NEAR PUNCH-UP IN THE 17TH EPISCOPAL : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread

I am sending an article that came out today in the "Time of Zambia" on 10th May 2004 entitled as above stated on request. This is a must read article in view of the fact that the General Conference is just around the corner.Get acquainted with what is going on in overseas districts 17th in particular.

-- Anonymous, May 10, 2004


Brethren in near puch-up at Ebenezer AME Church in Zambia (17th Episcopal District) TIMES OF ZAMBIA, EDITION # 12,032 MONDAY, MAY 10,2004

There was near puch-up at what should have been a joint reconciliatory service for African Methodist Episcopal Church (AMEC) members in Lusaka’s Chilenje township yesterday forcing police to move in to separate the rival faction.

This comes barely a week after Lusaka High Court ruled that two AMEC factions fighting over leadership should reconcile.

Confusion reigned at AMEC Chilenje Enenezer Church, venue of the reconciliatory service, as the two factions quarreled over usage of the new church building situated on plot 92, Lubemba road in Chilenje.

Church members drawn from AMEC Churches in Lusaka were taken aback to find the whole programme was hijacked by one faction led by Reverend Edith Mutale leaving members from another group abandoned outside the building.

Matters came to a head when Rev Mutale in her introductory prayer told church members to take up arms against the faction let by Reverend Paul Kawimbe which she claimed was there to disrupt the service.

This was followed by a public announcement from masters of ceremonies urging members who were not with Reverend Mutale’s group to leave the church building.

At the moment, a number of visiting church members trooped out as an argument ensued over who should use the building and conduct the service

Police had to be called in to restore order and calm only returned when Rev Kawimbe and his camp secured keys for the old AMEC building, a few meters away where they conducted a separate service.

In an interview later, Rev Kawimbe explained that after the judgment which was in their favor, the church felt that they should have a joint service with all the district congregations at Ebenezer Church in Chilenje.

Rev Kawimbe said that the church organized the joint service and invited the Rev Mutale faction to be part of it for the sake of reconciliation.

He said instead Rev Mutale and her group went there to cause trouble thereby defeating the whole purpose of reconciliation

Rev Kawimbe said it had to take a police officer to get keys from Rev Mutale’s group to open the old church for the rest of the congregants.

“It is not true that we went there to disrupt the service. We announced after the judgment that we should all reconcile and have a joint service at Ebenezer congregation, but the Edith Mutale group was hostile and did not allow us to use the building,” he said.

But Rev Mutale, who is Ebenezer pastor in charge, charged in a separate interview that Rev Kawimbe and his group had defied the court order which said that, apart from reconciling, each faction should use its own building for worship.

Rev Mutale claimed that the new building was for her members who used their own money.

Rev Mutale whose group has been opposed to having an American Bishop as overseer for the African regions wondered why AMEC leaders wanted to impose an American Bishop on a church that was not funded by America.

“As Ebenezer congregation members, we want someone who will be elected by members in Zambia and not on a foreigner and if they want to use the building they have to negotiate with the members of the church through their leaders, pastors and trustees because the church building was bought by their money,” she claimed

She said members of the church had the power to reject any pastor or leader whom they deemed not to be fit to lead them

Rev Mutale said her group was willing to work with the rest of the church but advised them to approach her group with humility if reconciliation was to be attained.

Rev Mutale challenged Government to probe corruption in the church, saying the church was the building block of the nation and because good governance was about accountability, church leaders should be probed.

Last week, High Court Judge Anthony Nyangulu ordered that all AMEC members should reconcile, in a case in which the Rev Mutale faction was expelled from church for challenging the appointment of a foreign Bishop from America.

The matter is however pending judicial review after the Rev Mutale applied for a stay of judgment claiming that it was vague and contradictory.


· The Bishop of the 17th must take up this matter and be in charge of reconciliation himself. · The people he has delegated to handle this matter on his behalf have no incapacitated to deal with the faction · If this matter is unresolved before, during and after the General Conference, Bishop Williams must not be [posted anywhere else but be re-assigned for the second time to the 17th until he sorts out this problem. · If this matter remains unresolved, the new Bishop will be in real deep trouble · There has been lack of Godly wisdom in handling the problem in the 17th Episcopal Distict · What is your opinion?

Rev Royd Mwandu

-- Anonymous, May 10, 2004

Rev. Mwandu,

Thank you for posting this article to inform the body of what's going on in the 17th. My heart is troubled by what I read and I am moved to respond.

The first point that I found disturbing was that Rev. Mutale was calling for her group to take up arms against the rival faction. I have never heard of a prayer for violence aginst another during a reconciliation service.

The second issue in this article that calls for a need for prayer is the fight over the control and use of a local building. A building is not the body of Christ. Anytime a building becomes more important than relationships and reconciliation then something is tragically skewed.

A third area of concern is A.M.E. polity. Any local congregation that affiliates with the larger connection is bound by the Discipline of the AMEC. The discipline is clear that all buildings and property that are a part of the denomination belong to the denomination. Local congregations and their pastors should realize this before they make such a vested financial interest in a building, that it belongs to the denomination and not the congregation. If, the pastor of Ebenzer in Zambia believes the building should belong to those who paid for it, then they should become a independent congregational church.

Rev. Mutale obviously has an issue with authority and leadership. My question is why did she become an intinerant elder and pastor in the AMEC? There are ways to address grievances in the denomination and from I could tell from the article these steps were not taken. I agree that leaders should be held accountable. However, the spirit by which Rev. Mutale has sought to voice her concerns and gain leadership comes across as being a nationalistic overthrow of leadership to set up her own kingdom. The article quoted her as referring to foreign leadership who should approach her group with humility. This sounds like an ultimatum. If reconciliation is to happen there is process that should be agreed upon from both ends.

I pray the Bishop will intervene in this matter and seek the counsel of the Church rather than the counsel of secular courts to settle the dispute. Peace. The 17th District is in my prayers.

-- Anonymous, May 11, 2004

Since i posted this article from the "Times of Zambia", i have received threats upon my life. Someone wrote using a fake e-mail and said that he would have me killed at the Generl Conference 2004.The Lord is the strength of my life i fear no evil. I have decided to be a commando in His kingdom and not man's kingdom.My enemies will come from one direction and will scater in seven different directions.

I hope the leadership of the church at global level have read this and are doing something about it.

Antonio, thanks for your value adding response. Why are other who are reading this posting getting upset and or keeping quiet? I pray for your indulgence one way of the other. Bless you all.

-- Anonymous, May 12, 2004

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