Archbishop praises courage of Anglicans in Zimbabwe

The Archbishop of Canterbury yesterday launched an exhibition of photographs showcasing the work of the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe as it continues to support people left struggling by the widespread unemployment and hyperinflation blighting the country.

The exhibition is being held at Southwark Cathedral in central London in celebration of funds raised by an appeal for Zimbabwe launched by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York one year ago. The appeal has raised almost half a million pounds.

The photos on display illustrate the humanitarian and development programmes funded by the appeal.

Dr Williams praised the courage, faithfulness and imagination of Anglicans in Zimbabwe in the face of violence from state authorities attempting to close down their services and stop them from worshipping.

“It would be difficult enough to deliver all this significant help and support if there were not other problems, a country suffering grave deprivation and political and economic crisis, but to deliver this also in the face of relentless brutality and harassment is a further extra mark of the courage and the stature of our Anglican friends in Zimbabwe,” he said.

The Archbishop was joined at the opening of the exhibition by the Bishop of Harare, Chad Gandiya, who is in the midst of a wrangle with the deposed bishop of Harare, Nolbert Kunonga, and authorities over access to Anglican church property.

Bishop Gandiya said: “Zimbabwe is an agricultural country and most of our people depend on what they produce from their fields and in the past we were known as the bread basket of the region - a position that unfortunately we have lost.

“But through the Archbishops’ Appeal our people were able to have seed maize for planting which made a great change to their lives, and it’s all thanks to our brothers and sisters in this country.”

Also joining the opening of the exhibition was Zimbabwean Bishop Cleophas Lunga, who said: “For the first time the Church has been able to go into prisons and provide food. The prisoners have recognised that, even when they are behind bars, the Church has followed them and helped them.”

Bishop Gandiya last week some 4,000 Anglicans in worship outdoors in central, a common occurrence since the police began disrupting services, despite a ruling from the high court ordering the newly formed church of Kunonga and the official Anglican church led by Bishop Gandiya to share access to church property.

Bishop Kunonga, an ally of President Robert Mugabe, was excommunicated from the Anglican Communion in 2007 after attempting to withdraw the Diocese of Harare from the Anglican Church of the Province of Central Africa.