The Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church are leading the way in responding to an Africa Day of Prayer in which the suffering people of Zimbabwe will be held in the thoughts and intentions of participants.
The two British denominations have backed the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC’s) call for churches around the world to pray for Zimbabwe on 25 January 2009.
The cholera epidemic continues to spread across the country. According to figures circulated by the AACC, 37,000 people have contracted the disease and 1,800 people have died. Food is scarce, political violence continues and schools have not been able to run properly due to the financial and social crisis.
The Rev John Marsh, Moderator of the General Assembly of The United Reformed Church, said: “With the eyes of the world’s media now firmly fixed on the unfolding tragedy in Gaza, we need to be reminded of the immense pain and suffering that continues to haunt the people of Zimbabwe."
He continued: “We fully endorse the AACC’s resolution on Zimbabwe and call on our Churches to support their call for a special Africa Day of Prayer and Fasting for Justice in Zimbabwe on Sunday 25 January. We therefore encourage local churches to commence their services on that day with the lighting of a candle and a minute’s silence in prayer and solidarity with the people and churches of Zimbabwe.”
The Ninth Assembly of the All Africa Conference of Churches met in Maputo, Mozambique, in December 2008.
The assembly, which was attended by Christine Elliott, Secretary for External Relationships for the British Methodist Church, backed resolutions calling for an end to violence and political freedom of expression.
Steve Hucklesby, Public Issues Policy Adviser for The Methodist Church, said: “We want a process that can bring about the longing of all Zimbabweans for a free and fair society. Robert Mugabe lost the Presidential election. Zanu PF came second in Parliamentary elections. Mr Mugabe must be prepared to relinquish power if Zimbabweans are to be free."
He added: “The food and cholera crisis are symptoms of the meltdown of the economy and provision of essential services. Water is contaminated with human waste and health services are not functioning in many areas. The government's response is to increase security and suppress dissent. Some humanitarian aid is getting through but much more is needed."