LWF General Secretary begins first member church visit to Africa
Affirms holistic mission of Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania
(LWI) - Lutheran World Federation (LWF) General Secretary Rev. Anne Burghardt has arrived in Tanzania, for a week-long visit to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT).
The visit is the general secretary’s first to a member church in the Africa region since taking up her position in November 2021, and the program includes visits to a variety of programs and ministries of the member church, as well as meeting with the church’s Bishops conference later this week.
Hospitality and holistic witness
“We feel greatly honoured and we are very proud to receive the LWF general secretary,” said ELCT Presiding Bishop Dr Fredrick Shoo, as host for Burghardt’s visit.
“It is our prayer that her visit and stay here in Tanzania is going to strengthen even more the bonds and partnerships and to even enlarge the understanding of the church members here of our global communion. This is very important to us,” he said.
For LWF Vice-President for Africa Rev. Dr Jeannette Ada Maina too, the visit is a welcome exposure to the region.
Acknowledging the positive example that the ELCT has set through engagement with Lutheran churches worldwide over the years, Ada Maina expressed joy at seeing the General Secretary now in Africa.
“I’m very happy to be here with her and look forward to continuing the journey with her. I believe this can highlight to her how the churches in Africa give a lively witness,” Ada Maina said.
Having visited various programs of the ELCT during her first days in Tanzania, the LWF general secretary herself expressed appreciation of the wealth and variety of ministries of the church.
“I have been truly impressed by what I have seen so far,” Burghardt said. “I see God mightily at work in this church. I see a church engaging in holistic mission, serving together, and working hard to enable everyone to share their unique gifts.”
Sister Ufoolwakwe Kimaro — a former nurse-midwife now living and serving at the Ushirika wa Neema, Lutheran Sisters’ Convent of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania — explains how she makes wafers for Holy Communion to LWF General Secretary Rev. Anne Burghardt, LWF Vice-President for Africa Rev. Dr Jeannette Ada Maina, and ELCT General Secretary Eng. Robert Kitundu.
LWF General Secretary Rev. Anne Burghardt shares a greeting with listeners to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania’s Radio Voice of the Gospel during live broadcast from the studio in Moshi on 26 March.
"An icon of medical care in Tanzania”
On Saturday, the general secretary visited a variety of programs and ministries of the ELCT, including the Radio Voice of the Gospel in Tanzania; the Ushirika wa Neema, Lutheran Sisters’ Convent; and the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC) – once the largest single project to be supported by the Lutheran World Federation, in the early 1960s.
“The Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre has become an icon for medical care in Tanzania,” said hospital chaplain Rev. Lyimo of the KCMC during the general secretary’s visit, recalling a prayer by the late Bishop Dr Stefano Moshi for the foundation of the KCMC decades ago.
Today the institution, which from the outset has been closely linked with the LWF, has come to serve some 800-1,000 outpatients daily, explained KCMC executive director Prof. Dr Gileard Masenga.
LWF General Secretary Rev. Anne Burghardt (right) listens to paediatric onchologist Dr Esther Majaliwa of the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre, as Burghardt visits the onchology ward of the KCMC, here learning about treatment offered to young patients facing the double challenges of both a cancer diagnosis and malnutrition.
The hospital continues to develop, and on 26 March presiding Bishop Shoo and Rev. Burghardt joined hands in unveiling a foundational stone at what is to become a 60-room hostel for cancer patients at the hospital.
ELCT Presiding Bishop Dr Fredrick Shoo (left) and LWF General Secretary Rev. Anne Burghardt (right) unveil a foundational stone at a construction site for what is to become a hostel for cancer patients to the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre of the ELCT.
“Having to undergo medical treatment for a long time, many cancer patients of the KCMC are known to struggle with accommodation during the period of their treatment. Particularly for children and their accompanying family members, even if the treatment itself is offered for free, offering accommodation is necessary to enable them to complete their treatment,” Masenga explains.
“The whole of the KCMC was greatly supported by the LWF already in 1961, and this today is a continuation of that history, of the long and very good partnership and collaboration of the global communion of the LWF,” Bishop Shoo reflected.
"In communion we are all one”
On Sunday, Rev. Burghardt joined worship with several hundred congregants in the Moshi Lutheran Cathedral, in the ELCT’s northern diocese – home diocese to Bishop Dr Shoo.
LWF general secretary Rev. Anne Burghardt (left) is welcomed by ELCT Presiding Bishop Dr Fredrick Shoo (right) during Sunday service at the Moshi Lutheran Cathedral on 27 March.
Invited to preach to the many faithfuls gathered in the cathedral, Burghardt reflected in her sermon on the importance for Christians to live the vision of unity in diversity.
“The Triune nature of our God shows us the way to live in unity and diversity at the same time. God is a life-giving communion of three in one, of unity in diversity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,” Burghardt reflected.
Moshi Lutheran Cathedral filled to the brim during Sunday service on 27 March.
She added, “We are all in communion not only with God, but with one another through Holy Communion. Despite all the differences between us, we are united through Jesus Christ and brought into one Body.”
The service also served as an occasion to officially launch a Kiswahili translation of From Conflict to Communion, translated by the ELCT.
By LWF/Albin Hillert