farmers. My message is going to be: 'Let's all concentrate on the real issues facing Africa'."


All here


Just the kind of bland thing you have to say before you arrive in post and find out just how different it is from the advert. He'll do well.

ABC leaves ACC

The Archbishop of Canterbury at the ACC, Photo/Mary Frances Schjonberg

The Archbishop of Canterbury thinks not so much in chapters but in whole books. So his closing address to the ACC (Word file, one report of many here) has to be taken as a whole and not cherry picked for sound bites. This is, of course, not easy journalists trained in the way of the 30 second clip.

But the Archbishop is generous and offers sound bites to both sides of the argument: he points to the costs paid by the gay and lesbian community and he points also to the costs, "different costs" paid by those who feel that their gospel is made less credible by the welcome offered to gay people in the church.

Taken as a whole, however, the address is an attempt to offer spiritual counsel to the leaders of the Communion. In it there is a great deal which I heartily welcome. It is just such a shame that the whole agenda of the covenant effectively works to destroy the spiritual (and ecclesiological) insight that the Archbishop is offering on this occasion.

I think he is attempting to speak truth to the members of the ACC and, through them, to the wider Communion. It's still dressed up in Archbishop-speak and therefore easy to misunderstand what he said and his words can easily be used to support one faction or another. But, for this Archbishop, he is speaking remarkably clearly. He is explicit about the state of conflict and the difficulty of finding any way of moving forward when violence is being used, the tanks are on the lawn, and everyone's recipe for peace is antipathetic to everyone else's.

He is also open about the possible Balkanisation of the Communion. There is a sense behind his words that in his view the Communion came very close to falling apart at the ACC and may yet do so, despite everything he can do, unless a series of steps are taken which are as much about people's hearts that they are about organisation.

And there is a lot in his prescription for the future which is well worth listening to.

1. Good listening "really allows the other person to speak".
2. Don't write off the (existing) Instruments of Communion.
3. Work on "life-giving exchange" between Communion members.
4. Treat one another with at least the courtesy that we accorded to members of other denominations. (In the mid 1940s formal discussions were arranged by the then Archbishop of Canterbury between the Evangelical and Anglo-Catholic wings of the Church of England which were explicitly described as internal ecumenism.)
5. He says, and this is a curious observation for anybody who's worship life is based in Parish Church, "we've been I think quite simply conscious that here is a local Church and local Churches matter." Of course. But I guess that what ‘local’ means depends entirely on your perspective: for an Archbishop local means the Province, for me it means say a five-mile radius. It must be almost inevitable the sense of the very local has to be lost the more international your perspective becomes.
6. He prefers the word ‘particularity’ to autonomy. This is important, but unusually clumsy. If each church (at every level of locality) can contribute its distinctive gifts to the others around it, its particular chrism, its distinctive qualities, to the vitality of the whole church then this gift relationship embodies and enacts a relationship of generosity. This is a direct alternative to the defensiveness currently visible and to the juridical relationships currently proposed.
7. His talk about "glorious failure and miserable failure" which has been snatched up and misused by commentators also needs to be taken seriously. This is a spirituality of humility in the face not only of God but also of the ordinary facts of human existence. This (as with his comments on the local church in Jamaica) is about being both holy and in a mess and being both simultaneously. This is not failure in the organisational sense of the demand for someone to blame, this is failure in the sense that the cross was a failure for Jesus.

Therefore it is such a crying shame that the covenant will oppose and destroy so many of these aspects of a communal future.

I understand the Archbishop's desire, and the desire of many others, for a framework of law and order which might structure and pattern relationships between the disparate Provinces. But what is obvious to the conservatives and appears to be either missed or disregarded by other supporters of the covenant is that the document is a lever to govern not just formal relationships but the whole culture of the Anglican Communion.

