A Central African oath of obedience

We are standing in the Bishop’s office, me, Bishop Trevor, and Susan Mogwera as witness. He has handed me a document on heavy card stock, with the seal of the Diocese of Botswana at the top. He asks me to read it aloud.‘I, Leon Spencer,’ I begin, ‘do swear that I will pay due and Canonical Obedience to the Bishop of Botswana and his successors, so help me God.’

I’m making my Oath.

‘I assent to the Book of Common Prayer,’ and ‘I believe the doctrine as therein set forth to be agreeable to the Word of God.’ I go so far as to ‘consent to be bound by all the Canons of the Province of Central Africa.’ Not that I’ve ever seen them, but then, I doubt if at our Episcopal Church ordinations we can claim to know all that is in our canons either.

The three of us sign my Oath.

Then it’s the Bishop’s turn. He takes out a second document, which has a fancy red seal on it. He begins to read. ‘We, Musonda Trevor Selwyn Mwamba, by Divine Permission, Bishop of Botswana to our beloved in Christ, Leon Spencer, a Priest in the Church of God: We greet you in the name of the Lord.’

He goes on to read that he has granted me ‘our license and authority to officiate as a Priest within our Diocese.’ He signs it +Musonda Botswana.

No doubt this is one of the last official acts he performs. His resignation as Bishop of Botswana takes effect in just a few hours.