The Anglican Church of Tanzania (ACT), under the leadership of the Most Rev. Donald Leo Mtetemela, will host the 38 Primates of the Anglican Communion for their February 14-19 meeting at the White Sands Hotel in Jangwani Beach near Dar es Salaam -- Arabic for "Abode of Peace."
International concerns facing the Primates will include discussion of a report focusing on the response of the Episcopal Church's 75th General Convention to the Windsor Report; a presentation on the Millennium Development Goals and the work of the Poverty and Trade Task Team, introduced by Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane, Primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, and Hellen Wangusa, recently appointed Anglican Observer at the United Nations; and conversations about the future of the Church in China and its relationship with the Anglican Communion.
Sessions will also be devoted to reports on the Panel of Reference, which considers situations where congregations are in serious dispute with their bishop and unwilling to accept his or her episcopal ministry; an Anglican Covenant, proposed in order to give explicit articulation and recognition to the principles of co-operation and interdependence which hold the Anglican Communion together; the Listening Process, which strives to honor the process of mutual listening, particular to the experience of homosexual persons; a proposal for an in-depth worldwide study of the way Anglicans interpret the Bible; and theological education.
On Sunday, February 18, the Primates will travel by boat to Zanzibar for a Solemn Eucharist in the Anglican Cathedral -- where the altar is built over an old slave trading post -- as the people of Zanzibar commemorate the 100th anniversary of the last slave sold on the island and the 200th anniversary of the end of slavery in the British Empire.
In a recent statement, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori underscored her commitment to the collaborative work of the Primates' Meeting.
"Our shared work as Primates of the Anglican Communion is strategic for addressing hunger, poverty, and preventable disease around the world, and I especially look forward to collaborating on initiatives related to the Millennium Development Goals," Jefferts Schori said. "There is much we can achieve together in building the Reign of God, but it will require us to see that God's larger purposes transcend our internal differences. That willingness to trust in God's leading despite our own fears and divisions is the trust Jesus showed us. May we seek to follow in his road."
The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Tanzania have historic ties through companion diocese relationships, missionary work, and relief and development projects. The Office of Anglican and Global Relations sends regular appropriations to the provincial office and the United Thank Offering has provided several grants throughout the years. Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) works with ACT to support primary health, food security and HIV/AIDS programs in some of the poorest communities in the country.
Current companion diocese relationships include Arizona with Dar es Salaam, Atlanta with Central Tanganyika, and Montana with the entire province.
The Dodoma-based Diocese of Central Tanganyika is a leader in public health and education, sponsoring health clinics, schools, and AIDS prevention programs.
A partnership between the dioceses of New York and Central Tanganyika, known as the Carpenter’s Kids Program, links parishes in a mutual relationship of prayer, communication, and support on behalf of the more than 2.5 million AIDS orphans in Tanzania.
The two dioceses identify parishes on both sides willing to enter in a multi-year engagement, with New York congregations agreeing to provide $50 per child, per year, for school, breakfast, uniforms and books.
According to International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Tanzania's 37 million people are heavily dependent on agriculture, which comes mostly through small-scale farming. Although recent economic growth has reduced the numbers of poor urbanites, the rural areas -- home to 80 percent of the population -- remain entrenched in poverty. Some 36 percent of the population falls below the basic needs poverty line, and 19 percent are below the food poverty line. One quarter of Tanzanian adults have no education and 29 percent can neither read nor write. A staggering 44 percent of Tanzanian households still use unsafe drinking water and have low accessibility to healthcare. Malnutrition and famine are rampant.
Tanzanian opinions mixed
The Tanzanian House of Bishops issued a statement December 7, 2006 declaring itself in a state of "impaired" communion with the Episcopal Church in light of recent actions of General Convention and its response to the Windsor Report, which the statement called a "failure to register honest repentance for ... actions that were contrary to the dictates of Holy Scripture..."
More recently, Tanzanian Bishop Mdimi Mhogolo of Central Tanganyika clarified his position in a January 26 Epiphany letter, acknowledging that not all of the Tanzanian bishops are of one mind and questioning the legitimacy of singling out the Episcopal Church on matters of human sexuality when the issues permeate throughout "all of our development and mission partners."