1. With a juridically-based covenant there is no longer a need to really allow the other person to speak. All that is needed is for the other person to conform.
2. The existing Instruments of Communion will remain but will be subordinated to the covenant structures.
3. "Life-giving exchange" will always remain important. But once the covenant is in place these exchanges will always be secondary to the possibility of formal action by one party against another under the terms of the covenant. Even if no such action takes place exchanges will always be tempered, and something held back, because of the abstract possibility of future action.
4. Courtesy and respect are always requisite for good working relationships. Even lawyers can be polite to one another. But this is the basic minimum not a sufficient condition for the vitality of the Communion.
5. Of course the local church matters. It is the foundation on which the pyramid of priest, bishop, archbishop, primate is constructed. A hierarchy which forgets where its roots lie is by definition disconnected from its spiritual, and also its financial, roots. The RCDC does at least reintroduce the notion of the whole people of God into its text as a key ecclesiological element. Nonetheless it is integral to the covenant that the local church is governed from the centre by the hierarchy – and only by a few of the hierarchy. The local church cannot be fed spiritually on a trickle down from the Instruments of Communion; on the contrary the quality of the instruments and the spiritual strength of our leaders must be fed from the local church.
6. A relationship of generosity is a matter of gift, of grace. It cannot be commanded, it cannot be required, it cannot even be put to each province to decide within its own canonical structures whether or not they will decide to play. But any hint of coercion or of the possibility of sanction destroys for ever the possibility of gracious relationships.
7. And whether any organisation or institution can embody in its whole being and manner of work the spiritual relationship proper to individuals in their relationship to God and their (messy) spiritual journey is a matter of considerable doubt. Nonetheless the aspiration to holiness by following the way of the cross, by self abnegation before God and self giving towards others, holds out the possibility that the whole church might conceive of itself primarily in terms of the search for God.

In my judgement the first, central but lesser, task is to work towards a church capable of loving its members who see one another face-to-face – and all of its members without question. It is to foster a church which works to evoke holiness in the ordinary chaos of day-to-day life, and a church which is capable of nourishing a deep spiritual life, individually and corporately, in active engagement with the hard questions of living together and the facts of human pride, vanity, and will to power.

The greater task is to conform the whole church to the denial of itself to the glory of God as though it were a person, a disciple of God, a penitent pilgrim – semper reformanda.
The covenant, so far as I can see, expresses the will to power of a hierarchy convinced they know what is best for the rest of the Communion. It is grounded on an hubristic presumption that those who demand it are serving God's providence against the blindness of those who resist it (see paragraph 4 of the Introduction to the RCDC). It is designed to throw away the words and gifts of some and to insist on the rules of others. It is intended to replace the local church with the international Church as the source of all authority.

In my view the covenant is profoundly misguided and may well have a deeply detrimental effect on the church for generations to come.



Turn up for the books (2)

The Archbishop of Canterbury listening at the ACC

Covenant - but not yet

The ACC have endorsed the Covenant, which was no surprise, but have batted away the crucial Section 4 for further reflection and revision (The Lead; ENS; Colin Coward for Changing Attitude).

They have handed the partridge to the poacher with the instruction, 'see what you can do with it'.

The Joint Standing Committee of the ACC and Primates' Meeting will now have to decide what to do. As this Committee was to be given considerable powers under the RCDC (the latest version of where to centralise control of the Communion) this is unlikely to lead to a lot of change. The ACC has also given the Committee authority to approve their own deliberations. They have, however, specified that only existing members of the Anglican Communion shall receive a copy with a view to ratification.

I guess the goal will be the minimum sufficient tinkering for acceptability. Nonetheless that will mean tinkering a little further away from a punitive or juridical approach.

I still don't like it, whatever they do. Once in place the Covenant will sit on the (fat) books of Anglican documents until another leader or two comes along and says - 'this is unenforceable; give us the powers to make it work'. Little by little, dispute by disagreement, power will leach from the Provinces to the central structures. It's the ratchet effect: whoever heard of a major organization returning to the periphery powers it had once centralised?

