Overseas links

Overseas links

Bishops from our overseas links join with members of the Overseas Links group in a service of celebration for our partnerships in a church in Kent

Rochester Diocese enjoys flourishing overseas links with the Anglican dioceses of Harare in Zimbabwe, and Kondoa and Mpwapwa in Tanzania. It has a similar, flourishing partnership with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Estonia.

Through our links with our companion dioceses, we aim to:

  • support and encourage each other in God’s mission,
  • to learn about each other’s history and tradition,
  • to share our spiritual and material resources and to build strong and lasting friendships, and
  • to advance the Kingdom of God within our dioceses.

These links are an affirmation that Christians from different cultures and backgrounds share a common heritage of faith and worship.

They provide an opportunity for schools, churches and communities in Rochester Diocese to form enriching relationships with Christians in other parts of the world. These individual connections are all very different and are constantly evolving as more visits take place and relationships increasingly translate into action and joint projects.

 

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.

Harare, Zimbabwe

A large group of worshippers gather outside to attend a worship event in ZimbabweOur Diocesan companionship with the Diocese of Harare (Zimbabwe) dates from 1981, when two friends had become Bishops: Peter Hatendi, of Harare, and Philip Goodrich, Bishop of Tonbridge.  Many visitors travelled back and forth, including groups of young people. 

When Bishop Peter retired in 1997, his place was taken by Nolbert Kunonga, a friend of the then President Mugabe.  Kunonga was opposed to the Diocesan link with Rochester; visits dwindled to a few. Much ungodly activity on his part led to conflict where he closed all church buildings to anyone disloyal to him. 

Five years of ‘exile’ followed as clergy and laity worshipped elsewhere – and grew greatly in numbers! In 2012 Zimbabwe’s Supreme Court ruled against Kunonga, ousting him. With great rejoicing the doors of the Cathedral and churches were re-opened, and overseas visitors were officially welcome again.

Chad Gandiya was Bishop 2009-18, his successor is Bishop Farai Mutamiri.  The nation has suffered severe economic hardships in recent years, during which it has been a privilege to walk alongside our sisters and brothers there.  Parish partnerships are beginning to re-form. 

For further information, please contact the Rev Dom de Mattos. harare.cdsg@gmail.com  

Kondoa,Tanzania

The Diocese of Kondoa was founded in 2001.  The Bishop is Rt. Rev’d. Dr. Given Gaula, who was appointed in May 2012.  Bishop Given and his wife, Rev’d Lilian Gaula have visited Rochester on a number of occasions and always inspire churches and individuals to support this fledgling Diocese in a wide variety of projects.  Bishop James and Bridget also visit Kondoa as do several groups from churches and schools in Rochester each year. 

Mpwapwa, Tanzania

I Mpwapwa Diocese was founded in 1991, with Simon Chiwanga as first Bishop.  He was succeeded by the current Bishop, Jacob Chimeledya (who also served as Archbishop of Tanzania f  from 2013-May 2018).  The church is growing and values the deepening relations with Bishop James and Rochester through prayer, visits and support for projects and  students at St Philip’s Theological College.  Bishop James, parishes, schools and individuals visit Mpwapwa regularly and we are delighted to welcome Bishop Jacob to Rochester on occasion.  Located in a semi-arid area the size of Wales in central Tanzania, the Diocese has plains and mountains – and offers so much for us learn in our walk with God. As well as providing theological education, the Diocese runs a girls boarding school, a medical centre, and has a vision to bring people freedom from dependency through Tearfund’s Church and Community Mobilisation Process.   This is an area of subsistence farming, where a priest leading a parish of many congregations is blessed to receive a stipend of more than £20 a month.  Please follow the Mpwapwa link to find out more. 

 

Key Contacts

The Rev Christine Allen

Overseas Links Coordinator

Get in touch