Posted by: Titus Presler | November 24, 2009

Julius Makoni ordained 4th Bishop of Manicaland on Nov. 22

The ordination of the Rev. Dr. Julius Makoni as the fourth Bishop of Manicaland took place as planned on Nov. 22 in Mutare.

The consecration occurred at the Mutare Showgrounds, which had ample room for the estimated 4,000 people attending.  Preaching on the occasion, the Rt. Rev. Khotso Makhulu, Archbishop Emeritus of the Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) and former Bishop of Botswana, stressed the centrality of the Holy Spirit in empowering God’s people to overcome challenges.  Presiding was the Rt. Rev. Albert Chama, Bishop of Northern Zambia, who, as Dean of CPCA, presides on such occasions while the post of archbishop is vacant.

“I feel greatly humbled with this honour bestowed on me and having trust in me,” said Bp. Makoni of the diocese, according to the newspaper The Zimbabwean.  “I want to thank all the people for the support, and I promise to work with all the people in the church.”

A greeting from Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams was read out by Abp. Makhulu, an important endorsement that echoed the Anglican primates’ Alexandria, Egypt, statement of February 2009, in which they stressed that breakaway Bp. Elson Jakazi is not bishop of Manicaland.  Makhulu also read a message of solidarity from the United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, the oldest Anglican mission society, which has long supported Anglican work in Zimbabwe and Manicaland.  The day’s festivities began with a 4-kilometer march of about 1,000 people, including bishops, that started out at 7:15 a.m. from Chikanga Primary School, a high-density area of Mutare.  26 Manicaland clergy participated in the consecration, according to sources.

The Diocese of Manicaland and CPCA had wished the enthronement of the new bishop (as it is termed in many parts of the Anglican Communion, and installation in other parts) to occur in the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist and had applied to the High Court of Zimbabwe for an injunction on breakaway Bp. Jakazi to prevent obstruction of it.  (Evidently Jakazi continues to control the cathedral, and, as noted in another posting on this blog, there is no court order in Manicaland forcing the two sides to share facilities, as is the case in the Diocese of Harare.)  The application failed, and thus that second half of the day’s solemn proceedings took place at the showgrounds as well, where Bp. Makoni offered his charge to the diocese, a summary of which will appear later on this blog.  Translating between Shona and English for both Bp. Makoni’s charge and Abp. Makhulu’s sermon was the Rev. John Chawarika, Priest-in-Charge of the Bonda Church District.

Both sides lost suits in the legal contest around the new episcopate, but CPCA came out ahead by succeeding in the crucial matter of ordaining the new bishop.  Jakazi had sought an injunction to prevent the ordination from taking place, but that application was “thrown out,” according to Bp. Gandiya.  Organizers were held in suspense, for the issue was not resolved until 5:30 p.m. on the Friday before the Sunday consecration, according to other sources.  In order to stress the authority of the CPCA Diocese of Manicaland, Sunday morning’s march passed close by St. Agnes Church, Chikanga, a parish currently controlled by Jakazi.  Police protection was provided, and the day’s proceedings were free of harrassment or physical confrontations.

The Rt. Rev. Christopher Chessun, Suffragan Bishop of Woolwich in the Diocese of Southwark in the Church of England, reportedly offered a a greeting from that diocese.

A greeting from Canon Titus Presler on behalf of friends of the Diocese of Manicaland in the Episcopal Church was conveyed during the proceedings on the basis of a message sent in advance:

Many people in the Episcopal Church USA continue to be committed to the Diocese of Manicaland from the time that there was a companion relationship between the Diocese of Massachusetts and the Diocese of Manicaland.  My wife Jane and I served at Bonda during that period, as did a number of other mission companions from Massachusetts.

It is a joy to offer congratulations and prayers for you, Bishop Julius Makoni, as you begin your episcopate as the fourth bishop of the diocese.  We realize that the times are difficult for both the nation and the church and that becoming bishop at this time calls for courage, patience, wisdom, and a deep love for God’s suffering people.

Bishop Makoni, please be assured of our continued prayer and care.  I only regret that it is not possible to be in Mutare in person for this great occasion.  Please know that many in the Episcopal Church stand ready to support you in this new and important ministry.  May God bless you now and always.

Mutare is the see city of the diocese, which is located along the eastern border of Zimbabwe with Mozambique, and it is also the capital of the governmental province of Manicaland.  The diocese has over 300 congregations, with the rural majority organized into a number of church districts, each of which may have anywhere from 6 to over 50 congregations, and the districts include primary schools, secondary schools, clinics, religious orders and, in the case of Bonda, a hospital.  Major church districts include St. Mary’s, Nyanga; St. Peter’s, Mandea; St. David’s, Bonda; St. Faith’s, Rusape; Matsika Parish; St. Augustine, Penhalonga, the fountainhead of Zimbabwean Anglicanism; and a number of others west and south of Mutare.  Major urban congregations include St. John’s Cathedral; Holy Name, Sakubva; Mufudzi Wakanaka (Good Shepherd), Dangamvura; St. Agnes, Chikanga; and St. Matthew’s, Rusape.

The suffering of the diocese was immense during Zimbabwe’s Liberation Struggle, especially 1976-80, when the majority of guerrilla fighters of ZANU-PF infiltrated the country from Mozambique and the Rhodesia Front forces mobilized to defeat them.  As classically occurs in guerrilla struggles, local people were caught between the opposing forces.  Detailed history of the period and of the pungwe movement of all-night vigils that took root in the area and then energized the post-war revival of churches can be found in Titus Presler’s book Transfigured Night: Mission and Culture in Zimbabwe’s Vigil Movement (Pretoria: University of South Africa Press, 1999).  Violence has also been widespread during recent election cycles, when the Mugabe regime has seen Manicaland as a stronghold of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

For further background on the Bp. Julius Makoni, the Diocese of Manicaland, and the current strife in Manicaland and Harare dioceses, click on this blog’s category: Anglicanism in Zimbabwe.


  1. We’re particularly praying this week for justice in the Supreme Court – that your property may be restored.

  2. Bishop Makoni should continue to pray and fast through a vibrant and strong evangelism team. The diocese must also be represented in court by very vibrant and intelligent lawyers who know the Canons and Acts of the Diocese.

    • Thank you for your prayers and support for Bishop Makoni. He and those who assist him need all the prayer and support we can offer.

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