Bishop Mouneer’s Meeting with Clergy in Gambella

Last week Bishop Mouneer visited Gambella, Ethiopia, with the intention of meeting with and listening to the clergy there as they discussed the qualities they wanted in the future new area bishop. They began with worship and time of prayer. Then the clergy shared the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of the region. Bishop Mouneer was impressed by their clear thinking and their vision for the future. The clergy also discussed their hopes and dreams, and provided a detailed description of the qualifications for and qualities of the new bishop. “We want a bishop, not a visitor,” they said. The members of the clergy have a strong desire for a local bishop, not someone from Egypt or the West.

There has been incredible growth in the Horn of Africa region, and it is time to evaluate the best course of action for the future.

Please continue to pray for the Horn of Africa region during this time of selecting a new area bishop.

St Frumentius’ College to open in January 2015

The Anglican Church in Ethiopia is growing. It is a great example of what God is doing throughout Africa. In 2000, we had 8 churches, now we have over 80. This growth is great news! However, much of this growth is numerical with little depth in the knowledge of the Word of God, and with few trained clergy.

The greatest needs of the Church in Ethiopia, and indeed in all Africa, is theological education, spiritual formation and leadership. In 2012, God sent the Rev. Dr. Grant LeMarquand to become the new Area Bishop for the Horn of Africa with a vision to meet the need by starting a school of theology.

Building upon our experience with the Alexandria School of Theology in Egypt, we decided to start two new campuses in Africa: St. Cyprian’s College in Tunisia and St. Frumentius’ College in Ethiopia. The main goal of these campuses is to form local leaders for the church through providing theological training and spiritual formation.
There are currently 16 clergy serving in 80 churches in Ethiopia, only one of whom has formal theological education. St. Frumentius’ Anglican Theological College will train existing clergy, and new lay and ordained leaders, who will be able to transform the church and address the spiritual and cultural challenges in society.

I believe that St. Frumentius’ College will transform the Church in the Horn of Africa, as we seek to develop a mature and fully indigenous church. I request your prayers for Bishop Grant and for the fulfilment of this vision.

For more information, please download the full proposal below:

Download the Full Proposal

or visit the website of the St. Frumentius’ College: http://frumentiuscollege.dioceseofegypt.org/

 

Update about the refugee situation in Gambella

As violence continues in South Sudan, refugees have been fleeing across the border to Gambella. Bishop Grant writes

“Some of the towns where we have churches near the border have been overrun with large numbers of people fleeing the fighting in South Sudan. For example, in the town where I am going this coming Saturday, there are about 1,000 people living without shelter and with almost no food on the Anglican church compound. The same is true of most of the churches in the town (the clergy have organized the people into groups). There is apparently some food in the town, but little money to buy and the prices are high. I’m going to bring a load of maize with me on Saturday, as well as tarps to use for shelter from the sun – it’s the beginning of dry season – no rain, but intense sun.”

“We have a woman who helps clean the compound here in Gambella. Two days ago we heard that her son had been killed in Juba (he had been staying at the UN compound, but decided to go home to get a change of clothes and was killed on the street.) Stories come to us daily of family members caught in the cross fire. Several members of the staff and clergy have family in UN compounds in Bor and Juba – but no compound is truly safe.”

Pray for Bishop Grant and Dr Wendy, and for the clergy in Gambella as they respond to the current situation. Pray that the needs of the refugees would be met.

Recent visitors to the Episcopal Area of the Horn of Africa (December 2013-Jan 2014)

  • The Rev Dr John Piper who preached at St Matthew’s Church, Addis Ababa
  • Former Crosslinks missionary David Harley to St Matthew’s Addis

Gambella

  • Bishop Andrew and Mrs Janice Proud, the Rev Dr Darrell Hannah, the Rev John Edwards, Ms Tina Bailey, and Ms Janet Larkine from Reading, UK
  • The Rev Dr Johann and Louise Vanderbijl, South Carolina
  • The Rev Nancy Kenney and her husband Pat from North Augusta, South Carolina
  • Mr Yien Chagor Reath of Addis Ababa
  • Mr Paul Gilbert, London, UK
  • Canon Dr John A. Macdonald of Trinity School for Ministry, Ambridge PA USA and three theological students: Matthew Stromberg, Scott Gorbold and Stevan Betcher

