By Cathy Milejczak
Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania, Southwestern Diocese (ELCT) Task Force
Last summer a delegation from the South Carolina Synod traveled to the South Western Diocese of Tanzania for the Consecration and Installation of the new Bishop. This delegation, including Assistant to the Bishop Ginny Aebischer, Marvin Sox, Kevin Sox, Christie Frick, Richard and Sharon Shealy and myself, witnessed a remarkable event.
The village of Magoye, where the diocesan headquarter is located, with a population of around 1,200 villagers hosted the event. Magoye did an excellent job with the set up and hosting. Seven thousand people attended the celebration. It was totally amazing. The procession was several city blocks long. There were at least twenty choirs, many pastors, several bishops including the presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Church of Tanzania, government dignitaries, a delegation from Germany and our delegation from the South Carolina Synod. The ceremony was six hours long. While our group did not understand the words that were spoken we did understand that we were on holy ground and attending a blessed event. There was singing, dancing, and praising God like I have never seen before this event. Every vow the new bishop proclaimed was met with cheers, singing and dancing. It certainly was a day of praise and celebration. When I asked someone about the length of the celebration I was told, “ if I have traveled several days, much of it by foot, then I want more than a few minutes to sing my praise and thanksgivings to God. ” WOW! I felt so honored to be in the presence of people who were willing to give their time to God in song, dance, prayer, praise and thanksgiving.
Our relationship with the South Western diocese is one of companionship. We have vowed walk the road together as brothers and sisters in Christ seeking to know each other and to serve God together. It was good to be present at this celebration. We were greeting by many people who had worked on our relationship. We were able to confirm that our companionship would continue and we were able to witness a celebration of praise and thanksgiving for the new bishop and for the work of the work of the South Western Diocese, ELCT.