Tanzanian bishops dream big

Ambitious goals set as young leaders assume roles; 'what has happened to us?'

May 29, 2017 by and

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ARUSHA, Tanzania — New bishops have big dreams for the Tanzania Mennonite Church.

Among other ambitious goals, the bishops have a strategic plan to share the gospel with a million people by 2034, the 100-year anniversary of their church, known in Swahili as Kanisa la Mennonite Tanzania, or KMT.

Participants gather at a retreat for new bishops and their wives in Arusha, Tanzania. Front row, from left: Bestina Sigira, Sharon Mkisi, Rachel Kisare, Phanuel Mesha, Jewel Showalter, Takasa Wambura, Gloria Bontrager, Jessica Wadugu, Agnes Matuntera, Debbi DiGennaro and Winnie Mutorela. Back row: Kennedy Sigira, Albert Randa, Nelson Kisare, Gerry Keener, Noah Kaye, Richard Showalter, John Wambura, Joe Bontrager, Enosh Wadugu, Emmanuel Mwita Matuntera, Rwanga Chris Kateti and Joseph Muterola. — Joni Kellar/EMM

Participants gather at a retreat for new bishops and their wives in Arusha, Tanzania. Front row, from left: Bestina Sigira, Sharon Mkisi, Rachel Kisare, Phanuel Mesha, Jewel Showalter, Takasa Wambura, Gloria Bontrager, Jessica Wadugu, Agnes Matuntera, Debbi DiGennaro and Winnie Mutorela. Back row: Kennedy Sigira, Albert Randa, Nelson Kisare, Gerry Keener, Noah Kaye, Richard Showalter, John Wambura, Joe Bontrager, Enosh Wadugu, Emmanuel Mwita Matuntera, Rwanga Chris Kateti and Joseph Muterola. — Joni Kellar/EMM

When more than half of the KMT bishops retired at the end of their terms in January, younger leaders were elected to take their place.

Emerging visions for the church’s future were shared and encouraged at an Eastern Mennonite Missions-hosted retreat for the new bishops and their wives April 25-28 in Arusha.

With “Foundations” as its theme, the retreat emphasized strong beginnings. Seven bishops reflected on the fundamentals of relationship-building, leadership and Anabaptist theology.

After a session in which the main speaker, Richard Showalter, EMM’s former president, shared stories of healing, deliverance and church planting among former KMT leaders, participants began a soul-searching dialogue.

Esther Muhagachi, wife of Bishop Amos Muhagachi from the Dodoma Diocese, said she had not seen such church activity since she was a child. “What has happened to us?” she asked.

KMT leaders urged each other to give sacrificially of their energy and finances, focusing on the early church of Pentecost as their model for church life.

Speakers and discussion facilitators included KMT general secretary John Wambura and Esther Muhagachi. Contributing EMM missionaries and North American leadership trainers included Joe Bontrager, Noah Kaye, Richard and Jewel Showalter and Gerry Keener.

“We had the best of the Tanzanian Mennonite community in dialogue with the best of the North American Mennonite community,” said EMM regional representative Debbi DiGennaro.


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  • Amos Muhagachi

    In Mission there is no new or old ! every Christian Church should be missionary minded church if not that church is a mission field we need each other for building God’s kingdom until he come again

  • Mkama Manyama

    We are just the organs of one body, with faith and just, we can deliver more to the Kingdom of God.

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