ATLANTA: Visiting Tanzanian bishop reminds clergy to 'point the way to Jesus'

March 30, 2010

The role of clergy is to point the way to Jesus, Bishop Mdimi Mhogolo of the Diocese of Central Tanganyika told deacons, priests, bishops and others gathered for the Diocese of Atlanta's annual Renewal of Ordination Vows at noon March 30 at the Cathedral of St. Philip.

Basing his sermon on John's gospel story of the Greeks who go to Philip asking to see Jesus, Mhogolo said, "It was easy for Philip to take these people to Jesus because he was there physically. Today the job is tougher," he told them, but it can be carried out in four basic ways:

Through the sacrament of the bread and wine. Scripture reveals that it is the crucified Jesus that we are to think of when thinking of Jesus, he said. "Let the people see Jesus in the Eucharist; they should not see you but Jesus Christ."

Through the teaching of scripture. "Whenever you preach or teach, you should help the people see Jesus Christ," Mhogolo said. "People do not want to see you, your wisdom, your knowledge or your wit. They want to see Jesus."

Through the church. "The church -- wherever two or three have met in his name -- is where we can be a new community of friends, where we may love one another, care for one another, be reconciled to one another," he said. "It is where the lonely find hope and the loveless find love."

In the world. "You don't need to take Jesus to the world; he's already there, transforming it," said Mhogolo. "You should be there; I should be there too. Jesus is out there bringing forgiveness to sinners, bringing reconciliation and peace, bringing restoration and transforming the lives of evil people."

Earlier in the service, clergy renewed their ordination vows. Bishop J. Neil Alexander of Atlanta, responding to John Andrews of Clarkesville, a member of the diocesan Standing Committee, restated the vows he took as a new bishop. He also blessed the oil of chrism that clergy will use for baptisms they perform at Easter.

Promoting the Carpenter's Kids
At a luncheon served by the diocesan staff that followed, Mhogolo explained the purpose of his visit: to continue building the strong partnership that exists between the Tanzanian and Atlanta dioceses. He expressed his gratitude for the local parishes that are sponsoring schoolchildren, many orphaned by HIV/AIDS, and said there is room for more sponsors.

"Six-thousand kids are going to school because of the Carpenter's Kids program," he said, "and we need 97 more (parish) partners." One $80 contribution feeds and clothes a student for one year, he said.

Mhogolo is spending Holy Week in the Diocese of Atlanta and has already visited Grace Church, Gainesville, where he spent Palm Sunday preaching and addressing a large crowd of both youth and adults during education hour. On Monday, March 29, he went to St. Elizabeth's, Dahlonega, and on Tuesday, March 30, to St. Andrew's, Hartwell, with representatives of two other parishes, Church of the Mediator, Washington, and St. Alban's, Elberton. The latter three have committed to linking for five years with a Carpenter's Kids parish in Mhogolo's diocese. Grace, Gainesville, already has a long-term partnership.

Mhogolo is also the guest of honor at a luncheon on March 31 at the Cathedral of St. Philip, where he is talking about the cathedral's partnership with the Carpenter's Kids. His wife, Irene, is visiting St. Luke's, Atlanta, to talk about her work with Carpenter's Kids.

Trinity Church, Columbus, hosts the Mhogolos on Thursday, April 1. He will be at St. James', Marietta, on Friday, April 2, preaching at two Good Friday liturgies. On Easter Day, he will join Alexander and Cathedral Dean Sam Candler for three Easter worship services.