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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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