Zimbabwe Anglicans prepare for women’s ordination with CofE visit

By Bellah Zulu
Posted Jan 24, 2014

[Anglican Communion News Service] Bishop of Harare Chad Gandiya has expressed his gratitude for a recent visit to his diocese by three women priests from the Church of England.

The Rev. Canon Liz Walker, the Rev. Judy Henning and the Rev. Anne Jablonski, all from the Diocese of Rochester, traveled to the African nation with their bishop the Rt. Rev. Brian Castle.

The trip was, however, more than just a friendly visit, and the three women were deployed to various parishes within the Diocese of Harare. They spent two weekends in parishes and were in Zimbabwe from Jan 4-13.

In an interview with ACNS on Jan. 23, Gandiya said, “This was the first in the diocese! The [Church of England] priests were surprised by the reception they received in those parishes and they were able to carry out their work joyfully.”

The priests also joined fellow clergy from Zimbabwe for a week-long annual clergy retreat at Peterhouse, in the town of Marondera. “It was as if we had women priests in the diocese already,” said Gandiya.

At its provincial synod held in November last year, the Church of the Province of Central Africa, of which Zimbabwe is a part, voted against a motion to allow individual dioceses who want to ordain women to go ahead.

“Obviously many women are asking why our province turned down our request and what we are going to do about it,” said Gandiya. “The first thing we are going to do is report back to Diocesan Synod that had sent us with request in the first place. Secondly, we are continuing with the training we are giving to the laity – in particular women – in theology.”

The bishop also said he would ask synod to approve the training of women as ordinands in preparation for the future. “Our diocese has women who, in order to fulfill their calling to ordained ministry, have had to leave the country to train and get ordained and are currently serving as priests abroad. This is not right,” he said.

He added, “They should serve in their home dioceses. We in Harare are generally ready for women priests. We feel God’s mission in our context is being retarded by the continual refusal by our province to allow us to ordain women.”

The Diocese of Harare has a long-standing link with the Diocese of Rochester and the two dioceses support and encourage each other in God’s mission as well as share both material and spiritual resources.


Comments (1)

  1. I rejoice to read about this link and the influence of international connections. We are developing a similar relationship with the new Anglican Diocese of Newala in Tanzania. When a delegation from the Diocese of Milwaukee traveled to Tanzania this summer, led by Bishop Steven Miller, Bishop Oscar M’nunga invited myself and the Rev. Dr. Miranda Hassett to be the first women to preside in the Cathedral of Newala, concelebrating with our companion Fr. Oswald Bwechwa (who moved from the north of Tanzania and is now resident in Milwaukee). Afterwards, Bishop M’nunga stood up to make an announcement (in Swahili) and the congregation burst out ululating and cheering. I leaned over to inquire of Fr. Oswald and learned that Bishop M’nunga had just announced his intention to ordain the first woman deacon (November 2013) with the plan to priest her this coming year, and the cathedral congregation burst out rejoicing at this news. We give thanks for the many godly and strong leaders we met there, among them many women. I think of Sr. Helena Aidano Nogea who leads the local convent. For our part, we have been deeply encouraged by the spirit of mission and strength of hope and joy we witnessed in Newala. We look forward to hosting a delegation of church leaders later this year, and you can read more about our work together on http://www.friendsofnewala.org.

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