Bishop Richard Wood: Deported

This is the Save newsletter from 1975, an Emergency Issue that reported the news that Bishop Wood had been deported.

Bishop richard, elected suffragan bishop in Damaraland after the expulsion of bishop colin winter in 1972, has been served with a deportation order. His wife Cathy and Rolf Friede of the Christian centre in Windhoek were later served with similar orders, and the bishop’s home was raided by security police.

The following statement was issued by Bishop Winter in London on the 18th of June.

Richard Wood is the third Anglican Bishop to be removed from Namibia by the South African authorities, acting under the infamous “Removable of Undesirables 1920 Act.” Bishop Wood was given seven days to leave the territory. He was not charged with any offense or given the opportunity of defending himself in open court.

Christians throughout the world will view with shock and alarm yet another callous act by the South African regime in Namibia against those who have consistently stood with and spoken out on behalf of the oppressed. This deportation order, following as it does the action against the Christian Institute, the closure of the Federal Seminary at Alice and continuing acts of intimidation against Africans in Namibia, is a clear indication of the South African state’s determination to annihilate the voice of Christian conscience, and can only be regarded as deliberate persecution of the church.

I commend Bishop Wood for his defence of Christian principles and I wish to identify with him in his struggle for justice. Thousands of Christians in Namibia thank God for his action in stopping the public floggings of Africans, and for his courageous stand on behalf of the politically oppressed.

I condemn the South African authorities for their persistent persecution of the Church in Namibia, and I call upon South Africa to remove those racist laws against which the Christian conscience is bound to protest. Furthermore, I join my voice with that of the United Nations in calling upon South Africa to leave Namibia which it occupies in contravention of International Law and in defiance of the United Nations. True peace can only come to Namibia when the voice of Christian conscience is free to be expressed.

This action will in no way intimidate the Anglican Church in Namibia. We will continue to speak out against tyranny whenever occurs.

Why Deportation?

Bishop Wood has embarrassed the South African government in front of the whole world. He fought through the appeal courts and won a decision against the government when he brought to an end the floggings of blacks in northern Namibia. The South African authorities have replied by removing one who has dared to stand up against them on this issue, and on others -including the validity of recent elections and the coercion and brutality that have accompanied them and attempts to investigate them. By removing opposition, the authorities hope to silence other possible opponents while at the same time preserving the claim that their judicial procedure is independent.

Bishop Wood has been accused of many things - though never in the courts. The latest accusation is that he has incited blacks in Windhoek - as if they need a white Bishop to tell them that they are oppressed! South Africa removes those who disagree and to whom there is no answer. None of the three Bishops deported in the last seven years, or any of the other deported or restricted church workers have ever been accused in open court. They have nothing to answer for - except having a Christian conscience.

What next?

It appears that the Archbishop of Cape Town is so terrified of his own white church opinion that he is unable to say more than he “regrets” the deportation of Bishop Wood, while “not agreeing with all that he has done.” The Church authorities in this country have just issued a strong statement condemning the expulsion. It is up to us to give them a further push - to pressurize them into doing something more. So write or telegram to your M.P. and to your Bishop, or to U.S.P.G. if you support them, or to anyone else you think should do something.

“Regret” is not enough. The churches are the only multi-racial institutions in Namibia. Bishop Wood has the support of his black majority membership. His removal is not a matter of “regret” - it is a crime against the only man who has dared to stand up for his Christian principles knowing that in the end he would be acted against in some way.

Bishop Wood will soon, like Bishop Winter, be without material support. The Diocese of Damaraland has never been able to pay its Bishop-in-Exile. It does not have the money to support two Bishops. Bishop Wood will need to establish a new base for his continuing work. He will not be replaced, any more than Bishop Winter was replaced. Both remain as Bishops of the diocese, and both will work full-time to continue the work of the diocese. We cannot allow the government of South Africa to decide who our Bishops are to be. They have been elected by the clear vote of a multi-racial Synod.

Ed Morrow and Roger Key will be ordained priest on Sunday 22nd June, in Grantham. Remember them on that day, and remember Ed as he goes immediately to Windhoek to take over as Vicar-general of the diocese. Remember too James Kaluma to be made deacon.

What Can I Do?

Send now if you want to help us re-establish Richard Wood in a new home and in his continuing work. Help is needed to for the Namibian International Peace Center, where we will be teaching and helping Namibian students and others who wish to learn about our work. Tell your church leaders that it is about time a salary was provided for Bishop Winter. Invite one of us to speak to your group, (Sunday services or weekday evenings). Pray, tell your clergy. Write to your M.P. & Bishop or Moderator or whatever. This must not be allowed to pass un-noticed or it becomes yet another victory for the evil of the South African system.



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