The Bishops of Rochester and Tonbridge have sent a letter to all parishes asking us to pray for the Diocese of Harare in Zimbabwe, with which our Diocese has special links, and for its Bishop, Chad. I have pasted the text of the letter below, along with a special prayer for Zimbabwe written by Derek Carpenter.
Dear Brother and Sisters,
Diocese of Harare
You will know that Bishop Chad and our Link Diocese of Harare have been facing fierce harassment from former bishop Nolbert Kunonga, supported by state police. Over the last six years, Anglicans in Harare have been expelled from their churches (sometimes violently), clergy have been forced from their homes,church schools have been taken over and a diocesan orphanage has been wrenched from the care of the Church. It has been both remarkable and inspiring to witness the ways in which the Anglican Church in Harare has grown and developed. Despite the difficulties being faced by our brothers and sisters, numbers have increased and faith has grown.
In the background, there have been legal disputes as to who is the rightful Bishop of Harare and therefore under whose care and stewardship do the goods of the diocese (including priests’ houses, diocesan office,schools, churches and orphanage) actually fall: is it Bishop Chad and the diocese of Harare or Nolbert Kunonga? For the sake of those, both living and departed, whose generosity has built up the diocese, this question needs to be settled. After many delays, a date has been agreed for the hearing of this case in the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe.
In a recent email from Harare, Bishop Chad writes:
"We have now been informed that the Supreme Court hearing will take place from the 22nd October 2012 and will last that week. We are appealing for any assistance towards covering our legal bills. Most importantly we are asking you all to join us in a week of prayer and fasting during the hearing period starting on the 22nd October. We want to thank you all for journeying with us during this difficult period in the history of our church.
We are asking that Rochester Diocese responds to Bishop Chad’s call for prayer and fasting during that week. We hope that those churches with particular links with Harare will set up a chain of prayer, writing to their Harare partners assuring them of their support. We also hope that all churches will hold Harare in their prayers on Sunday 21st October. A prayer has been written for this week by Canon Derek Carpenter and is available below.
With our prayers and best wishes
Yours in Christ,
+James & +Brian
God of mercy and grace, of healing and reconciliation,
you stand alongside those who are secure and those who are struggling,
with those who have plenty and those who have nothing,
with those who journey confidently and with those who are oppressed;
We thank you for the faith, commitment and courage of our brothers and sisters in Harare;
enable them to meet their challenges with courage,
their hardships with hope,
and their despair with renewed faith.
Grant wisdom and insight to those whose decisions affect the lives of your people in Zimbabwe,
right to prevail where there is injustice,
goodness to triumph over evil,
and peace to flourish where there is bitterness and hostility
We ask this in the name of Him who in suffering proclaimed forgiveness,
and whose death led to resurrection,
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.