Still no word on budget, I note. Still no word on subsidiarity.


Turn up for the books (1)

Rt Revd James Tengatenga

On Friday May 8, 2009 the Anglican Consultative Council broke into enthusiastic applause with the announcement that the Rt Revd James Tengatenga was elected as the new chair of the Anglican Consultative Council.

The official announcement and biography here.

There is a suggestion - highly credible - that the 'schismatic camp' don't like him. Not surprising as he is on the International Board of the MCU's journal Modern Believing.

(To be honest, I don't know what the Board does in practice. If it's active, it's not evident. But as a symbolic association the schismatics will be mightily displeased.)

Nor should anyone expect him to be a western liberal (see here and here). Perhaps what his election represents is less about the split in TEC and more about the africanisation of the Anglican Communion - and an African who can straddle both the old (English & US dominated) communion and the new is ideally placed for such a post.

I offer him my congratulations. I hope the next few years are more placid than the last


What about the money?

In my various comments on the Anglican Covenant I have repeatedly noted that no costing and no budget has ever been made public.

The ACC want more money for their activities, noting that previous requests for an increase were not fully met. Mark Harris has a useful analysis: 80% of international funding comes from the US, Canada, England, Australia and new Zealand; 65% from TEC & CofE. His analysis looks at some of the strains this already causes.

High time a budget (or, perhaps, more than one based on differing assumptions about how it would work) be drawn up and made public for the implimentation of the Covenant.

And how it will be paid if TEC and ACoC are relegated to the Conference.

More violence in Zimbabwe

From the Zimbabwe Times

This is a rehash of an earlier story. However it's worth reproducing it here in part because it adds some detail but mostly because of the partisan nature of the reporting.

The Zimbabwe Times hasn't often delivered stories on the Anglican Church. This may account for its description of background circumstances. If not it's simple misrepresentation though whether that represents the ignorance of the reporter, the attitude of the paper's editor, or the opinions of the person who told the paper the story is impossible to tell. I'd guess the latter.

For those new to the issue: no 'faction' is urging the ordination of gay priests in Zimbabwe.

Church divided over ordination of gays

May 7, 2009

By Our Correspondent

MUTARE - A dispute over the ordaining of gay priests has torn apart the Anglican Church here resulting in bloody battles involving senior members of the church and the arrest of five parishioners, including a prominent businesswoman.

In the latest incident a clergyman and his wife were brutally assaulted by assailants allegedly hired by senior members of the church.

Reverend Basil Matikiti and wife, Delight, were rushed to hospital after they sustained serious injuries during an attack by a large group of assailants at a parish in Chikanga high density suburb. Matikiti belongs to a faction of the Anglican Church in Mutare that is opposed to the ordination of gay priests.

He and his wife were attacked as they prepared for morning service on Sunday at St Agnes Parish Church in Chikanga, a sprawling high density suburb.

A senior police officer, Inspector Florence Marume, who was dispatched to quell the violence, was herself abducted and also assaulted.

Five senior church members have since been arrested and charged with committing acts of violence against Matikiti and his wife.

Those charged are Portia Magada, the prominent businesswoman, Manyara Mwendamberi, Conrad Rindai Ritsire, Delia Mutseyekwa and Taurai Makoni. They are out on bail.

Several other senior church members as well as some of the alleged assailants who participated in the violence are said to be in hiding.

Matikiti said the alleged assailants attacked him after he refused to open the church gate for them to enter. He said they broke the gate and entered the churchyard where they allegedly proceeded to assault him, while shouting obscenities.

The incident was a sequel to violent clashes between the rival groups in Sakubva, Mutare’s oldest township, as well as in the town of Nyanga and at Bonda Mission, both north of the eastern border city.

The violent incidents have all been blamed on a faction that is campaigning for the ordination of gay priests in the Anglican Church.

The police confirmed the violent incidents at St Agnes in Chikanga saying they had arrested some of the alleged perpetrators of the violence. Police spokesperson, Brian Makomeke said the alleged assailants had attacked Matikiti with various objects.

