Archbishop travels to Manicaland, Zimbabwe
Monday 10th October 2011During his time in Zimbabwe, Archbishop Rowan Williams visited the Diocese of Manicaland. Manicaland is located in the eastern part of the country, and the trip required an early start from the Archbishop and his fellow bishops on Monday morning.
It is an area where Anglicans have suffered a high proportion of the persecution in Zimbabwe, so the Archbishop's visit provided an opportunity to show the people there that they have not been forgotten.
On the way, the group stopped at the town of Rusape where the Archbishop was able to greet a displaced congregation whose church had been seized by Dr Kunonga. With no church of their own, they were having to rent the town hall each Sunday in order to hold services, using their weekly collection to fund this unjust expense. Dr Williams prayed with them, thanking them “for their courage and witness in the face of the suffering they endure in the name of faithfulness to Christ”, and saying that they were “not people of the Cross, but people of the Resurrection”.
The group travelled to the town of Mutare, where he was welcomed enthusiastically by people who had gathered to cheer and ululate the Archbishop in the local sports ground.
Dr Williams gave the following brief address to those who had assembled at this early hour of the morning:
Greetings to you in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
It is wonderful to be here with you and this morning is very special for us because we have come to see the Church at work, we have come to see the real Church – and that is the Church that prayers and loves and suffers. And, in all of that, we from the Anglican Communion stand with you and share your witness and give thanks for it.
Yesterday we had a great service in Harare, and yesterday Archbishop Thabo said “In the Anglican Communion whatever touches you, touches us”. So throughout the world and the Anglican Communion we share in your suffering - and we share in your joy also. And we give thanks that you show us what faith is and we pray that God will give you the strength, day after day, to go on showing us God’s power, God’s grace and God’s work.
So, in the power and grace of Jesus Christ crucified and risen, I greet you once again and I pray that you truly will be a Church of the resurrection.
The party then stopped at the Cathedral in Mutare, where a gaggle of protestors had assembled to guard the entrance. Bishop Julius Makoni used his crosier to symbolically knock on the door - which he has yet to enter, despite being consecrated Bishop of Manicaland more than two years ago.
The group then formed in a circle outside the Cathedral door to pray for an end to the violence and persecution.