The group of early discussants was quite diverse in their backgrounds and church membership. The presence of leaders from different churches and hence different ecumenical bodies in Zimbabwe, was ample demonstration that concerns on the need for good governance, reconciliation, peace building and national healing were widespread and national. These Church leaders were also leaders in other spheres of life. They also brought rich legacies of serving communities and the public in different ways, times and places.
The Bishop Emeritus Dr Ambrose Moyo was the first Executive Director of ECLF. He has served as a pastor and later as Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe, Lecturer at the University of Botswana and University of Zimbabwe, General Secretary of the Conference of African Theological Institutions (CATI) and as Executive Director of the Lutheran Communion in Southern Africa. As a university lecturer, he researched and published on Church and State relation. He also researched on African Traditional Religions leading to teaching on the same topic at the University of Zimbabwe.
Bishop Ishmael Mukuwanda who was the first ECLF Board chairperson, served as Bishop of the Anglican Central Diocese and was vice-President of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches before ascending to its Presidency. He also served as a member of the Midlands State University Council for eleven years from 2008. In recognition of the economic empowerment work he was doing with his Church and with communities, he was contracted by Trinity Church Wall Street in America to mentor other Bishops on local resource mobilisation for development in countries like Burundi, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Zambia in Africa and also did the same for South America in Brazil.
Bishop Danisa Ndlovu of the Brethren in Christ Church was the second Board Chairperson of ECLF in 2012, said “my life has been in the Church and the Church has been my world” in an interview in October 2022. He brought with him many years of service experience in the Church and a strong passion for peace building that has deep roots in his personal and family experience as victims of violence during the second chimurenga and gukurahundi periods.
Bishop Mpande Lazarus Khanye of the Presbyterian Church of Africa leading the Zimbabwe Presbytery, served as a President of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, an executive member of the ZHOCD, a Church unification advocate, activist and a consultant in paralegal training. He was to become an ECLF Provincial Focal Person responsible for five provinces, Matabeleland North and South, Bulawayo, Midlands and Masvingo between 2010 and 2015, He is a facilitator and later the Church Liaison Officer. He has been with ECLF from the start and through thick and thin and has lots of experiences in-the-trenches, with and for the Forum.
Rev Sikhalo Cele became the Forum’s National Coordinator in 2009 and Programme and Training Manager from 2010 to 2022, and served as a police officer in the Zimbabwe Republic Police. He was a member of the Justice Team of the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa (UCCSA), Chairperson of Christian Care in Matabeleland, Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches Personnel Committee, General Secretary of the Ecumenical Peace Initiative Zimbabwe (EPIZ). When the support was secured, Reverend Chabata became the Coordinator and Reverend Sikhalo Cele assumed responsibility for the training programme of the Forum. Rev Cele was in charge of recruiting suitable persons, both clergy and laity, through the four ecumenical bodies, namely ZCBC, ZCC, EFZ and UDACIZA, for sensitisation and training on conflict prevention, management, resolution and transformation (CPMRT).
Ecumenical Church Leaders Forum (ECLF)was founded in 2008 as a grouping of concerned Christian leaders from the major ecumenical bodies including the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC), Zimbabwe Catholics Bishop’s Conference (ZCBC), Union for Development of Apostolic and Zionist Churches in Zimbabwe and Africa (UDACIZA) and the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe (EFZ) on the backdrop of a hurting nation whose conflicts and trauma had festered for years triggered by multiple episodes of violence, discrimination and marginalization from the pre-independence period through to post-independent Zimbabwe.