01 March 2002

Methodist leaders pray for elections free of violence in Zimbabwe

Methodist Church leaders in Britain are offering prayers that the people of Zimbabwe will be able to vote in forthcoming elections without fear of violence and intimidation.

In a letter to the Methodist people of Zimbabwe, the President and Vice President of the Methodist Conference in Britain voice their dismay at recent unrest in Zimbabwe - and hope that violence and intimidation will not damage next week's presidential elections.

The Methodist President, the Rev Dr Christina Le Moignan, and Vice President, Mrs Ann Leck, have today written to the Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe, the Rev Cephas Mukandi. In the letter, they offer their prayerful support in the week before presidential elections in Zimbabwe over the weekend of 9-10 March.

The full text of their letter follows:

"Greetings to you all in the name of Jesus Christ. We write as President and Vice President of the Methodist Church in Britain and on behalf of all British Methodists to assure you of our concern and prayers at this critical time in the history of your nation.

"We have been dismayed by the happenings of recent times and especially of the last few months.

It has been painful to us to see the increase in violence and intimidation as the election has drawn closer and to see how cherished freedoms have been curtailed.

"We are sending you this message in the last few days before the election to let you know that our thoughts and prayers are with you all and will continue to be so during the election and afterwards. Despite many indications to the contrary, we hope that the election days will be free from violence; that people will be able to cast their votes without difficulty or fear of intimidation; that the observers from the region and around the world will be able to carry out the task assigned to them unmolested; and that the election count and announcement of the result will be undertaken in accordance with the law.

"We have travelled our Christian pilgrimage together over many years - in good times and in difficult times, though war and drought, through times of peace and plenty. In all these times the people of Zimbabwe have displayed great courage, perseverance and a resilient and joyous Christian faith.

We pray that you will gain great strength from your faith in these testing times.

"We join with you in the words of a prayer by the Rev Farai Chirisa, one of your predecessors:

"Lord God, we are tempted to despair and yet keep hoping, knowing that you care.
At times we weep silent tears and cry out with deep emotion.
We come to you, our only hope and refuge.
Thank you for the gift of laughter, even when the going is tough.
With you, O Lord, we may be troubled but not destroyed.
Amen."

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