Kuimba: Singing Shoulder to Shoulder

Date posted: Thursday 15 November 2018

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the lands!

Serve the LORD with gladness!

Come into his presence with singing!

Psalm 100


Sing with Companions in Tanzania!

For more than thirty years the people of the Saint Paul Area Synod, ELCA and the Iringa Diocese (DIRA) of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania have been walking beside one another as companions on the journey of God’s mission. Bega Kwa Bega is the phrase we use to describe this companionship. Meaning “shoulder to shoulder,” it describes the way in which we accompany one another in a spirit of mutuality, inclusivity, and vulnerability.


Celebrating that rich history, choirs in Minnesota and in Tanzania are being formed to participate in a joint choir tour in Iringa in July 2019. Together, singers will share music from their own culture while learning the music of the other’s culture. Over the course of a week, together we will rehearse, explore Iringa, and perform in four different areas around the diocese. Deacon Mark Ertl (Shepherd of the Valley) will conduct the synod choir, and Lupyana Samwell (Cathedral) and Elia Kitomo (Kihesa) will conduct the DIRA choir.


Whether you’ve visited partners in Tanzania before or are considering traveling there for the very first time, you will experience the warm, gracious hospitality of our Tanzanian family in Christ. Singing and worshipping together, you will experience the vibrancy of the fast-growing Tanzanian Lutheran Church. Through planned activities and serendipitous encounters, this journey will deepen your appreciation and broaden your understanding of the life we share as companions.


We warmly welcome you – karibu sana,

Kirsten Levorson & Deacon April Trout
Kuimba BKB Tour Leaders


Program Overview

By way of shared rehearsals, performances and excursions, through this cross-cultural choir tour, all participants will teach music from one culture and learn music from another, equipping leaders to share their learnings with others. Participants will have a broader worldview and an opportunity to share with one another the joys and challenges of their context or community. A program flyer is available here.



Interested singers must complete the online form by January 20 and participants will be selected based on the best possible vocal mix for the choir. Non-singers will be accepted as space allows. Upon selection, a $200 deposit is due. The form is available at www.bit.ly/kuimba.



The Saint Paul Area Synod choir will meet three times in the Spring of 2019 to prepare for the physical journey and to rehearse the choral repertoire. In Tanzania, we’ll have joint choir rehearsals in the morning with excursions in the afternoon for the first three days. The next four days will include performances at various locations around the diocese, with the opportunity to visit and learn music from various tribal cultures. Two days will be spent on safari in Ruaha National Park.



While in Iringa, Saint Paul Area Synod participants will stay at the Lutheran Center. One night will be spent at Tungamalenga Lodge, and two nights at Mwagusi Camp.



Ruaha National Park is located along the Western Edge of the Iringa Diocese and is one of the largest in Tanzania. A two-day safari is planned following the conclusion of the choir tour for a time of fellowship, rest, and relaxation in this corner of God’s creation.


Cost Estimate

With a choir of 10-15 people, the estimated cost for in-country expenses is approximately $2400 per person without airfare. Current airfare estimates range from $2100 – 2600.


Tentative Schedule

The tentative schedule is to depart on Monday, July 15 and return Tuesday, July 30. Participants will be selected on January 28, with a $200 deposit due on February 1. A more detailed schedule is available on the program flyer.



Email Kirsten Levorson, tour leader, at klevorson@gmail.com.