Video: Bishop Dinis Sengulane, Mozambican pioneer of peace

By Matthew Davies
Posted Mar 25, 2014

[Episcopal News Service] The Rt. Rev. Dinis Sengulane, the longest-serving bishop in the Anglican Communion, retired March 25 after leading the Diocese of Lebombo in the Anglican Church of Southern Africa for almost 38 years.

Consecrated as bishop in 1976, Sengulane made his mark as one of Africa’s greatest peacemakers when his efforts to mediate between the Mozambique government and the rebel group Renamo brought an end to 15 years of civil war in 1992.

Once dialogue had been established and peace was in sight, the bishop didn’t stop there. His Preparing the People for Peace program bore many fruits, including the much-acclaimed Swords Into Ploughshares initiative that exchanged thousands of weapons for tools of construction.

About 1 million weapons have been decommissioned since the end of the war. Many have been converted into art, a project that continues today with works exhibited throughout Mozambique and all over the world.

A long-standing partner with the Episcopal Church, Sengulane also has played a significant roll in fighting malaria, one of Africa’s biggest killers, through his involvement in the Rollback Malaria initiative. Sengulane and the Diocese of Lebombo have partnered in particular with Episcopal Relief & Development and the Diocese of Connecticut in various asset-based development programs and other initiatives.

In 2013, Sengulane joined more than 400 Episcopalians in Washington, D.C., for a march against violence.

As he enters retirement, Sengulane reflects on his ministry of peacemaking. Yet he doesn’t see this as his story.

— Matthew Davies is an editor/reporter of the Episcopal News Service.


Comments (5)

  1. Katerina Whitley says:

    In 1989 I had the great honor and privilege of accompanying Presiding Bishop Edmond Browning to Mozambique and South Africa. Mozambique was still suffering from the Renamo civil war and extreme violence. I was struck by Bishop Sengulane’s holiness; he was a young man at that time, with a young, beautiful family. Together with the leaders of other communions he was already changing his country, turning it toward peace. I have never forgotten the moments I spent in his presence, and I find that I talk about him to other Episcopalians whenever I have the chance. His peacemaking efforts fill me with hope, something I lose when I observe the gun worshiping atmosphere of this country. May we learn from his example to turn swords into plowshares, indeed, and to transform them into art. I thank God for Bishop Dinis and his ministry.

  2. We are so blessed in our living saints! Bishop Dinis consulted with our Boss and came from prayer with an idea~ two ideas: dialogue is the only hope for the end of violence; and today’s swords into plowshares might mean guns into sewing machines. Beautiful. To reach out to the artists and engage them in core dialogue was essential~ and fruitful, for the power of art transforms consciousness~ the first step in social change, for good or ill, as he said. Enough ill, he said. Let us have some good come from all this creative energy.. This is the directness and simplicity of holy wisdom. Thank you for actively nurturing peace in both hemispheres, Bishop Sengulane, by coming to America to march with us for an end to violence here and everywhere. May your retirement bring great blessings and give you peace as you daily witness and carry the Peace of Christ in our midst.

  3. Bishop Jim Curry says:

    I, too, give thanks for the ministry of Bishop Dinis. In Connecticut we have been blessed by his friendship, prophetic witness, passion for peacemaking, and humor. He is one of my dearest friends. Last month, six of us from Connecticut joined in pilgrimage in Mozambique in observance of the Baptism of Bernard Mizeki (catechist, evangelist, and martyr). It was a privilege to be present as Anglicans gathered from all parts of the diocese to be in prayer with their bishop for one last time. Immediately after Sunday Eucharist, Bishop Dinis was called back to Maputo to facilitate the mediation for a cease fire in the current tensions between the Government of Mozambique and armed rebels from the opposition party, Renamo. As Bishop Dinis retires, he plans to focus his ministry on restoring peace in his cherished country, to draw attention and resources to improve health in Mozambique, and to create a center for bringing ethics to bear in civil society. All his life is rooted in prayer. May God continue to bless him and us through him


    thanks Bishop for long and committed service to the church of God and we wish you a pleasant retirement . we will miss in Zimbabwe especially Bernard Mizeki festival

  5. Canon em. Jake Dejonge says:

    From 1973 through to 1978 I was parish priest of Nelspruit, Eastern Transvaal, South Africa and, with four colleagues, responsible for ministry in that area. Being resident in the parish nearest to Mozambique, I had the honour of meeting bishop Dinis and play a small part in supporting the church in the diocese of Lebombo.
    We first met when the bishop had collected his new Landrover, supplied by the Lebombo Society of the CPSA, the Anglican Church of Southern Africa . He came to sleep with us (in one of our daughters’ bunk beds) and my wife, Irene, asked leave of the principal of the Convent School where she was teaching at the time, to go shopping with the bishop the next morning.
    Later on we were asked to arrange food transport to the border for the seminary students in Maputo, since the Communist regime thought that allowing them rations would be a sheer waste. So we bought rice and corn flour, communion wine and whatever and with the help of a parishioner who provided the van, crossed the border into no-man’s land to meet bishop Dinis or some of his clergy and transfer the goods. One trip my (Canadian) passport had expired and I was not allowed to cross the border; a local farmer who was crossing with a lorry load of food, agreed to take our wares. In the afternoon I telephoned the bishop’s house to hear whether the goods had arrived, spoke with his wife Berta, through the good offices of the telephone operator, who acted as interpreter from Portuguese to English and vice versa. In the evening the bishop himself kindly called to assure us that all had gone well.
    In 1988 we came for a temporary appointment to the Netherlands, the country of my birth, with the Old Catholic Church, in full communion with the Anglican Churches. That became permanent and I have now been retired for over ten years.
    Great and precious memories of a wondeful and holy man, dear Dinis; we wish him well in a well deserved retirement and do thank the Almighty for all the good work he has done.

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