The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Anglicans Hold Cleansing Ceremony

ANGLICANS from the Church of the Province of Central Africa yesterday held a cleansing and re-dedication ceremony of the Cathedral of St Mary's and All Saints in Harare. The ceremony marked the return of the Anglicans to the cathedral after five years following their dispute with Archbishop Nolbert

Kunonga's Church of the Province of Zimbabwe over control of properties.

CPCA's Bishop for Harare Diocese Chad Gandiya led thousands of parishioners to the cathedral to perform some rituals which they said were meant to cleanse the building after it was "defiled" by Archbishop Kunonga.

The ceremony followed a Supreme Court victory by the CPCA against Archbishop Kunonga who lost the right to control church property.

This was after Archbishop Kunonga withdrew from CPCA citing its alleged condoning of homosexuality.

During the cleansing ceremony yesterday, Bishop Gandiya said mass at the Africa Unity Square before leading parishioners into the cathedral.

Motorists intending to use roads passing near the cathedral had to use alternative routes owing to the heavy presence of parishioners along the roads.

Parishioners could be seen jostling to gain entry into the cathedral which could only accommodate a fraction of them as the congregation outnumbered its capacity.

Bishop Gandiya performed some rituals at the door of the cathedral, the pulpit, on musical instruments and other religious relics and strategic places in the building.

Yesterday's event was attended by Bishops from the region and representatives of outgoing Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury.

They also included CPCA Archbishop, Albert Chama.

In his sermon, Bishop Gandiya said they had set aside November 19, the day when the Supreme Court delivered judgment in the church's favour, as the Day of Thanksgiving. "This is the day we got our deliverance. It marked our return from exile. We were driven from our church into exile, it was not easy, we have survived," he said.

Bishop Gandiya urged the parishioners to remain resolute, saying their return to their churches should not make them relax.

"Going back to our churches does not mean going on pension, or sit or relax," he said.

"We are not yet there. Just like an athlete we have to strive until we get to the finishing line."

Bishop Gandiya said the court victory had vindicated them.

"If the Lord had not been on our side when people attacked us, traumatised us, they would have swallowed us alive, the floods would have engulfed us, the raging waters would have swept us," he said.

"We have escaped like a bird from a snare. The snare has been broken."

Notable people who attended the event were Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Eric Matinenga and Zanu-PF Politburo member and former Cabinet Minister Victoria Chitepo.

The Supreme Court ruled that Archbishop Kunonga had no right to continue holding onto the church property when it was evident that he had left the CPCA.

But Archbishop Kunonga returned to the High Court where he argued that the properties were not being controlled by him, but by his church, the ACPZ.

Justice George Chiweshe dismissed the High Court application, saying the matter had already been dealt with by the Supreme.

Archbishop Kunonga then appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that Justice Chiweshe had misdirected himself.

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