“His shirt was torn to pieces and his wife was also assaulted,” Makomeke said.


I fathered this diocese

From The Herald (Harare, not Scotland)
RETIRED Bishop Sebastian Bakare leaves his post as Bishop of the Anglican Church’s disputed Harare Diocese following the appointment of Reverend Canon Dr Chad Gandiya as the new leader of the Province of Central Africa.

Bishop-elect Gandiya is expected to take up the post in July this year.

Addressing a Press conference in Harare yesterday, Rtd Bishop Bakare said he was leaving the post since he was appointed on an interim basis.

"As a bishop I am passing on the responsibility.

"I was here on a caretaker basis until another bishop was found," he said.

He said he had been disturbed by the battles for control of the diocese that had raged during his tenure.

"I fathered this diocese . . . I shepherded this diocese so I was looking after its sheep," he said.

Bishop-elect Gandiya, who was trained as a priest in Harare, is currently based in the United Kingdom where he has worked as a lecturer at Birmingham University, among other occupations.

Harare Diocese is at the centre of a dispute pitting two factions, one led by Bishop Nolbert Kunonga and the other by retired Bishop Bakare.

Bishop Kunonga withdrew the Diocese from the Province of Central Africa to form the Province of Zimbabwe following the former’s alleged refusal to condemn the consecration of gay priests.

The Province of Central Africa responded by appointing Bishop Bakare to head the diocese insisting Dr Kunonga had virtually ejected himself from the Anglican Church and, thus, would no longer have a right to the church’s properties.

The dispute, which has spilled into courts, has seen two rival groups attending church services at different times as a compromise while the factions wait for the legal determination of the case.

IDAHO - May 17

I've been wondering whether to give up blogging - I have become very busy with the East Area Asylum Seekers Support Group, known much more easily as Common Ground after it's premises. (I'm doing much more of the business side of things there, but not its website.)

I was further encouraged to give up by the latest offerings from the Church of England's Office of Cheapening Spirituality in the Name of Relevance:

And I'm afraid I've got bored with the Covenant and matters Anglican (not least because I'm now much more peripheral the the CofE). I have made a commitment to reflect on the Covenant so I will do so when the ACC has pronounced. So far as I can see the Covenant will arrive when it will make little or no difference which, I suppose, is the second to least bad outcome.

On the other hand there's a follow up to an earlier story about Scott Rennie. The FOCAs are trying to make a campaign issue of his ministry, leaping on the issue which Church of Scotland conservatives were perfectly capable of stoking up without any help.

Last night, an organisation called The Fellowship of Confessing Churches announced that it had collected a petition of 5,000 signatures to “defend Christian Orthodoxy”, and called on the Kirk to refuse to “condone homosexual practice in general and among its leaders in particular”.


The Rev Rennie said that the process of coming to terms with his sexuality had been painful. “As a young man growing up in a conservative church, it felt impossible to deal with issues around my own sexuality.

“It did not feel like a safe environment, and certainly not one in which I could have found support and understanding. So, I came to believe that I had to ignore it and do what I thought was the right thing at the time - live a heterosexual life.

“At school, I witnessed first-hand homophobic bullying, and the menace that anyone who even seemed gay was subjected to. It was not a pretty sight, and I wasn't brave enough to risk facing the bullies.”

He said the row over his appointment had left him feeling strong, but battered by speculation about his private life. He was also deeply moved by hundreds of messages of support.

“Although the present discussion centres around my own response to God's call, all the correspondence over the last few months has reminded me that there is a large body of people, like me, in a similar situation, in the Kirk,” the Rev Rennie said.

And, in Ireland, there's a storm in a "celebrate diversity" teacup.

The Sunday morning Holy Communion service, to be held on May 10 at St Patrick's Cathedral in Armagh, was to involve prayers said by representatives of the Orange Order, Royal Black Preceptory, Freemasons and GAA.

