26 November 2012

Zimbabwe: Jubilant Anglicans Return to Parishes

IT was an emotional Sunday for members of the Anglican Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) as they returned to various parishes after five years of worshipping under trees or rented premises.

This came in the wake of last week's Supreme Court ruling which gave the Harare Diocese led by Bishop Chad Gandiya control over the church's properties.

The properties had been under the control of Bishop Nolbert Kunonga of the Church of the Province of Zimbabwe, who is former head of the Harare Diocese.

The Supreme Court decision ended years of feuding between the CPCA and Dr Kunonga's group and gave Anglicans the right to worship in their church buildings, and repossess other properties including schools, clinics and orphanages that had been under the control of Dr Kunonga.

Anglican Harare CPCA spokesperson Mr Precious Shumba said their members had access to all their premises and for the first time in five years conducted services in the parishes.

He said they had not met any resistance from most priests aligned to Bishop Kunonga.

Mr Shumba said Bishop Gandiya was overjoyed by the church members response to the court ruling as they came in their numbers at various churches.

He said the bishop visited St Faith's Budiriro, St Paul's Marlborough and St Peter's Mabelreign to meet the jubilant parishioners.

Reverend Father Barnabas Munzwandi of St James Warren Park Parish could not hold back his joy.

"Today means prayers can be answered. Some of those who had been swayed by Kunonga have pleaded to be reintegrated into our church," he said.

"If they want to come back to God, they need to go through a process of rebaptism."

In Glen View, hundreds of people converged at the church building close to the shed they were now using after Dr Kunonga chased them.

The church warden Mr Lazarus Vambe said the centre owed more than US$12 000 in unpaid utility bills.

"Toilets are long blocked, but we are glad to be back," he said.

Mr Vambe said prodigal sons and daughters had to be re-educated on the precepts of the Anglican Church.

"To us they were long lost and had been affirming their faith on falsehoods, those coming back, priests included will automatically lose their positions and start working again," he said.

At St Christopher Parish, Reverend Gabriel Chamarengah was bitter after being barred from using the facilities by one Reverend Simon Makova of the Kunonga group.

"We have convened a council meeting to chat the way forward. This guy has promised us persecution and we are still to see what will happen, we hope next week he would have been properly dealt with," he said.

When The Herald visited the church, Rev Makova threatened to unleash his dog on the journalists.

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