From Bishop William Mchombo, the Bishop of Eastern Zambia
The installation of the sixth Archbishop of the Church of the Province of Central Africa, Albert Chama who is also Bishop of Northern Zambia, took place on Sunday 20 March 2011.
The installation service which took place at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Lusaka, Zambia was taken by Bishop Ishmael Mukuwanda, Bishop of Central Zimbabwe. Bishop Ishmael, being the senior bishop in the Province, also gave a charge to Archbishop Albert in his homily (attached below).
The Archbishop of Canterbury was represented by the USPG General Secretary Bishop Michael Doe who delivered greetings to the Province and to Archbishop Albert. The Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, Katherine Schori was represented by Bishop Herbert Donovan who also brought fraternal greetings from TEC and the Presiding Bishop. The Diocese of Bath and Wells which is linked to the Zambian dioceses was represented by Mrs Jenny Humphreys who is the World Mission Advisor. Other representatives came from Trinity Church Wall Street represented by Canon Benjamin Lubege-Musoke and Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa which was represented by its General Secretary Canon Grace Kaiso.
The republican President Mr Rupiah Bwezani Banda, the first Lady Thandiwe and some Cabinet Ministers were also in attendance. Others were ecumenical partners from the Roman Catholic Church and the Council of Churches in Zambia.
Homily at the installation of the Archbishop of Central Africa
Today marks the beginning of a new era in the life of the Church of the Province of Central Africa. Against all odds, an Archbishop was elected and today he shall be installed according to the laws of the Church. The journey from September 2007 has been long, rough, painful and uncertain. Prophets of doom never thought this Province will be properly ordered again to enable the complete structure to be in place but today we meet together in triumph. Several Dioceses were vacant and elections were contested in a number of instances, resulting in long periods of litigation. Even though we still have serious problems in two of our Dioceses in the Province where parishioners are being persecuted, we should pause and praise God for today’s achievement. The focal point and the centre of unity in the Province is being installed. We should only thank God for taking us this far.
Leadership is complex and leading leaders can be very challenging. It is not about titles - today we have one of our bishops who shall be referred to as the Archbishop and Primate, your Grace and the Most Reverend and your name shall be prefixed by two crosses instead of one. How wonderful and impressive but the real work is enveloped in these titles. One theologian once said, “Titles are given but what is critically important is one’s character.” I shall refer to character again a little later in my homily.
As far as we are concerned today is a result of an election but to God this is a result of His calling. “Here I am, send me,” (Isaiah 6:8b) so said the prophet Isaiah as he answered God’s call. One wonders how many responses of “Here I am, send me”, God received from bishops on the day of the election. However, it is crystal clear today that it was Albert’s voice that was loud and clear. It is therefore important to go back to basics and explore why are called into these positions of leadership. We need to understand our calling in order to understand who we are leading. The temptation of possessing what is not ours is very real. Leading God’s servants who have also been called to lead God’s people in their respective Dioceses. This is not a position of power but that of responsibility and accountability. It calls for humility; remembering that “Humility does not mean considering ourselves of little worth, or thinking less of ourselves but thinking of ourselves less. It is where you place the word “less” which is important. Not less about yourself but thinking of yourself less. Remember Paul’s advice to the Philippians (2:3), “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” (NIV)
An election happened and there were contestants, and not adversaries. Never think that those who might have voted for other candidates thought of you any less worthy. It was a simple difference of opinion.
Always remember that it is not about those who voted for you but about the Almighty God who calls through Christ, the Head of the Church. The major problem is that we have made ecclesiastical elections to secular that God stands aside and watches the drama from the sidelines. No wonder we have numerous problems in the Church of God. The mandate is to tend His sheep in the Church of the Province of Central Africa. John 21:15-19 says, “Feed/tend my lambs /sheep” (NIV) and this is a weighty responsibility. Four distinct nations, numerous cultures and languages in one Province. Fifteen Bishops of varied persuasions! It is always important to remember that ecclesiastical elections are just a means to a desired end. It is a visible process through which God appoints leaders for His Church But we must always take heed to what Proverbs 19:21 “... It is only God’s plan that prevails.” (NIV) We met and made our unanimous decision through an election. Our hope is that God was involved in this process.
