Update from Zimbabwe
In recent weeks we have trying to get additional information from St. Luke’s in Harare, Zimbabwe. Although we haven’t had any recent contact, our parishes had a strong sister relationship in the 1980’s. The situation for the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe is not good; click here to expand this post an view a letter from someone on the ground there.
Police repression of the Anglican Church intensifies, April 11, 2010
Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance. Easter tide greetings to you.
We trust your Easter celebrations went well. Thank you for all your prayer support for us. We write this letter to bring you up-to-date with what is happening in our church. Some of you are aware that Vice President Honourable John Nkomo together with Honourable Ministers Sekai Holland and Gibson Sibanda all members of the Organ for National Healing Reconciliation and Integration were tasked by Cabinet to mediate between us (Diocese of Harare CPCA) and Dr. Kunonga’s Anglican Province of Zimbabwe. Those talks are going on.
We continue to be amazed that while these talks have begun and Cabinet’s wish and message to us to worship in peace, the very opposite is happening. Our experience over the last two weeks is that the persecution seems to have intensified. Police are openly telling our people to attend Dr. Kunonga’s services only and continue to prohibit them from worshipping in their churches as per Judge President Makarawu’s judgment and Justice Bhunu’s judgment of the 3rd March 2010. The former allowed for sharing of church buildings for worship until the courts give their final judgment on the matter and the latter endorsed that judgment. Whereas in the past some of our congregations used to hold their services outside of their church buildings, the police are driving them away telling them that they cannot meet outside anywhere near the church buildings. We are completely baffled by the behavior of the Zimbabwe Republic Police in this matter. We have persistently asked why they are being used to prop up Dr. Kunonga by actively telling people that our church properties belong to him and therefore our members should attend his Church services only. Nobody has given us any answers. We continue to raise our grave concern over the police partisan involvement in the affairs of our church, abuse of our rights and disregard of Court Orders and Rulings. We also continue to ask; Who will police the police? Have they officially become a law unto themselves? To whom can we turn for help? Who will listen to our plight?
Last Sunday 11/04/2010
1. Police went to St. Mark’s Church, Ruwa and drove our members away from both the church and church premises. When the congregation decided to meet at the priest’s house the police prohibited them from doing so. What right do they have to stop even this? The priest of this church received a text message from Kunonga’s priest telling him not to use the church or else “what they did at St. Faith’s Church, Budiriro will happen to them”. St. Faith’s Church, Budiriro is where riot police tear-gassed our people on a Sunday morning and then followed it up on a Thursday afternoon with tear-gassing Mother’s Union members who were worshipping away from the church in the open air. This is further proof of that Dr. Kunonga’s priests are working in cahoots with the police.
2. Our Cathedral congregation was told by the police not to meet anywhere near the Cathedral next week or else they will face the wrath of the police.
3. At Holy Trinity Church, Ruwa acting Officer-in-Charge assistant Inspector Ngoshi and Sergeant Major Chibaya force number 044621A drove our congregation out telling them that they had orders to stop their service because they were to leave the Church to Kunonga’s group even though he hasn’t got a single member in that area.
4. At St. Alban’s Church, Chiweshe where I had gone for a Confirmation Service- the church doors were welded from inside and so we could not go in as we had intended. We only managed to remove a pin on one of the hinges but could not go in. As a result we had our service in the open air. Rev’d. Mangava, Kunonga’s resident priest/untrained teacher called the police telling them that we had broken into the church. Police arrived just before the end of our service only to find a pin that had been removed and nothing broken. For that, about six people including the two priests who were with me had to go to Glendale police station to give evidence – a process that took forever. I followed them. No charges were brought against them but we reported the damage that was caused to our church building by the welding of doors and other devices used to prevent us from going in. We await a court hearing. What’s amazing is the ease with which even Dr. Kunonga’s priests call the police, tell them what to do and how they in turn easily comply.
5. A number of our congregations are using other denominations church buildings (we are very grateful for their generosity) while some use school buildings and others continue to meet in the open air.
Thank you for your messages of solidarity and assurances of your prayer support. We don’t lose heart in spite of all the challenges we are facing.
He is risen indeed – Halleluiah!