Raising Up New Leaders

Date posted: Wednesday 24 April 2019

"Our job is that of training officer," was one of the sentiments I heard time and time again from pastors in Iringa during last month's Congregational Leadership Summit. Ranking right up there with proper proclamation of the Word and the right administration of the Sacraments, the importance of identifying and raising up new leaders in the life of wachungaji is a lesson that I carried with me into two very different meetings last week.


On Monday I found myself on the University of Minnesota's campus to attend a series of presentations by engineering students who had recently participated in the school's 'Design for Life: Water in Tanzania'travel seminar. The room was close to capacity with family and friends of the presenters, board members from Saint Paul Partners, program alumni, potential funders, and other interested parties. The presentations were inspiring, the questions were challenging, and the energy in the room was dynamic.


The following night, on Tuesday, I was gathered with BKB Cluster Leaders in the Saint Paul Area Synod's conference room. Over cups of Chai Bora and Africafe, we spoke about what each was seeing and hearing from the congregations they support. While there is much to celebrate, a recurring challenge that we heard across the BKB ecosystem was the need to identify new leaders to carry congregational partnerships forward. The people who have been local 'champions' of this relationship are getting older and, in many instances, it isn't obvious who the next torchbearers will be.


Reflecting on the two meetings, I realize that there is much that we (the Iringa Committee and SPAS Congregations) can learn from Saint Paul Partners and other affiliates, like Shoulder to Shoulder, whose boards have made intentional efforts to connect with and empower future engineers and doctors, respectively, to meaningfully contribute to the work that they pursue with colleagues in Iringa. The youthful energy of the meeting on Monday didn't happen by accident. It is the result of investments of energy, resources, and relationships that have been made in young adults - investments that continue to bear fruit as alumni from the program move into roles on their board.


With lessons from Iringa fresh in my mind, I wonder what would happen if our various committees and action teams would also add the work of 'training officer' to the work that we do. How might we shift some of our focus internally, to the development of young leaders in our midst, even as we continue to work externally with our companions in Iringa? Are there investments that are needed locally to ensure that our global relationships are sustained for many generations to come? Where do you see signs of growth, currently, and what are you already doing to raise up new leaders?


These are some of the questions that I'll carry with me as I make congregational visits across the Saint Paul Area Synod this Spring. They are also questions that I hope you'll carry with you to your congregation's mission teams and listening sessions that Cluster Leaders and the Strategic Planning group will be hosting in late-April and May. We are, after all, on the way together.


With gratitude,



The Rev. Peter Harrits

Director of Bega Kwa Bega & Assistant to the Bishop