Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
This pastoral letter comes to you at the very beginning of Lent; Lent being the season that reminds us of our fallibility as human beings. It is a time of reflection about our relations with each other, and above all with God. We stand condemned, but praise and thanks to Him for His grace, by which we are justified! (Romans 3:24)
Our Diocesan enthronement service at the Sports Centre indeed demonstrated beyond doubt where the majority of our Christians stand (to the disappointment of those who wished it not to succeed). Those who came and filled the Sports Centre to its capacity demonstrated their unwavering position in the Province. They were an encouragement to me, and gave testimony to the response to the call of God to walk the courageous way – even to the Cross.
Bishops of our Province from Botswana, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe demonstrated their affirmation of the existence of the Province. Many of us at the Sports Centre were particularly moved by the peaceful atmosphere which dominated the service. God was indeed present! We apologise to those of our members who went to the Cathedral for the enthronement service. They were harassed and some were beaten up by Dr Kunonga’s thugs – only because they were members of the CPCA. Satan continues to make his presence felt, and we must pray for those who have lost the meaning of their vocation!
Our diocese still stands at the cross-roads. As we write this pastoral letter, some of our churches, including the cathedral, are under siege by Kunonga and his few misguided people. Kunonga has barricaded the doors so that worshippers may not go there to pray. We hope that he himself spends his time in the Cathedral praying for those outside!
We must comment on the sad fact that Kunonga has misinformed some politicians and even police officers that “Bishops of the Province are homosexuals or homosexual sympathisers” and that “the entire Diocese of Harare has left the Province with him”. Both these ridiculous claims are without substance, and we refuse to be provoked even to respond to such lies.
We must, however, clarify for politicians who have been so misled, that Kunonga left the Church and that, according to its canons, he is no longer part of the Anglican Communion – as judged by Justice Hungwe in his ruling of 30 January 2008. It is surprising that some politicians give support to Kunonga when, if one of their members departs from the rules of their party, he is immediately expelled!
It is also sad to report that the law enforcement agency has not performed its duties honestly. Having believed that the police are there to protect us all, I have had to question their understanding of their calling when a priest was pulled out of the cathedral and beaten up by Kunonga’s thugs (including a man of the church!). The priest was helped and went to the police station, but the perpetrators were not even followed, let alone arrested. The same thing happened when police officers came to some of our peaceful services, claiming that they had received instructions from above, trying to provoke peaceful congregations. Our people remained peaceful, even though some were beaten up – one seriously in Glen View. Again, the police turned a blind eye. Last was the caretaker at the Cathedral when, on 3 February, Kunonga’s thugs broke into his apartment. Those with him were forced to the Paget House basement and beaten up. The police were called, but pretended to have seen nothing.
It is clearly the devil’s work when police officers are threatened and instructed to carry out actions which are against their consciences. Please pray that God may protect and give courage to those members of the police force who know that they are being told to do what is wrong and would rather do what is right, but fear the consequences of doing so.
Pray also for the legal system in our country. It is disappointing to see that Kunonga has been able to defy a High Court judge’s ruling, and not be held in contempt of Court!
We want to say to all Anglicans in this diocese that party politics must not be allowed into the church. Kunonga has unsuccessfully tried to hi-jack the Diocese of Harare into politics but the people are saying “No! Let politicians do their work outside of the church”. Of course truth is truth and must be upheld; the actions of those who breed disharmony and violence must be condemned, but political manoeuvring will not be permitted in the name of the Church.
How different are the values and methods of the kingdom of this world, compared to the Kingdom of God! Continue to pray for those who are misguided. We all, including politicians and police, are accountable to God. It is not for us to judge them as people – that is God’s business.
In Matthew’s gospel, in chapter 4, we read of the testing of Jesus by the devil in the desert. We see Jesus’ determination to resist Satan’s temptation to grab power and position, but instead, to submit Himself to the will and the purposes of the Father. May we, and those who oppose us, be challenged by the example of the Master, and be led by the Spirit to the foot of the Cross in humility and thanksgiving.
These are some of the issues which I invite you to pray for as you journey on in this Lent, that God may give us His Spirit to persevere as Jesus did, and to stand for the truth. The truth shall prevail, and the truth shall make us free!
God bless you all,
+ Sebastian, Harare CPCA