Coming soon

  • A team to Gambella from International Design and Development (in February)
  • The Rev Dr Ashley Null guest preacher at St Matthew’s Addis Ababa (in March)

Improving Children’s Nutrition in Gambella

The 2nd training session of the Mothers’ Union Community Education and Development Program was held in December for 35 women representing 21 Mothers’ Union groups from Nuer, Anuak, Mabaan, Dinka and Opo tribes in Gambella. The theme was ‘Good Food makes Strong Bodies.’ Pictures, stories and discussions focused on how good nutrition helps us, and about the importance of eating food from the different food groups.

The pre-project survey showed the majority of children were given a diet consisting primarily of maize (corn). Statistics from the Village Medicine Conference held in Addis Ababa in 2012 showed that on average, in Ethiopia, children eat meat only once or twice a year. Serving food from a variety of food groups (if possible) at most if not all meals, is a good starting point for teaching on nutrition. On day two, the trainees presented the nutrition teaching to one another using story and picture sets.

Mothers Union training (1)

This was followed by a practical skills / income generation activity session on how to crochet mats using free materials such as recycled plastic bags from the market and material from torn clothing and rags. Although sets of extra large crochet hooks were given to each Mission Centre for demonstration purposes and to be shared with community members, participants were taught how to make home-made crochet hooks using twigs and a knife.

Mothers Union training (5)

Spiritual formation sessions provided opportunities to build upon the deepening friendships developing between participants from different tribal groups.

Mothers Union training (4)

After these training sessions at the Gambella Anglican Centre, the Mothers’ Union representatives return to train women in their local villages. Some of these training sessions exceeded expected numbers. For example, the Mothers Union in Pinyadu Refugee Camp held 4 separate training days on clean water with 125, 135, 109 and 123 participants respectively. Participant feedback included “we never realised that when a well person drinks from the same cup as a sick person, the well person could become sick” and “one woman has made a table on which to dry her dishes in the sun and now all her neighbours are using it.

Mothers Union training (8)

Meeting the Prince of Peace in Gambella

“He is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14)

Bishop Grant and Dr Wendy write; “As Christmas approaches, we are meeting the Prince of Peace in unexpected ways.

Three weeks ago, Anuak refugees, driven across the South Sudan / Ethiopia border by some Nuer cattle raiders, ended up in our congregation in Tiergol, where they were housed, fed and welcomed by – Nuer Christians!

Last week, our Dinka priest (who was serving that Nuer congregation in Tiergol) was in Gambella town for our clergy training days when fighting broke out in South Sudan. Although the dispute in South Sudan is political, it also has ethnic overtones. It became dangerous for our priest to return to Tiergol – or to remain in Gambella town where Dinka men are being threatened. Surrounded by the love and support of his fellow Nuer clergy – he has been given transport and enough money to spend a couple of months with a Nuer family in Addis.

Also last week, it was with great joy that we watched as our Mothers’ Union representatives from Opo, surrounded by their sisters from other language groups sang a worship song, the whole group clapping and dancing, some joining in the singing despite language differences. And during the prayer practicum at the same Mothers’ Union gathering, it was a joy to see two translator / facilitators, whose people are traditional enemies, praying together.

This week, we’ve had two South Sudanese refugees staying on the compound, as they wait for papers which would allow them to travel to Addis Ababa. They had walked together through the night escaping fighting in a South Sudan border town and finally arriving at the Gambella Centre (which they were told would be the safest place). One was Nuer, one was Dinka.

Even as war looms, the Prince of Peace is present among His children here in Gambella. Peace, not as the world gives. Fighting evil, not as the world fights. Welcome, Lord Jesus. Welcome this Christmas.”

