The recently appointed Provincial Dean of Central Africa, the Rt Revd Trevor Mwamba, who took a liberal stance in the church’s debate on homosexuality, was removed from the post last week, as dioceses in the region continued to wrangle over the issue of homosexuality. Bishop Mwamba, Bishop of Botswana Anglican Church, was voted out by a meeting of bishops led by the Archbishop of Central Africa, the Most Revd Bernard Malango, during the provincial synod held in Malawi last weekend. He has been replaced by the Bishop of Northern Zambia, the Rt Revd Albert Chama.
Bishop Mwamba has been vociferous about calling for moderation over the issue of homosexuality, urging African churches to concentrate on social and economic problems. Speaking this week, one of his supporters said there was complete surprise and shock among many people at the synod when the news was announced. “I think there was a lot of networking and pressure. Many felt that men of God should not behave in this way.” The synod also reversed the latest decision on the failed Episcopal election in Lake Malawi. Last month, the first diocesan synod in Lake Malawi for six years had voted to pass the long-running saga of its rejected Bishop-elect, the Revd Nick Henderson, to a provincial court. Mr. Henderson, Vicar of All Saints’, Ealing, who worked with the diocese of Lake Malawi for 18 years, was elected Bishop in July 2005, and was to be consecrated later that year. But objections by five Anglicans from the Nkhotakota region, on the grounds of Mr. Henderson’s association with Modern Church people’s Union, led Archbishop Malango to cancel his consecration. Speaking last month, Mr. Henderson said he believed that the situation would finally be resolved. But Archbishop Malango has now cancelled the provincial court that was to reconsider Mr. Henderson’s case. Archbishop Malango is due to retire in January. The provincial synod last weekend is expected to be his last.
In an interview with VirtueOnline publication, Malango said there was “little doubt that Mwamba would become the new archbishop of the province because of his liberal views.” Malango told the publication that Bishop Mwamba and the Harare diocese tried to break away from the province “Yes, Harare wanted to pull out and the Bishop of Botswana, Trevor Mwamba, tried to do that, but it was not acceptable to the other bishops and clergy. He failed. The Province of Central Africa remains intact,” said Malango.
Asked by VirtueOnline if there was any possibility the Rev Mwamba could try to break away from the Central Africa grouping, Malango said, “Yes. He will try and unite with the [liberal] Province of Southern Africa. He is welcome to go. The only thing that has upset me has been the new developments coming at the last moment which has made me very sad. I built up the province. I consecrated 12 bishops, three of them I sent them to college, ordained them as deacons and priests and consecrated them as bishops. What has happened since has been a bit of a disappointment. My disappointment is that one young man, now a former dean (Mwamba) got ideas that are not in line with my own thinking which, as you know, are very orthodox and conservative. His liberal ideas were quite disappointing coming at the end of my ministry.
Malango also dismissed any chances of Nickie Henderson, the pro-gay vicar of All Saints’ Ealing, ever being the next Bishop of Lake Malawi. ”No he does not.
Money has been used to destroy the Lake Malawi diocese. Henderson has poured tens of thousands of pounds into the diocese in order to buy a bishopric. It has been my desire that money should not control the situation but The Christian Faith alone. We have all agreed that Lake Malawi should go on as Lake Malawi and that going to Provincial court is not acceptable. We are going to have an elective assembly and diocesan synod and have members who are in the Electoral College put in place who will decide.