The sour relationship between the Anglican Diocese of Botswana, Bishop Trevor Mwamba, and some congregations around the country has reached acrimonious dimensions, it has emerged.
After revealing his intention to appeal against the recent High Court judgment in which seven priests successfully challenged their dismissal from the church, some congregations are said to be brewing a plan to oust Mwamba.
It is reliably learnt that some sections of the congregation are planning demonstrations against the bishop for next week Friday.
The St Peter's Anglican Church in Mogoditshane has written him a strongly worded letter dated 20 October 2008 in which they dissociate themselves from the intentions to appeal.
The congregation responded: "That during your visit to the congregation of St Peter's Parish in Mogoditshane, you said the priests had not taken the bishop to court but the diocese of Botswana. The congregation therefore dissociates itself from the bishop's decision to appeal the High Court of Botswana ruling in favour of the seven Batswana priests," the letter reads.
The congregation also urges the Botswana diocese to dissociate itself from the bishop's decision to appeal the ruling. "The St Peter's congregation will cease payment of assessment to the diocesan office with immediate effect, and urges all Anglican congregations in Botswana to do the same," the letter continues.
The congregation further warned that it will not take part in any fundraising activity for the diocese including 'Count Your Blessings', Sunday Collection, upkeep for the incumbent and others, and urged all Anglican congregations in the country to do the same.
"The St. Peter's congregation will channel all its contributions towards meeting the legal costs of the seven Batswana priests," says the letter.
The Mogoditshane congregation is concerned that Bishop Mwamba continues
"The St Peter's Mogoditshane congregation stands by its letter in which they advised the bishop to involve the church in decision making, and to adopt reconciliatory engagement when dealing with sensitive issues in the church," the letter proposes.
The Mogoditshane congregation revealed its frustration with the appeal, saying it would lead to a serious rift in the church. "History will judge us harshly should we be known not to have taken pre-emptive measures to avoid a split in the church, by engaging in an unnecessary appeal against a court judgment," states the letter.
On October 15, the Lobatse High Court ruled in favour of seven priests, Aubrey Molatlhwe, Botshabelo Beleme, Moreri Leteemane, Mooketsi Mokgatlhe, Paul Beleme, Essau Mosima (deceased) and Patrick Ncaagae after challenging the Anglican Diocese of Botswana and Bishop Mwamba for revoking their licenses to practice as priests. The Bishop accused them of trampling on the church rules whilst the priests and some congregations said the Bishop was paving way for expatriate priests. Early this year some angry members of Molepolole congregation nearly assaulted the priest accusing him of abusing his office and disrespecting them.
Meanwhile, diocesan secretary, Father Benjamin Moleko denied any knowledge about any intentions to appeal the court ruling. "All I know is that we are meeting with the governing body this week to discuss the judgment. We will make official position thereafter," he said. He would not discuss our any further details, referring our enquiries to the church lawyers.