The culture of secrecy has surrounded the Greek Orthodox Church in Malawi resulting in speculations of what the mission of the church is.
One of the church’s principles is to avoid publicity be it positive or negative. The church was dragged to court for the death of a child at Kayange branch in Che Mussa township in Blantyre due to the “church’s carelessness”.
Church sources spilled the beans this week that despite establishing in 1970s and having many branches in most parts of the country, the church has failed to attract a good number of followers.
The church in Malawi is under the Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa headed by Pope and Patriarc.
When the church came to Malawi, it targeted the homeless people as its laity and over years it has established branches in Mulanje, Phalombe, Chiradzulu, Kamphonji, Bvumbwe, Blantyre, Zomba, Kalimbuka, Namwera, Lirangwe and Lilongwe.
“But shockingly, in all these branches there is no population of the laity exceeding a thousand,” a church source said.
It claims to be the first church on earth, the mother church of all churches; their faith is the only true faith. It has only one Cypriot clergy, four local priests and one deacon.
“They ordain priests where and when there is need. They do not consider education seriously. Only one local priest Fr. Nektarios studied Philosophy and ordained in Egypt.”
Another source said: “The church has not come out in the open. It shuts itself from the public.”
Division of labour is also a problem. The vicar is himself vocational director, administrator, trustee, accountant, manager, secretary for all church projects.
Death of the child
When the child died, the family took the church to task and the vicar of the church snatched the case from lawyers Jonathan Kara and Kennedy Mzumara and gave the case to another lawyer.
The authorities also snatched another case from the church lawyer Victor Jere and gave it to another lawyer when they suspected that they would lose the case. In this case, a former trustee, deacon and employee, George Moyo dragged the church to court for unlawful dismissal.
“There is an outcry from former employees of the church for unlawful dismissals. When they ask for their compensation, the response they get is very disgusting. They are treated as big enemies. They are not allowed to step their feet on the premises of the church,” a source said.
The church put under great secret the visit of its leader His Beatitude Theodoros II of Alexandria when he came to Malawi in October 2011.
The church did not allow coverage and a journalist who showed interest to cover the visit was warned of getting dragged to court if he reported anything.
“The church does not want any Orthodox activities to be covered in the media,” another source said.
The reporter who was chased away confirmed the development but said did not want his name to be published.
The church was also involved in tax evasion at Malawi Revenue Authority.
“When MRA officials came, it was rumoured that the tax amounted to K20 million. But only K450 000 was paid,” another church source said.
The church has its headquarters at Ginnery Corner along the Masauko Chipembere Highway in Blantyre where there is also a temple.
Authorities at the headquarters refused to comment and said they did not want to see reporters in their premises.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :