A few weeks ago, many people learnt with great shock that some ministers of the CCAP Nkhoma Synod had been suspended for circulating a “pastoral letter” in some congregations condemning their leadership for some filthy, worthless, contemptible or pornographic acts in the church. If what is claimed by these learned, courageous and brave ministers (men of God) is something to go by, then it is sad for the church of God.
In the pastoral letter, the ministers claim that they were twice denied official audience with the executive committee of Nkhoma Synod. The Synod leadership apparently refused to meet them and hear their concerns on a number of issues within the Synod. They claimed that when they finally met, the pastoral letter claims, the Synod leadership did not show any interest in addressing their concerns. As such, the meeting ended in a deadlock and nothing changed.
Among the ministers’ concerns are reports that Nkhoma Synod no longer adheres to rules and regulations that govern its operations. It is claimed the church runs its affairs according to the wishes of individual ministers at any congregation.
The pastoral letter also claims that the 2013 elections for the present executive committee had a lot of irregularities, such as sending phone messages to delegates asking them to vote for particular contestants and also using a lawyer and a general secretary of a sister Synod, who attended the meeting, and Nkhoma Synod students at Zomba Theological College to manipulate the election process. As a result, some of the people who were holding positions in the previous executive committee were re-elected to fulfill their wishes, alleges the document.
What is sad to note is that because the executive committee did not want to meet and hear the disgruntled ministers’ concerns, the development resulted in the issuance of the pastoral letter. This sad situation was followed by a statement from the Synod headquarters at Nkhoma Mission, disassociating itself from the pastoral letter. The Synod claimed the document was written without its authority.
As a result, some of the ministers that authored the document were suspended. In reaction, the suspended ministers obtained a court injunction, stopping their suspension. The Synod obtained a stay order for the ministers’ injunction.
Psychologically, washing dirty linen in public does not paint a good picture for the church. What is happening may have a bearing on congregations and Christians. If the situation continues as it is, it may create disunity and mistrust among church leaders. For example, what are the Christians who knew about the contents of the pastoral letter thinking about the Synod?
Do not forget that the church is also in financial disarray. Both spiritual and physical development is stifled and in need of God’s divine intervention. The issues claimed by the ministers, who have noted some shortfalls in the Synod’s leadership, should have been taken positively and addressed amicably.
But the way the Synod leadership handled the ministers’ concerns risks creating cracks in the Synod. Above all, it is better to avoid washing dirty linen in public. Campaigning and using corrupt malpractices in church elections is tantamount to fraud and a disgrace in the eyes of God and Christians.
Nkhoma Synod has several social service departments such as education, health, agriculture, theological college, carpentry workshop, printing, music, women and youth. Apart from health department, the rest have limited qualified and fully trained officers.
As a result, standards in these departments are dwindling and remain non-productive. Their credibility, which was there during the white missionaries from the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa, is slowly fading away.
During the white missionaries’ time, all departments had qualified people at the helm who were also hard working. Th church had enough resources to feed itself. Mission stations, such as Nkhoma, Mvera, Chinthembwe, Mlanda, Mphunzi, Kongwe, Livulezi, Malingunde, Mchinji and Dzenza had own social service departments. There was also healthy competition between and among mission stations thereby creating a healthy atmosphere and environment in the church.
The disgrace rocking the church today could not have happened under leaders such as Reverends Bolombola, Namon Katengeza, Zenasi Ungapake Tembo, Adrea Nankumba, Amon Ndiwo, Chingapa, Dembo, Kalumo, Kamphinda and Dr Mgawi and Dr Maseko and indeed all late church elders who assisted and steered the present church to be where it is today. These leaders had one common goal, one principle, one belief and one doctrine holding them together and bringing people to God.
What is wrong with the Synod today? Greed is nurturing injustice and selfishness. We need to restore righteousness and lift our Christians to enter the Heavenly Kingdom.
The leadership and the disgruntled ministers must move together and commit themselves to the tenets of peace, justice and redemption that have long been the pillars of the belief and practice of Nkhoma Synod.
To resolve the current problems, the church should genuinely endeavour to seek God’s guidance and avoid promoting disunity. The church has more pressing matters to attend to than wasting time on trivia. While the number of congregations is increasing, there are few ministers to serve them.