"The way we do God's mission is to strategize our mission and then look for resources for the mission," he said. "The recruitment of people, both within and outside the country becomes part of our efforts in realizing God's mission. The material funding for God's mission impacts our goal to see God's mission is well resourced. [The Episcopal Church] with its relief and development agencies is only a small part of our funding and partnership organizations."
Mhogolo noted that the issue of homosexuality affects all of ACT's partner organizations, Churches, missionary agencies, governments and secular organizations. "We then ask ourselves, why should we single out [the Episcopal Church] and treat it differently?" he said. "We know that a substantial amount of money and funding that governments, Churches, and missionary societies receive, comes from gay and lesbian people."
He acknowledged that in Tanzanian culture "gay and lesbians are regarded as criminals punishable by long-term imprisonments. We also live in a country where gay and lesbians are violently persecuted, mistreated, hated and ostracized."
"We as Black Africans know the hurts and permanent damage caused by our past experiences which still linger on to the present," he said. "We have gone through all that and we know how it hurts. Once we were regarded like animals to be shot at, less than humans, to be turned into slaves and without God, to be taught the Western Christian gods. We have gone through that and we don't want to go that way again."
Inaugurated in 1970 as an independent province following the division of the Province of East Africa into the Province of Kenya and the Province of Tanzania, ACT comprises 20 dioceses that represent both evangelical and Anglo-Catholic Churches.
In 1997, the province changed its name from the Church of the Province of Tanzania to the Anglican Church of Tanzania, whose headquarters are based in Dodoma.
ACT emerged as a result of the work of two British missions -- the Universities Mission to Central Africa (now the United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel) and the Church Missionary Society (now the Church Mission Society) -- that began work in Mpwapwa during the mid-19th century.
Today, the Province covers the geographical area of the United Republic of Tanzania with 21 regions in the Mainland and five in the Islands of Zanzibar and Pemba.
Among its prominent institutions, most of which are semi-independent of the provincial office, are two theological colleges, St. Phillip's in Kongwa, and St. Mark's in Dar es Salaam.
ACT is led by the Archbishop who is elected every five years by the House of Bishops. As well as serving as Primate, Mtetemela is also Bishop of the Diocese of Ruaha.
The Provincial Synod is the governing body of the Church and is divided into the House of Bishops, House of Clergy and House of Laity. Policy changes need to be agreed to by a majority of all three houses.
ACT is one of 38 autonomous or self-governing member churches or provinces in 164 countries worldwide that make up the 77-million-member Anglican Communion. The Churches of the Anglican Communion exercise jurisdictional independence and are said to be united by "bonds of affection."
Anglican Primates: nearly one third are new to meeting
By Matthew Davies
[ENS] Twelve of the 38 Anglican Primates will be new when the Anglican Church of Tanzania (ACT) hosts the February 14-19 Primates Meeting at the White Sands Hotel in Jangwani Beach near Dar es Salaam.
Since the Primates last met in Northern Ireland in February 2005, new ones have been elected in Aotearoa, New Zealand & Polynesia; Australia; Brazil; Burundi; Hong Kong; Indian Ocean; Ireland; Japan; Korea; Scotland; Southeast Asia and the United States.
The Primates' Meeting is one of the three instruments of communion in the Anglican Communion, the other two being the once-a-decade Lambeth Conference and the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), the Anglican Communion's main decision-making body. The Archbishop of Canterbury, as primus inter pares, or "first among equals," is recognized as the focus of unity for the Anglican Communion, as resolved by the ACC at its June 2005 meeting in Nottingham, England.
Each province relates to other provinces within the Anglican Communion by being in full communion with the See of Canterbury. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, calls the Lambeth Conference, chairs the meeting of Primates, and is president of the ACC. The Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion, serves as secretary. In Tanzania, the Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu, will attend the Primates' Meeting for the first time in his capacity as Primate of England. Williams, as chief pastor of the Church of England, is Primate of All England.
