25 July 2022

USPG conference hears of
newest Anglican province
in Mozambique and Angola

Bishop Vicente Msosa of Niassa speaking on the formation of the new Anglican Province of Mozambique and Angola at the USPG conference in High Leigh this evening (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Patrick Comerford

The annual conference of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) heard this evening about interesting developments among USPG’S partner churches in Africa, including the formation of the newest province in the Anglican Communion.

Bishop Vicente Msosa of Niassa and both the secretary-general of USPG, the Revd Dr Duncan Dormor, and Fran Mate, USPG’s Regional Manager for Africa who was speaking on USPG’s work in Africa, spoke of the formation last year of the new church, the Igreja Anglicana de Moçambique e Angola (IAMA), the Anglican Church of Mozambique and Angola, which has become the 42nd province of the Anglican Communion.

Both Mozambique and Angola have Portuguese as their official language. Until last year, the Anglican Churches in the two countries were part of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa. The new Portuguese-speaking Province was formed with the support of the Anglican Primate of Southern Africa, the Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town.

‘A long-held dream is coming to fruition,’ Archbishop Thabo said at the time. ‘Wow, what a journey, and what a witness to the fruits of the Spirit and faithfulness of our Province’s fastest-growing dioceses.’

The formation of the new province involves four Anglican dioceses in the two countries being increased to 12.

The single diocese serving the whole of Angola became a fully-fledged diocese in 2019 after 16 years as a Missionary Diocese. It now becomes four dioceses: Luanda North, Luanda South, Uige, and Central and South of Angola.

In Mozambique, three existing dioceses are being reorganised to create five new Missionary Dioceses – Maciene, Inhambane, Pungue, Zambezia, and Tete – in addition to the smaller dioceses with the current names of Lebombo, Niassa and Nampula.

Bishop Vicente Carlos Matsinhe of Lebombo spoke this evening of the major and increasing problems facing Mozambique, including terrorist attacks, internal violence, drug trafficking, climate change and tropical storms, the confiscation of land without compensation and in favour of oil exploration companies, and people trafficking. When he became a bishop in 2017 at the age of 35, hHe was the youngest bishop of the Anglican Communion.

At the time of the formation of the new province, Carlos Matsinhe of Lebombo describbed it as ‘both a token of a growing witness of Anglicanism in the region of Southern Africa and a calling to have this church use its potential to minister God’s gifts to his people in the fullest manner.’

Bishop Carlos said then that the IAMA would ‘committedly hold hands together with the Anglican provinces of Africa and the worldwide Anglican Communion to proclaim the saving love and hope in Christ to a world living in fear of its future. It is the birth of a new family within our loved Communion.’

The Anglican Communion is now a family of 42 independent but interdependent autonomous national and regional churches in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury. New Anglican Provinces, or Churches, are admitted into membership of the Anglican Communion by the Standing Committee, with the assent of two-thirds of the Primates of the Anglican Communion Primates.

The Episcopal / Anglican Province of Alexandria, which embraces ten countries across north Africa and the Horn of Africa, became the 41st Province of the Anglican Communion in 2020 year when it was carved out of the Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East.

The Church of Ceylon is also seeking official recognition as a Province of the Anglican Communion. Currently, the Church of Ceylon’s two dioceses in Sri Lanka are an ‘extra provincial’ church under the Metropolitical authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The Igreja Anglicana de Moçambique e Angola (IAMA) or Anglican Church of Mozambique and Angola adopted its constitution and canons at a special synod, and was formally inaugurated on 24 September 2021, in an online teleconference including Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury and Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, then Secretary-General of the Anglican Consultative Council.

At the inauguration of the province, Bishop Carlos Matsinhe of Lebombo became the acting presiding bishop and Bishop André Soares of Angola is the acting dean of the province.

The Diocese of Lebombo is the oldest diocese in the province, and dates from 1893 a result of SPG/USPG missionary activity in Portuguese Mozambique in the 19th century. The diocesan cathedral is Saint Augustine’s Cathedral, Maciene. The largest city in the diocese is Maputo, the capital of Mozambique.

Anglicanism reached the Portuguese colony of Angola in 1923, due to a lay missionary Archibald Patterson, and after many internal struggles was helped to integrate into Anglican structures through contacts with SPG/USPG. The Diocese of Angola was created in 2003 from that of Lebombo; until 2021, its territory was all of Angola. The current bishop is André Soares. At some point during or after the diocesan reorganisations, this diocese is to become the Diocese of the Good Shepherd (Bom Pastor).

This evening’s programme also heard of USPG’s work in other African countries, including Tanzania, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

Basetsana Makena spoke by video link from the Diocese of Mpumalanga in the Anglican Church of Southern Africa. She is a student at the University of South Africa and the President of the Anglican Students’ Federation of Southern Africa.

She is a feminist interested in matters of leadership and governance, and she hopes to bring about meaningful change in society. She spoke of women’s struggles in South Africa, and spoke movingly and graphically about people trafficking throughout southern Africa. It is a sad reflection of the current mean-minded attitudes in Britain that Basetsana was refused a visa, but she is joining us through a web link.

This year’s USPG Conference is focused on the theme of ‘Living Stones, Living Hope,’ which comes from I Peter, the epistle at the heart of this year’s Lambeth Conference, ‘God’s Church for God’s World,’ which begins later this week.

Bishop Carlos Matsinhe, the Presiding Bishop of IAMA, invited people to join in prayer as IAMA was inaugurated:

Faithful God of love,
the same yesterday, today and tomorrow:
Your protection and provision
over the years is indescribable.
We thank you for calling us to
your ministry of evangelisation and reconciliation
and for choosing IAMA for this ministry.
Bless the members of the Provincial Synod,
and all who join for the Inauguration of
the Anglican Church of Mozambique and Angola,
in your name,
because you live and reign
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
One God, forever Amen. Amen.

The USPG conference in High Leigh continues tomorrow morning (26 July 2022).

Fran Mate, USPG Regional Manager for Africa, speaking on USPG’s work in Africa at the USPG conference in High Leigh this evening (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

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