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Archbishop kicks off Central African tour in Malawi: The Church of England Newspaper, Oct 12, 2011 October 12, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of Central Africa.
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President Bingu wa Mutharika with Dr Williams

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has urged Malawians to embrace Christian ambiguity, setting aside their certainties in order to be reconciled with the world.  Anglicans “must be always a church that is on pilgrimage towards the Christ,” Dr. Rowan Williams said, a Christ “who can be discovered in the most needy and helpless.”

On the first stop of his 5 – 13 October Central African tour, Dr. Rowan Williams met with the President of Malawi and led services to mark the 150th anniversary of the Universities Mission to Central Africa (UMCA).

Political relations between Malawi and the UK –  Malawi’s largest aid provider – have been tense since the country expelled the British High Commissioner earlier this year after his remarks critical of President Bingu wa Mutharika were published.  Bishop James Tengatenga and other Anglican leaders have pressed the government to restore relations, saying the diplomatic stand-off harmed the poor.

On 7 Oct 2011 Dr. Williams met with President Mutharika at the Sanjika Palace – the president’s residence outside of Blantyre.  He told reporters “we had very interesting discussions about agriculture in Malawi and problems facing the future of food production.”

Diplomatic in his comments, the archbishop spoke of the government’s work in improving agricultural output, and noted the importance of introducing scientific farming methods to “guarantee food security.”

Speaking the next day before a congregation of approximately 5000 in Magomera to mark the 150th anniversary of the UMCA, Dr. Williams spoke of the need to set aside one’s convictions in order to reconcile with others and to make a better world.  “We want to invite all people to be part of this [Christian] fellowship so that they can more effectively work with God for the healing of his world,” he said.

“The life of the Anglican Church in this country has from the very beginning been a life devoted to liberation,” he said.  The missionary imperative to end slavery that brought David Livingstone, Bishop Mackenzie and other missionaries to Malawi was founded on the belief that slavery caused suffering to slaves and slave-owners, Dr. Williams claimed.

Slavery “was also something that made slave-traders and slave-owners less than properly human.  It degraded everything and everyone it touched.  When Mackenzie and his companions battled against the slave trade, they did so in order that slaves and slave-owners alike might be free.”

The message of the Sermon on the Mount, the archbishop’s text for his address, was that “human lives are blessed by God when they are devoted to justice and peacemaking; when they are lives without arrogance and greed; when they are lives concentrated on the love of God and ready to take risks for the sake of God, not worrying about hostility even when it is violent.”

Christians, he said, “must always, always, seek to be reconciled with one another and must always, always, take the first step to make peace with their enemies and pray for them.”

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