Report on the enthronement of Bishop Bakare – 4 Feb 08

We woke to a beautiful sunny day and praised the Lord for his goodness. When we arrived at the City Sports Centre around 9:15am the car park was already full of buses and cars and people were streaming into the Sports Centre. The Security and Usher teams were in force provided by the Youth and the Bernard Mizeki Guild. They had name cards identifying them and some had sashes as well. The choirs were in magnificent voice and the noise emanating from the inside was wonderful to hear.
By the time the service commenced the Centre was almost full and continued to fill during the morning. The Cathedral and St Stephen’s had dressed the altar, lectern and the stage in white and green with two magnificent white arrangements of flowers on pedestals. The chairs for the bishops had white slip covers on them. The playing area had seats arranged in blocks with padded chairs in the front two rows for invited guests and dignitaries. The choirs sang the whole time and every now and then there would be a roar from the congregation. The Mothers Union were present in force and they made quite an impact in their blue and white uniforms. Two large screens had been set up so that people would be able to see some close-ups of the proceedings.The choirs were seated to the right in bays 13,14 and 15 and were all wearing white blouses or shirts.
 
Just prior to processions of the bishops the servers, sub-deacons, deacons and priests had filed in to sit in bay 16 immediately behind the altar. For those who know the Sports Centre, this bay is where the score board is situated. The service commenced with the arrival of the bishops. The first one was Bishop Peter Hatendi followed by those from Zambia, Malawi, Botswana and Zimbabwe. Each was announced and a brief curriculum vitae given stating where they had been trained, when enthroned as a bishop and other pertinent details. The bishops were led in down the aisle by servers wearing red surplices and priests. The teams rotated so they walked many hundreds of metres. The choirs continued to sing throughout the procession apart from when the announcements were made.
 
Bishop Bakare commenced the service which was partially in Shona and partially in English. The readings were Nehemiah 2: 11->; Psalm 99:1-9; 2 Peter 1:1-16 and Matthew 17: 1->. The Sermon was on Reconciliation and Rebuilding based on Nehemiah 4:1-4. The sermon was given in English with Rev Chris Tapera translating into Shona.
 
The Registrar Michael Chingore and the Deputy Registrar Vimbai Nyemba were commissioned by Bishop Bakare assisted by the Diocesan Chancellor Bob Stumbles.
 
The Peace took several minutes as people milled around greeting friends and passing on the Peace.The Collection Hymn followed with the ushers moving around with large plastic bags to receive the collection. This was then put into a fertiliser bag to present to Bishop Bakare. Perhaps not the most elegant of bags but it served the purpose very well and possibly many were not aware of it, but as we were sitting right near the altar we could see everything.
 
During the Collection hymn just before the Preparation of the Elements, Bishop Bakare went out of the Sports Stadium for several minutes. We were told by Pam Stumbles and Rhona Harris who went out briefly that this was a News Conference but it seemed strange to us to have one in the middle of the Eucharist. The ciboriums had been filled with wafers and the bottles of wine were put onto the altar, some decanted into the chalice and the consecrated wine was then poured back into each bottle. The Dean of the Province, Bishop Chama conducted the Preparation with Bishop Bakare also participating half-way through. The bishops then received communion, followed by the priests and their sub-deacons and servers. The priests and sub-deacons then administered the sacraments by intinction. Those on the centre section came up to the red carpet in front of the altar to receive and those in the bays moved either up or down as directed by the ushers. It was incredibly orderly and when one considered the size of the congregation took an amazingly short time.
 
The service had just about concluded at 1:25pm when the power failed and Bishop Bakare announced when the generator started that we would move to Plan B. Plan B was then revealed that as the congregation was so large and so many would like to be present and the cathedral would not accommodate everyone, the enthronement of the Bishop would take place at the Sports Centre. In effect Kunonga had apparently camped at the cathedral all night on Saturday and the cathedral was locked with guards so the service could not take place there. People who had been invited to the Enthronement and went to the cathedral were therefore unable to witness it, but those at the Sports Centre were delighted that they were going to be able to witness the entire ceremony.
 
The actual Enthronement was very simple as part of the pomp and ceremony could not take place. A chair was placed in front of the altar as the throne. The Dean of the Province presented Bishop Sebastian Bakare to the congregation so “that all may know him to be the rightly appointed and confirmed Bishop of Harare, and to give him that esteem and love which are due to him for the work’s sake as one set over you in the Lord.”
 
The certificates of Confirmation of Appointment were handed to the Registrar who also received from the new Bishop the Deeds of his Consecration and Collation. The Registrar having satisfied himself that these were in order then affirmed that “Sebastian Bakare is our undoubted Bishop.”
 
The Bishop responded and thanked the congregation for their welcome and promised “to be a faithful shepherd and servant among us.” He prayed that “the ministry which we shall share may be pleasing to God, and that it may strengthen the life of this Diocese and the whole Church of God.”
 
He was led to a “suitable seat” and the pastoral staff was laid on the Altar.
 
He then faced the congregation and promised “to respect, maintain and defend the rights, privileges and liberties of this Diocese and to rule in it with truth justice and love, not lording it over God’s heritage, but showing myself in all things an example to the flock of Christ.”
 
The Acting Dean then enthroned him as Bishop of Harare.
 
The Acting Dean then blessed the Bishop who knelt before the altar. The Acting Dean then took the Pastoral staff from the altar and handed it to him saying ” May the Giver of all grace enable you to be so merciful that you be not remiss, so to minister discipline that you do not forget mercy; that when the Chief Shepherd shall appear you may receive the never-fading crown of glory.”
 
The Bishop was then presented to the people who welcomed him with a shout, ululation and clapping.
 
The priests then expressed their loyalty to the Bishop while he was seated on the throne.
 
This was followed by messages of solidarity. The first was given by Bishop Nywatiwa of the Methodist Church and a German lady from Africa University. Rev David Bertram (Christchurch, Polokwane – SA), St Aiden’s Church Chitungwiza and the Bishop of Rochester had also sent messages. Bishop Hatendi also gave a message of solidarity and a message was read from the Archbishop of Canterbury. The message concluded with an invitation for Bishop Bakare to attend Lambeth Congress later this year. (Kunonga had not been invited to this meeting.)
 
The wives of the various bishops were also acknowledged.
 
The service concluded with a Blessing and then the priests, etc. processed out followed by the bishops and lastly the Dean of the Province.
 
We were pleased that so many people were able to witness this historic occasion in the rebuilding of our Diocese but were sad that we were denied the right to have it in the Cathedral. We feel too for those who waited in vain for the Enthronement at the Cathedral as I understand some people waited for at least two hours. Ruth Chard had spent several hours practising on the organ for the service.
 
We hope that we will now be able to move forward in the love of Christ. So much unity and joy was expressed yesterday and our congratulations go to all who made this historic occasion happen so smoothly.
 
Trish McKenzie
Warden, Avondale Church

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