Seven-hour service of consecration and enthronement of Bishop Darlington Bendankeha as the fourth Bishop of Kagera.
Tuesday 31st October 2017
“I was warned that the experience would be life-changing, and so it was” says Tim Jones
On Sunday 29 October thousands gathered from all across the Kagera region, together with the Archbishop of Tanzania, and Bishops from various countries, for the seven-hour service of consecration and enthronement of Bishop Darlington Bendankeha as the fourth Bishop of Kagera.
Kagera is the partner Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich and the Revd Tim Jones, Diocesan Director of Ordinands, was there as Bishops' emissary, a role that Darlington had fulfilled at Bishop Martin's 'enthronement' at St Edmundsbury Cathedral in 2015.
Tim Jones says “As someone new to central Africa, I was struck by the delight that everyone took in the opportunity to worship God together. The service was not something to be ‘got through’, but was to savoured and enjoyed; something important was happening, and they would give it their full attention”.
“I have experienced nothing like it in my life, except for the six-hour farewell service for Bishop Aaron Kijangali the previous day! The outdoor service was loud, colourful, energetic, and both very Anglican and very African. The whole day was punctuated with several amazing "kwayas" (choirs) of vigourous African dancing”.
Kagera lies close to the equator, and the day had moments of warm sun and a long spell of torrential rain, but the huge congregation of all ages remained attentive and engaged, crowding together under canopies erected in front of the cathedral the day before.
The Tanzanian Minister of Legal Affairs was the guest of honour: he spoke for 40 minutes, a speech similar in length both to the Archbishop's sermon and Bishop Darlington's address. Lest that sound boring, the Archbishop criticized some government policies and the Minister (the son of an Anglican priest) rebuked clergy for not always dressing properly!
There was a carnival atmosphere, blended with a wholehearted appreciation of the sacred nature of the day. The service started at 9am, and lunch was served from 4:30-6pm. It didn't seem to occur to anyone to put their stomachs first.
“I was warned that the experience would be life-changing, and so it was. We have a great deal we can learn from our brothers and sisters in Christ in Kagera Diocese; though it might feel like it's a world away. Let's find more ways to let that happen” says Tim Jones.