Partnership Suggestions from Ephraim RadnerSep 10
For any of you who might be looking for, praying about, or discerning some way to have links with others in the Anglican Communion, let me suggest two dioceses as opportunities filled with potential blessing. Neither currently has any close partnership with any particular diocese or parish. Very quickly:
1. The Anglican Diocese of Makamba is relatively new and utterly impoverished. It’s bishop, Martin Nyaboho is a former student of mine. He is, among the Burundi bishops, the most organized, straighforward, astute, and sensitive to some of the cultural expectations of Americans (he studied in the US for a couple of years in the 1990′s). He is fluent in English — and although the life of the Burundi church is in Kirundi and French, he (and some others) can make English-speakers completely at home. Travel and accommodation is not terribly difficult (it’s a small country, and the bad roads are not very long!). Makamba is up in the hills, as is most of Burundi, and not particularly hot. Burundi is a beautiful country, with a unique culture (I am, of course, prejudiced!).
The kinds of help Bp. Martin needs lie in the following:
a. church building
b. school building
c. business-managment for hospitality (he is working on a project to open a church guest-house)
d. support of his bible school that trains catechists (it is currently closed, for lack of funds: $8,000 would fund a full year for 22 catechists! [not per person, but the whole thing])
e. visiting — joining in worship, preaching through a translator, sharing greetings with people, seeing the diocese
f. a trip to Haiti [with me] in order for us to teach a couple of week-long courses at the francophone seminary there (Bp. Martin is a friend of Oge Beauvoir, the dean of Haiti’s seminary).
Bishop Martin does not use email himself, but answers relatively promptly through his diocesan secretary. He also can be contacted directly by phone. I can help in contacts, and can vouch for this bishop and his efficiency and honesty.
2. The Diocese of Ruaha, Tanzania, is centered in the city of Iringa, in the south-central part of Tanzania, known as the Southern Highlands: it is relatively cool and, apart from the rainy season, dry. Roads are pretty good, but it’s a long way from Dar es Salaam (a day’s busride). Iringa is a smallish university town (a Lutheran, Catholic, and state [former Anglican] university), with over 10,000 university students in the area.
Ruaha diocese was, until recently, led by the former Primate of Tanzania, Donald Mtetemela — one of the Communion’s wisest and most prudent leaders until his retirement. He still lives in the area. The new bishop, Joseph Mgomi, is a man of humble pastoral service, who has also had some university training. He comes to his position with not much administrastive experience and, I think, a certain trepidation. Since the diocese is relatively new, it does not have much infrastructure. They run some impressive ministry among the disabled; and have been strong in evangelism. But there is great need to solidify the structures, and to reach out to students now, as well as deepen the roots of the many new parishes, training catechists and clergy.
Bishop Mgomi — whom I met and talked with at length — is eager to find a partner. The needs are multiple, and I think at this point he would simply love to make a connection and have a visit in order to grow a relationship. His English is good, but very slow. Tanzanian society, of course, uses English in the higher levels of educated communication, although Swahili is the main language. The country is far more developed than Burundi, but also much larger, and so travel times are much longer and potentially more expensive.
Again, I am happy to supply some personal contact information for Bishop Mgomi.
Finally, I am happy to talk to anybody who might want to get more information about the above:
Blessings to all of you during, what I hope, is a season that will afford some rest.