“Lead from front”, Malawi bishop tells Church leaders

Bishop of Northern Malawi, the Rt Revd Fanuel Magangani
Photo Credit: M.A.C.S. http://www.malawimacs.org


By Bellah Zulu, ACNS

A bishop from Malawi has challenged Church leaders in the country to develop strategies that will help them reclaim their role as teachers of the Gospel instead of “becoming lukewarm”.

In his Bishop’s Charge delivered to Synod last month, Bishop of Northern Malawi, the Rt Revd Fanuel Magangani said: @Our Church leaders need to lead from the front and not from the back. The Church needs to reclaim her saltiness and be the light of the world presenting Jesus as the Way, the Truth and the Life.”

The Bishop said the Church in the Diocese of Northern Malawi is going through a season similar to that of the Church in the fourth century that was becoming “lukewarm, with nominal Christians.

Becoming the people’s Church

“If we want once again to become the Church of the people, as in the Gospel, living with the same poverty, simplicity and struggle, then we need to work extra hard to bring about the Kingdom of God through better catechesis,” he advised.

“We need to focus on understanding and caring for the needs of every individual member of the church, through helping people get to know each other in small groups, and also through introducing and training spiritual directors at parishes who may help those who are growing in their faith and needing direction in their lives.”

Bishop Magangani reminded Church leaders that they do not need to wait for those who may be stuck in “unbelief or fear to vanish for us to understand that we have the authority now, in our hands to make a difference.”

“We can move forward today, this month, this year, with our parishes and as a diocese in faith,” he said. “We can use the initiatives and opportunities we believe God has set for us and our parishioners.”

The Gospel for everyone

The Bishop noted with gratitude the advances made by the diocese in translating liturgies into the local languages of Tumbuka and Tonga. “We are glad that we have now launched the Tumbuka liturgy to help those among us who speak Tumbuka at Home.”

“We are thankful for and continually encourage the team that is working on the Tonga Liturgy to work with great efficiency so that we can also be relevant among the Tonga speaking people,” he said.

“We would also hope to develop a liturgy for the Nkhonde speaking people so that everyone in the diocese can hear and access the Gospel in their own language, thereby fulfilling the gift that we received on the day of Pentecost,” said the Bishop.

Voting is a responsibility

“Next year we shall have the first ever Tripartite Elections in Malawi in which you are going to elect your President, Member of the Parliament and the Ward Councillors,” he noted. “This is a responsibility that you have. It’s your right to vote, but you cannot assume this without registering as a voter first.”

He encouraged all those that have reached the constitutional age for voting to go and claim their right by registering to vote. “It is not our duty to tell you who to vote for because doing so would be to deny your right to choose,” he said. “But we ask you to vote not based on a person’s tribe or region but for the person you think will do the very best job.”

Bp Magangani reminded Christians that it is important for them to vote for good leaders. “How do you know if someone will be a good and ethical leader?” he asked. “The Bible tells us that you shall know them by their fruits. So say no to thieves who steal from their fellows or are stealing from farmers by giving them stones instead of fertilizer.”

“They steal from patients by denying them good health services when all the money for medicine is used for their selfish gain. You shall know them by their fruits,” he emphasised.

Return to Anglican music traditions

This Bishop thanked the youth, Mothers’ Union and Daughters of the King choir groups for their important contributions to the various church communities and for the “beauty they bring to our worship through your music.”

“However, in the next two years we would like all our choirs to return more to our Anglican music traditions,” he said. “Often we are bringing all kinds of songs and music into our worship services that do not work together with the church seasons or the pattern of the service.”

The Bishop said that the diocese would like to remove music that “does not have Anglican roots or relate to the liturgy””

“Although all kinds of spiritual songs are important and have value to us, in church services every hymn or song that is sung should reflect the Anglican liturgical worship,” he said.

“Within the Anglican worship we have so many beautiful hymns, psalms, canticles and Biblical verses from which to choose. Your composition should be around those areas and not copied from other groups.”

He tasked Church elders and priests to make sure that no choir group comes up with songs from outside the Anglican ethos. He said, “It adds so much to our worship year when we begin to remember certain songs that we sing only in Advent or Christmas or Lent or Easter or Pentecost.”

“We want worship to explain who we are and what we are doing and for this to happen Church elders and priests should take a deliberate action to teach the groups,” he said. “We shall also help to bring the choir masters to a training session.”

Go back to principles of Christian faith

Bishop Magangani also expressed his disappointment at the people that are leaving the Church in search of “worldly things.” He encouraged the Church leaders to reflect on what they could be doing wrong.

“What kind of nourishment are we providing – or not providing – for our people that they find no substance but go out to search for other forms of nourishment from other worldly sources?”

“I believe we must do a much stronger job in teaching the principles of Christian faith and I believe we can love and witness to these in our parishes that they should receive the power of God and grow deeper in their faith,” he said. “Then, as they grow stronger we will also see our entire churches grow more unified and capable of achieving great things.”

He said providing more and better teaching will equip Christians with the useful tools they need to grow in their Christian lives and carry out their Christian mission.

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