A delegation from the World Council of Churches led by the body’s secretary general will fly into the country on Wednesday for a five-day solidarity visit almost two decades after holding a global assembly here.
WCC’s secretary, Reverend Dr Olav Tveit, together with ten other global church leaders make up the delegation that intends to visit local churches.
Other Christian leaders, civil society and ecumenical actors are expected at the gathering. The visit follows the main celebrations of 500 years of reformation which were hosted in Namibia last week by protestant churches that make up the bulk of the WCC.
Among the officials expected for the visit are Rev Japhet Ndhlovu (United Church of Canada), Bishop Atle SOmmerfeldt (Church of Norway), Mrs Anna Tveit (WCC, Switzerland), Professor Isabel Phiri (WCC, Switzerland), Rev Suzanne Matale (Christian Council of Zambia), Rev Efraim Macamo (Christian Council of Mozambique), Dr Agnes Aboum (WCC Central Committee moderator), Erik Lysen (Church of Sweden) and Prof Bernd Oberdorfer (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany).
According to the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, the leaders will also seek audience with Government officials and host a joint worship service on Friday.
ZCC secretary general, Rev Dr Kenneth Mtata said the WCC officials’ visit ahead of the 2018 elections is crucial as the church is praying for a violence-free election.
“From this celebration (Namibia), some church leaders will get together for a solidarity visit to Zimbabwe. Others will have already landed in Zimbabwe on the 15th of May to visit churches. Their main message is to call for a peaceful election in 2018.
“It is everyone’s prayer that these elections be violence-free, with the results uncontested. The Zimbabwe Council of Churches played an important role in the fight against colonialism in the 1960s and 1970s.
“Through the WCC, the Zimbabwe Council of Churches also supported the liberation struggle and the Lancaster House negotiations that resulted in a free and independent Zimbabwe. The churches in Zimbabwe continue to fight against all forms of injustice as well as supporting all efforts of the Government towards nation building,” he said.
At its first meeting, ZCC Supervisory Council, which is the supreme body of heads of its 26 member churches, agreed to take 2017 as a year of commemorating the renewal of the church as well as working for the transformation of society.
Also in its 2020 strategy, which was launched on October 31, 2016, the ZCC agreed to focus on three key pillars towards nation building. These are – fostering Christian unity for social cohesion, stimulating active citizenship for good governance and promoting economic justice for sustainability and youth empowerment.
Rev Dr Mtata said just as there was a tendency in the early times of the Bible for churches to visit each other, it was in this regard that ZCC invited the world wide body to visit churches in Zimbabwe.
“The Zimbabwe Council of Churches envisions a strong Christian ecumenical fellowship for a united, peaceful, just, and prosperous nation, where all citizens experience holistic salvation.
“The mission of the Council is to facilitate the empowerment and renewal of our member churches so that they have a sustainable and transforming Christian presence in Zimbabwe.”
Founded in 1964, ZCC is presided by Bishop Ismael Mukuwanda and deputised by Bishop Mphande Khanje. Its General Assembly is the supreme decision making body that meets once every two years. Under it is the supervisory council while the advisory board gives general direction for the management and running of the ZCC.
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