Bishop-elect in Malawi faces opposition
Posted: 02 Nov 2006 @ 00:00
FIVE ANGLICANS in the diocese of Lake Malawi have called for the election of
the Revd Nicholas Henderson as Bishop to be nullified, and a new nomination
offered, writes .
Mr Henderson, the Vicar of All Saints', Ealing, and St Martin's, West Acton,
was elected on 29 July, and is to be consecrated by the Archbishop of Central
Africa, Dr Bernard Malango, on 9 October (
News, 19 August).
The five, all from the Nkhotakota region, claim that the election was not
properly conducted under the canons and constitution of the Church. Their
lawyer, Steve Kafumba, said: "Their complaint is that the Electoral Assembly
twisted the formalities of the elections to suit the Bishop-elect. The members
are challenging the whole election process."
The five argue that Mr Henderson, who succeeds the late Bishop Peter Nyanja,
and who has been working for 18 years with the Malawian diocese, "is a man who
has only been known to most people in the diocese after the death of the Bishop
because some priests went on a deliberate campaign to portray him as someone
who has been assisting the diocese".
One said there was fear that he would bring "strange traditions" to the
diocese. Another of the five is reported to have accused the electors of
putting too much emphasis on the monetary advantage of electing a foreigner "as
opposed to how he would assist to bring more people into the Church". Mr
Henderson's most recent undertaking for the diocese of Lake Malawi was a scheme
to harness solar energy to provide sustainable electricity.
Malawi has four dioceses, and has one English bishop, the Bishop of Northern
Malawi, the Rt Revd Christopher Boyle.
Mr Henderson said on Tuesday: "It's perfectly in order for people to put in
an objection: there is a 28-day period with any appointment during which a
challenge can be made. I would be astonished if the election were not properly
conducted. It's overseen by the Archbishop, and the electorate was
overwhelmingly in my favour."
Mr Henderson dismissed a report in The Times that Malawi was "in
uproar over the promotion of a pro-gay churchman". An admirer of Dr Malango,
with whom he acknowledges a good working relationship, he told the
Church Times last week: "We may well have our disagreements over some
points, but I don't think that will stop us working closely together."
Clergy and parishioners in Malawi were keen to get him there, said Mr
Henderson on Tuesday, and, though the normal confirmatory process due to take
place in early September would have to consider the objection, he did not think
it likely to be upheld.