Overseas Links

In our overseas links we aim to:

- Support and encourage each other in God’s mission

- Commit ourselves to learning about each other’s history, tradition and partnership

- Share our spiritual resources and our material ones

- Build strong and lasting friendships in order to advance the Kingdom of God within our Dioceses

We are linked with four dioceses (Estonia, Harare (in Zimbabwe), and Kondoa and Mpwapwa in Tanzania), in parish to parish, school to school and community to community relationships that are active and growing. 

To help enable this to happen we have set up a Partnership Group for each of the four Partner Dioceses; the Chairs of the four Partnership Groups sit on the Partner Diocese Steering Group.

The Partner Diocese Steering Group is chaired by Bishop James and meets four times a year.

Our Link Dioceses are:

Harare, Zimbabwe

This is our most long-standing link, starting with a friendship between a Bishop in this Diocese and the Bishop of Harare. The relationship was interrupted for several years by Bishop Nolbert Kunonga of Harare, who was opposed to linking with us. When he was deemed by the Church of the Province of Central Africa to have resigned, they appointed a new Bishop in his place. Kunonga refused to move out of the cathedral, claiming he was the rightful Bishop. Most of the clergy and the congregations transferred their allegiance en masse to the new Bishop, but Kunonga would not let them worship in the church buildings, calling the police to evict any who tried.  For some years the congregations met under trees, in marquees, or hired buildings.  In some cases the numbers of worshippers increased so much, they would not have fitted into their former buildings!  After 5 years this was finally resolved in the High Court in October 2012.  Kunonga was defeated, and Bishop Chad Gandiya and his people granted freedom to use the buildings that were rightfully theirs.  They go from strength to strength!

 

Kondoa, Tanzania

The Diocese of Kondoa was founded in 2001 with Yohana Mkavu as its first Bishop.  He resigned in 2009.  Bishop Given Gaula was appointed in May 2012.  With his wife Lilian he spent 3 weeks in England in October 2012, inspiring a number of churches to support his Diocese in a wide variety of projects.  Several groups from Rochester visit each year.

 

Mpwapwa, Tanzania

This Diocese was founded in 1991, with Simon Chiwanga as first Bishop. Rochester’s first visit there was in 1997, though a formal link was not agreed till 2004.  By this time an impressive cathedral had been built and roofed.  Rochester has sponsored the building of a girls’ secondary school, there are several active parish links, and three schools links and annual visits.  Bishop Simon’s successor, Jacob Chimeledya, was appointed in 2008.  Whilst continuing as Bishop of Mpwapwa, he has also been elected to be Archbishop of Tanzania for an initial five-year term, starting May 2013.

Estonia

Here we are linked under the Poorvoo Agreement with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Estonia, whose practices are in many ways similar to ours. There is an annual clergy conference each January in Estonia that Rochester clergy are warmly invited to join and made very welcome.  Winter temperatures can be adventurous, falling to -25C and freezing the sea!  As with our other links, there is much mutual enrichment.  Memories of half a century of Soviet occupation are only just under the surface.  Now Estonia is looking westwards and they deeply value their links with us.  We are seeking to increase our parish links there.

On the 19th of January 2016 Bishop James Langstaff of Rochester and Archbishop of Estonia Urmas Viilma have signed a Statement of Intent re-affirming the partnership between Rochester and the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church. Please download Statement of Intent in English  or Statement of Intent in Estonian for more information.

Developing a Parish Link

For more information about how to develop a parish link please contact:

The Revd David Kitley, Bishop’s Adviser for Overseas Links for the Diocese of Rochester

Tel: 01732 452112

Email:  kitley@clara.net

Mr Mike Fawcett (Links Co-ordinator)
Tel: 01892 536704
Email:  mikefawcett@btopenworld.com

Additional Information

PDF A document about our Tanzanian links can be downloaded here.

PDF Overseas Links celebration poster can be downloaded here.

PDF Partner Diocese Guidelines

PDF Finance Guidelines

PDF Rochester and the Wider World leaflet




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