Secondly, you have been called to Christ: to take the character of Christ – the character of Christ’s humility. Take a cue from Paul’s letter to the Philippians, particularly Chapter 2:7 which says in part, “ ... but made himself nothing taking the very nature of a servant.” (NIV). That nature (of Christ) is already in you and it is up to you to use it for the greater glory of God’s Church.
Thirdly, you have been called to love. Take a look at your Episcopal bench and see what you have got. You might even think that some of us are not going to support your ministry, others will be outright stubborn and a lot more are going to be passive participants. Still some will continue to think they could have been better Archbishops. Pity you cannot change the team! What you see is what you have got, and you have to make the team work! But you are commanded to love as Christ loved even when it is impossible to love. Matthew 5:43 could help but we do not expect you to have enemies. If that fails use one of the “Three C’s” effective team leadership called Chemistry. The secular world would say, “the team must gel or must bond” and you are now the glue that must make this happen. By your example, we shall love one another. “People do what they see not necessarily what they hear.
Fourth, you have been called to suffer. The Christian journey is about suffering for the sake of others. You have to continue with the responsibilities of your Diocese, Northern Zambia and the Province too! In some of the Dioceses there is no peace and now that they know an Archbishop has been installed, they will expect ‘instant solutions to any problem. That is where leadership gets complicated and becomes painful. That is when one begins to understand the emotions that enveloped Moses as he struggled to lead the people of Israel to the Promised Land when he said, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favour with me.’ If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favour with you. Remember that this nation is your people.” (Exodus 33:12-13 NIV) On verse 16 Moses is so bold as to challenge God’s authority. He was simply demanding accompaniment from the sender, God Himself. It will be important that you take Moses’ example seriously - in most instances you will be well advised to demand God’s company.
Fifth you have been called to obey. Obedience is the very basis of our faith. It is the hallmark of the love that makes Christ a cut above the rest. Christ triumphed and drew the whole world to himself because he obeyed His father. The best leaders in this world have been the best followers. Follow Christ and we will follow him too. John 14:23 is one of many guides, “If you love me obey my command…” Obey Christ and we will obey Him too. However, if you decide to follow someone or something else, we are not going there with you!
Sixth, you have been called to serve. “The rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you.” What Jesus said is well known to you “….. must be a servant “and worse still, …… slave of all.” (Mark 10:43) The double crosses should always remind of double blessings, double burdens or double portion (Isaiah 61:7). Be warned that as your brother bishops we shall be tempted to refer all the difficult problems to you and get all the credit where we succeed!
Lastly and in conclusion, you have not been called because you are qualified but because you are suitable material to qualification… only if you let Him. We do not deserve some of the titles and honour that we carry; as lay ministers, clergy, bishops and archbishops. It is only through God’s grace that we are honoured this way. Remember that if you must succeed as God’s appointed servant in this Province the three “Cs” are important.
Character is important as lapses in character create problems with far-reaching implications. A breakdown in character tends to breed mistrust and alienates team members and de-motivates the leader. Remember that trust begets trust, love begets love and the opposite is true.
Competence is important but unlike character it is possible to learn to be competent. You have a team of bishops with a variety of competences, use them. You cannot possibly provide a solution to every problem. Nobody can!
And as I mentioned earlier, Chemistry is critically important. Through love, knit the team into one to the glory of God. Jesus requested this Chemistry from the Father, “…that they may be one, even as we are one. (John17:12 RSV))
I might also add the fourth ‘C’ which is Consistency. A leader with integrity is expected to be consistent in his/her principles. What you say today, repeat tomorrow, at night or in broad daylight. Stick to it until it is proven wrong. Your decisions should never be dependent on the type of audience. Let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no’.
May the Almighty God who has called you to serve His people with love and long suffering give you the power to obey as He qualifies you for this ministry.
[Editor's note: Abp Chama is the first Zambian Primate of the Church of the Province of Central Africa]