Straws in the wind? Some good news from the Diocese of Manicaland, Zimbabwe. Fundraising in Lake Malawi and a new election in Northern Malawi

Windy straw!
Blowing in which direction?

Reported in the Zimbabwean online:
www.thezimbabwean.co.uk renegade Bishop Elson Jakazi has lost control of the Diocese of Manicaland. Jakazi has been a companion breakaway bishop with the notorious Nolbert Kunonga of Harare.

‘In a ruling handed down last Wednesday High Court Judge Chinembiri Bhunu said that Jakazi lost his claim to authority over diocesan property when he resigned from the Manicaland Diocese in September 2007.

“Once the first applicant’s resignation letter was received by the Archbishop of the Anglican Church of the Central Africa the first applicant automatically ceased to be an employee or member of that church organisation without any further formalities”.’

Comments that this ruling will have a bearing on self-styled ‘Archbishop’ Nolbert Kunonga’s attempts to cling to millions of dollars worth of property belonging to the Harare Diocese. We have tried to contact former Archbishop Bernard Malango, the one time enthusiastic defender and sponsor of Nolbert Kunonga, for his views on this development but he was ‘unavailable for comment’.

Summing up the judgment Judge Bhuna continued, “Having ceased to be an employee of the church organization he automatically stripped himself of any rights and privileges arising from the contract of employment, membership or his status as a bishop of that church organization”. He also dismissed Jakazi’s application with costs.

Bhunu noted that Jakazi was not dismissed but voluntarily left the CPCA (Church of the Province of Central Africa). “That being the case, he can hardly be heard to complain or cry foul. Any appeal or review which he may launch means he is appealing or seeking a review of his own conduct. This is wholly untenable and illogical such that it must be incompetent at law,” the judge said.

The ruling, unless appealed, effectively puts to an end the dispute over control of the Manicaland Diocese, which Jakazi had continued to claim was under his charge despite quitting the CPCA.

Diocese of Lake Malawi:
Meanwhile it is reported that the newly installed Bishop Francis Kaulanda is trying to raise six million Malawi Kwacha (£27,000 $40,000 €32,000) to make up the financial shortfall in the Diocese and help pay the clergy.

Comments that a comparable sum was expended both flying and providing accommodation for acting Dean Albert Chama and his cohort, the Bishops of Eastern Zambia and Masvingo, Zimbabwe, when they attended the recent schismatic Global South Conference in Singapore, as reported by us 20th April. At the Conference Chama had the temerity to lecture on ‘The potential for economic empowerment’. His own economic empowerment for the exercise appears to have come from breakaway factions in the United States – it clearly wasn’t from the Diocese of Lake Malawi where priests have been unpaid.

Diocese of Northern Malawi:
Another attempt will be made on 29th May to elect a bishop for Northern Malawi. It is not yet clear who the provincial bishops intend to be the successful candidate. Their previous choice Fr Leslie Mtekateka was dismissed for gross misconduct.

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Constitutional and common sense from New Zealand

Dr Tony Fitchett - a member of the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion - has told New Zealand's General Synod that Section 4.2 of the Covenant (here):
“ ... contains provisions that are punitive, controlling, and completely un-Anglican, and reflect the movement towards centralized, Curia-like control that was rejected by the Lambeth conference… over a century ago…”

He's happy about the first three sections: “mother’s milk – good for us all.”

Furthermore, as has been evident from the beginning, the pressure to get a Covenant has exceeded the need for it:
He said there’d long been pressure for an instant decision.

At the last ACC meeting, for example, “much was said about the need for this to happen immediately: that even delay in adoption, let alone rejection of it would lead to the breakup of the Communion.

“Well,” said Dr Fitchett, “somehow the Communion seems to have survived for another year, in a way no more broken than in the previous five years…”
The conviction in some quarters (though without any evidence) that the Covenant is the only way to avoid schism, has resulted in unprecedented secrecy. (As far as anyone out of the loop can tell.) As a consequence there has been, in those same quarters, a desire to circumvent discussion and short-circuit the ordinary decision making processes of the Provinces and Churches. This is bad enough in itself.

But if the Covenant is born in secret and silence and the avoidance of participatory decision making then it will most probably be put into practice in the same way. The 'Curia-like control' will operate, mafia-like, out of sight of most members of the Church.

