[Anglican Communion News Service] Bishop Chad Gandiya of Harare Feb. 22 issued an open letter to stress the difference between the Church of the Province of Central Africa dioceses in Zimbabwe and the churches run by an excommunicated former bishop.
Gandiya said in the letter that there appeared to be “still a lot of confusion” about the status of the two groups and so he wanted to clarify things, “so that our members can continue to congregate and worship God freely as members of the Diocese of Harare (CPCA).”
“The Diocese of Harare, Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) is part of
the worldwide Anglican Communion with over 70 million members,” he said. “It is not a part of the ‘Anglican Church in Zimbabwe’ or Province of Zimbabwe which was formed and headed by Dr Nolbert Kunonga.”
Gandiya accused Kunonga — who left and was later excommunicated from the CPCA — of “deliberately playing on words” by referring to the church he established as “Anglican Church in Zimbabwe” and also “the Province of Zimbabwe.”
The outspoken bishop pulled no punches in criticizing police intervention of Anglican services: “Let it be known therefore, that the Diocese of Harare (CPCA) is a legal church organization in Zimbabwe whose operations are above board. Anyone who disturbs the activities of the Diocese of Harare (CPCA) is breaking the law. Christians anywhere in Zimbabwe when they meet for worship or church business do not need to be sanctioned by the police. You only need to look at the number of congregations throughout Zimbabwe who meet under trees to worship. They do not need police to give them permission to gather.
“Any police officer who demands any of our congregations to be sanctioned by them or Kunonga is simply abusing his/her authority, breaking the law and infringing on the constitutional rights of the people of Zimbabwe to assembly, association, expression and worship.”
He also clarified the church’s views on homosexuality, in an effort to ensure people did not believe the lies spread about the CPCA’s position on the issue.
Anglican congregations across Zimbabwe who were forced out of their buildings by followers of the excommunicated former bishop resorted to worshiping in the open air, in pubs, schools, and anywhere else they can find to congregate. This, said Gandiya, was something that was their legal right.
“While the diocese awaits the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe to determine the issues around the properties taken by Dr. Kunonga, we are free to worship at any place and at any time that we find convenient other than our church buildings which he was given custodianship until the matter is resolved. There is no law in Zimbabwe that forbids us to worship God. The same applies to those who do not want to worship with us – there is no law in the statutes of Zimbabwe that forces any one to worship with someone they do not want.”
The Anglican Church in Zimbabwe has been under attack from the excommunicated bishop since 2007. Kunonga, with the support of police and henchmen, has seized CPCA church property and used violence to break up church services. In an earlier interview with the New York Times, Kunonga was quoted as saying that his aim is for his church to control about 3,000 Anglican churches, schools, hospitals and other properties in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and Malawi.
For the full text of Gandiya’s letter click here.