Dr Bakare enthroned in stadium

06 February 2008

by Pat Ashworth

THOUSANDS of Anglicans packed the City Sports Centre in Harare, Zimbabwe, on Sunday, for Dr Sebastian Bakare’s enthronement and investiture as interim Bishop of Harare. In an unprecedented show of solidarity and support, all but one of the bishops of Central Africa were present. Only circumstances prevented the Bishop of Southern Malawi, the Rt Revd James Tengatenga, from attending.

The deposed Bishop Nolbert Kunonga and allies thought to be from President Mugabe’s Central Intelligence Office (CIO) barricaded St Mary’s Cathedral, Harare, where the enthronement was due to have taken place after an open-air eucharist in the morning. They remained there all day. Two worshippers who tried to enter were assaulted, the Associated Press reported, and police made no attempt to intervene.

“The whole service was tremendously moving. The stadium was packed to capacity, which meant that all the churches were empty — demonstrating that Kunonga has no support whatsoever,” said the Bishop of Botswana, the Rt Revd Trevor Musonda Mwamba, on Tuesday.

The Archbishop of Canterbury sent a message, inviting Dr Bakare to the Lambeth Conference.

A high-court judge ruled on Thursday of last week that the Anglican diocese that Nolbert Kunonga purports to lead could not exist at law outside the constitution of the Church of the Province of Central Africa, and that, as it had no constitution of its own, it had no structures of its own.

“Things are moving,” Bishop Mwamba confirmed. “It has been resolved that the Church cannot exist outside the province. The next ruling is on the property, but as this judge has already established the precedent, the other judges will have no choice but to rule accordingly.”

The recent ruling demonstrated that even the establishment of which Nolbert Kunonga was a part was distancing itself from him, Bishop Mwamba said. The deposed bishop is also facing charges of contempt of court for defying a previous high-court ruling not to disrupt services — an order that he broke on 20 January in St Mary’s Cathedral (News, 25 January).

Another church member from Harare said on Monday: “We often have no water, no electricity, no telephones, and no fuel — and, since December, no cash either. People have had a pretty torrid time. But the Church has been enormously strengthened, and we’re all absolutely together now.”

Bishop Bakare will be in London next week, at the invitation of USPG, to address a fringe meeting on Wednesday evening at the General Synod. It will be chaired by the USPG’s general secretary, the Rt Revd Michael Doe.

Johannesburg eviction. Refugees among the three million who have fled to South Africa from Zimbabwe were beaten by police last week before being evicted from the Central Methodist Mission in Johannesburg. About 1500 people were bused to police stations in night raids, in what was reported to be an attempt to clamp down on illegal immigrants, who have been blamed for a crime surge.

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