Anglican Samizdat

March 30, 2009

St. Hilda’s Oakville twinned with St. Francis Zimbabwe

Filed under: Anglican Angst,Diocese of Niagara — David Jenkins @ 7:23 pm
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Symmetry can be found in mathematical proofs, poetry and snowflakes. Occasionally, what at first might appear as a haphazard coincidence, exhibits all the elegance of symmetry. Here we have a surprising example of the symmetrical relationship between St Francis Anglican church, Zimbabwe and St. Hilda’s, Oakville, Canada.

The symmetry is as follows:

Bishop Sebastian Bakare \Leftrightarrow \!\, Bishop Don Harvey

Reverend Vincent Fenga \Leftrightarrow \!\, Pastor Paul

St Francis parishioners \Leftrightarrow \!\, St. Hilda’s parishioners

Nolbert Kunonga \Leftrightarrow \!\, Michael Bird

five people  in St Francis with the Kunonga-affiliated priest and his wife \Leftrightarrow \!\, Cheryl Fricker, Sue-Ann Ward, piano player and lay reader

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A GLEN Norah resident was shot and injured in the arm when police fought running battles with parishioners at St Francis Anglican church, arresting two priests, a church warden, one youth member and another church member.

All those arrested belong to the main Anglican church that is led by Harare Bishop Sebastian Bakare.

Buoyed by their brave Bishop Bakare, who a few weeks ago ignored the riot policeman at the altar trying to disrupt his Sunday service, and carried on with worship at the main cathedral in the city, Glen Norah parishioners decided Sunday time had come to reclaim their church.

So they left a local hall they had been renting after being thrown out by the police at the behest of Nolbert Kunonga, a zealot of Robert Mugabe’s repressive regime.

“Since we were thrown out of the church by the police, we have been attending church service at a parishioners house in Glen View 7 but since the onset of the rainy season, we have been renting a hall in Glen Norah A,” Reverend Vincent Fenga said from his cell at the Glen Norah Police Station.

“So yesterday the church agreed that since our colleagues elsewhere had gone back, we should also do the same and start to use the church at the time we were given by the courts, which is 11 AM but lo and behold, the police were not having any of that so problems erupted as church members started to tussle with the police.”

The angry parishioners wanted to know why the police were protecting Kunonga, especially when only five people were holding service, the Kunonga-affiliated priest and his wife included, were the only ones using the church for service in the morning.

Some started throwing stones at the police as the police used force to try and force the parishioners out of the church yard and building. Teargas and gunshots were subsequently fired as police tried to disperse the parishioners who had now been joined by residents who live around their church.

A local man who was relaxing at his home was shot and injured in the arm. His name has not been released.

At least four people were arrested and they have been identified as Mr Mutyamaenza, assistand parish priest Mr Musariri and one youth, Jussy Chingunduru. Two of them who are diabetic, including the church warden, have since paid guilt of admission fines and have been released.

The police, however, refused to allow Reverend Fenga and the youth leader, Chigunduru, to leave the cells. They will be arraigned at the Mbare Magistrates Court Tuesday.

Members of the parish’s Mother’s Union converged at the police station and spent the whole day singing church hymns outside the station in protest at the arrest of their priest which they say is unfair.

“Since the unity government came into being, the police officers, who were no longer guarding the church, came back and we have not been able to use our church, a church we built with our own money simply because of Kunonga,” a senior Mother’s Union leader said.

“We are not going to stop, we will continue until we reclaim our church. We have a court order that says we should use the church from 11am so what is the police trying to do, they almost killed an innocent man, all in the quest of protecting one man so he can control the church and its money. Like they say my son, everything that flies will one day have to land and so will Kunonga and Robert Mugabe. We wonder what the unity government says to all this.”

The injured man, whose name was not immediately available, is said to be in a stable condition. Police refused to comment but a spokesperson said investigations were underway into yesterday’s incident.

Since September 2007 the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe has been controlled by Nolbert Kunonga, the former Bishop of Harare.

The controversial former Harare Bishop broke away from the Lambeth Palace-affiliated Harare diocese, and defied a high court ruling last year ordering him him to share churches with his Anglican rivals.

About a month ago the Church secured an affidavit from Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri, in which denied knowing anything about a police operation to force Anglicans away from their churches.

It was read to parishioners by Anglican priests wherever they met, and they were urged to return to their churches on Sunday.

Emboldened by the formation of the new power-sharing Government, the church’s flock is now beginning to return in force and many hope Kunonga will soon be a creature of the past.

Parishioners of St. Francis, thank you for the inspiration.

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