The Gift of Presence
For nearly two weeks, those of us in the Saint Paul Area Synod have been blessed by the presence of ou[...]
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” – An African Proverb
For more than thirty years the people of the Saint Paul Area Synod and the people of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania’s Iringa Diocese (DIRA) have been walking beside one another as companions on the journey of God’s mission. Bega Kwa Bega is the phrase we use to decsribe this companionship. Translated into English, it means “shoulder to shoulder”, describing the way in which we accompany one another in a spirit of mutuality, inclusivity, and vulnerability. At its best, this Bega Kwa Bega relationship is reciprocal and involves teaching and listening… giving and receiving… as we work and celebrate life lived together in Christ. In doing so, we continue to learn a lot about ourselves, about our companions, about the world that we share, and the one God who created us all.
Building on that strong history, a cohort of rostered ministers from across the synod is being formed to participate in a Congregational Leadership Summit in Iringa in February 2019 with fourteen of our peers from across the diocese. In both contexts, God’s church is continuing to change and congregational leaders face significant challenges. Whether it be rapid growth and maturation in the ELCT or the necessity of re-engaging one’s community and neighbors in the ELCA, now – perhaps more than ever – we need each other and the wisdom and witness that one another brings. Over the course of a week, through mutual teaching and fellowship, the breaking of bread and prayer, we will find ourselves on The Way together.
Your voice and your presence matter. If you are new to this relationship and have never been to Iringa, the summit will offer a gracious introduction to the vitality of the Lutheran Church in Tanzania. If you have existing connections, this journey will deepen your appreciation and broaden your understanding of the life that we share. Whatever your background, whatever your experience, there is much to teach and learn. There is a place for you.
Consider yourself warmly welcome – karibu sana.
The Rev. Peter Harrits
Director of Bega Kwa Bega and Assistant to the Bishop
A program flyer that can be easily shared is available here.
By way of shared presentations, discussions, and excursions, through this cross-cultural summit on congregational leadership...
Saint Paul Area Synod participants will gain in-depth knowledge of the ELCT (one of the largest and fastest growing Lutheran bodies in the world) and learn about different methods for evangelism, lay leadership training, pastoral care, and community engagement.
DIRA Participants will be better equipped in the areas of communications, church management, pastoral formation, best financial practices, and stewardship.
All participants will have a broader worldview, a better understanding of the expectations their congregations have of them, and an opportunity to share with one another the joys and challenges of their context or community.
The Saint Paul Area Synod cohort will meet four times in the Fall of 2018 to prepare for the summit and the physical journey. Our time in Tanzania will begin with the ordination of new DIRA pastors and then be followed by a four-day summit. When the summit concludes, participants will be divided into small groups to spend the weekend in a village parish with selected DIRA pastors.
During the summit, participants from each side will take turns leading and responding to presentations on a variety of topics - each from their expertise. During the village immersion, participants will meet Evangelists and lay leaders and experience first-hand life in a rural ELCT congregation.
While in Iringa, Saint Paul Area Synod participants will stay at the Lutheran Center. During parish visits they will be provided local accommodation.
Ruaha National Park is located along the Western Edge of the Iringa Diocese and is one of the largest in Tanzania. An optional two-day safari is proposed following the conclusion of formal programming for a time of fellowship, rest, and relaxation in this corner of God’s creation.
See the program flyer for a tentative schedule. Exact dates to be decided.
Based on a cohort size of 10-12 people, the estimated cost for in-country expenses (ground transport, lodging, meals, etc.) is approximately $2000 per person – or $1500 if you opt out of the safari and return earlier. Airfare in February typically runs $1800-2500 per person on Delta/KLM.
To learn more or apply, contact email@example.com.