Anglican Church of Tanzania outlines vision for future

Daybook
November 22, 2004

The provincial secretary of the Anglican Church of Tanzania has extended his gratitude to the Episcopal Church for the ongoing relationship between the two provinces. "Our church has been privileged to welcome people from the Episcopal Church and benefit from the variety of generosities," the Rev. Canon Dr. R. Mwita Akiri said during a visit to the Episcopal Church Center in New York last week.

Bringing greetings from the Primate of Tanzania, the Most Rev. Donald Leo Mtetemela, Akiri offered an in-depth presentation on development projects and strategic planning in which the Anglican Church of Tanzania (ACT) is currently involved.

"We need to look after young people spiritually," Akiri said, highlighting the work of a provincial scholarships' program and referring to the establishment of an Anglican University in Tanzania -- a future goal. "If we as Anglicans do not have any control over this training, the product could be anything. It's part of nation building and development but also to ensure that the Christian perspective is represented in the education."

Shaping the future

Akiri has a vision: to amalgamate the theological colleges in Tanzania and start a new institution to which the Bible colleges can belong. "We would offer good academic study at provincial level but leave some responsibility for the bishops," he said, announcing that the university headquarters would be situated in Dodoma -- the country's capital -- to ensure a strong relationship with the provincial offices. "Higher education is how we are going to shape the future of Tanzania."

A further objective would be to offer theological education through the internet. "When the university finally takes off we think that the internet can be used for lecturing purposes," he said. "It costs a lot of money and takes a lot of time to transport people and books."

ACT, which was inaugurated as a province in the Anglican Communion in 1970, has specifically asked Trinity Grants Program in New York to invest in communications, believing this to be "a tool to change the landscape of the lives of Tanzanians, people in the church and in society," Akiri said. "So we're always looking for partnerships in areas where we can use the assistance we get to push the boundaries further: boundaries of poverty elevation, boundaries of education, for example."

Funding from Trinity has ensured that every diocese has a computer and email capabilities. Furthermore, the provincial office has 32 networked computers, with most of the staff having access to email and the internet. "Our aim is to expand that beyond the provincial office," Akiri said. "For communications to be really effective the province needs to be networked and connected via satellite link ups."

Further funding from the Anglican Church of Canada will benefit the youth program, enabling an internet café to be built below the provincial office. "When young people come we can have the technological setup which allows them to access material or to be able to put information there themselves which people can access," he said. "So this will work as an information resource center, and will work as a form of training."

Partners in mission

Tanzania is the fifth poorest country in the world, Akiri explained. People in the churches are not able to collect very much money to support the province or the dioceses. "We need to keep our visions alive in the midst of poverty," Akiri said. "We always have to rise above this and go to partners and say: look, internally we can't afford very much but we have the enthusiasm, vision. Participate and help us, work with us to change the lives of individuals and communities in Tanzania to follow the kingdom of God."

Finally, Akiri acknowledged his confidence in the recently released Windsor Report, which he described as being very comprehensive. "It has something for everyone," he said. "It is inviting people to reconsider their positions, it is cautioning people against certain actions and encouraging a sense of us all belonging to one communion. It is also encouraging us to go back to our roots as Anglicans: the significance of scripture but allowing room for interpretation."

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