St. Mary's of Nazareth 

West Wickham

 

Zimbabwe Link

Since 2006 our Benefice (St Francis and St Mary’s) has been linked with St Andrew’s Mission Church, Gweru in Zimbabwe. Gweru is one of the Zimbabwe’s largest cities with a population of about 140,000 and is in the Diocese of Central Zimbabwe, which is linked with the Croydon Episcopal Area.  St Andrew’s is a mission parish with a thriving congregation of 300 or more people.

January 2023 Update

For some years, now, our two churches have been linked with St Andrew’s Church in Gweru, a high density suburb in the Central Diocese of Zimbabwe.  During that time, St Andrew’s has had a number of incumbents, including Ignatius Makumbe, who is now the Diocesan Bishop.  After his promotion, we lost contact with the parish, but at the end of last year, the Archdeacon of Reigate was part of a small group to visit Zimbabwe and she kindly offered to take with her any correspondence to the Zimbabwe churches that their link churches cared to send.  Joyce Taylor, a member of St Francis, now resident in Coloma Care Home, who has known Bishop Ignatius for some time, sent him a small gift, and I sent a letter for the new priest in charge of St Andrew’s, Father Sebastian Meso.

To my delight, shortly after Christmas, I received an email from Fr Meso, telling us about himself and updating us on what is happening in his parish.

Fr Meso joined St Andrew’s at the start of 2021 as a deacon, becoming a priest later that year and taking over the parish from Revd R Chikuyo.  Things were difficult at that time as the country was only gradually coming out of COVID-19 restrictions. People were still in fear of the disease with few were brave enough to attend Sunday services.  Fr Meso continued:

“All I can say, God has been wonderful so far. The aftermath of COVID-19 is still with us. Our Sunday service attendance is growing gradually as some people were still restricting themselves as were the restrictions. We also have our mid-week services every Wednesday. During Lent we have services everyday and this year we were studying the book of Acts.”

Although the parish is blessed with a mixed age range, the majority are not working: some are pensioners, on very small pensions and some are not employed. Those gainfully employed are civil servants.  However, the number of groups, or guilds, active within the parish and the numbers involved, were it not a sin, would make one very envious: the Mothers’ Union numbers 100, with a further 21 members of the Anglican Women’s Fellowship and 30 in the Anglican Church Men’s group; the St Agnes ‘Guild has 20 members and St Peter’s 10 (I have no more information about these groups, but will try to find out more).   Then there are 45 young people being catered for and a Child Ministry of 60.

Fr Meso adds that they are currently constructing their Rectory!  At the time of writing they were on slab level, with plans to construct the ablution block once the Rectory is finished.

The email concludes:

“I really need both your spiritual and physical support Rev Fr Richard, because it is my prayer that God opens doors for us to finish building our Rectory around this time next year 2023. 

Thanks for starting the ball rolling, we keep in touch. Be blessed.”

Richard Ford

 

 

 

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