*Icon by Rev. Dr. Johann Vanderbijl

 

Prayer request for our Gambella churches following violence in South Sudan

A prayer request from Bishop Grant LeMarquand

Violence has broken out in South Sudan. There has apparently been an attempted coup in Juba which was put down. Several hundred people have been killed, and retaliation for killings has erupted all over the eastern part of the country.

One of the factors in the recent South Sudan troubles is the rivalry between 2 ancient enemies, the Nuer and the Dinka. Here just over the border in Ethiopia our Anglican churches have both Dinka (a few) and Nuer (a large number). I was visited today by 5 of my Nuer clergy all of whom are very concerned about the safety of one of the Dinka clergy in Gambella. There have been threats and they thought it would be better if we could get this man (who, though a Dinka) is the pastor of a Nuer congregation near the South Sudan border. I had also been worried about him and their concern confirmed that action was needed, so today he is being sent to a neutral location and clergy shifted around to cover the gap. I thank God for these men who showed such concern. Please pray for the priest and his family.

Pray for peace, reconciliation and that people on both sides realize that an eye for an eye will only leave everyone blind.

Advent Appeal for Churches in Gambella

Giving in Gambella

There is a little church in a town called Ilea in Gambella. The church’s walls are made of a few bamboo sticks; its roof a UNHCR tarp. There is nothing inside but a bare, smooth floor of packed mud. Bishop Grant LeMarquand recently taught at the church about the woman who had given Jesus her wealth (her gift of costly ointment worth a year’s wages); had given her pride (in the ancient world only a slave could be required to attend to a person’s feet); and she had given her reputation (she had let down her hair to wash Jesus’ feet). As it came time for this church to give the offering, to the handfuls of grain and little one birr notes (worth six cents) that were laid on the mat, were added the gifts of the women. One laid down her head scarf, the next her necklace of plastic beads, and one by one, women, who from a western perspective had ‘nothing’, came and brought their gifts – ‘costly’, because that was all they had.

About Gambella

Each week over 6,000 people worship in 70 congregations in Gambella, a region in the west of Ethiopia. These congregations are active in Mothers’ Union, Bible studies, youth ministry, literacy classes, prayer meetings and community development and serve both nationals and refugees from neighbouring Sudan who worship in a variety of languages including Anuak, Dinka, Nuer, Mabaan and Opo.

Make a difference - make a donation today

The Road to Sustainability

Under the leadership of the Right Revd Dr Grant LeMarquand, the Area Bishop for the Horn of Africa, the churches are growing rapidly.  And although people give sacrificially, it is not enough to cover the salary of the priests who are active in discipleship, evangelism and planting new churches.

Make a difference - make a donation today

The challenge now is to support these clergy prayerfully and financially. With the long-term goal of establishing self-supporting churches, the congregations are expected to pay increasing percentages of the priests’ salaries each year. In the short term, however, our congregations are not able to cover the full amount of these salaries. We need you to consider partnering with these churches on their journey to become self-supporting.

Make a difference - make a donation today

Partner with Us

Please pray for the churches in Gambella, and consider supporting the salary of one or more of these priests as a one time donation or an ongoing relationship.

  • Cost of a priest: $2,200 per year
  • Church contribution: $200 per year
  • Balance needed: $2,000 per year

Just click on the buttons below to download printable PDFs and a PowerPoint Presentation that you can share with others.

How to Contribute

You can contribute directly into the bank account of the Anglican Church in Ethiopia

Bank name: Awash International Bank S.C.
Branch: Awat Kilo Branch
Bank address: PO Box 12638 Addis Ababa
Account name: The Anglican Church in Ethiopia
Account number: 476-01304221297000
SWIFT code: AWINETAA

If you are in the USA, you can make a tax deductible donation through the Friends of the Anglican Diocese of Egypt, a registered 501(c)3 corporation.

www.friendsanglicandioceseegypt.org

If you are in the UK, you can contribute through the Egypt Diocesan Association, a registered UK charity, and if you are a UK taxpayer you can “Gift Aid It” – adding 25% to your gift.

