An East African welcome met the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, upon his arrival February 13 in Tanzania, as two young members of Dar es Salaam's St. Mary's Church, Naomi and Frank, were waiting at the airport to present him with an ebony crucifix and a garland made from local flowers.
Williams, who was accompanied by the Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu, will chair the February 15-19 Primates' Meeting at the White Sands Hotel in Jangwani Beach near Dar es Salaam.
Also waiting to embrace Williams on behalf of the Anglican Church of Tanzania was its Primate, Archbishop Donald Mtetemela, and Tanzania's deputy minister for foreign affairs greeted him and other Primates as they arrived in the nation's largest city.
Addressing media that had gathered for his arrival, Williams asked for prayers as the Primates embark on their five-day meeting, and spoke of his gratitude to Tanzania's Anglican Church and to Mtetemela for helping to organize the local logistics.
Mtetemela said he was honored the Anglican Primates were meeting in his province for the first time.
The Episcopal Church is represented by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.
Having met regularly since 1979 in consultation on theological, social, and international issues, this is the Primates' third gathering on African soil. Previous meetings have included Limuru, Kenya in 1983, and Cape Town, Southern Africa in 1993. [A full list of Primates' Meetings is available here.]
Although the meeting begins on February 15, a group of 'Global South' Anglican leaders, some of whom have voiced opposition at Jefferts Schori's attendance citing her support for gay and lesbian Christians, have already gathered ahead of the official Primates' agenda to share ideas and strategize.
Jefferts Schori, who also arrived February 13, has underscored her commitment to the collaborative work of the Primates' Meeting.
In addition to Anglican Primates, several media representatives and individuals from support groups and advocacy organizations have also journeyed to Tanzania.
Although the meetings are private, media briefings will be offered as needed. The Most Rev. Philip Aspinall, Archbishop of Australia, has been named the official spokesperson for the meeting.