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.

February 2021 Update

As with most countries, combating Covid is high on the list of Zimbabwe’s priorities.  After a sharp rise at the turn of the year, the numbers of cases and deaths began to reduce at the beginning of February.  In total, up to the beginning of February.  there had been 34,781 cases reported, with around 1,300 deaths. These deaths have included three government ministers as well as a significant number in Croydon’s link-diocese of Central Zimbabwe.  As in this country, medical resources have been put under considerable pressure.

Schools and churches were closed in early January and were remaining closed until mid-February at the earliest, with only essential services continuing.  As a consequence of the closure, churches are struggling financially and anticipate that when reopening is allowed, numbers will be restricted.

The political situation remains problematical, with the economy continuing to struggle.

Sadly, when the much need rains eventually came, they came with a vengeance, leading to floods, and people in Gweru, where our link parish of St Andrew is situated, lost their homes in the flooding and had to shelter in community halls.

Under the leadership of Bishop Ignatius, who used to be the parish priest at St Andrew’s, the Diocese of Central Zimbabwe has a number income-generating projects underway: St Patrick’s Farm has a healthy looking herd of cows; Harbern Park is producing butternuts and green mealies, the sale of which raised 5440 US dollars; a feasibility study has just been completed for establishing a solar farm to supply all the electricity at the Mission and the diocese has become actively involved in gold mining, which is on the increase in Zimbabwe.

The diocese is also involved in improving access to water through drilling and equipping boreholes, including one in St Andrew’s parish.

Additionally the church plays its part in supporting the local community, with 300 food hampers distributed in the diocese, 100 vulnerable households supplied with seed maize and fertiliser and 23 families in Gweru supported both spiritually and physically following displacement by flooding caused by Cyclone Elois.

The former St Patrick’s Clinic has now opened as a hospital, run by the diocese, and this is one of the projects which the Croydon-Zimbabwe Link has been supporting financially in recent years.

Revd Ronald Chikuyo, whom we were just beginning to get to know as Ignatius Makumbe’s successor at St Andrew’s, has now been moved to St Chad’s in Shrugwi as part of an exciting plan to plant a mission church near one of the mining projects mentioned earlier.  Before leaving, his wife, Constance, gave birth to a baby son, Giovanni, born in July last year, a brother for daughter, Darlene, now aged around three. 

As I write this, I am acutely aware of how much of what might be regarded as the responsibility of government or industry is undertaken by the church – clearly a daunting responsibility, but also an opportunity to demonstrate God’s love in offering care to the wider community.  Do keep Zimbabwe, and especially St Andrew’s, in your prayers.

Richard Ford  





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