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We hear a lot about the good work the Iringa Diocese is doing around evangelism and mission. Ten new parishes are being established this year, from congregations that were previously preaching points of older, established parishes. The expansion of the church in Tanzania is a wonder to behold!
But along with that number one priority, the diocese is working very hard to address other priorities named in its strategic plan, including Diakonia, Gender and Children’s Rights. This work is being led by two department heads. Pastor Ombeni Sawicke leads the newly established department of Diakonia, which involves services to vulnerable populations. Pastor Upendo Koko leads the department of Women, Family, and Nurture which addresses a wide range of issues facing families and focuses on empowerment of women and protection of children.
Earlier this year, Pastor Upendo organized a seminar for widows. Expecting a thousand women, she reported that the conference drew 1790 attendees. The message of the conference was that widows are important to God, and speakers brought insight on psychological healing and opportunities for economic empowerment. Radio Furaha reported that one participant said, “Through this conference I have been motivated to go and join economic groups.”
Pastor Upendo led another seminar for 400 youth. In addition to the seminars for women and children, Pastor Upendo’s programs include parish visits, seminars for department leaders teaching leadership skills, and camps for women and men. With women she focuses on empowerment, gender violence and parenting. She works with men on health and family issues.
The new department of Diakonia is establishing its work by meeting with diocese leaders and district pastors. With diocese leadership support in place, Pastor Ombeni will conduct two-day seminars in each district for pastors and evangelists. She will help village congregations, parishes and district offices prepare teams which will help identify, report, and find ways to help vulnerable people in the community.
The work of these two departments has recently been supported in part by gifts from donors from Immanuel Lutheran, St Paul, and by a grant from Women of the ELCA, Saint Paul Area Synod. To learn more or offer your support, contact the BKB office or Sue Klevan from Immanuel.
Pastor Ombeni sends these words of thanks: “May the Lord bless you and all people who are surprising us by making us to work happy because of their support. We respect you all, we love you, and we will never stop praying for you so that God may Bless you and keep you, and give good health, peace and prosperity.”
Director of Bega Kwa Bega