Members of your church, Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza, were the first couple to engage as a homosexual couple. Does this mean your church condones homosexuality?
As a church we donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t condone same sex marriages. For your information, Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steve Monjeza were excommunicated as members of the church after their engagement. They were choir members. When I visited the Chileka congregation, I questioned TiwongeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s dressing but the leadership of the church did not take it seriously but after they engaged they were excommunicated as members of the church. If somebody prayed during the engagement ceremony, that was done but not with the blessings of the church.
Tell us more about your church and its beliefs?
Our church is Abraham, it was taken to Blantyre from Ntcheu in 1941 by late Bishop Chimutu and the first place of establishment was Chemusa. Currently we have 21 branches in Blantyre and 40 countrywide. I joined the church in 1993 from Topia which has similar religious beliefs. When the church was being established, there was no constitution until 1989 when it was registered. When the church was just started people were allowed to be polygamists and drink alcohol and because of this those who were being excommunicated from their various churches were joining. The church today does not condone polygamy or beer drinking.
Now, you say there is no polygamy and beer drinking, what about those who were there before the constitution?
Because the constitution came much later, it did not apply to them but when a wife dies, they should not marry another. Members who drink beer have been advised to stop and if they continue, we caution them but if they continue they are excommunicated.We are doing all this to let people have a good relationship with their creator (God). The constitution was put in place in 1989 by Naphambo and Company.
These days there are tendencies for families to ask for fellowship members to conduct church funeral services for people who did not belong to a church. What is your take on this?
First of all, we have to find out what the person was doing while alive. If he or she chose to ignore God or Allah while alive, why should we conduct funeral services? They chose their own way and we just have to follow that. It is improper for a family to ask for religious groups to conduct services. There should be no church service at such funerals. When one decides on his own not to congregate with others, then there is no need to pray at their funeral s. Although we preach to the living people, we also need to give a lesson to those who do not go to congregate with others. As a church we donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t condone such services.
What is the hierarchy of the church?
At the top most we have the General Bishop who puts on red head gear, red gown and red scarf, then the Bishop who puts on a red gown, red scarf. Then the Reverend in sky blue gown and red scarf followed by the Pastor who uses white gown and black scarf. We sensitise our youth against indulging themselves in immoral behaviours but we donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t advise them to use condoms because that would be encouraging them to sleep around. Our Ndirande congregation has 260 members and currently we have a church building project.