Gibson Mhaka/Mmeli Nyoni
Bedroom problems that resulted in famed preacher Apostle and Prophet Andrew Wutawunashe parting ways with his wife have caused a split in one of the earliest and popular Pentecostal churches, Family Of God (FOG).
Now there are two FOG churches, namely the one that remained with Wutawunashe under the name FOG and the newbie’s Family Covenant Church (FCC) led by Bishop Henry Muzhari.
Speaking to B-Metro, Bishop Muzhari, through his spokesperson Pastor Charles Masunungure, a group of elders and some congregants walked out of FOG in protest over their former leader’s recent divorce from his wife, Ruth.
Bishop Muzhari was, until the launch of the new church on 13 March this year at Large City Hall in Bulawayo, one of the three international bishops at FOG.
In response to questions e-mailed to him, Pastor Masunungure said before the split of the church he and Bishop Muzhari, in their own capacities once wrote to Apostle Wutawunashe advising him on possible ways of dealing with the problems in his private life because they were affecting the church.
“We split due to disagreements on the doctrines of divorce and remarriage. It was not planned all along because as sons (of Apostle Wutawunashe) both Bishop Henry Muzhari and I have in our individual capacities written to Apostle Wutawunashe advising (him) on possible ways of dealing with the problems in his private life that were now affecting the church universally. We are guided by scriptures not only on divorce but all areas of conduct as Christians,” he said.
He said their church so far had 21 branches across the world including in every town in Zimbabwe.
Asked whether they amicably parted ways with Apostle Wutawunashe, Pastor Masunungure said they resigned.
“Yes, we resigned in writing and our resignation letters were acknowledged in writing,” he said.
He added that they still respected the influence Wutawunashe had in their spiritual lives.
“As FCC we believe in peace with all people including those in the Family of God Church. As FCC we acknowledge the great role Apostle and Prophet Andrew Wutawunashe played in our lives over the last three decades, that is teaching us the true and undefiled word of God and we implore our global membership to refrain from the use of hate language against anyone, including against those in the FOG Church where most of us have relatives,” he said.
Pastor Masunungure said Apostle Wutawunashe’s estranged wife had not joined their church as earlier on suggested by some online publications.
Several well-known former FOG members who include Reverend Paul Bayethe Damasane, Vice Chairman of the National Arts Council Nicholas Moyo ditched FOG. Moyo is the contact person for the Harare FCC branch.
Although Pastor Masunungure said he was not at liberty to comment on the handling of finances as one of the causes of the split, sources said apart from Wutawunashe’s alleged divorce and his settling with a Botswana-basedchurch member, Masego Makhao, the split was inevitable, centering on handling of finance by church leadership.
Apostle Wutawunashe’s spokesperson Bishop Nehemiah Chimombe said they were shocked that some of their members decided to leave the main church.
“It was not a planned thing so there can be no valid reasons I can give as to why we reached such an end result. I think those who left the church can give reasons why this happened. We were actually surprised when we discovered that a new church spearheaded by some of our elders and pastors has been formed and the reasons why they did that are still unclear to some of us,” he said.