Zimbabwe Grassroots Organizers Discuss how the Social Principles Impact their Ministry
Grassroots organizers in the Zimbabwe East Episcopal Area gathered to discuss how the Social Principles a resource for their ministry.
HARARE, Zimbabwe – Grassroots organizers in the Zimbabwe Episcopal Area met at the United Methodist Retreat Center for their annual meeting to deliberate and share experiences of the ministry engagements the participants are involved in.
“We meet annually with the Grassroots Organizers to share experiences on the work that they are doing in their respective areas” said Nyorowai Caroline Mutsago the Volunteer Lead Organizer.
“Every year we are trying to organize them and do capacity building workshops. It is also a time to reflect as we get to hear their stories because each of them has a story to tell of their work. At the same time, we are networking as we are sharing our stories and experiences” she added.
Rev. Alan Gurupira, Assistant to the Bishop
The workshop featured a presentation of the 2017-2020 Social Principles by Rev. Alan Gurupira, Administrative Assistant to the Bishop.
“Our Social Principles are grounded in the scripture and that is what we must understand.”
He concluded, “The Social Principles are a critical tool that guides the ethical standards of the church, and every member of the church should be keen to follow and contribute to the revision processes.”
Tinashe Madziwa, a young lawyer, said, “Social Principles help to guide how to live as Christians and how to manage and co-exist with our communities.” As such, he applauded the church for continually revising the Social Principles so that the church remains relevant to it contemporary demands.
“I am glad that the UMC in its Social Principles focuses on the plight of the girl child. As a church we [are] therefore able to deal with the African problem of early child marriages and forced marriages,” said Christabel Zimbewa a Global Mission Fellow alumni.
[Editor’s note: for more on child marriage and the girl child, see the section The Social Community in the proposed revised Social Principles.]
“Women have been placed at the very heart of the UMC Social Principles and it is encouraging to note that we have hundreds of female ordained clergy in Zimbabwe, a departure from the 1950s to 1970s when we only had one” said Rev. Christine Marangwanda who is a Grassroots Organizer and a member of Board of Ordained Ministries in the Zimbabwe West Annual Conference.
Rev. Juliet Chirowa said, “Our Social Principles speak of taking care of the elderly. In our African setting, this is engrained in our value system. Taking the elderly away from us like other cultures do putting them in nursing homes, we feel like a part of us has been removed from us.”
Russel Rusike who works with Church and Society at Hilltop UMC in Mutare congratulated the denomination in making strides towards creating new places and spaces for all people including those living with disabilities. “The deaf, the blind and the infirmed are all being accommodated in the church, something that we never saw happening as we were growing up.”
Hilltop is one the churches in Zimbabwe that have sign language translators during their services. “Chitungwiza Marondera District too has run a number of trainings in sign language” said Tawanda Mafuta. “Social Principles inform the church’s decision and response in light of polarized political environments, political instability and ravaging wars in the world.”
Rev. Shepherd Fusire is the Zimbabwe Episcopal Area Coordinator for Women’s Ministries in the church and she said, “The world is seized with climate change challenges and this group has a task to raise awareness at the very grass root levels of our communities – at the local church level. They can educate congregations on preserving forest and against deforestation and rampant environmental degradation at informal mining sites around the country. The organizers may go on reforestations campaigns, clean up campaigns etc.”
THE REVISED SOCIAL PRINCIPLES AND OUR IDENTITY AS A CHURCH
“The revisions of the Social Principles of the United Methodist Church are not anything new… as these are done periodically” said Rev. Gurupira.
He stated that while the human sexuality question is topical for the current quadrennium, he dispelled suggestions that the revision of the Social Principles are driven by issues of human sexuality. In fact, he called the Social Principles a part of our living tradition that helps the church clearly respond to contemporary issues.
“Every four years the church has built a tradition to review the principles… because we are an evolving entity” he added.
“We are in a world that has so many things happening, but we want to find out how we react to those in order to continue and maintain our identity as a church.”