The term "primate" means senior archbishop or presiding bishop of a province in the Anglican Communion. In some provinces the primate is also called Archbishop and/or Metropolitan, while in others the term Presiding Bishop -- or as in Scotland, Primus -- is preferred. In some provinces the term is translated to the local language, such as Obispo Primado in the Province of the Southern Cone (South America).
In the United Churches of South Asia, the Moderators of the churches are invited to the Primates' Meetings by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Since 1979, the Primates of the autonomous Churches of the Anglican Communion have met regularly in consultation on theological, social, and international issues. Meeting locations include Ely, England in 1979; Washington, USA in 1981; Limuru, Kenya in 1983; Toronto, Canada in 1986; Cyprus in 1989; Ireland in 1991; Cape Town, Southern Africa in 1993; Windsor, England in 1995; Jerusalem in 1997; Oporto, Portugal in 2000; Kanuga, USA in 2001; Canterbury, England in 2002; Brazil, May in 2003; London, England in October 2003; and Newry, Northern Ireland in February 2005.
The Provinces and Primates of the Anglican Communion are listed below. Primates' biographical information is available here.
The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand & Polynesia
The Most Rev. William Brown Turei
The Anglican Church of Australia
The Most Rev. Phillip John Aspinall
The Church of Bangladesh
The Rt. Rev. Michael S Baroi
Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil
The Most Rev. Maurício José Araújo de Andrade
The Anglican Church of Burundi
The Most Rev. Bernard Ntahoturi
The Anglican Church of Canada
The Most Rev. Andrew Sandford Hutchison
The Church of the Province of Central Africa
The Most Rev. Bernard Amos Malango
Iglesia Anglicana de la Region Central de America
The Most Rev. Martin de Jesus Barahona
Province de L'Eglise Anglicane Du Congo
The Most Rev. Dr. Dirokpa Balufuga Fidèle
The Church of England
The Most Rev. Rowan Douglas Williams
Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui
The Most Rev. Paul Kwong
The Church of the Province of the Indian Ocean
The Most Rev. Gerald James (Ian) Ernest
The Church of Ireland
The Most Rev. Alan Edwin Thomas Harper
The Nippon Sei Ko Kai (The Anglican Communion in Japan)
The Most Rev. Nathaniel Makoto Uematsu
The Episcopal Church in Jerusalem & The Middle East
The Most Rev. George Clive Handford
The Anglican Church of Kenya
The Most Rev. Benjamin M P Nzimbi
The Anglican Church of Korea
The Most Rev. Francis Kyung Jo Park
The Church of the Province of Melanesia
The Most Rev. Sir Ellison Leslie Pogo KBE
La Iglesia Anglicana de Mexico
The Most Rev. Carlos Touche-Porter
The Church of the Province of Myanmar (Burma)
The Most Rev. Samuel San Si Htay
The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion)
The Most Rev. Peter Jasper Akinola
The Church of North India (United)
The Most Rev. Zechariah James Terom
The Church of Pakistan (United)
The Rt. Rev. Dr Alexander John Malik
The Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea
The Most Rev. James Simon Ayong
The Episcopal Church in the Philippines
The Most Rev. Ignacio Capuyan Soliba
L'Eglise Episcopal au Rwanda
The Most Rev. Emmanuel Musaba Kolini
The Scottish Episcopal Church
The Most Rev. Idris Jones
Church of the Province of South East Asia
The Most Rev. Dr John Chew
The Church of South India (United)
The Most Rev. Badda Peter Sugandhar
The Anglican Church of Southern Africa
The Most Rev. Njongonkulu Winston Hugh Ndungane
Iglesia Anglicana del Cono Sur de America
The Most Rev. Gregory James Venables
The Episcopal Church of the Sudan
The Most Rev. Joseph Biringi Hassan Marona
The Anglican Church of Tanzania
The Most Rev. Donald Leo Mtetemela
The Church of the Province of Uganda
The Most Rev. Henry Luke Orombi
The Episcopal Church in the USA
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
The Church in Wales
The Most Rev. Dr. Barry Cennydd Morgan
The Church of the Province of West Africa
The Most Rev. Justice Ofei Akrofi
The Church in the Province of the West Indies
The Most Rev. Drexel Wellington Gomez