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[...]
The BKB "Hatua" or "Action" Committee is a group that meets on a quarterly basis to check-in on our strategic plan. It keeps an eye on where we are as an organization and network of relationships compared to where we hope to be going. The team monitors our progress, identifies priority areas to focus on and looks for places where unexpected events may demand a change in direction.
Our current strategic plan was developed in 2019 and was meant to guide our actions from 2020-2025. While a global pandemic was not on our radar when the document was created, it has helped us to weather the current viral storm. Looking ahead to 2022, we are confident that solid steps taken in the following areas will strengthen our partnership and enhance our life together for years to come:
Communication is key to any successful relationship. We know this in our personal lives for sure. The same is true in our public and communal lives as well. If we want this relationship to thrive now and well into the future, we need to focus on increasing communication.
Following the disruptions of 2020, we began 2021 with a focus on reconnecting with our companions. With the arrival of Astine and Ryan Bose in Iringa in March and new investments in technology that your generosity enabled, we identified channels for formal and informal communication and facilitated Zoom calls between 15 of our 68 companionships over the course of four months. Heading into 2022, we hope to double that and connect another 15-20 congregations that have not seen or heard from each other face to face in the past couple of years. Your companions want to hear from you and we are here to help!
With an eye to the next generation and emerging leaders, we’d like to focus our attention during the coming year on ways to link children, youth and young adults with their peers in Iringa.
Some congregations are already making progress in this area. At Pilgrim Lutheran in St. Paul, for example, Alex Thesip-Rosales (director of children, youth and family ministries) used Zoom and video skills honed during the pandemic in 2021 to record and share a song and greetings from their Sunday school classes to children in Luganga. In Apple Valley, prior to the pandemic, the CYF team at Shepherd of the Valley hosted Tanzania-inspired day camps, taught songs in Maasai and Swahili, and helped kids exchange letters.
We trust that ideas like these are bubbling up elsewhere across the Saint Paul Area Synod. What is needed is a little bit of time and energy to pull those resources and like-minded people together for the benefit of all. Do you have other ideas to share or want to help make something happen in this area? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll see where things go!
Hitting pause on travel has been one of the hardest parts of the pandemic on our understanding of who we are and how we do what we do. The physicality of eating, walking, sitting and even dancing "Shoulder to Shoulder" with our sisters and brothers in Christ is right up there in our name, Bega Kwa Bega. We understand the deep desire for travel to resume on both sides of this relationship and have hope that some form of it will return in 2022…albeit in ways we never would’ve imagined in 2019. With many unknowns in this area, we ask for your patience, prayers, and good will as we figure out — together — what partner visits during or shortly after a pandemic will entail.
As always, I’m thankful for the visionary work of the Hatua Team and its members, as well as all of you, for the care and consideration that they, and you, give to this relationship and our companions in Tanzania. Tupo Pamoja. We Are Together.
All thanks be to God,
The Rev. Peter Harrits
Director of Bega Kwa Bega & Assistant to the Bishop