This past week, steps were taken in a special assembly that effectively divided our companion synod, the Pare Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania into two dioceses. We were aware that this extraordinary transition was being planned.Though significantly smaller now, the Pare Diocese continues to function and will convene an Extra-ordinary General Assembly in December to make the necessary changes to governing documents and strategic decision making in light of this change.

The newly formed “diocese in preparation,” the Mwanga Diocese, has elected leaders (Bishop-elect Chediel E. Sondoro and Assistant Bishop Timothy J. Msangi), and will continue the necessary steps to begin functioning independently of the Pare Diocese.

It will take some time to sort out all the implications for our companionship. We remain a companion synod to the Pare Diocese. Several Southeastern Iowa Synod congregations have longstanding relationships with parishes in the emerging Mwanga Diocese. But all companion relationships fall under the umbrella of the church-to-church relationship between the ELCA and the ELCT and we will work closely with our partners in Global Mission to determine how best we can serve the interests of the church-to-church partnership.

Please pray for the Pare Diocese as they face a more challenging new reality and for the Mwanga Diocese as their new identity continues to emerge. And pray that regardless of how all the details are sorted out that, together with our sisters and brothers in Tanzania, we might provide a bold witness to the unity that is ours in Jesus Christ.

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