The relationships that were built in March of 2018 when Bishop Graves, as well as other lay and clergy members of the Alabama-West Florida Annual Conference (AWFC), visited Tanzania has sprouted into a beautiful partnership.
June of 2019 saw the signing of a partnership agreement
by Bishop David Graves and Bishop Mande Muyombo signifying officially what was already happening through shared prayers, support, and ministry between the two conferences. 2019 has seen tremendous growth in this partnership as well as in the ministry happening in Tanzania, in part because of this partnership.
From the beginning it was understood that in order to succeed it would be necessary to focus in on a few key areas essential to the growth of the United Methodist Church in Tanzania, as well as giving the churches of the AWFC a road map toward engaging in mutual ministry and partnership. Therefore, it is exciting to look back on 2019 and see the progress made in each of these areas.
Much gratitude also needs to be shared with Annual Conference leadership in Tanzania and AWFC. A special thanks to Susan Hunt, Director of Mission and Advocacy for coordination on behalf of the AWFC. Also, many thanks to the churches in both conferences that have prayed, hosted, built relationships across the globe, and contributed to see this partnership grow.
The Body of Christ in the form of the local church is often the heartbeat of the community in urban Tanzania. Many people have moved from their villages to the city, leaving behind family, friends, and traditions. The church has the opportunity to be the family, community, and place of spiritual support and guidance that is missing. Yet, when the lives of members are unstable in so many different ways it is important to develop local churches to be able to provide that stability and support in the community.
The Teaming with Tanzania partnership has provided the funds to build four church buildings:
- Nyasaka UMC
- Dodoma FUMC
- Nyagesi UMC
- Igombe UMC
In total, $122,332 has been given towards church construction in Tanzania since the partnership began in 2018. Even more special is over $30,000 of that was raised by the children of the AWF Annual Conference during VBS when Teaming with Tanzania was the mission focus for over 30 churches.
The ministry of the local church is the ministry of the global church incarnated in each neighborhood and community. Church growth depends on having a home for the church, but it also depends on well-trained and well-equipped leaders able to carry out the work of the church all week long. The Teaming with Tanzania partnership also wanted to ensure that the capacity of the local church grew as the church grew.
Since 2018, four mission teams from AWFC have traveled to Tanzania. These teams have spent important time building relationships, learning from Tanzanian leadership, listening to what the church in Tanzania has to say about their own church and the global church, and building the capacity of local leaders.
Teams and individual volunteers have done training and worked with the church in the following ways:
Education and Pastor Training:
- Children’s ministry
- Community asset-based development
- Pastoral leadership
- Women’s health and ministry
- Theological training for students at Wesley College
- Wesleyan theology
- English training for students and faculty at Wesley College
- Photography and communication strategies and technology to tell the story of ministry in Tanzania
Training is important, but there is a level of formation that is needed for leaders in the church that is hard to do on a short-term mission trip. That is why the third focus of the TWT partnership is Wesley College. Wesley College, a United Methodist institution of higher education and the only UM fully residential college in East Africa, focuses on educating first-generation college students to be servant leaders in the church and community.
Wesley College has graduated over 50 students in the 3 years that it has been in operation and has been blessed with support from the AWFC.
In 2019 alone, the following was given to support the ministry of Wesley College, much of which came through the 2019 AWFC Annual Conference Offering:
- Wesley College choir - $3,000
- Scholarships - $15,480
- Bibles - $2,481
- Construction and outfitting - $57,734
- Total = $78,695
Wesley College graduates have gone on to be ordained as United Methodist pastors, taken jobs and volunteered with community-based non-profits, and been accepted to the Global Mission Fellows program of Global Ministries. The fruit is already being seen and this is just the beginning.
2020 and 2021 will see even more being done through this partnership. It is expected that three to four conference mission teams will be going to Tanzania in 2021. There is a need for more churches to partner with faith communities in Tanzania to see land purchased for church plants, church buildings constructed, and parsonages built. Wesley College is also looking at ways to move forward in expanding programs and starting construction on permanent facilities.
All of this will be possible through God’s provision and the partnership of steadfast and faithful Christians in both conferences.
Contact your area champion
if your church wants to get involved. Click here for video