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Joyful reflections on the value for all of a vital Tanzania link

First published on: 15th August 2023

A recent celebration of a meaningful link between two sister parishes – one in the Calder Valley and one in Tanzania – was full of prayer and personal reflections.

St Mary’s, Luddenden, in the Diocese of Leeds has been linked with St Mary’s, Mmazame in the Diocese of Mara, Tanzania for more than 15 years and in marking its own patronal festival, the Luddenden congregation took the opportunity to commemorate their sister parish.

“There is something rather special about sitting on an earth floor in a church in Africa, looking over the vastness of the land in front of you and listening to the joyous singing of the congregation, praising God and saying thank you. We get great pleasure from simply being together,” explained Canon Keith Rowe, Luddenden’s parish link officer.

Keith was installed as a Canon of Musoma Cathedral last year, in thanks for his dedication to the parish link over many years.

The link has always been a very practical one, with various members of the Luddenden congregation and village visiting Mmazame every couple of years or so.

The people of Luddenden have not only raised money for various needs at the church in Mmazame, but have physically helped with the projects, which include providing a playground with play equipment, building a house for the priest, flooring and roofing the church and the vestry, providing guttering and tanks to harvest water, building a pen for goats and then chickens, and funding a programme of monthly breakfasts for the congregation in Mmazame.

At Sunday’s service, various people who have visited Mmazame reflected on what they have learned or received from the experiences – including lasting friendship, generosity and hospitality, and a window into a much simpler way of life.

Canon Jane Evans recounted how she talked with the women preparing a chicken for lunch. “The hen was killed, plucked, gutted, cut up, washed and put on the fire to cook, all in the space of half an hour. In so many ways, we have lost that direct link between the source of our food and the preparation. We have much to learn.”

“Our time spent with the parishioners each day was an absolute blessing”, added Daren Wilkinson, landlord of the village pub in Luddenden, who has visited Mmazame twice. “Even at a time of great financial difficulty, where they could only afford on meal a day, they all contributed in order to purchase food for our visit. A truly humbling experience”.

After the service, the Luddenden congregation were served samples of African food, including ugali, a porridge-like dish made from cornmeal, which is a staple food in many parts of Africa.

Pictured at the service on Sunday, August 13 are left to right, Canon Jane Evans, wearing a dress made for her by the women of Mmazame, Canon Keith Rowe in his Musoma cathedral robes, and Daren Wilkinson, wearing the waistcoat made for him in Mmazame. They are pictured in front of the altar cloth given as a gift to St Mary’s Luddenden by the congregation of St Mary’s, Mmazame.

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