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.

Diocesan Newsletter November 2013

asc75-all-saints-mural

Dear friends,

On the 1st and 2nd of November, we celebrated the 75th Anniversary of All Saints Cathedral. When we reflected on the history of the Cathedral we were able to see the hand of God in every step. We celebrated this great heritage of God’s faithfulness, the devotion of believers who committed themselves to serving God and the generosity of Muslim leaders who provided the land. It was a real joy to welcome my friend Archbishop John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, to preach the Gospel during the thanksgiving service.

This last month was one of the most difficult times for us here in Egypt. The terrorist attacks in the north of Sinai became more frequent. There was an attack during a wedding service at a Coptic Orthodox church in Warraq, Giza, where a dozen people died from the same family. Two state security police officers responsible for monitoring the activities of extremists Muslims and terrorists were assassinated. When of these terrorists was arrested, he had in his possession a list of organizations, churches, politicians and media people to be targeted. This is enough to make people fearful and uncertain.

However, I see that the Egyptian people are more hopeful than before. We believe that as it took two years for these extremists to emerge, it will take another year or two for the security situation to improve. Security personnel are now more visible on the streets to maintain order.

Pray for us as we look forward to the future, trusting in God’s faithfulness and grace.

May the Lord bless you!

+Mouneer


Click HERE to make a donation to the Advent Appeal for the Churches in Gambella

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.

 

Horn of Africa Area Assembly

200 clergy, lay leaders, Mothers Union representatives, congregations from the 70 churches in Gambella gathered at the Gambella Anglican Centre for two days of business, worship and teaching.

As our churches in Gambella are so remote and living conditions are hard,  it is difficult for clergy and lay people to come together. The annual Area Assembly is important because it brings leaders together, to pray together, learn together, and grow to understand each other better. Please see below Bishop Grant LeMarquand’s report for the meeting.

Bishop’s Charge Area Assembly 2013

As part of the Assembly, churches presented dramas of Biblical stories. The audience hushed as ‘Jesus’ walked in, resplendent in wig and re-purposed Mothers’ Union uniform. In quiet solemnity, the crowd followed Jesus, holding wounded heads bound in cloth, walking with shortened and twisted limbs, and otherwise looking generally woe-begone. With quiet majesty, Jesus healed all.  As all sat down, one of the disciples approached the Lord, clearly explaining in Opo that the crowd needed to eat. A regal gesture from Jesus sent him back to the crowd, where 5 small loaves and 2 real fish were produced in hushed reverence. As Jesus lifted the basket high in mute thanksgiving, the plastic bag under the loaves and fish was ripped away, revealing the hidden bounty of bread rolls underneath. Electrifyingly, the crowd leapt to their feet, their cries of joy erupting from the absolute silence like a foretaste of resurrection! As one man, they dove in a free for all scrum, loaves of bread flying everywhere, mouths full of laughter and food – real joy… and really funny!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

Bibles for the Horn of Africa

Nuer Bibles

While Nuer is one of the main people groups in our churches in Gambella, there are no Nuer Bibles available in Ethiopia. They are available in South Sudan, but there is as yet no mail service functioning in South Sudan. Most churches have only 5 Bibles per congregation.

While mentioning the lack of Bibles in a church in St Helena’s Beaufort, in our partner Diocese of South Carolina, it became clear that the pastor of the church was very concerned that so many did not have access to God’s written word. On the spot he pledged money, not only to buy Bibles, but also to pay for getting them from Juba in South Sudan to Ethiopia. Then while in the UK, Bishop Grant and his wife Wendy made contact with someone who flies into both Juba and Addis Ababa and who will be able to facilitate picking up the Bibles and delivering them to Ethiopia! Praise God for His provision!

Anuak Bibles

Up until now, the Anuak people have had only the New Testament. Now for the first time, the whole Bible is available! On July 6, Bishop Grant attended the great celebration of the Bible’s unveiling together with thousands of joyful Anuak Christians. Churches in both Pittsburgh and southern California have donated funds so that we can purchase a good number of Anuak Scriptures.

 

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