17 December 2018
AFM international secretary general George Mahlobo has urged AFM in Zimbabwe leadership to reconcile and unite as one big family.
Speaking at a press conference held in the capital on Saturday Mahlobo declared an immediate end of all hostile activities from local assemblies through provinces to the national leadership of the church.
“All AFM churches and facilities in Zimbabwe should be open to all members of the church and public, no one should hinder anybody from worshipping in any church of the AFM in Zimbabwe.
“Immediately commence with reconciliation and healing at all levels of the church and normalize relationships between the leadership of the AFM in Zimbabwe at all levels of the church, we discourage anyone within the AFM in Zimbabwe and internationally to export the divisions and conflict in Zimbabwe to AFM churches internationally,” said Mahlobo.
On legitimacy of factions Mahlobo said the court of the land has been approached to make a pronouncement on which of the two is the legitimate AFM in Zimbabwe.
“The Workers Council on September 15 2018 did not comply with the AFM International‘s intervention report, it is our view that the Workers Council decision of September 21 2018 complied fully with the AFM International’s report.
“In the light of this, all church structures that where formed on the basis of the decision of the Apostolic Council of September 21 2018 are official in our view,” he said.
Meanwhile AFM International president Frank Chikane said if he was consulted by the AFM in Zimbabwe leadership he would have advised them not to do reforms in an election year.
“If we were consulted by the local leadership we would have advised them not to do reforms in an election year because an election year, even in politics is a difficult time so delay the reforms and talk about them after the election,” he said.
“The AFM in Zimbabwe leadership chose to deal with the reforms before the election and I think that is where they got into difficulties, they also suspended the election process which also became a problem and when I came here in March we talked about it and we said you must have an election based on the current constitution and give the new proposals time for consultations, don’t impose it on the people because if you impose it on them it is going to divide the church.
“The nature of the problem in that document is that it changes radically the way in which the church functions for instance it want to centralize the finances of the church and you would expect that the larger congregation of the church would not want to do that, it’s a natural thing because it takes away some of the powers and privileges of pastors so you will see a reaction but its natural.
“We have also noticed that the document also changes the employment conditions of people and because of that you need enough time to consult and where it went wrong is that people wanted to adopt it without much consultation and that is what created the conflict and eventually the split, so you will see that in Pastor Cossum Chiangwa’s group there are relatively more pastors there because of these concerns.
“So our advice to them is very simple, elect on the basis of the current constitution, give time to the process of the consultations and adopt the amendments you agree on. We do not dictate to member churches what amendments to do,” he said.
“The message we want to give to members of the AFM church in Zimbabwe is that there must be one AFM church in this country and all the members and the pastors must belong to that one AFM church, we are here to assist them as per invitation to deal with the challenges that caused the separation and we have interacted with the leadership and we are going to do much more work to make sure that the church does not continue promoting divisions because such behavior affects ordinary church members.
“We have also met the Evangelical Fellowship to which AFM is a member and they have a concern as well that the AFM is too big a church in Zimbabwe to an extent that it affects the country and their own churches as well therefore it is imperative for us to resolve these problems and I am sure that ordinary Zimbabweans who are not part of our church are also concerned about what is happening in our church because of our numbers.
“We really pray that following our visit the processes of reconciliation and unity will take off and seal the unity,” he said.