Tony Fitchett also points out that the Covenant as it stands will give the SCAC powers to over-ride the ACC's structures:
“Though the language used has been moderated, and has become fuzzier in successive drafts, the general thrust of Section 4.2 remains as it began: that a Communion-wide body – now the Standing Committee rather than the Primates – can discipline a Province and recommend its exclusion from Communion structures.

“It can also recommend suspension while those disciplinary processes are
being worked through.

“Further, a new Clause 4.2.8 excludes all provinces which have not adopted the Covenant from decision-making about exclusion of provinces.

“This means that in the ACC, the only constitutional Instrument of Communion, the proposed Covenant purports to over-ride the ACC’s constitutional provisions about decision making – so that only those Provinces that have adopted the proposed Covenant are involved in the decisions regarding exclusion.

“My belief is that this Clause, which has not been previously put forward for discussion, is ultra vires, as well as being completely unjust, and is enough on its own to justify rejecting the proposed Covenant.”

Dr Fitchett's comments mean that 3 of the 15 elected members of the SCAC have publicly expressed their opposition to the Covenant as now drafted. Bishop Mouneer Anis (who resigned) and Bishop Henry Orombi (who doesn't attend) reject the Covenant on the grounds that the Primates collectively should be the locus over faith and order in the Communion. It's hard to see TEC's Presiding Bishop voting for it given the commitment to expel TEC through the mechanisms that the Covenant provides.

Where do the rest of the members stand?

All here.

The synod agreed to discuss the Covenant over 2 years and make a decision at the General Synod in 2012. Gisborne Herald report

In the meantime,
legal opinions will be sought on a controversial part of section 4 of the Covenant – regarding participation in the decision-making of the Communion Standing Committee (clause 4.2.8). (here)

Muted celebrations greet new Bishop of Lake Malawi

The Rt Rev'd Francis Kaulanda new Bishop of Lake Malawi

ANGLICAN-INFORMATION reports: A new bishop has been consecrated and enthroned for the Diocese of Lake Malawi, Province of Central Africa. The Diocese of Lake Malawi, has been without an incumbent since 2005 when London based Dr. Nicholas Henderson was elected overwhelmingly as bishop in the July but rejected in a highly disputed and suspect Court of Confirmation in November of that year when he was declared inexplicably to be of ‘unsound faith’.

This Sunday 9th May saw the consecration of the Venerable Francis Kaulanda, formerly Archdeacon of Lilongwe. His consecration and enthronement took place at All Saints’ Cathedral, Nkhota-kota, Malawi. Principal bishop was the acting Dean of the Central African Province, the Rt Rev’d Albert Chama. Principal guest was the Speaker of the Malawian Parliament.

Chama, had delayed the ceremony in order that he could attend a ‘Global South’ Conference in Singapore and then spend some time with ‘breakaway’ Anglicans in the United States. This has set him at odds with some of his fellow bishops who are unhappy with the Province being associated with schismatic groups in the Anglican Communion.

Some of the Provincial Bishops were also absent from the ceremony on Sunday which took place in the presence of eleven bishops including an ecumenical guest Roman Catholic prelate.

The ceremony was held in the open air to accommodate the large congregation but was a curiously muted affair. Nine choirs from the various archdeaconries in Lake Malawi sang but there was an absence of traditional joyful African dancing. One observer commented ‘we seemed to be going through the motions of a consecration with only the mechanics of enthusiasm’.

Feelings remain mixed in the Diocese of Lake Malawi about the new bishop. Many still consider that the legitimacy of Francis Kaulanda’s election is questionable following the failure of the Bishops to act canonically and review the much-challenged previous Court of Confirmation.

Kaulanda himself was subject to an unprecedented number of objectors whose claims of academic falsification; name changing and accusations of financial irregularities were never addressed. A feeling remains (as in the other Malawian Dioceses of Upper Shire and North Malawi) that, despite the wishes of the priests and people, the Bishops have forced through their own candidates.

North Malawi is set for another election for a bishop to be held on Saturday 29th May. The bishops’ previous candidate, Fr Leslie Mtekateka, was struck off following accusations of gross misconduct.

comments that a gulf seems to have opened up during the regime of Albert Chama between the episcopal bench and the people. It will be important for the new Bishop of Lake Malawi, Francis Kaulanda, to regain the confidence of the people and to demonstrate that he is not party to such disliked oversight.

