The news that the Synod of Livingstonia of the CCAP deposed Rev. Chimwemwe Chikukula Mhango continues to create more discussion. The Synod leadership cited insubordination as Rev. Mhango refused transfer to Ekwendeni and Euthini. But also he was reported to have been behind Kanengo Congregation in protesting his premature move.
The Synod wondered how Kanengo Congregation could have mobilized itself using over 1 million Kwacha and travel to Synod headquarters in Mzuzu without the approval of a minister in charge. For sure Rev. Mhango must have been behind this. As a result it concluded, he acted in bad faith with God’s resources.
The Synod tradition is that the Moderator owns the pulpit and decides to post his ministers anywhere. Any objection is seen as refusing God’s service. The call does not go to the Congregation. It is for the minister.
Incidentally I attended (on invitation) the induction service of Rev. Mhango at Kanengo Church in April 2012. The Synod leaders emphasized that Mhango belonged to the Synod and if they were to call him back from Kanengo, they would consult the congregation anytime. Come August 2014, Rev. Mhango was to be transferred. The Kanengo Congregation may have smelt something as the agreed term for his stay had not expired hence protests against their minister’s transfer.
The Kanengo Congregation liked and took good care of him. He introduced the contemporary service which became popular. He held nights of prayers where God’s visitation upon his people was unquestionable and God’s anointing on Rev. Chimwemwe Mhango was evident. Reportedly, the church grew under his leadership.
Surprisingly refusals to transfer Rev. Chimwemwe Mhango have marked his ministry almost at each congregation: Chibavi, Katawa, Embangweni, etc. Why has this recent transfer brought things to a stage of deposition of Mhango? Mhango was amongst the few church ministers in the Livingstonia Synod who objected to its synod’s encroachment into the Nkhoma Synod territory. He had grown up in Nkhoma Synod zone, went to Dzenza Secondary School and was part of the Mhango-Mgawi Salvation Singers. In fact he met his wife in this zone too.
Throughout the 21 years of ordained ministry in CCAP, he has been in the limelight. As a person, his ambitions may have clashed with the synod leadership some of whom may be younger to him in age and ministry. Hopefully his ambitions and weaknesses have not created a situation to justify the deposing.
Politically, suspicions were rife that he was a president’s boy in the Synod: both during Bakili Muluzi and Bingu’s era. As a young church minister, some claimed he was used by the senior ruling party politicians in the 90’s.
During Bingu’s historic visit to Livingstonia in October 2005, the musical equipment that Rev. Mhango used was damaged and Bingu promised to purchase musical equipment in replacement. The promise fulfilled was looked at Mhango as someone who was blue.
In 2013 the Kanengo Congregation and generally most Christians were shocked to hear that he was entertaining calls to contest under PP in Mzimba. He of course withdrew sensing that was not God’s direction for his life.
As an artist he has a way of communicating. In 2002, his song Nkhondo Yanjira Mchiwaya (war has arisen in the kraal-khola) raised eyebrows. And then he publicly declared in a song Nyenyezi that he loves his wife Linda. The song was received with mixed reactions. “How can a church minister say that publicly?” was the common question. One had to read in between the lines why the song. Was it a reaction to the tradition somewhere of welcoming ministers with a “pillow” or a “Febbie”?
On another note, wasn’t she to be first mama muliska to attain MA studies in the Livingstonia Synod?
Recently the Synod of Livingstonia under Rev. Chimwemwe Mhango’s leadership, developed about 40 hymns to be included in Sumu za Ukhristu. While some of these are translated from English and Chichewa, most are new compositions (both in lyrics and music) among which 5 are Mhango’s compositions.
In retrospect, I am glad that the Synod did this as music legendary late Mjura Mkandawire said (in an interview, October 2010), “I am not happy that the Synod is not fully utilizing Chimwemwe in music…”
In the era of “unofficial” communication, we may not know all the reasons for deposing Rev. Chimwemwe Mhango. I wonder if a reversal on this is possible. What “sin” did he commit that is unpardonable? Don’t we know some church ministers who have been suspended only to be allowed back even before their death days draw near? On the other hand, would Mhango accept to get back and work with the same leadership that deposed him?
While his suspension signals a new chapter for the body of Christ in Malawi and the Synod of Livingstonia of the CCAP in particular, both he and the Synod would have to manage the transition. How they handle this will tell if the reasons for deposing him were as communicated or otherwise. Unfortunately such things create unnecessary tensions, factions (like Mzimba vs. Chitipa!), pain and bitterness.
The Synod certainly invested a lot in Rev. Mhango right from the start of theological studies early 90’s. Among others, it supported his further studies recently in South Africa and it has accommodated his artistic life. The leadership has been in my view very supportive to him all along.
How do the other CCAP synods see this? Would they recognize him as a reverend if he joined Nkhoma or Blantyre Synods? Or this is a start for us to call him Pastor Chimwemwe Mhango?
If he moves out, there is a lot he will also lose out just like the Synod of Livingstonia. In fact, if he moves out of CCAP, he won’t be the first. For some reasons, CCAP lost ministers that it trained e.g. Lazarus Chakwera (now Rev. Prof.) to the Malawi Assemblies of God and Frank Dzantenge (now Father) to the Anglican Church.
When you are called to a specific ministry, the devil remains your constant enemy to battle with. Rev. Chimwemwe knows this better. For now he just has to manage the reality of not shepherding God’s people in CCAP (if no reversal takes place).
What is encouraging to me is what he well expressed in his own song Wandiitana Ambuye Kudzaweta Nkhosazo (God has called me to shepherd his people). In this song, I don’t hear that it is CCAP that called him. This is where the big test is. May be in maintaining or protecting his call to service, he has gone overboard. And the Synod is only trying to shepherd its own shepherd.
- Note: I have written this in my personal capacity.
For your information: I have known Rev. Chimwemwe Mhango from late 90’s as a friend (personal and family), worked with him on a number of assignments and interviewed him several times. By virtue of my broadcast media work at TWR, I interact with the church ministers a lot.
Victor KaongaFollow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :