Mungu awabariki. (moon-goo ahwha bareekee is how I would write the pronunciation). This is for plural, as in God bless two or more of you. Mungu akubariki (moon-goo ahkoo bareekee) is for God bless you (singular).
Just one of the things we learned during our visit to St. Barnabas Christian Training Centre in Korogwe, Tanzania.
We are grateful to get to visit St. Barnabas at the invitation of the Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Tanzania (ACT), Archbishop Maimbo Mndolwa, and to get to visit with him and talk about his vision and hopes for theological education in the ACT. The Archbishop also serves as the Bishop of the Diocese of Tanga, and the Primate of the ACT, as well as teaching systematic theology at St. Barnabas Christian Training Center.
The Most Rt. Rev. Dr. Maimbo Mndolwa: Archbishop & Primate of Tanzania and Diocese of Tanga
Archbishop Maimbo studied at St. Mark’s Theological College in Dar Es Salaam, Virginia Theolgical Seminary, and earned a Ph.D. in theology at the University of KwaZulu-Natal-Natal. He became Bishop of Tanga in 2012 and was elected Archbishop in 2018.
The Archbishop said St. Barnabas is a Christian Training Centre (rather than a theological college or Bible college) because, in addition to training deacons and priests, St. Barnabas also trains catechists who teach in the church. More about that in a moment.
First, we found it encouraging that training for service in the church here is not just for people who will be ordained. Training is also offered for lay people who will also serve in important and official ways in the church. The process that leads, for some, to ordination and for others, to other ways of serving in the church involves 3 programs. First, students go through a 3 month training program (offered in a different location) in evangelization. This is full-time training in theology, Bible, and other subjects that help people serve the church. Students who pass an exam and who are identified as candidates for further study then go to St. Barnabas for a year-long course of study. Those who pass the exams at the conclusion of the program may serve as catechists in the church.
Catechists have a very important role in the church. All confirmands must be taught by duly-trained catechists. The preparation for confirmation takes one year. Young people are confirmed around the age of 11 by the bishop. After confirmation, they undergo 3 months of preparation for their first communion. The archdeacon comes for the first communion service. After an additional 3 months, the bishop returns to give these young people their certificate of being a Youth in the Church. Some churches have hundreds of confirmands a year. Women can serve as catechists and there are currently 4 women at St. Barnabas preparing for this ministry. Women cannot be ordained in the Diocese of Tanga (although women are ordained in some other dioceses in the Anglican Church of Tanzania; it’s up to each diocese and bishop).
Those who pass the 1-year program and who are identified as potential ordinands then undertake an additional 3-year training program at St. Barnabas and receive a diploma or certificate.
We were given a tour of St. Barnabas and the Cathedral of St. Michael and All Angels (both on the same grounds as the Diocesan office) by the Rev. Simon Habil Singano.
St Barnabas Christian Training Center has 68 students. We were invited to teach a class with all of the students together. Since the language used for teaching is Kiswahili, Rev. Simon translated for us.
Joe taught about 4 theories of the meaning of the cross (atonement theories). I taught about the birth of Jesus as told in the Gospel of Matthew (Matt 1:18-25). The students were engaged and enthusiastic. Rev. Simon did a great job of translating.
In addition to working on their theological studies, many students take advantage of the opportunity provided to work on obtaining their secondary education while they are are St. Barnabas. This means they are working on both theological studies as well as finishing what we call in the United States their high school education at the same time. Students also spend time working on the crops grown on school property that provide some of the food for students at the college.
We were very encouraged by our visit with the staff and students of St. Barnabas. We were also happy, with Rev. Simon’s help, to be able to say to students there: Mungu awabariki.
I wish we had also asked how to say, “God has blessed us through you.”