By Kapya Kaoma
Anglicans across Zambia await the announcement of who will be their next bishop following the death of bishop David Ndjovu. This is a historic moment for the Diocese that most Zambians mistake to be the archdiocese of Zambia due to the significance of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Zambian political history. But it is also a home to the most important resources that all the dioceses share–the Zambia Anglican Council properties. Such is the value of this Diocese to both the nation and Anglicans alike.
Unlike Roman Catholics whose bishops are born in the Vatican, Anglican Bishops are elected by both the Clergy and laity. It is understandable that the Clergy have been running around like politicians campaigning. What most people don’t know, however, is that one does not need to be a deacon or priest to be elected Bishop–so silly are the Canons of the Church of the Province of Central Africa that any man (not woman) in good standing could contest this powerful position. Not long ago, Bishop Makoni in the Diocese of Manicaland was elected without serving as a priest and had to be ordained priest, and then made Bishop. But this is not the case in Lusaka–we have countless priests vying for this office. Only one will be elected Bishop; or nobody will. This is because we need two third majority to make a Bishop. Since over a third of electors come from the other Dioceses in the Province, even if all electors in Lusaka voted for one candidate, without Provincial electors, they cannot elect a bishop. If no candidate gets two third majority, then no Bishop is elected. I pray we don’t get to this–but it is a possibility we shouldn’t discount.
It is shameful that once friends have become enemies. Yet the bishopric is a calling and not a job. This is an important element my friends need to understand. I fully understand the pride and benefits that come with the office, but at the heart of it all is the question of calling–are you called to this Office? Most of those desiring this office are driven by selfish ambitions–money and power. For this reason, they are not likely to accept defeat should electors reject them for another person. In this case, they will seek court rulings on the matter.
The bishopric is a sacrificial ministry. I count current bishops as friends and I am very open to them. What I say here I have said to them too. A bishop should think about others first before himself–something that allows for humility. In the race to the Bishopric, humility is key. It does not matter how intelligent and well spoken one is. It doesn’t matter how great a preacher or connected one is. It is not important how powerful and how much money one spends on influencing electors, but how one understands himself in relation to power–servant leadership. A person who buys the office will abuse resources to repay himself. A person who campaigns to become a bishop knows he is not qualified to be one but wants to convince people otherwise. A bishop should be identified by others, doubt himself as to his qualifications to this office and be like David among his brothers. In short, those who campaign to become bishops disqualify themselves!
Moreover, the bishopric is about powerlessness and prayerfulness. It is not all about business as usual but about powerlessness and prayer. How can one carry the Crozier for all Anglicans and ignore the power of prayer. I don’t mean “the alleluia, amen” form of prayer we Evangelicals are used to. I mean prayer planted in sacred solitude. As Anglicans, we have daily offices for a reason–they are meant to draw us closer to God. We need a person who carries our pains in his heart, who mourns with us, speaks for us, and feels with us when we cannot escape the world of injustice. When will the voice of justice resound in the Cathedral of the Holy Cross again? Is it not Bishop Mumba who gave Zambia multi-party democracy at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross?
Having said this, let me address the electors. When you enter that room, ignore who you spoke to or who gave you anything. Think only about God and God alone. Remember, you are doing something that would change the life of the Diocese for many years to come. Forget about those pledges you made to another human being, but listen to the Spirit. Allow God to direct you to do the right thing. Remember the Prophet Samuel–he went looking for the King among Jesse’s children. His mind was set on what was appealing to his heart, but God chose the little David. Don’t look for Saul, or David’s brothers, but look for a little David–for God’s choice is the right person to lead the Diocese of Lusaka. Amen