End in sight to strife in Anglican Church

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NTANDO MAKHUBU

AN investigation into the problems that have rocked the Anglican Diocese of Pretoria over the past year has made steady progress since the Southern African Synod of Bishops, led by Cape Town Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, commissioned a task team to find the cause of the unhappiness.

The high level task team has been conducting interviews with different categories of diocesan members.

This morning it will meet members of the St Alban’s Cathedral and others who have been working with them who will be asked about the issues that caused their unhappiness.

“The process is highly confidential, the results of which we will hand back to the synod,” task team chairman Bishop David Bannermann told the Pretoria News.

The Highveld Diocese leads a four-person team set up by the Anglican Church of Southern Africa in terms of Canon 21.3.

Bannermann, Judge Ian Farlam, a Mr Mjekula and advocate Palesa Ncholo are investigating a series of developments involving Pretoria Bishop Jo Seoka, members of the diocese and parishioners.

Bishop Seoka and church management have been accused by parishioners of, among others, unfairly dismissing Reverend Nkosinami Nkomonde, unfairly suspending the now late Dean Livingstone Ngewu and being autocratic in their management style.

Seoka has said, however, that the problems arose from a small group of discontented parishioners.

Earlier this year, the arguing parties ended up in the Pretoria High Court in a late night application. The court encouraged the parties to reach an agreement over the holding of Sunday services, which they eventually did.

In response to the impasse, the synod set up the investigation team and dispatched it to Pretoria to find out the “root causes of the discord”, the Cape Town office said.

“Our office gave the team terms of reference and the responsibility to carry the investigation through,” provincial office spokesman the Rev Allen Kannemeyer said.

Today’s proceedings will be chaired by Dr Brigalia Bam and involve St Alban’s cathedral parishioners.

Topics listed for discussion will include issues around Ngewu’s suspension and trial, the closure of the cathedral and the subsequent court case.

The sale of the St Matthew’s Church in Brits is also on the agenda.

The hearings are scheduled to end tomorrow, after which the team is expected to compile its report.

“Once this process is done and the report compiled it will be submitted to the bishops,” said Kannemeyer. This has to be done as expediently as possible,” said Bannermann.

The bishop added that the discussions, programme and list of people attending the interviews were confidential as the investigation was an internal matter.

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