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Arusha offers vibrant and colourful worship life

Arusha offers vibrant and colourful worship life

CWME participants receive communion at Christ Church Cathedral, Arusha. Photo: Albin Hillert/WCC
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12 March 2018

Tanzanian dance, vibrant choral performances, and treasured liturgy: the African worship experience in Tanzania has something for everyone searching for meaning.

With a spirit of hospitality, the Christ Church Cathedral of Mount Kilimanjaro Diocese in Arusha celebrated mass on 11 March, inviting fellow Christians from around the world who were participating in the World Council of Churches (WCC) Conference on World Mission and Evangelism (CWME).

The cathedral, located in central Arusha, has historically marked the mid-point between Cape Town (South Africa) and Cairo (Egypt), and has a long history of being a  central worship point for a mixture of local and international congregants.

Reflecting the call to mission, the church is active in the areas of education and health, and sponsors schools, hospitals, as well as charity work. With a particular focus on children, the church organizes a weekly “Compassion Saturday”, where children are welcomed to the church for Christian teachings, food and other support.

Welcoming the international visitors to an African worship experience, the service combined traditional aspects of the Anglican liturgy with contemporary African charisma, through choirs and dance.

“Even if you do not understand Swahili, you can still enjoy a Tanzanian dance,” said one of the choir leaders.

Calling worshippers

Young and old, women and men, children and elderly — bringing together a congregation of over 1,000 people, the Arusha Mjini Kati Lutheran Church gathered to celebrate Sunday service on 11 March, together with international visitors participating in the WCC Conference on World Mission and Evangelism.

At the Arusha Mjini Kati Lutheran Church.
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Photo: Albin Hillert/WCC

To the words “The word of the Lord calls you; the word of salvation calls you”,  the neighbouring church, the Arusha Mjini Kati Lutheran Church, also welcomed worshipers on Sunday. Here, young and old, women and men, children and elderly, bring together a congregation of more than 1,000 people. The church, which bears its name from its central location in Arusha, Tanzania, has a history of more than 100 years, and is an active body in evangelical outreach, spreading the Gospel throughout Tanzania.

Through “creative ministry”, including drama, music and artistic expression, this church explores new ways of engaging young people, and in proclaiming the good news.

Bishop Mary Ann Swenson from the United Methodist Church, vice-moderator of the WCC Central Committee, preached during the service, reflecting on what it means to have faith in the face of hardship, based on readings from Mark 4: 35-41.

Faith in the face of hardship

Sunday service at the Pentecostal Naivera Apostolic Church.

At the Pentecostal Naivera Apostolic Church.
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Photo: Freddy Dutz/WCC

Sunday Service at the main branch of Naivera Church Apostolic in Arusha, that consists of four dioceses, was a succession of Bible studies called the “first” sermon, based on 2 Kings 22 – praise and worship sessions, and a “second” sermon with greetings and introductions. Special presentations were made by a choir, a band and a guest artist.

“Let the oppressed go free” was the title of the sermon delivered by Rev. Dr Susan Durber of the Faith and Order Commission of WCC. The pastor of the United Reformed Church in the United Kingdom said that Jesus is bringing freedom to all, not only people who are obviously suffering from all kinds of stigma, imprisonment, abuse or pain, but to everyone, because we are all captives in one way or the other.

Bishop Dr Julius J. Laizer, the hosting bishop and founder of the church, acted as an interpreter and an “amplifier” of the sermon. He thanked the delegation warmly for joining them and so did several leaders in the church.

After the worship the Bishop invited the guests to plant trees on the church compound in memorial of the visit on the occasion of the CWME.

Improving lives

At the Catholic “Tokeo La Bwana Burka” (Saint Epiphany) church

At the Catholic “Tokeo La Bwana Burka” church.
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Photo: Geoffrey Alemba/WCC

Another Christian church in Arusha with a vibrant spiritual and liturgical life is the Catholic “Tokeo La Bwana Burka” (Saint Epiphany) church, founded in 2000. With a large congregation of approximately 7,000 people, the church is located in an Arusha area of settlements where the majority of people live in a single room house and are mostly low-income daily labourers. Thus, besides the spiritual space, the parish is called to provide the social space needed for numerous activities that are able to improve the quality of people`s life.

“Various programmes, with focus on faith, health and education are running in an annual basis in our church community,” father of the church Peter Pinto said, “the daily issues of families that are struggling daily to survive is our greatest concern”.

Several associations are also delivering impressive work under the Saint Epiphany church, amongst others in sports, youth and women issues. Social development and self-care groups providing financial support for people in need are also very active within the parish`s work.

The Catholic Church has been present in Tanzania for more than a hundred years now, through important missionary work. A congregation with deep spirituality, covering all age groups getting along in the difficulties of times through a strong community spirit and the hope in Christ and its people.

At the Orthodox Arusha church of “Evangelismos”

At the Orthodox church of “Evangelismos”.
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Photo: Geoffrey Alemba/WCC

The Orthodox Arusha church of “Evangelismos” lived on Sunday one of the most majestic and dignified moments in its history. It is a relatively small parish of a hundred local people coming from Orthodox traditions.

It was a strong spiritual moment of unity in Christ, common witness (martyria) and hope, as archpriests and priests from almost all Orthodox WCC member churches celebrated the holy eucharist. The serious orthodox missionary work that started in Tanzania with Archbishop of Albania Anastasios is continued today from the Orthodox Metropolitan of Arusha Agathonikos and several priests.

“We are here to teach – only in sacrifice - love and truth by example, we are here to support organically those in need. In Africa we are truly carrying the cross of mission and there is no easy path to follow”,  Agathonikos said.

The church was founded in 1953 and is delivering important work in the field of education, by operating at the same space the “Saint Constantine International School”. Students from several African communities and others coming from several orthodox countries are following a very high-level international curriculum that equips them with important assets for their future. A place of giving and promise for a better future in Tanzania based in knowledge and faith.

Spiritual nourishment

"The church is where I belong. This is where I come every Sunday to get spiritual, emotional and physical nourishment after a long week at work. Having worked seven days a week which is a great favour given to me by God, I feel compelled to come here every Sunday for thanksgiving,” said Nzia Ulomi, a congregant of Nkwarungo Kusirye-U Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT) after attending a service in the church.

At the Nkwarungo Kusirye-U Evangelical Lutheran Church

At the Nkwarungo Kusirye-U Evangelical Lutheran Church.

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Photo: Ivars Kupcis/WCC

Sitting on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro in Moshi and surrounded by beautiful trees and breathtaking landscape, the Nkwarungo Kusirye-U church was established in 1893 by Leipzig Mission as the first Lutheran Mission Centre in northern Tanzania. The church opens its doors for worship to over 1,800 persons every Sunday in its three services besides offering Christian education, health services, running an orphanage and making pastoral visits to its members.

While giving a sermon in this church during the morning service which was also attended by Bishop Dr Fredrick Shoo, presiding bishop of the ELCT,  Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, WCC general secretary, observed, "The Garden of Eden and the story of creation is reflected in this environment where this church is located. The work of creation is still ongoing through the spirit as the ongoing Conference on World Mission and Evangelism has taught us in these past few days."

The theme of the conference is “Moving in the Spirit: Called to Transforming Discipleship.”

Tveit continued “We are all God's creation made in His image. Diversity is a gift from God to us. We have a duty to take care of God's creation together.”

The worship was accompanied by beautiful songs from two intergenerational choirs.

Download free photos from the CWME and accompanying events (password: WCC)

Photo gallery with pictures of Sunday services

Documents related to the conference

Learn more about the Conference on World Mission and Evangelism