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MOZAMBIQUE: Anglican Church opens altar to first women

MOZAMBIQUE: Anglican Church opens altar to first women

Jan 8, 2020

What until recently was only an intent speech has come true in the Anglican community of the Libombos: three women enter the priesthood and share the altar with men.

One hundred and twenty-five years after its creation, the Anglican Diocese of Libombos opened a new page of its history yesterday, with the ordination of the first three women for pastoral functions.

About three decades after a decision whereby the Anglicans worldwide opened the door to the end of the male-only priesthood, Joana Chilengue, Lina Maria dos Santos and Fatucha Rosemary became the first Anglican deaconesses yesterday.

This is a historic decision by which the Anglican Church aligns with the global movement for the appreciation and inclusion of women in leadership, and which, according to the Bishop of Libombos, Monsignor Carlos Matsinhe, is a wave that is here to stay.

"It is a very big milestone in valuing women, but also in the issue of gender equity that the Bible preaches and we also preach. And, in fact, there was no question of having men and women on an equal footing who could serve God on the altar, "said the Bishop of Libombos.

The wave of gender mainstreaming in the Anglican priesthood began four years ago, when the first women were admitted to seminary after long years of reflection on the time to move forward with the implementation of the decision, which had already been taken by the synod.

"At the level of Southern Africa, the decision to ordain women was made 28 years ago, but each diocese has the prerogative to admit to ordination of women at their own discretion and we have been thinking and thinking for the last few years. In 2015, our synod came to the conclusion that it was time for us to open the altar for women, "explained D. Carlos Matsinhe at the end of the ordination ceremony.

The three women from a group of four ordained deacons (four male) were given the authority to direct the life of the church, with a specific mission to give attention to those most in need, namely, "the poor, weak, sick and isolated ". "They are already ordained and already have capacities to serve the church," said D. Carlos Matsinhe.

Monday's historic ceremony was preceded by a Thanksgiving Mass, which marked the passing of 40 years in the priesthood of three figures from the Diocese of Libombos, one of whom is the current bishop.

"We will continue to encourage women to enter the priesthood. The ones we have ordained today are capable of serving the church, and in fact in our seminary we now have nine women and surely these will be next in this path of ordination, which is an irreversible path and will be a gain for the church in general. . We will continue to help those who choose to follow this path, which is good for the church and good for society as well, "said Bishop Carlos Matsinhe, Bishop Diocese of Libombos.

CCM highlights growing gender awareness

The Christian Council of Mozambique (CCM) welcomes the step taken by the Anglicans and considers it to be a measure that values Mozambican women.

According to Felicidad Chirindza, CCM secretary general, it is positive that a traditional church such as the Anglican church has joined a movement that has advanced in Protestant churches.

"For centuries the church has had many women with many gifts and calling, but it is not yet time for the church to really understand that women can also be ordained to the ministry."

"The CCM began ordaining the first women to pastors in the 1980s, and now the Anglican Church, for the first time, ordains its deaconesses. We are very happy, because in the family is multiplying the number of churches in which women are part of those God calls, "he concluded.

"It's an honor for me and a very big challenge at the same time. Being sure that I am one of the first women of the diocese, this requires a very strong commitment, self-giving, to make the ministry prosper, maintain credibility within the diocese and achieve what the diocese's expectations are. My seminar started four years ago and it was not easy. The challenges were huge, but thank God I have been able to complete and now I am starting a new mission in the service of the church, "said Deaconess Fatucha Rosemary.

"The feeling right now is a grace of God that is upon me. In fact, I never dreamed of reaching this position, but God only knows how I am here. This means that God brought me here in the world to serve him and this is another responsibility, because I have been serving the church since baptism and have always been ready to respond to any activity the church might give me and so I will continue, because in fact the divine call when it manifests itself is to go all the way, "said Deaconess Joana Chilengue.


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