The house of God, in Anglican Diocese of Upper Shire (Adus), remains troubled after Bishop Brighton Malasa, under a 30-day ultimatum to step down, announced transfers and appointments of priests in his New Year message.
But the under-pressure bishop was forced to rescind the January 1 decision which he posted on social media platform, Facebook, after protests from parishioners concerned and representatives of the clergy.
The diocese’s vicar general, the Reverend Father Francis Chipala, admitted in an interview Friday that the church was being exposed to public derision by such negative developments.
Chipala said the decision by the bishop to rescind his decision was made in an attempt to calm the situation seemingly getting out of hand after representatives of the ‘rebellious’ clergy and some parishes protested in writing.
The vicar general said negotiations and mediations on the suspended transfers and appointments and on other issues rocking the diocese were going on.
Chipala said following a letter the disgruntled parishes wrote to Zambian-based Anglican Archbishop for Province of Central Africa, Alfred Chama, demanding removal of Malasa and information sent to him from the diocese, they are also waiting to hear advice from the archbishop.
Bishop Malasa took such a bold decision of transfers and appointments of priests after 41 out of 37 parishes met at St. George’s Parish in Zomba on December 15 and agreed to remove him from office.
The recent move by Malasa was widely viewed by the faithful as an attempt to kill the mounting pressure.
But as tense as the situation is, Malasa in his New Year message announced about 12 transfers and appointments of priests.
Malasa, in a direct attack on his critics within his diocese, said in his New Year message that it was his hope they would all journey into 2019 with renewed commitment and zeal as opposed to the vices that have become norm and detrimental for the mission of God.
“We need committed priests and lay leaders for mission in 2019…the church is currently not looking for disgruntled, frustrated and those people who went into priesthood or ordained ministries thinking that it was work [paid jobs] as opposed to ministry of Jesus Christ,” Malasa said.
Malasa swallowed a humble pie and in one communication we have seen addressed to the Reverend Father McDonald Njalam’mano and Canon Will Madi, the representatives of the clergy, he wrote that the transfers and appointments were pended until further notice.
Njalam’mano and Madi, in an earlier letter to Malasa dated January 3 in response to his New Year message in which they asked him to rescind his decision, accused him of making crucial decisions when things are falling apart in the diocese.
“The transfers in question are not necessary…you are creating problems where there are no problems. We know you are trying to prove your authority, but there is no need to prove the obvious. Everyone knows you are the bishop and have the authority,” they wrote.
The vicar general Chipala said in the Friday interview that they were trying all they could to resolve the issues internally.
He disclosed that a week ago one mediation meeting took place at Mpondasi Cathedral between the diocese, St George’s Parish executive and the mediator, Bishop Alinafe Kalemba, who was entrusted by the bishops of Anglican Council in Malawi to reconcile the warring parties.
But sources who attended the meeting said it yielded nothing because there was a general view that the matter was already referred to the Archbishop of Southern Province, Chama.
Both Kalemba and Magangani declined to comment.