Diocese of Harare, Zimbabwe:
The sad death of Vice Chancellor Bob Stumbles robs Zimbabwe of an effective legal voice against the machinations of ‘Archbishop’ Nolbert Kunonga. Conflicting reports in the international press describe a ‘victory’ for Kunonga in the Mugabe backed Courts. On 3rd May Zimbabawe’s Supreme Court dismissed an appeal that challenged Kunonga’s legitimacy in the Diocese of Harare (on a technicality about payment of security fees) declaring that Kunonga is the rightful Bishop of Harare and that the Provincial Diocese under Bishop Chad Gandiya no longer has a right to churches or assets.

Unsurprisingly, Bishop Gandiya, who will seek again to challenge Kunonga in the courts, has disputed this interpretation. However, as a mark of the difficulties he and his people face a Zimbabwean Republic Police operational order is reported as instructing police officers “to ensure that only one church service is conducted and that to be led by the Kunonga faction” and that the police “be on standby for reaction purposes”.

Comments that it would be helpful if Acting Dean Chama of the Province urgently addressed himself to the public support of his beleaguered colleague Bishop Gandiya and the people of Harare. This would be better understood by the people of the Province than jetting off to conspire to split the Anglican Communion whilst accommodated in luxurious comfort in South East Asia.

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No clear view of the Covenant from the South

A convocation of Primates at Singapore Cathedral

Singapore based The Christian Post has kindly set out the views of the Primates at the recent Global South Encounter concerning the Covenant in an article by Edmond Chua entitled New Power Brokers Discuss Future of Anglicanism.

I make the vote:
Yes 1
No 0
Depends on the Covenant / still negotiate 3
No clear statement 5 and (based on the tone of comments) probably no 2, probably yes 3

It was clear that the Global South leaders do not agree on the matter, despite a statement prior to the meeting that 20 Provinces would be expected to endorse the Covenant.

Archbishop John Chew is in an awkward position. He is now the Chair of the Global South Primates' Steering Committe. And, as a member of the Covenant Design Group, he signed off on the latest version of the Covenant including vesting the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion with powers of implementation.

There may be an interesting question of timing. If the Global South are not confident enough, or know, that they are not strong enough for independence from the western church or, from a different perspective, believe that TEC and ACoC may not sign the Covenant, they have every incentive to wait and see what happens.

I guess also that there's a dance to the tune of 'I'll not sign if you'll not sign with me'.

In summary:
The Rt. Revd. Peter Jasper Akinola, retired, The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion)
The Covenant as it is currently proposed cannot solve the problem. It is not designed to solve the problem. It is futuristic.
The Most Revd. David Vunagi, Primate, the Province of Melanesia, - need a good Covenant that everyone will honour.

The Most Revd. Bernard Ntahoturi, Primate The Anglican Church of Burundi - Scripture is the first principle we should be following.

The Most Revd. Nicholas D Okoh, Primate,The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion),
It is still something that is evolving. We have not come to the end of it. There is a draft. It’s being studied and I believe that we need to study it thoroughly so that the last mistake will not be worse than the first. What I mean is that if you go into a Covenant and it’s not properly observed, the break that will occasion that will be the effect will be worse than the situation we are in now.
The Most Revd. Ian Earnest, Primate, The Church of the Province of the Indian Ocean and Chairman of the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa
So the Covenant is an important tool that will help us to be accountable to one another and to be faithful to what God calls us to do. ... the Covenant is definitely a binding principle which helps us to see that we don’t hurt each other and that we are true to what God calls us to be.
The Most Revd. Gregory James Venables, Primate, Iglesia Anglicana del Cono Sur de America (Anglican Church of the Southern Cone of America) and Chairman of the Primate’s Council of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans
Really the Covenant seems to be a way of holding together a marriage which is no longer a marriage.
The Most Revd. Henri Kahwa Isingoma, Primate of the 500,000-strong Province de L’Eglise Anglicane Du Congo (The Anglican Church of the Province of Congo)
There is really only one Anglican Communion. It is the North American Churches that have gone far from the roots of our common faith. The Global South is a movement that was started to resist theological liberalism in the Anglican Communion and to uphold orthodoxy. The liberals can go their own way, but we will remain in the Anglican Communion. If they should decide to repent, we are ready to receive them back.
The Most Revd. Dr Mouneer Hanna Anis, Primate of the 30,000-strong The Episcopal Church in Jerusalem & The Middle East - a good idea that needs strong implmentation.

The Most Revd. Stephen Thanh Myint Oo, Primate of the 70,000-strong The Church of the Province of Myanmar (Burma) - Yes.

