By. Br. Alfonce Kugwa
Seeking peace and pursuing it is at the heart of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is in this respect that the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference through its Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in conjunction with the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) invited a delegation of the Joint Conference Church and Development (GKKE) to exchange notes on ways of advancing peace not only in the two countries but in the whole world.
The delegation comprised of ten people, agencies of Misereor and Bread for the World, Protestant Armed Forces Chaplaincy Service, Catholic Institute for Theology and Peace from the Mennonite Church. The GKKE group was led by Mr. Martin Dutzmann, the representative of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany who said the purpose of the visit was about seeking peace and pursuing it.
Mr. Dutzmann said their visit to Zimbabwe was meant to accompany ZCBC, ZCC and other church actors in their effort in working for a just, sustainable and peaceful Zimbabwe.
“The debate on Just Peace and the relationship between peace, justice and development is a long standing one and has gained new momentum in Germany as an ongoing debate on religion and society in general and the connection of religion, development and peace in particular. We want to enter into a mutual learning process with church actors and initiatives on the national and local level in an effort to bring about peace,” said Mr. Dutzmann.
He said their engagement will be guided by such questions as the role of churches in the current political situation amidst social and economic challenges, how church actors can contribute to a culture of non-violence and foster Christian values, what GKKE and its members can learn from the Churches in Zimbabwe to strengthen commitment towards Just Peace and to foster ecumenical exchange and cooperation.
The GKKE team will tour the Parliament of Zimbabwe and have a chance to visit the Archdiocese of Bulawayo, Mutare and Masvingo Dioceses where they will visit projects done by the Churches on Just Peace and livelihoods. The GKKE group have come to Zimbabwe at a time the country is struggling to recover from nationwide protests that happened as a result of political and economic instability.
A reception to welcome the visitors was held at Africa Synod House on 11 February 2018. The Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference was represented by Archbishop Robert Ndlovu of the Archdiocese of Harare and Bishop Raymond Mupandasekwa of Chinhoyi Diocese, ZCBC Secretary General, Fr. Fradereck Chiromba and ZCBC Heads of Commissions.
ZCBC Secretary General, Fr. Fradereck Chiromba said this was a solidarity meeting with the ecumenical churches of Germany meant to foster ecumenical relationships with Zimbabwean Churches in pursuance of peace and justice.
GKKE was founded in 1973 as an ecumenical platform. Bread for the World, the main agency of the Protestant Churches in Germany for Development Cooperation and the Germany Commission for Justice and Peace of the Roman Catholic Church are the two main constituencies. According to Mr. Dutzmann, GKKE is committed to pursue issues of justice, peace and integrity of creation ecumenically.