The Southwark Cathedral - Zimbabwe Link
The Diocese of Masvingo now has a website which can be found at www.masvingo.anglican.org
The Lion and the Lamb
This is an extract from Andrew Nunn’s recent Living God Blog.
It tells the story of Arthur Shearly Cripps and fits in with the opportunity to lean more from Bishop Christopher on Sept 6th
"When I was in Zimbabwe last year visiting our link Diocese of Masvingo, I was fortunate enough to visit a small game park. We were driven around in search of the animals, most of which were wise enough to hide from us. But we did see giraffe (they find it harder to hide) and some deer of various kinds and it was fantastic to see animals in something like their real habitat. The Ranger who was our guide took such pride in them and in his care of them.
During that visit we also went to the shrine of Fr Arthur Shearly Cripps. It is off the main roads, in the bush and a place of pilgrimage for thousands of people and especially on 1 August each year when the people gather to celebrate their local 'saint'. Bishop Christopher Chessun, the Bishop of Southwark, was with the pilgrims this year for their celebration Mass.
You've probably never heard of him. Well, Arthur Shearly Cripps was born in Tunbridge Wells, educated at Oxford and Cuddesdon and ordained priest in 1893. In about 1897 he offered himself to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (SPG) for service in Mashonaland, Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) where he went in 1901 spending most of the next half century there.
Critical of church policy but still more critical of government and settler attitudes, he fought a lifelong battle for African rights. Acquiring 7,700 acres of farmland, he built a thatched church near Chivhu at Maronda Mashanu (Five Wounds) and a round hut in which he lived nearby. His tenants paid no rent and farmed as they liked. After 1930 he formally cut his Anglican links, becoming simply ‘a Christian missionary in Mashonaland’. His poetry, novels and a play entitled 'The Black Christ' challenged at a fundamental level the assumptions of colonialism. He battled against government policies like the hut tax and befriended black political leaders.
But his greatest significance lay simply in that he was a ‘Francis of Assisi of the African countryside’, enduring the greatest poverty, sharing his food and clothes with the poor. He was blind for the last decade of his life, but unconquerable in his hope. He died on the 1 August in 1952 at the age of 83 years.
His shrine at Maronda Mashanu, which is focused on his hut and his grave, is today this place of pilgrimage, lovingly tended by some of those who knew him and others who acknowledge his holiness and his legacy to the African people whom he served so wholeheartedly.
He lived so close to the people and the nature that he loved. For me, he was the Lamb in this situation, witnessing to Christ in the place in which the five wounds are always remembered.
Zimbabwe continues to be a wounded place and we keep the people of that country in our prayers and do all we can from the Cathedral and the Diocese to support ministry and mission there. And in this week when the Lion and the Lamb were brought together our thoughts and prayers are with the wonderful people of that wonderful country.
The Lion and the Lamb
If I need any trophy on my wall it is the crucified Christ, whose five wounds speak to a world in which pain is continually inflicted on the innocent - people and animals - and it is in those wounds that we find our peace.
This is the Collect for the Commemoration of Arthur Shearly Cripps which we have been praying with our brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe.
whose servant Arthur Shearly Cripps carried
the good news of your Son to the Shona people of Zimbabwe:
grant that we who commemorate his service
may know the hope of the gospel in our hearts
and manifest its light in all our ways;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
May 2014 visit to Masvingo diocese
In May 2014 Bishop Godfrey and the parishes and schools of his Diocese hosted a delegation from Southwark Cathedral. Southwark Cathedral has been linked with the Diocese of Masvingo for several years and commits to pray, stay informed, and raise funds for the mission of Masvingo Diocese. The delegates were the Very Revd. Andrew Nunn, Dean of Southwark; Canon Dr. Stephen Hance, Canon Missioner; Sister Joyce Yarrow; Alison Shapton; and Gardner Thompson.
Over a busy few days the Southwark delegation were pleased to visit schools and churches, to share in worship, to meet members of the parishes and the MU, and to discuss future plans with Bishop Godfrey and others. Both the Dean and the Missioner were invited to preach and preside at Mass in Masvingo Cathedral and elsewhere.
On their return to Southwark, the delegation held a special lunch at which they shared their experiences, showed photographs, and invited members of the Cathedral to give generously, and many responded very positively.
To read more please click here.
Like most Anglican dioceses in England, the Diocese of Southwark has a strong overseas partnership link with another part of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Southwark’s link is with the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe, which is part of the Anglican Province of Central Africa.
For many years the three Episcopal Areas in Southwark were linked to three Anglican dioceses in Zimbabwe. Strong friendships have grown through mutual prayer, visits and practical support.
In 2002 the new Diocese of Masvingo was created out of the over-large existing dioceses. Starting from practically nothing, Bishop Godfrey Tawonezvi has built up a diocesan network of well-trained priests, lively and growing churches, excellent schools and training centres and exciting development projects. But Masvingo was without an English partner diocese. In 2009, Southwark Cathedral Chapter decided to offer to partner the emergent diocese.
Since then we have developed a strong relationship with Bishop Godfrey, who was able to attend the Bishop of Southwark’s enthronement here in March 2011, and four members of the Cathedral Link Group made an initial week-long visit to Masvingo soon afterwards. The Cathedral has been able to assist with the building of an ante-natal clinic in a rural area, to support clergy and lay training in the diocese and is in the process of helping to bring water to a development project.
Until 2011, the Diocese of Masvingo remained largely untroubled by the government-backed interference and persecution inflicted in the northern dioceses of Harare and Manicaland by the excommunicated former bishop of Harare, Nolbert Kunonga. Despite being disowned by the Anglican Province of Central Africa, Mr Kunonga’s bullying and brutality, backed by police, army and security forces, led to violence, intimidation and the theft of property, buildings and churches belonging to the Anglican Church. Bishops had no access to their cathedrals, congregations wanting to worship in their own churches were beaten and arrested, diocesan schools, hospitals and offices were stripped of their assets or sold. As a result of a series of court judgements by judges who are either pro-Mugabe or simply frightened, there was no means of legal redress.
During the summer of 2011, the troubles spread further south into Masvingo, with Kunonga first claiming ownership of diocesan schools and churches and then getting a court judgement to back him. Partly due to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s visit to Zimbabwe in October 2011, when he handed the President a dossier of abuses suffered by Anglican Christians in Zimbabwe, there have been signs of the Government’s growing distance from Kunonga and in the autumn of 2102 a series of historic Supreme Court rulings threw out Kunonga’s claims and restored the Church’s property. Even so it has taken expensive eviction orders to dislodge Kunonga’s supporters.
The Bishop of Masvingo has been holding a series of cleansing ceremonies, rededicating the abused churches, to widespread public rejoicing.
The Bishop has committed himself and the Diocese to the immense task of restoring what has been destroyed and disrupted so that they the Church can get on with its true business of worship, mission and service. Our support is therefore more vital than ever. We have been able to offer vital financial support at key times in recent years and our mutual visits have further strengthened our partnership. At Southwark Cathedral we pray daily for our brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe and have a huge map on the wall of the Cathedral where many people come to pray and light a candle.