Bishop of Manicaland asks court to block 26 members of a Mutare parish from returning to church
The Bishop of Manicaland has asked civil magistrates to issue a restraining order against 26 members of St Agnes Anglican Church in Mutare. The Rt. Rev. Eric Ruwona (pictured) excommunicated 40 members of the congregation in December 2016 for having fomented schism and other un-Christian behavior. Sources in Zimbabwe claim the dispute arose after protests were lodged in church over the suspension of the pastor of St Agnes by the bishop. Supporters of the protesters charge Bishop Ruwona and a lay leader of the church, Mrs. Portia Magada, with seeking to gain control of the church against the wishes of the congregation. They also charged Bishop Ruwona with financial misconduct and mismanagement, alleging that while he was receiving his stipend, other clergy had not been paid for several months. A counter charge has been made, however, that those in rebellion are supporters of former bishop Elston Jakazi. In 2007 the then Bishop of Harare, the Rt. Rev. Nolbert Kunonga, withdrew the diocese from the Church of the Province of Central Africa to form the Anglican Church of Zimbabwe after the province began ecclesiastical proceedings to investigate the controversial bishop on charges of fraud, heresy and attempted murder. Dr. Kunonga, who was an ally of the ruling ZANU-PF Party and President Robert Mugabe used the power of the state to expel congregations and clergy from churches that did not pledge their loyalty to him. Dr. Kunonga was joined by the Bishop of Manicaland, the Rt. Rev. Elston Jakazi in the schism. However in 2012 the Supreme Court ruled in favor the Province against the breakaway bishops and Bishop Jakazi lost control of St Agnes. The province appointed a new bishop in 2012, who abruptly resigned however in 2015, leading to Bishop Ruwona’s appointment. The case continues.