But it was the involvement of Changing Attitude, a group which lobbies for the full involvement of gay and lesbian people in church life, which has led to the Loyal Orders' angry withdrawal and the subsequent decision not to go ahead with the event as it had been planned.

The Loyal Orders are withdrawing because (a) they weren't consulted, (b) they didn't want to get drawn into an internal Anglican dispute (which is wise), and (c)

"It is the view of the Loyal Orange Institution that any official representation by it at this service would contradict the principles and beliefs that we hold and would in particular lend credence to theological beliefs contrary to that of biblical Protestantism,"

Details of IDAHO (International Day Against Homophobia) services in Ireland on May 17, organized by Changing Attitude Ireland, are here.

So I'll continue for a while, at least until too many things overwhelm me.


Bishop elected

Chad Gandiya, the coming Bishop of Harare

ANGLICAN-INFORMATION reports that a 57-year-old Zimbabwean, the Rev’d Canon Dr Chad Gandiya, has been elected to succeed caretaker Bishop Sebastian Bakare as bishop of the Anglican Communion’s most troubled diocese.

Chad Gandiya is currently the Central Africa desk officer for the U.K. based mission agency U.S.P.G. This historic and respected agency has many sponsorships and links in the Anglican Province of Central Africa.

Like most Central African Provincial elections Gandiya’s has not been without controversy. Local resistance in the diocese, defamatory fake e-mails, a mysteriously delayed election and the ever-looming presence of dissident ‘Archbishop’ Nolbert Kunonga have all contributed to make the run-up difficult.

Chad Gandiya is a prominent figure in the Anglican Communion. He is one of those chosen to be on the Pastoral Council established by the Anglican Primates as a follow up to the Windsor Report which deals with the current disputes in the Anglican Communion over sexuality. Well-respected throughout the Communion he will bring his many pastoral skills to bear on his new diocese. It is unlikely that he will have any problems with his Court of Confirmation although he has previously had a difficult relationship with former Archbishop Bernard Malango who has accused him of being too close to the American Episcopal Church and of being ‘liberal’.

It is hoped that his election will finally begin to draw a line under the Malango era whose difficult legacy lingers to this day, not least in Malango’s former protégé the formidable, Mugabe-backed tyrant Nolbert Kunonga.

In September 2007, Gandiya wrote to the U.K. based Church Times to defend U.S.P.G. against Kunonga’s accusations that it had been using money to bribe bishops to support a pro-homosexual lobby. Unfortunately, in the current febrile atmosphere of the Anglican Communion, practically anybody and everybody can be accused falsely of homosexual lobbying by way of character assassination. In this respect Kunonga will no doubt continue to make life as difficult as possible for the new bishop.

Nevertheless, it is to be hoped that this era is now coming to an end with Gandiya’s election. There are some signs that the Zimbabwe governmental power-sharing arrangement is improving the situation. Gandiya has a reputation as a respected moderating influence who understands the needs for a balance between the Western world and the African, he knows the local situation and has the commitment required.

We join our prayers for the bishop-elect and the diocese of Harare.


Answers on election of the Bishop of Harare

From Anglican Information

ANGLICAN-INFORMATION last week released a long article by Mafirakurewa Kubvoruno of St Luke’s, Greendale, Harare, expressing fears and concerns about the conduct of the currently postponed elections for a new bishop in the much troubled Anglican Diocese of Harare, Zimbabwe.

We reported that the election, due to have taken place on 26th April, was subsequently postponed. We now understand that this was cause by the absence in the United States of acting Dean Albert Chama and by a family bereavement.

Unfortunately the delay was unexplained and inevitably stoked further suspicion in a country where intrigue and political manipulation are the order of the day. We understand that the election will now take place, tomorrow or Sunday.

Now we have received a riposte to the original article by way explanation of the official position of the diocese. This is published in full below, we will continue to keep you updated.


