[Anglican Communion News Service] About 3,000 people from Tanzania, other parts of Africa and beyond gathered at Dodoma’s Cathedral of the Holy Spirit on Saturday (May 18) for the installation of the Anglican Church of Tanzania’s new Primate.
The enthronement of Bishop of Mpwapwa Jacob Erasto Chimeledya was described by one church worker as “like a dream” because of the number of dignitaries in attendance. These included the spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and his wife Caroline.
Other notable guests at the service included the primate of the Anglican Church of Kenya, the Most Rev. Eliud Wabukala, and representatives from other Anglican provinces, including Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi. As Dodoma is the country’s political capital, the service was also attended by many government leaders including the president of Tanzania, Jakaya Kikwete.
Chimeledya did not pass the opportunity to speak to the country’s political leaders. He urged the government to take action against those guilty of “hate speech,” especially the traditional media and those who publish comments online. With particular reference to the relationship between Muslims and Christians he asked Tanzanians not simply to tolerate one another, but respect each other. “We only tolerate an enemy, not our fellow citizens,” he said.
The archbishop also announced a plan by the Anglican Church of Tanzania to begin a new micro-finance bank that will support small business enterprises in the country, and he appealed to the government to support the church in its efforts to address people’s needs. During the service, Kikwete did commit his support to the church’s many programs throughout its dioceses.
This cooperation between church and state was welcomed by Bishop John Lupaa of the Diocese of the Rift Valley, as was Welby’s presence in Tanzania — his first official Anglican Communion engagement as archbishop of Canterbury.
“It’s a great honor to have the archbishop of Canterbury visit Tanzania,” said Lupaa. “His visit will definitely raise the profile of the Church in Africa as a whole.”
While there was only room for about 400 people in the cathedral, other guests were able to watch the two-hour service on screens under tents outside. Thousands looked on as Welby was made a senior elder in the cathedral of the Anglican Diocese of Central Tanganyika, and they listened as he spoke about the risk of fear, especially to church leaders. He stressed that while fear is a part of life, it can be overcome through the Holy Spirit.
Other Anglican groups present at the enthronement included Tanzania’s Mothers’ Union. Members, along with their new President Mwezwa Chimeledya, met with Caroline Welby during her visit to Dodoma to discuss their work.
Church Mission Society (CMS) is an Anglican agency with significant historical links to the new primate’s diocese. Mpwapwa is a place where much of the planning and execution of missionary work to the rest of Tanzania took place in the early years of the church there.
Speaking to ACNS, the Rev. Dennis Tongoi, executive director of CMS-Africa, congratulated Chimeledya and wished him all the best in his new role. He also acknowledged CMS’ emphasis on leadership development and investment as a way of growing the church in Africa.
“Finally our investment is bearing fruit. Africa now has a contingent of well-equipped leaders ready to support the growth of the church,” Tongoi said. “The new archbishop needs to shepherd the flock. Africa is a youthful continent therefore investment in [Tanzanian] youths should also be his top priority.”