Williams to confront Kunonga

05 October 2011

THE Archbishop of Canterbury flew out to Africa on Wednesday evening to begin a week-long pastoral visit to the Church of the Province of Central Africa. He has requested a meeting with the President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, on Monday, when he visits the country.

The 48 hours that Dr Williams spends in Zimbabwe will be the most sensitive. It is thought likely that, if the meeting with President Mugabe goes ahead, the deposed Bishop of Harare, Nolbert Kunonga, will be in attendance. Dr Williams will wish to protest at the expul-sion of Anglican congregations from their churches by Kunonga.

Last month, Kunonga supporters evicted carers from an orphanage that is run by an Anglican mission loyal to mainstream Anglicans and the Bishop of Harare, the Rt Revd Chad Gandiya (News, 16 September). It was the latest event in a series of evictions of clergy, after a High Court ruling last month gave Kunonga custody of church property (News, 19 August).

There are less stressful elements to the tour, however. On Saturday, Dr Williams attends a special service of celebration to mark the 150th anniversary of the Anglican Church in Malawi. He will also visit a number of church initiatives set up to help vulnerable groups, including literacy and sustainable farming projects run by the Mothers’ Union.

In Zimbabwe, Dr Williams will preach at a eucharist at the National Sports Stadium in Harare, “and meet local Anglicans and their bishops who continue to serve the community despite an environment of disruption, intimidation and even violence”, a Lambeth statement says. He will also visit projects that care for orphans and others, such as people with HIV.

On Tuesday, Dr Williams will travel to Zambia, where he will preach at an outdoor eucharist in a stadium in the city of Kitwe. He will also speak at a conference for clergy at the Mindolo Ecumenical Foundation.

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