From: Bob Stumbles
Chairman, Search Committee
Chancellor, Diocese of Harare (CPCA)
Deputy Chancellor, Church of the Province of Central Africa.


A parishioner from St Luke’s Church, Greendale, Harare, namely Mafirakurewa Kubvoruno, wrote and sent around the world on about the 23rd April 2009 a lengthy article entitled “FLAGRANT ECCLESIASTICAL VOTE RIGGING IN THE DIOCESE OF HARARE CPCA ON THE EVE OF THE ELECTION OF ITS NEXT BISHOP”.

He states that reports from those with inside knowledge already reveal that this election will not (be) the choice of the people of the Diocese of Harare, but that of the “so-called” Search Committee. It appears the writer of the article has relied upon and been heavily influenced by these “insiders” in the statements and allegations he makes and the deductions and conclusions he reaches.

Mr Kubvoruno is entitled to express his opinions and this is indeed welcome. What is unfortunate is that his views on several aspects are not based on the facts and therefore convey a picture vastly different from reality. Whether the information and “evidence” provided by the “insiders” was based on misunderstandings, speculation, suspicion or the desire to spread misinformation far and wide is open to conjecture. My comments are given on the assumption that the motive for Mr Kubvoruno to write is to show his genuine concern for the well-being of the Diocese and the transparency of the forthcoming election of the next Bishop of Harare, and he feels deeply that the information fed to him should be fed to the public worldwide. Indeed, he is commended for his excellent summary of Kunonga’s activities. It is one of the accurate components of his article. But much of the article is, with respect, incorrect.


It is primarily, as Chairman of the Search Committee, that I deal with the article although as Chancellor of the Diocese of Harare (CPCA) and Deputy Chancellor of the Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) I may touch on some subjects contained in Mr Kubvoruno’s article other than the Search Committee, where the facts are within my knowledge.


At the Diocesan Synod in 2008 considerable discussion took place about the disastrous consequences and harm caused to the Diocese of Harare (CPCA) as a result of what came to be known as the flawed election in 2001. The person elected by the Provincial Elective Assembly was Nolbert Kunonga who wreaked havoc on and persecuted clergy and laity in the Diocese while seeking ironclad power, personal aggrandizement, status and wealth. As nearly everyone knows, Kunonga was eventually defrocked as a Bishop and Priest and excommunicated from the Anglican Diocese of Harare as well as the Anglican Communion worldwide. He no longer has any connection with the Anglican Church in any capacity.

Synod in 2008 felt very strongly that steps had to be taken to make sure there would never again be such a blemished and defective election and to prevent “another Kunonga” from becoming Bishop of the Diocese. Members of Synod repeatedly emphasized that measure should be put in place immediately to ensure the election of a bishop whom the parishioners and clergy could trust and respect as a Good Shepherd and devout follower of Christ.


A proposal to set up a “Search Committee” was unanimously adopted by what the article describes as the “sane clergy and laity of the Diocese of Harare” at the 2008 Synod. The members of the Search Committee consist of the Diocesan Chancellor, Registrar and Deputy Registrar ex officio, and a priest or his alternate, layman or his alternate, and laywoman or her alternate. All six of these latter persons (including the alternates) were, in fact, elected by the 2008 Synod. The members are the choice of Synod, not the personal choice of Bishop Bakare as alleged by Mr Kubvoruno.

The Search Committee was established by Synod; not created by Bishop Bakare as alleged in the article. The existence of this Committee does not interfere nor conflict with nor take the place of the Canons as averred by the writer of the article. It does not take away any of the rights or duties (obligations) of the Diocese of Harare Elective Assembly representatives, nor those of the full Provincial Elective Assembly.

The 2008 Synod simply set out the preliminary procedure to be followed within the Diocese of Harare to give as much protection and transparency as possible in regard to the election of its bishop. Synod wanted an input from each parish so that the Elective Assembly would vote for someone who is a choice of the Diocesan people.

