Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) Synod of Livingstonia has finally ordered the break-a-way faction of the Kanengo congregation, to immediately vacate the premises on claims “they” themselves have chosen to detach from the Synod while in Blantyre Synod, tempers flared among clerics during a General Administration Committee (GAC) meeting on Thursday.
The rebellious side Kanengo have vowed to stay put in their church building arguing they are the legitimate owners of the church.
Not happy with the Rev. Chimwemwe Mhango suspension, recently, scores of irate congregation (break-away-faction) run a mock barring the Livingstonia Synod top officials who had come to have an audience with them, from entering the church. And in anger they also damaged properties in the process including a sign-post.
In a letter dated 4th May 2015, co-signed by Moderator, Reverend Douglas Chipofya, General Secretary Reverend Dr. Levi Nyondo, and Deputy General Secretary Reverend J.P.V Mwale the synod writes: “Since it follows from the tone and contents of your letter that you no longer wish to remain within the community of the church, you are hereby informed that this implies that you are no longer entitled to the use and occupation of the church buildings and premises at Kanengo.”
It stressed saying that the premises are the property of the Synod, to an extent that documents of legal title to the land on which premises are located are in the name of the synod.
“The synod holds the title to the land primarily for the use and benefit of its members. Since you have declared your immediate detachment from the church and since your declaration has been accepted by us, it would be absurd and infact highly improper, to continue to permit you to use and occupy the premises,” reads the letter.
The letter addressed to Kanengo congregation, and copied to Lilongwe Presbytery clerk emphasized that the Livingstonia synod may be compelled to take legal action against the renegade congregation let by Rev Mhango in the event their order is not adhered to.
“You are therefore required to forthwith vacate from the said premises failing which we shall have no choice but to refer this matter to our lawyers with instructions to take appropriate legal action,” reads the letter.
According to Chipofya, Nyondo and Mwale, such decisions are said to have been arrived at after carefully analyzing a motive behind the detachment, expressed in their letter dated 24th April, 2015, addressed to the synod.
Contacted for comment the deposed Reverend Chimwemwe Mhango declined to divulge more information on the issue and he referred to deputy session clerk Hezron Banda, (himself belonging to Mhango side) who said nobody has the mandate to chase them from the said premises.
“We are not vacating the premises. In short we built the church on our own. And owners of the premises are under the CCAP church ministering by Chimwemwe Mhango,” he said. Adding that, it is their parents (Livingstonia Synod) that started it all disowning them, “so we are indeed with the Reverend Chimwemwe whom they suspended.”
And when reminded that there is a letter to that effect, which prevents them from conducting any church service at the premises, Banda maintained his stand describing such a move a contempt of court, arguing that his side had earlier, obtained a court injunction to stop the Synod not to do anything on them and the church as well.
“To us this letter is a contempt of court, because they are writing us now after we had already served them with a court injunction obtained on 13th January 2015. Infact they are defying the injunction, which is illegal,” he said.
In his sentiments, the Synod legal advisor Victor Gondwe for which he confirmed a copy of the letter, said meanwhile is waiting for the Synod to give him further instructions as it (synod) is still in the process of consulting, to see the best way forward.
Gondwe, however, quashed the contempt of court claims, saying that the Synod is only responding to the Kanengo break-away congregation’s earlier letter in which they relayed their decision to detach themselves from the Synod.
“If you look at that letter from the synod, it is a response to their own letter. So the letter for which themselves wrote is inconsistence with court proceedings to begin with. And furthermore it was only a consent order, paving way for discussion between the two parties. Now, realistically they never got any injunction per say.”
“What I know is that when they applied for court injunction, they court declined telling them the matter had to come interparty. Advising them further that it was really not a proper case to be taken before court,” he said.
However, Gondwe hinted saying that such religious wrangles ought to be resolved amicably, revealing that the discussions between the two parties currently are underway.
Rev. Mhango got suspended on Monday 20th April 2015, after he refused to be transferred to Ekwendeni and Euthini respectively, the conduct the Synod leadership cited as “total” insubordination. He is also allegedly to be behind the protests his followers conducted against his transfer.
Mhango, who is also a renowned gospel singer, and Musicians’ Union of Malawi-MUM president, was ordained in April 24 1994.
Meanwhile, CCAP Blantyre synod’s prison chaplain Rev.Stanley Chimesya sending a threatening text message to a fellow cleric, Rev Innocent Brave Chikopa of St.Columbus CCAP after the latter “Castigated” the former in the meeting over the issue of President Peter Muntharika’s visit to Maula Prison in the March this year.
According to published reports on Sunday, Chikopa attacked Chimesya for bringing the
Synod into disrepute by making headlines in the media after his comments on Muntharika’s visit to Maula prison
As a prison chaplain, Chimesya attacked Muntharika saying while visit to the prison was important, the president needed to solve challenges that are haunting prisons.
Blantyre synod General Secretary Rev Alex Maulana said he was aware of the text messages circulating on social media and said the synod would intervene if it receives official complaint.-Additional reporting by Mphatso Nkhoma, Nyasa Times.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :