The link between Bath and Wells and the five Anglican dioceses of Zambia was established in the late 1970s. Through this link, exchange visits, parish links and personal contact have strengthened the chain of prayer and fellowship.
Zambia is a landlocked country in southern Central Africa, three times the size of the UK. It became independent in 1964 and is now a Democratic Republic with a population of 13 million.
The wealth of the country is in its people, who show vitality, patience and tolerance in the face of huge problems which include international debt, HIV/AIDS and climate change. Frequent droughts and floods cause shortages of maize, the staple food, which together with high unemployment contributes to the growing poverty of most of the population.
Zambia is a predominantly Christian country. The main denominations are the Roman Catholic Church and the United Church of Zambia (non-conformists). Anglicans make up 2% of the population, served by around 60 priests spread over the whole country.
The Church in Zambia
The Anglican Church in Zambia grew out of the missionary impetus of David Livingstone and others in the second half of the 19th Century. Today, Anglicans are around 2% of the population of 13 million.
Bath and Wells has enjoyed a Companion Link with the Anglican Church in Zambia since 1978. The five dioceses each cover an area at least the size of England. There are a total of around 60 ordained priests. Some priests care for more than one parish, and one parish includes many congregations.
An Archdeaconry in Zambia is a similar structure to a Deanery in Bath and Wells. Each parish there is equivalent to a Deanery here, and a congregation in Zambia more or less equals what we would call a parish. New congregations are being planted all the time, in both urban and rural areas.
The importance of the laity
How does the Church in Zambia resource all these groups of Christians with so few priests?
The answer lies with the immense contribution to the life of the church that is made by the lay people themselves. Most parishes have several readers. Many readers take extended communion, and their dedication to this is much valued. They lead prayers, take baptisms in emergencies, preach, undertake pastoral care and take many of the funerals that are all too frequent because of Zambia’s high mortality rate. This is due to HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases. Life expectancy in Zambia is currently 55 years.
Zambia parish links
Bath and Wells has enjoyed a Companion Link with the Anglican Church in Zambia since 1978.
- Praying for each other
- Learning from each other
- Challenging each other
- Meeting each other
The Zambian dioceses
The five Zambian dioceses each cover an area at least the size of England and all of them have parishes with links to parishes in Bath and Wells.
- Lusaka Diocese covers the south of the country from the capital Lusaka, through the agricultural area around Mazabuka to Livingstone, near the Victoria Falls. The Cathedral is in Lusaka.
- Northern Diocese covers the north-west area, including the Copperbelt towns of Chingola, Mufilira and Kitwe, where the Anglican Seminary of St John the Evangelist is situated. The Cathedral is in Kitwe.
- Central Diocese includes Kabwe and Ndola in the Copperbelt and Mkushi on the Great North Road. The Cathedral is in Ndola.
- Eastern Diocese includes Chipata, near the Malawi border, the Luangwa Valley, and the joint Anglican- RC St Francis Hospital at Katete. The Cathedral is in Msoro.
- Luapula Diocese is in the area to the north of the Congo Pedicle. Mansa and Kasama are the main towns. The Cathedral is in Chipili.