CONGREGANTS at Apostolic Faith Mission in Zimbabwe’s Nyazura Assembly are up in arms against Pastor Barnabas Rwodzi, whom they want immediately transferred citing irreconcilable differences. The relationship between Pastor Rwodzi and congregants soured to the extent that the provincial executive team dispatched on Monday to look into the grievances took the decision to have him transferred though no incriminating evidence could be established against the clergy.
The decision to relocate him resonates with the AFM constitution which states that whenever conflict of such magnitude arises, the pastor should be moved to another assembly so that normalcy returns to the troubled assembly.
Tempers reached a boiling point last Sunday when the congregants deliberately subverted a worship service, demanding an all inclusive participatory engagement with the embattled clergy, who among other issues stands accused of sexual and dictatorial transgressions.
So tense was the situation that Pastor Rwodzi at one point stormed out of the church service to summon the help of police at ZRP Nyazura.
However, the congregants maintained their demand for an audience with the pastor.
Pastor Rwodzi on the other hand disproved the demands basing his argument on constitutionalism which says deliberations on church business can only be done through the local board of elders.
Pastor Rwodzi asked general church members to leave and create space for him and the leadership to deliberate their grievances, but they stayed put.
With the two parties having failed to hammer an agreement, the local board of elders – led by the vice-chairperson Elder Gandira – succumbed to pressure from irate congregants and hurriedly convened to pen a letter littered with unsubstantiated allegations, in which they demanded his immediate transfer over irreconcilable differences.
In a letter dated March 13, 2016, the secretary of the Nyazura District Board of Elders accused Pastor Rwodzi of “unbiblical and unethical sexual” promiscuity, dictatorship, lack of stewardship qualities and absenteeism, among other allegations.
“After being infested (sic) with all the above numerous issues against him, the church at large has clearly expressed without fear that it no longer want him at Nyazura with immediate effect as from 13 March 2016.
“The church is kindly asking your office to relocate him from us as he is no longer part of us. In conclusion, the church is appealing for his removal from our mission house with immediate effect. Annexed hereto are the signatures of the church members passing a vote of no confidence on him as Nyazura district pastor basing on the allegations listed above,” reads part of the scanned copy wired to The Manica Post.
AFM Manicaland Central Provincial Overseer, Reverend Benson Katakwa, on Monday dispatched his deputy Reverend Jeffrey Mutsaka, provincial secretary Elder Watch Mugumbate and one Deacon Bungu to investigate the matter.
The ad-hoc committee returned empty-handed after failing to establish incriminating evidence against Rev Rwodzi.
Though Rev Mutsaka refused to disclose their findings to the Press citing church protocol, The Manica Post understands that the allegations were dismissed for being vague, widely cast and lacking in substantial evidence.
They hinged on mere grapevine.
“I am surprised the matter has been leaked to you, yet we went there last night (Monday) and solved it as an in-house matter amicably. Church protocol does not allow me to divulge such information to the Press,” said Rev Mutsaka.
Rev Rwodzi confirmed the Monday evening deliberations and insisted that his hands were clean.
“The allegations were dismissed for lack of evidence. Some of the members end up confessing a plot to fire me from the assembly by some people who are not happy that I won an award of my outstanding monies by the court. I am now aware of the forces behind this plot. Pray along with me,” said Rev Rwodzi.