Swaziland’s Ellinah Wamukoya becomes Africa’s first female bishop

[Episcopal News Service] The Anglican Church of Southern Africa made history Nov. 17 when it ordained the first female Anglican bishop on the continent.

The Rev. Ellinah Ntombi Wamukoya, 61, became the bishop of Swaziland and the first female bishop in any of the 12 Anglican provinces in Africa during a ceremony at the Mavuso Trade Centre in Manzini, Swaziland. Wamukoya succeeds the Rt. Rev. Meshack Mabuza, who became bishop of Swaziland in 2002.

“We feel all the more enriched by today because, by virtue of our baptism, we are called to join in anything and everything that God is doing in his world – and we have felt his leading and responded to his call,” Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Southern Africa said in a blog post following the ordination. “May we all continue to follow Christ in calling all those who are at the margins of our church and society so they may find themselves at the center of God’s love and his welcoming embrace.”

Makgoba also wished the Church of England “God speed” as members of its General Synod gather this week to vote on legislation that will enable women to become bishops.

Makgoba relayed some of the words from the Very Rev. David Dinkebogile, dean of the Diocese of Christ the King, who delivered the sermon during Wamukoya’s ordination. Dinkebogile said that “Ellinah is a woman; we were gathered to consecrate and ordain a bishop in the Church of God: not a black woman, not an African, not a Swazi woman, but a priest of the church,” Makgoba noted, adding that she is “to be pastor to all, to men and women, to black and white, to Swazis and all others in her diocese.”

Wamukoya’s ordination comes as the Anglican Church of Southern Africa — which also includes Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Lesotho — commemorates 20 years since beginning to ordain women to the priesthood.

Wamukoya was not initially an episcopal candidate, but the Elective Assembly invited fresh nominations after seven rounds of elections yielded no results. She subsequently received the required two-thirds majority each in the houses of laity and clergy.

When elected, Wamukoya was chaplain at the University of Swaziland and St. Michael’s High School in Manzini. She also served as chief executive officer of the City Council in Manzini.

Founded in 1968, the Diocese of Swaziland comprises three archdeaconries: Eastern Swaziland, Southern Swaziland and Western Swaziland.

Comments

  1. Sarah Rowland Jones says:

    In fact, she was a candidate for the election from the first. This misunderstanding arose from the Archbishop’s reference to inviting fresh nominations after the first seven ballots proved inconclusive. The electoral assembly declined to bring forward any new names, and it was after this that she was elected. Revd Canon Dr Sarah Rowland Jones, Researcher to the Archbishop of Cape Town.

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