The Revd. Dr Paul Swarup, Secretary of the Theological Commission of The Church of North India (United) representing the Primate - Scripture is guideline and principle

The Rt. Revd. Howard Gregory, Suffragan Bishop in the Diocese of Jamaica & The Cayman Islands of The Church of the Province of the West Indies representing the Primate - Yes

The Most Rev. Emmanuel Musaba Kolini, Primate of the one million-strong L’Eglise Episcopal au Rwanda - not the best solution to theological crisis

The Rt. Rev. Dr Johannes Seoka, Bishop, Diocese of Pretoria of The Anglican Church of Southern Africa representing the Primate - an inclusive document for those willing to engage and find a common mind.

The Rt. Rev. Stephen Kaziimba, Bishop, Diocese of Mityana of The Church of the Province of Uganda representing the Primate.
The Covenant as it is right now this is just a draft. It seems like more work
should be done on it in order to make it suitable for the Anglican Communion.
But I am sure what is more important right now is to go back to obey the

The Most Revd. Daniel Deng Bul Yak, Primate of the five million-strong The Episcopal Church of the Sudan
But the fear that some people have is even though they may sign it they may not
follow it fully but otherwise the Covenant would be the way out for the crisis
within the Anglican Communion.


Fragments and secrecy

The ACC's new constitution has been voted for by at least two-thirds of the members of the ACC between their meetings in Nottingham, UK in 2005 and Kingston, Jamaica, 2009.

And (all credit to the managers in one sense) the constitution - and the Memorandum and Articles of the new charitable company - don't appear to have been leaked into the public domain.

So I asked around and the only reference my correspondent on General Synod could find to these changes was:

From the House of Bishops meeting January 2007

1. Deemed Procedure

The following Reports and papers were either agreed or noted under the House’s deemed procedure:
(iv) Anglican Consultative Council: Proposals for Constitutional and Procedural Reform
It scarcely makes the heart race. I could find no reference to it on the General Synod website.

The inference must be that the Church of England voted in favour of the changes and the bishops were informed. (I'm guessing that 'deemed procedure' means there was no debate in the House of Bishops.)

Who the 'Church of England' was that voted, I don't know - presumably the representatives on ACC. If so, they took a considerable amount on their own backs without public discussion - Synod is, after all, the Church of England by representation.

But I want to make a wider point: much too much has been done behind closed doors. If power can be accrued by discussion and deals in secret there is every reason to believe that this way of working will be embedded in the new structures of the Communion.

Those 'in the know' will have no incentive to share. Those who would like to be 'in the know' will have every incentive to learn the ways of discretion and secrecy.

This may make life easier in the short-term for power-brokers and bureaucrats but in the longer term it will sap the commitment and energy of the church, it will lessen the willingness to participate and engage with bigger questions, it will limit the quality of decision making, and it will engender increasing resentment amongst those who have no voice.

Furthermore such secrecy is a direct denial of the voluntary nature of Church membership. It is a denial of the episcopal nature of the Church in the sense that decisions won't be taken by bishops whether alone or in synod. Decisions will be taken by a few - some of whom may chance to be bishops - but most bishops will simply be told what has been decided. And some of the few will be lay people or ordinary clergy. But they will be few.

And for decisions read 'authority'. Authority in the church is leaching from bishop-in-synod to small groups of people in the loop.

To keep information amongst a small group is a rational and understandable response to the communications capacity of the internet. Most internet chatter (including this) is ill-informed, speculative, partisan, sometimes malicious and always a nuisance to those who are trying their best to undertake the serious task of church leadership.

But an equally rational response is to engage in a careful, planned, positive and informative manner, putting as much as possible into the public domain as soon as possible.

Of course every organization rightly and properly has to consider the public statements it makes and some things should not be posted for the world and her uncle to see. But let the presumption be in favour of openness and disclosure (including the rules as to what should not be disclosed and the timetables for making matters public). Some poeple will always fret and want more, but we will know where we stand.

We currently have the farce of a consultative body (the ACC) keeping their consultations secret. We have the offence of a governing body (the SCAC) being set up without any formal notification that it was being done - let alone the rules by which governance will be exercised.

We will end with the tragedy of a Church led by small groups in close touch with one another and increasingly distant from every other member. The attempt to concentrate authority and to make it forceful and effective (to cite the Windsor Report) will in the predictable result in a loss of credibility and deep unhappiness across the body of Christ.