The Diocese of Botswana turns forty

It is quite a procession at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross here in Gaborone: first, the lay ministers, then we clergy, who peel off past the President of Botswana in the first pew to go to our seats, then come a herd of bishops. (Do bishops come in herds? Maybe it is a clutch of bishops. I’m pretty sure it isn’t a coven.)

                                   Archbishop of York

Anyway, there are the bishops of West Missouri and of Newcastle, in the UK, two of Botswana’s companion links. There are bishops from throughout the Province of Central Africa, from Malawi, Zimbabwe and Zambia. There is the first bishop of Botswana, and the third. There’s the Archbishop of West Africa, followed by the Archbishop of York, the Ugandan John Tucker Sentamu, who is to preach. Finally appears the celebrant, Botswana’s fourth bishop, Trevor Musonda Mwamba.

We settle in for the long haul, but surprisingly, the service lasts only a bit longer than three hours. Not bad when you consider the place is packed, a superb youth choir has come over from Pretoria to join our fine choir, and sandwiched into it all is the dedication of stained glass windows, which include one with the seal of the Diocese of North Carolina.

Everyone knows that these are the final days of Bishop Trevor’s episcopacy, but I find it gratifying that the focus is not upon a farewell service for him. Instead it is upon the 40th anniversary of the diocese, which before 1973 had been linked to the Diocese of Matabeleland in Zimbabwe, with ties also to Kuruman in South Africa. Its creation was a critical step toward the Church in Botswana securing its own identity.

Afterwards the two choirs do an impromptu concert, a kind of call-and-response, which is lively and, well, remarkable. I make a point to go over to our South African visitors and thank them for joining us for the celebration. Soon they are on their way again, across the border.

An excellent booklet on the history of the Diocese of Botswana is distributed to the congregation. Fr. James Amanze, my Principal and Canon Theologian to the Diocese, has written it. It is ‘published by the St. Augustine Theological School.’ We are shameless these days in self-promotion.

Mother Jamie L’Enfant and Dr. Sharita Womack, the new chairs of the North Carolina-Botswana companion link committee, and Fr. Murdock Smith, the former chair, represent Bishop Michael Curry, who could not attend. I take them around for the next few days. We visit the hospice, and St. Peter’s Day Care Centre for ‘orphans and vulnerable children,’ and our St. Augustine students, and even a few zebra at the Mokolodi Nature Reserve.

Bishop Trevor calls us in as we head to the airport, and we have tea with him in his office. Slowly but surely it is being emptied of all of his things. I then drive them to the airport, where there are many others to see them off.