This is part four of a five part series written by USPG entitled Living with a World of Difference, celebrating diversity within the anglican community.
Hold a short time of silence together to still your minds and recall God’s presence, and then pray aloud together:
Holy Spirit, give us faith
Holy Spirit, give us hope
Holy Spirit, give us love
Revive your work in this land
beginning with me. Amen.
Namirembe Diocese, Uganda
In 1964, the United Republic of Tanzania was born out of a union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar, unified under the principle of Ujamaa, which asserts that a person only becomes a true person through being in community.
This merger of two countries also led to the formation of the Anglican Church of Tanzania (ACT) through the amalgamation of two distinct strains of Anglicanism, the more evangelical group coming from historic Church Missionary Society (CMS) missions to Tanganyika, and the more Anglo Catholic group from the Universities’ Mission to Central Africa (UMCA) primarily in Zanzibar. Bishop George Okoth, of the Diocese of Mara, explains how they have been united in mission:
The Anglican Church of Tanzania (ACT) knows the paramount reason for its
existence is to be obedient to the Great Commission – our business is to make disciples and teach them all that Jesus commanded. Our two groups have been joined together in this by a number of factors including a belief in the authority of the Scriptures, the Book of Common Prayer and traditions. We understand that the Church grows by preaching the Gospel of Jesus and supporting the physical needs of human beings, in other words, holistic mission. If we don’t do both, the church will cease to exist.
The ACT is aware of the concept of unity in diversity. We acknowledge that
we have differences in many ways in Tanzania: ethnically, culturally, socially and economically. We are united in matters primary to our faith, like the Bible, but we do accept diversity on secondary matters such as ways of worship, vestments and preaching.
We uphold the human rights of people regardless of race, class or ethnic group.
We renounce any verbal abuse of another person and treat each other with
dignity and purity. We do this because of the foundation on which our nation was built – Ujamaa. It is about respecting every person because we believe that we are made people through other people.
Tanzanian Anglicans have a great sense of community. Behaviour that threatens the oneness of the community is gently but firmly not allowed. We are more communal than individualistic in our thinking, lives and decision-making. The ACT always engages her members to live lives worthy
of the Gospel, because we live in the midst of Muslims and many non-believers. These people may never read the Bible – they will read our lives as their Bible. Thus by God’s grace, we believe that our lives and actions themselves are evangelisation.
As we talk about the comprehensive nature of the Anglican Church, let us make sure that wherever the traditional practices conflict with the Holy Scriptures in this rapidly-changing world, we let go of the traditions and uphold the unchanging Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is possible, it has been done and it can be done today, by God’s grace.
Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you should be in agreement and that there should be no divisions among you, but that you should be united in the same mind and the same purpose. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters. What I mean is that each of you says, ‘I belong to Paul’, or ‘I belong to Apollos’, or ‘I belong to Cephas’, or ‘I belong to Christ.’ Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptised in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptised none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one can say that you were baptised in my name. (I did baptise also the household of
Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptised anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptise but to proclaim the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power.
Pray the Lord’s Prayer aloud, inviting each person to choose their preferred language.
Have a time of silence, followed by an opportunity to pray aloud any issues that have arisen during the session. Conclude by praying aloud together:
Almighty God, merciful Father, we pray thee to direct thy holy church,
that it may abide and grow in unity and in its witness throughout the world,
and that our faith may increase.
Grant, we beseech thee, that we may dwell in peace
and have thy blessing on our work. Amen.
A United Liturgy for East Africa