Any person or parish has the right to express his/her or its wishes, nominate and provide information on who their preference is as the next bishop. This information goes to the Vicar General of the Diocese in terms of the laws of the CPCA.

The Search Committee was formed by Synod to receive from the Vicar General (in the present case Bishop Bakare as Acting Bishop and Diocesan Vicar General) and study nominations to make sure criteria laid down by the 2008 Synod were met, namely that the proposed candidate has carried out his ministry to a high standard, has a sound theological foundation, a good reputation and character as well as academic qualifications, preferably at tertiary level. The same clergy and laity of Synod were adamant that these criteria be met so as to avoid another person like Kunonga emerging as a candidate.

An important factor in nominations is the need for the proposed candidate to indicate in writing, acceptance of his nomination. Without that written approval, his nomination is not considered. The Search Committee was advised, that there were no written acceptances in the case of some nominations, and some other candidates, whose names were proposed by parishes, withdrew their names at the outset of the nomination exercise.

The Search Committee, which convened four times under my Chairmanship, was provided with CVs and references in connection with 5 priests who met the criteria required. It deliberated over these, sent a list of (the same) questions to each of these candidates and finally made recommendations in order of preference in the considered opinion of the Committee. Contrary to the allegation in the article, Bishop Bakare has not, to this day, expressed to the Search Committee who his choice of candidate is.


Immediately after its final meeting, members of the Search Committee joined Bishop Sebastian as Vicar General and the members on the Diocesan Elective Assembly Panel. Each member of the panel was given:

1. A copy of the CV of each of the 5 priests;
2. Copies of references received concerning the candidates;
3. A copy of the list of nominations submitted from the parishes;
4. A list of the questions sent to the 5 candidates and the responses received;
5. A copy of the procedure laid down in the Canons including a background to the Search Committee’s functions.
6. A copy of the Synod Resolution on the Search Committee.

In addition a verbal report was given on the work done by the Search Committee as well as the Committee’s recommendations in order of priority concerning the 5 candidates was voiced.


Here it is important to note that in terms of Canon 6 there are 22 members of the Provincial Elective Assembly –

(a) the Archbishop or Dean of the CPCA;

(b) 3 Bishops, 3 Clergy, 3 Laity
chosen by the Archbishop or Dean from the panels of electors of Diocese in the Province (excluding the Diocese of Harare in the present instance)

(c) 6 Clergy, 6 Laity
from the panel of Electors in the Diocese of Harare. These persons were elected at the 2008 Diocesan Synod and represent the Diocese.
[Note: the layout of the original text of paragraphs (a) to (c) was a bit confusing. I have rearranged them and believe this was what was intended.]

Electors vote by secret ballot for the candidate of their choice. The candidate who receives at least two-thirds (2/3rds) of the vote of those Electors present shall be declared elected. If all Electors are present a two-thirds (2/3rds) vote would mean 15 votes. The Diocese of Harare Electors total 12.


In the document on procedure handed to each member of the Harare Diocesan Panel of the Elective Assembly it is written –

“The work of the Search Committee is over. The recommendations (from it) come to you (the Diocesan Elective Assembly members) via the Vicar General. The fate of the candidates and, indeed, the Diocese is in your hands. If you and the other 11 members of the Harare Diocesan Elective Assembly vote unanimously for a candidate, it will only be necessary to have 3 other members of the Elective Assembly outside the Harare Diocese vote for the same candidate and he will have the required two-thirds (2/3rds) majority to be elected.

You (the Diocesan Elective Assembly members) have information about the candidates, you have recommendations before you and you have the freedom to vote as you deem fit. The cross you place on your ballot paper will determine how strongly the message from the Cross at Calvary will spread throughout the Diocese through the new Bishop.”


A few other items of misinformation in the article need to be addressed to set the record straight.

