Bishop OfficeA Bishop of the Moravian Church is consecrated to a special priestly pastoral ministry in the name of and for the whole Unity. The office of Bishop represents the vital unity of the Church and the continuity of the Church's ministry, although the Unity does not place emphasis on any mechanical transmission of the apostolic succession. The office and function of a Bishop is valid throughout the Unity as a whole.
Duties of a Bishop of the Moravian Church are, among others, the following:
1. A Bishop has a special duty of intercession for the Unity, and also for the Church of Christ as a whole.
2. Only Bishops have the right to ordain or to consecrate to the various orders of the ministry, but only when commissioned to do so by a Provincial Board or Synod.
Two Bishops have served the South West Province up to now:
The current Bishop is Dr. Rt. Alinikisa Cheyo (2001-now)
Alinikisa F. Cheyo was born on March 27th, 1960 in Ndawa, neighbourhood of Mwembe village, in Mbozi District which nowadays belongs to Songwe region. He was born in a family of nine children, whereby he was the sixth son of his father, Felick Cheyo and his mother Sinyanga. He studied at Mwembe primary school since 1969 and then joined Haloli primary school in Vwawa Mbozi.
He joined Mwambani Bible College which belongs to the Inland Church from 1979 to 1981. In 1983 he joined the Moravian Theological College where he graduated in 1986 and awarded a certificate of Theology. In the synod of 2000, he was elected as the Bishop of the Moravian Church in Tanzania - South West Province. On August 12th, 2001 he was consecrated as a Bishop in Sokoine Stadium. The officiating bishops were Bishop Lusekelo Mwakafwila, Bishop Isaac Nikodem and others.
In 2003 he joined the University of St. Paul Limuru Kenya where he was awarded the first degree of Theology (BD) in 2006. In 2007 he joined the Catholic University of Eastern Africa and awarded a Master's in Theology in 2010. The same year he joined a doctorate degree at the Catholic University and graduated in 2017.
The first Bishop was late Bishop Yohanna Wavenza (1983-1999)
Yohana Lucas Wavenza was born on July 16th, 1934 at Ikukwa village, Mbeya rural district, Mbeya region, Tanzania. He was a Safwa by tribe. His father was Lucas Wavenza and his mother was Elen Sinjomba. Yohana Wavenza was baptized as an infant on July 26, 1934. His parents were Christians and his grandfather was an evangelist. After finishing his studies, Wavenza was assigned to work at the Vwawa congregation from November 1961 to early 1964.
In 1975 he was transferred to Mbeya town congregation until December 17, 1976 when he was elected vice chairman by the synod of Southwest Province. His major responsibility was to oversee the congregations of the province. As one of the resolutions of the 1980 synod was the need for a bishop in Southwest Province the provincial preparatory committee started working on the elections for bishop to be held in October 1982. He was consecrated bishop on August 16, 1983 at the Sokoine playground in Mbeya city. The officiating bishops were Bishop Theofil Gill from the Moravian Church - European Continental Province (then East Germany) and Bishop Mwaigoga from the Anglican Diocese of Southwest Tanganyika.
Yohana Wavenza died on November 24, 1999 and was buried at Jacaranda on provincial grounds in Mbeya city, Tanzania.
(information extracted of an article written by Angolwisye Isakwisa Malambugi)