www.eda-egypt.org.uk

For more information about our work in Gambella and elsewhere in the Horn of Africa, just click HERE.
Advent Appeal for Gambella (Arabic)
Advent Appeal for Gambella (English)
Advent Appeal for Gambella (Powerpoint)

Definitely NOT boring! Reflections of Bishop Grant on Ministry in the Horn of Africa

Definitely NOT boring!  Just a couple of years ago, life was fairly predictable. Most days I could be found in my office, in front of my computer screen doing professorial preparation or in the classroom teaching. But now, a kaleidoscope of travel has kept life, well, let’s say ‘interesting’!

South Sudan: Speaking at the retreat for students graduating from Bishop Gwynne College and then at the graduation itself combined joy (finally a chance to go to the college where Wendy and I were to have gone almost 30 years ago but were prevented by war), and frustration (preaching at Emmanuel Jieng Church, the wonderful worship interrupted by an hour long campaign speech by the country’s Vice President as he ‘greeted’ the people).

Addis: learning Amharic; jumping through residency permit hoops; filling in at our English congregation while the rector was away; leading and preaching at the Remembrance Day service organized by the British Embassy with 40 ambassadors and their ‘Military Attaches’; introducing a famous Baptist preacher at the Sunday evening service at St Matthew’s.

During one of our trips to Addis, a couple of terrorists blew themselves up while trying to assemble a bomb that they had intended to detonate at a large football match between Ethiopia and Nigeria. The devastation would have been horrific. The country is now on heightened alert. Nothing boring about life here.

Gambella: Life has been no less varied. Reports, repairs, preparation, Area Assembly (like a church ‘Convention’ or ‘Synod’ for the Episcopal Area of the Horn of Africa), and of course, interruptions – the stuff of ministry here. Wonderful visitors from the Mothers’ Union (one from London, one from Juba, one from Addis) to train local literacy facilitators in how to teach the women in our Gambella churches how to read their own language; great visit from St Matthew’s Church representatives to the Area Assembly. Much less helpful visit from a (now) former priest (deposed for neglect of duty, deception, violence and threatening behaviour among other things). Not much that is ‘routine’ here either.

I have often told people that nothing is mediocre in Africa – it is either spectacularly wonderful or truly awful.  I recently read the Old Testament story of the spies going to check out Canaan. Most of them (10 out of 12) came back with the report, “The people were like giants; we seemed like grasshoppers next to them.” A couple of days after reading the passage, I realized that I had caught a case of that exotic disease, ‘grasshopper syndrome’. I was having a tough time trusting that God would give the resources (material and spiritual) that are needed for this work. The ‘cares and occupations’ were taking a toll. I began to long for that 9-5 routine at the desk and in the classroom. A bit of boredom sounded kind of nice. A series of people and events have helped. Bishop Mouneer in Egypt has provided great wisdom; countless encouraging emails seem to arrive just when I need them; and (of course!) Wendy is always there to pray and support. God is good – I may be a grasshopper, but our God sure isn’t.

 

Training on Clean Water with the Mothers Union in Gambella

In a recent survey conducted by the Anglican Church in Gambella, Ethiopia, it was found that an average of 2 to 4 children survived per an average of 9 to 11 children born into the family. Most of these children die under age 5 from communicable disease and malaria.

With the support of Anglican Aid, a three year training program for the Mothers Union has started to address issues of poverty and health. The Mother’s Union is an integral part of the Anglican Church in Gambella, and is actively engaged in literacy programs, church activities, practical help, prayer and visitations to the sick. The new training program will expand the role of the Mothers Union, providing theological and practical skills to women across 70 villages. This will be done through a ‘train-the-trainer’ program, which will empower women to affect change in their own communities.

Dr. Wendy LeMarquand, the project co-ordinator, reports on the first training session. “On September 4th and 5th, we hosted 34 women representing 20 distinct Mothers’ Union groups functioning out of our 14 Mission Centres spread throughout the Gambella region.