1. The article states : “It seems there were spread some lies to the Search Committee that all the financial help that the Diocese of Harare has received from UK was mobilized by ….” (one of the candidates is named). With respect, this is totally untrue as no such information on financial help of any kind from any source or through any individual, was conveyed to the Search Committee.

2. The article states : “Disqualifying people … like what we hear was done by Mr Stumbles that Father Lameck Mutete was disqualified because he had not submitted enough documentation when we know he did send his CV…” is yet again a false accusation. Father Mutete’s CV and his answers to the questionnaire were handed out to each member of the Diocesan Elective Assembly present at the joint meeting with the Search Committee, along with the CVs and information relating to the other 4 candidates. Thus Father Mutete was one of the 5 names submitted by the Committee. The Search Committee did not, at any stage, disqualify his nomination. The Vicar General at the combined Search Committee/Diocesan Elective Assembly meeting, pointed out that the rules required candidates to submit references. Father Lameck had not at that stage done so. The Vicar General ruled he was withdrawing this candidate’s name. On behalf of the Search Committee I indicated we would have to accept that the Vicar General had to comply with any rules relating to this but went on to repeat what some others had said, namely, that there was no rule preventing anyone on the Elective Assembly from contacting Father Lameck to obtain references. Indeed, it is understood references have now been received. All of Father Lameck’s papers are still in the possession of each member of the Diocesan Elective Assembly as one of the 5 candidates.

3. The article states: “The Diocesan Synod of 2008 was highjacked to endorse Bishop Bakare’s wish to stay at the helm of the Diocese of Harare CPCA for another two years….” The term “highjacked” in this context is not understood. A motion proposed by the Reverend Christopher Tapera was tabled. It reads:
“This synod moves that in appreciation for the dedication and vision demonstrated by Bishop Sebastian Bakare that the Province of Central Africa extends his term of office for a further term of twenty-four months to enable him to establish and develop the structures as determined by the Dean who is the Acting Archbishop.”

This proposal was not on the agenda. Before it was tabled, Bishop Bakare and his wife were requested to leave the hall. Addresses in support of the proposal and praising the Bishop were made by a number of clergy and laity. When put to the vote, it was enthusiastically passed with no objections. The Bishop did not “highjack” Synod or its members!

4. The Search Committee has not deprived nor interfered with any of the power, authority and procedure laid down by the Canons. The allegation that the Search Committee has usurped the duty of the Elective Assembly to choose a bishop is a misrepresentation or fabrication of the factual position. Furthermore, for clarification, it is recorded that the Search Committee does have legal standing within the Diocese as a resolution of Synod – It does not amend the Acts nor the Canons.

5. The Elective Assembly, scheduled to be held on the 25th April, was changed to the 26th April, by the Dean of the CPCA who was, or still is, understood to be in the United States of America, and has been further changed to the 2nd May by him.


May every member of the Elective Assembly receive the will to vote and act in the best interests of the Diocese as directed by The Lord.

May the results of the forthcoming elections bring forth the Shepherd who has been so eagerly and trustingly prayed for.

May the new Bishop gird his loins with truth, put on the breastplate of Justice and righteousness, shoe his feet with the equipment to publish the Gospel of Peace, take the shield of faith to quench the flaming darts of the evil one, take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God, and may he pray at all times in the Spirit using every kind of prayer and supplication. (Ephesians 6, 14-18)

And may everyone in the Diocese and the CPCA now turn away from all the malice, guile, insincerity and slander (1 Peter 2:1), that built up during the dark days of Nolbert Kunonga and instead grow in compassion, faith, trust, truth, understanding, wisdom, knowledge, justness and righteousness.


It is so easy to get things both wrong and out of proportion for the best of motives. It is particularly easy when there is an atmosphere of mistrust in both the church and the country and the perception of good grounds for suspicion.

And, as everything zips round the world so rapidly, it is equally easy for everything to be blown quickly out of proportion - not least because the blogging world is much like old media in many ways, not least that it loves a scandal, an argument, wrongdoing over dull common sense, caution and circumspection.