No sign of compromise in Malawi

02 November 2006

LAY PEOPLE in Lake Malawi diocese have warned the Archbishop of Central Africa, the Most Revd Bernard Malango, that if he attempts to force his choice of bishop on them, they are prepared to be adopted by other provinces. They have also declared the parishes' intention to stop paying their financial share if the issue is not properly addressed.

The warnings were given to a meeting requested by the diocesan pastoral committee last Saturday. A spokeswoman for the lay people, Jean Msosa-Maganga, has also made public a letter to the provincial secretary, Fr Eston Dickson Pembamayo, in which she put development concerns at the centre of the dispute about the rejection of the Revd Nicholas Henderson as Bishop ( News, 3 March).

The Anglican Church was once looked on with "highest esteem" in the land, she writes. She laments the loss of or failure to manage "good hospitals, schools, beautiful churches and a lot of social amenities which were the pride of the community".

Mrs Msosa-Maganga concludes: "My understanding of Church is the congregation. One can not call [oneself] a Bishop without congregants. That is the more reason why we should listen to what the congregants want. There will be peace in this Church only when you will be listening leaders. Times have changed where people just accept what leaders want, not what the people they lead want."

Fr Pembamayo, whom Mrs Mtosa-Maganga addresses as Bishop, has accused the two newspapers in Malawi that first reported Archbishop Malango's refusal to confront angry lay people in Lilonge, of "deliberate misrepresentation" and "deliberate distortion" of facts."

Issues coming out of the "Nick Henderson saga" were sensitive, and should not be argued through the press, "to maintain the integrity of the Church," said the statement, issued on 25 February. Fr Pembamayo declares the decision to reject Mr Henderson as the "collective decision" of 15 bishops, and describes it as "a closed chapter in the Anglican Church of the province of Central Africa".

He advises Anglicans in the country "never to be swayed by any financial or material inducements", and concludes: "Finally, we would like to pledge that we remain committed to the propagation of the true gospel and we will stand firm against all foreign non-biblical teachings that are creeping in in the name of civilisation or modernism."

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