It was wonderful to see how intently the women listened to the introductory story dealing with issues of how we learn and how we can work together to help take care of problems in the community. And it was a delight to see how much they enjoyed using pictures and story-telling as they later practiced teaching this to one another! They had lots of fun looking through magnifying glasses and binoculars in the session on how we are able to see things that contaminate water, and they were amazed (and quite horrified!) at the pictures of microorganisms shown to them on my computer!

Our practice sessions on solar water purification, water filter construction, clean water dispensers and dish drying racks were full of laughter, good questions and good discussion. When each of the representatives left to return to their Mission Centres, they carried the materials to make their own clean water dispensers, carrying these simple, inexpensive and locally available items as if they were carrying costly treasure.

These ‘water dispensers’ that our representatives will make during their own community demonstration/teaching sessions will replace the common open (and never washed) communal pot of water (which is usually kept inside the church office, in the dark), and into which one unwashed cup is passed from one coughing adult to one feverish child, to another with diarrhea, etc.

Some were moved to tears to think that what they are learning may save the lives of their precious children. To think that the occurrence and re-occurrence of diarrhea is something that can be taken care of and prevented was a new concept to many. To communicate these important truths in a way that is fun, non-judgmental and memorable is one of the main goals of the program.

Our Mothers’ Union representatives will return to teach what they have learned by holding a teaching day for all of our 1500 Mothers’ Union members at the Mission Centres, and then by holding a second teaching day at our 60+ local churches where each Mothers’ Union member is encouraged to invite and teach at least one community guest.

The Mothers Union in Gambella requires further support for these training sessions. Please contact Bishop Grant and Dr Wendy LeMarquand for further information

 

Clergy Training in Gambella

Every month the clergy of the Gambella region in western Ethiopia come for two to three days of training. We are reading through 1 Corinthians, reading a book on the 39 Articles of Religion, and talking about pastoral issues in the area.

Bishop Grant shares about a recent clergy meeting: “one of the clergy came to me during a break. “Bishop, I have a problem. I need help to understand something”. David Onuk is the priest for the Opo people a small language group two hours into the bush from Gambella town. Although the Ethiopian census number only 1,700, there are probably closer to 5,000 Opo people in the world (it is hard to count people who are so isolated). In the last few years many of them have become (Anglican) Christians.
David’s problem took me by surprise, so I brought the story to the assembled clergy to discuss. A 19-year old nephew, James, who lived with David and his family, had gone off with a group of other young men to hunt for honey in the forest. They found a nest in a tree and James climbed the tree to retrieve the honey. The bees attacked and James fell from the tree impaling himself in the chest as he landed. By the time David reached the scene James was dead.

Then David explained his dilemma. James is the first Opo Christian who has ever died. Some of the people are confused. Are Christians supposed to die? What happens to a Christian when he dies? David explained that the Opo have no view of an afterlife. After relating the details of the story, and after receiving comfort and assurances of prayers from the other pastors, we turned to an attempt to help David to communicate the meaning of this event to his people.

The passage which, in the end, seemed most helpful was 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, but especially the first two verses:
    “We do not want you to be uninformed brothers and sisters, about those who  have fallen asleep, so that you may not grieve as those who have no hope. For,  since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so through Jesus, God will  bring with him those who have died.”
Paul, it seems, had encountered a problem in Thessalonica which was similar to the problem that the Opo were having. Didn’t Jesus defeat death? Doesn’t John 3:16 say that those who believe in Jesus “will not perish”? So what does it mean that Christians die? We talked for quite a while about that fact that Jesus himself faced death. We talked about the resurrection of Jesus and how Jesus’ resurrection is the “first fruits” of our future resurrection. We talked about how we do not have to grieve as if facing death means facing total loss and emptiness, but how our grief is intermingled with true hope – because Jesus rose, we have the assurance of being raised with him. James, even now, is truly in Christ.”

For more news from Bishop Grant and Dr Wendy LeMarquand, visit their blog; www.grantandwendy.com

 

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