By Bellah Zulu, ACNS
The Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) Synod came to an end on November 30 with a call to “re-establishing Church unity within the Province after six years of difficulties and persecutions.”
About one hundred delegates from CPCA, including bishops, clergy and laity gathered in Lusaka, Zambia for the Synod. Other invited guests came from the Episcopal Church of the United States, CAPA, Us (formerly USPG) and the Mother’s Union among many others.
Earlier during his Charge, Central Africa Primate, the Most Revd Albert Chama thanked all the Provincial Bishops for their co-operation and the unity exhibited during the “difficult period in our Province.”
Six years ago excommunicated former bishops Norbert Kunonga and Elson Jakazi, with the backing of the police and their supporters grabbed CPCA property including Church buildings, orphanages, schools and hospitals leaving many Christians with nowhere to go.
Christians especially in the Dioceses of Harare and Manicaland in Zimbabwe had to worship in rented church buildings, under trees and in the open air. The Church leadership in these dioceses played a vital role of shepherding Christians by “giving themselves to the service God.”
The Archbishop also thanked “individuals, faithful Christians, Churches and our partners who have been working with us and also all those that were in the Province during the persecution of the Church, including the Anglican Communion Office, Us and the Episcopal Church.
Synod also heard how the many years of persecution are still affecting the Church today. Chad Gandiya, Bishop of Harare told the house of the inheritance of debts and unpaid bill. He also disclosed that his diocese had incurred in access of US$200,000 in legal fees which it is still trying to settle up to now.
The Diocese of Manicaland also had a similar story after having incurred over US$180,000 in legal fees. Bishop Makoni informed the delegates of the poor state of Church properties after so many years of neglect and misuse.
Another issue, which was prominently discussed by Synod, was the possibility of splitting the Province into national provinces. However, due to lack of consensus and the non-availability of past Diocesan Synod resolution, the issue did not pass.
While unity and rebuilding the Province remained top agenda during the deliberations, as evidenced in the Bible studies preceding Synod, there were some who felt that it was time CPCA considered “unity in diversity.”
Fr. Robert Sihubwa emphasised this when debating the motion seeking to allow women into ordained ministry. There was no consensus on this issue despite some dioceses saying they “have been ready since the 80s” and should be allowed to go ahead.