Our world’s focus has narrowed in the past month to the common threat we are all experiencing from a viral pandemic. A delegation from the Tanzanian Mennonite church, making a fraternal visit from Shirati diocese to Indiana-Michigan Conference, arrived in the US in early March just as we were beginning to cancel activities and stay home. Bishop R. C. Kateti and Simon Songe shortened their visit because of the virus.
I was glad to have the opportunity to spend parts of two days in conversation with them. The meetings were organized by Dan, and included other members of the MLT and the Tanzania exploration group and some members of the Tanzania Mennonite Church who live locally. We had a chance to introduce our conference and the way we are organized, and to hear from them about theirs. I found especially fascinating their description of tensions they are experiencing within their fellowship – some around marriage expectations, and some around worship style. Sounds familiar! It was inspiring to hear about their active youth fellowship that includes people from age 12 to age 40, their work to be more transparent in how leaders exercise power, and their ambitious goal to increase their total membership dramatically in the next 10 years.
We looked at expectations from each side about what it would mean to commit to a partnership between IMMC and Shirati Diocese. I look forward to the continued discernment of the MLT and the delegates on this question. I’m grateful that Bishop and Songe were able to return home safely and without delay. I give thanks for their ongoing prayers for us, and pray for them God’s comfort and blessing during this vulnerable time.
Brenda Hostetler Meyer
Moderator-elect, MLT member