The Right Reverend David Williams, Bishop of Basingstoke in the Diocese of Winchester, represented the Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury and President of the Anglican Communion, at the enthronement of the Most Reverend Zacharie Masimango Katanda, the newly elected Archbishop of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on Saturday 10th September.
The Diocese of Winchester has a World Mission Partnership with the Province of the DRC. The Diocesan World Mission Partnership is designed to foster a cross-cultural connection between Winchester and the DRC, and representatives from both regions participate in regular visits to one another. This was Bishop David’s second visit to the country since he became the Bishop of Basingstoke in 2014.
In addition to the Diocesan link, Bishop David has a personal link to the region, having grown up in Uganda and developing strong links across Central Africa. Prior to becoming a Bishop, in 2010 and 2012 he undertook two long motorbike rides across Central and Eastern Africa, including through the DRC.
Commenting on his visit, Bishop David said:
“It was a great honour to be able to attend this enthronement. The Anglican Church in the Democratic Republic of Congo plays a vital role in a country whose people have experienced tremendous conflict, upheaval and trauma over the years.
“I was delighted to communicate the support of the Church of England to the new Archbishop and send the warmest greetings from the Diocese of Winchester, which has had long and fruitful links with the Anglican Church in the DRC.”
During Archbishop Katanda’s enthronement, Bishop David read out a personal message on behalf of Archbishop Justin Welby. Archbishop Justin said:
“Please be assured of my prayers and best wishes as you embark on this new phase of your ministry, which will, I am sure, hold many challenges for you in the years ahead. The Church has a pivotal role to play in the processes of reconciliation and peace in Congo, and continues to build its prophetic ministry amongst displaced communities, and in supporting the rehabilitation of those who have experienced trauma as a result of civil conflict in Eastern Congo. May the Holy Spirit guide and strengthen you as you share in this work and the task of building up the Christian communities of the Province.
“As you take up your new role as Archbishop and Primate of the Province, I know that you can count on the support and prayers of your fellow bishops, those more widely in the Anglican Communion and those in dioceses with which the Anglican Church in Congo is linked, particularly the Diocese of Winchester, which has had a long and fruitful partnership with the Church in Congo.”
Archbishop Katanda was elected as the new Primate Archbishop and Primate of the DRC in July of this year, having previously been the Bishop of Kindu in central DRC. In that role he was involved in peace-building and reconciliation work in the 1998-2003 DRC civil war, negotiating with rebel leaders, and ending a road blockade which had prevented food reaching local villages. In his new role he becomes the most senior Bishop in the DRC.