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Monthly archive for April 2017

Church extends helping hand to drought hit Gutu-Chepiri

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UMCOR Label on Food Relief Packets

By Taurai Emmanuel Maforo (Rev) Gutu-Chepiri, Masvingo Province, Zimbabwe

Song, rhythmic dances and ululations characterised the tone of the relief food handover ceremony as beneficiaries alternated in starting songs of celebration as they waited patiently for their portion at Mutambwi Secondary School in the Kubiku area of Gutu-Chepiri under Chief Munyikwa.

“The grace of God reaches out to the world in times of great need” said the Reverend Vienna Mutezo, Zimbabwe West Connectional Ministries Director and Deputy Administrative Assistant to the Bishop during the handover ceremony of food hampers to 150 households in the Gutu-Chepiri community who gathered at Mutambwi Secondary School. Gutu-Chepiri is among the country’s drought-hit regions that were declared a state of emergency by the President of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe.

Each of the 150 households received food hampers that composed of; 50kg maize meal, 4kg dried fish, 9kg sugar beans, 3kg sweet sugar, 4litres cooking oil and a kilogram of salt. The food packs came as a blessing to the Gutu-Chepiri community through the initiative of the Zimbabwe West Annual Conference following release of a grant from the church’s relief arm – United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR).

“This gesture by the United Methodist Church comes in the wake of a Presidential declaration of a state of disaster due to the El-Nino induced drought which hit the 2015-2016 farming season…and as a church we could not stand by and watch, but to act…” said Rev. Mutezo. In doing so Rev. Jairous Mafondokoto the Masvingo District Suerintendent said the church was preaching a practical gospel. “Our core business as a church is to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and works of charity become the practical application of that Gospel.”

Chief Munyikwa of the area appreciated the efforts by the church to alleviate the privation in their drought prone area. He however called for wider responses by other stakeholders. “I am the happiest man today to witness this food handout…” he said with a smile. “…but we still need other initiatives to deal with the worn out road infrastructure – particularly repair to our bridges.”

Netsai Sakabuya travelled more than 14 kilometeres to come to the distribution point with her two 8-month old twins Ropafadzo and Natsai. She clutched one child on her and the other on the front. “I had to endure the full journey for the sake of a meal for my kids…and I had no one to leave my kids with” lamented Sakabuya. Her plight was further exacerbated by the swept away bridge which connects her to Mutambwi. If it wasn’t for the damaged bridge, food distribution would have been held just a kilometre away from her home.

“The condition of road infrastructure, most importantly bridges in this area (Gutu-Chepiri) at times, become an impediment to effective implementation of relief and outreach efforts by the church and other organizations” said the Reverend Austern Chepiri who is the Zimbabwe Episcopal Area Projects Coordinator. “We encountered challenges in reaching other parts of the area due to a collapsed bridge and we had to settle for Mutambwi…” he added.

A number of bridges were swept away due to hard-hitting Cyclone Dineo which swept across southern parts of Zimbabwe. “On one of our needs assessment visits with Rev. Mafondokoto, we had to cross the rivers on foot as our vehicles could not manoeuvre sections of the damaged bridge” said Rev. Mutezo. The Zimbabwean Ministry of Transport has already estimated about US$80million as the cost for repairing damaged roads and bridges.

Following the food relief handover visit to Gutu-Chepiri Rev. Mutezo said the church will continue to engage its various arms and find ways of responding to the needed requirements.


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Zimbabwe Ready for two Episcopal Areas by 2020

Bishop Nhiwatiwa pays close attention to proceedings during a cabinet meeting

Bishop Eben K. Nhiwatiwa and Rev. Alan Gurupira the Administrative Assistant pay close attention to cabinet proceedings

Taurai Emmanuel Maforo (Rev) – Cabinet Reporter

“Zimbabwe is more than ready for two Episcopal Areas by 2020…and I do not anticipate any other way” said Bishop Eben Kanukayi Nhiwatiwa at the recently held Zimbabwe Episcopal Area cabinet meeting held in Mutare, “…and the 2017-2020 Quadrennium will become a transitional one as I will retire by August 31, 2020” he added.

His retirement in 2020 will usher in two new Bishops for Zimbabwe East and West following a recommendation from the Standing Committee on Central Conference Matters at the 2016 General Conference held in Portland, Oregon in the United States of America.

The Episcopal leader said the success of this development hinges upon leadership who are ready to embrace the transitional period with wisdom.

Having led the Zimbabwe Episcopal Area since 2004, the Bishop said he is ready to take the honourable bow from leadership of the area. Bishop Nhiwatiwa was elected as Bishop in 2004 and re-elected in 2008 and thus became a life Bishop.

This is according to the Africa Central Conference which prescribes that Bishops are elected for a four-year term, and then become a bishop for life if re-elected. The same prescription is shared by the Congo Central Conference and, Central and Southern Europe Central Conference.

He has therefore led the Area covering the full expanse of Zimbabwe and the area stretches further to reach out to Mission areas beyond the borders such as Botswana, Zambia, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia, Ireland and Canada. Malawi Mission Conference is also under his episcopate.

Currently Zimbabwe Episcopal Area is made up of two Annual Conferences – Zimbabwe East and Zimbabwe West which are now expected to have their own Bishops by 2020. The expected addition of Episcopal leadership will see the number of Bishops in Africa rise from 13 to 18.

Bishop Nhiwatiwa described the development as a sign of growth for the Southern African country, “Bishop Hartzell was appointed as a single Bishop for the whole of Africa and to say we will look forward to a time when Zimbabwe would have two episcopal leaders, that is indeed growth.”

The Bishop stated that as the church prepares for the additional leadership, infrastructure becomes a key priority in that process.

The two conferences, ZEAC and ZWAC have already laid ground work for this program to become a reality. Zimbabwe West Annual Conference already has a completed state-of-the-art head office block in the leafy Milton Park area of Harare, while Zimbabwe East is making significant progress in building their head office in Mutare. Targeted completion for the East conference headquarters is by end of 2017.

“In addition to the offices the church will need to look at transport and accommodation for the two Episcopal leaders, their Administrative Assistants and Connectional Ministries Directors…” said the Bishop.

The idea of two Episcopal Areas in Zimbabwe follows in the heels of the 2016 General Conference which resolved creation of five areas in Africa in addition to the restructuring of the Africa Central Conferences. This followed recommendation from the Standing Committee on Central Conference Affairs.

The recommendation from the standing committee was the product of thorough work conducted by an episcopal area assessment team. Zimbabwe was among the areas were the study was conducted in 2015. Three smaller teams conducted studies in the South Congo and North Katanga in the Congo Central Conference and Zimbabwe in the Africa Central Conference.


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