Prayer protest in Zimbabwe

The Zimbabwean reports that Anglicans will protest with prayer next Sunday to press for access to their churches:

Anglicans from Harare will next Sunday hold prayers at Africa Unity Square in central Harare to press the police to allow the church access to its halls and buildings across the capital.

The open prayer session, to which President Robert Mugabe—a catholic — has also been invited, comes after months of a tense and sometimes violent struggle for control of the church between excommunicated archbishop Nolbert Kunonga and Archbishop Chad Gandiya, appointed last year by the Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) to run the Harare Anglican diocese. The CPCA is the supreme authority of Anglican church in the region. But Kunonga has defied its orders to surrender church property, while Gandiya and his followers say the police have sided with the renegade bishop and assisted him to seize control of church prayer halls and buildings in violation of several court orders.

“The church resolved to hold the open prayer to force the police to abide by the court ruling,” a church warden announced last Sunday. “The President (Mugabe) has been invited and his is aware. Initially it was felt that we hold a protest march, but this was later shelved as the diocese opted for an open prayer session.” The Harare city council has already given permission to the church to hold the prayer meeting which will be attended by all members of the Anglican church from the capital. However police are yet to respond to the church’s request to hold the open prayer session.

Episcopal News Service offers more news and background here.

An avid Mugabe supporter, Kunonga still claims ownership of the diocese’s Anglican churches and has supported the intimidation and persecution of Anglicans in Zimbabwe for opposing his and Mugabe’s leadership.

ZimOnline noted that the prayer meeting comes “after months of a tense and sometimes violent struggle for control of the church” between Kunonga and Bishop Chad Gandiya, elected in 2009 to run the Harare diocese.

Gandiya succeeded Bishop Sebastian Bakare, who served as the diocese’s interim bishop since December 2007, when Kunonga was deposed after illegally separating from the Central Africa province and installing himself as archbishop of Zimbabwe.

Recent Lead stories on Zimbabwe here and here.

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