After a series of delays, we were delighted that Bishop Godfrey Mbelwa, Bishop Vithalis Yusuph and his wife Monica arrived in Suffolk. They have arrived in advance of the Lambeth Conference which will be held on 26 July to 8 August 2022.
The welcoming team led by Bishop Martin and hosts Chris and Anji Dawkins, the Revd Eric Falla and Marion and Martin Gray are supporting the group as they tour our county and beyond.
Bishop Godfrey, Bishop Vithalis and his wife Monica joined the Revd Richard Stainer, in the Cockfield Benefice, on what turned out to be the hottest day of the year so far. With nearing 40 degree heat, this was considered very hot even by Tanzania standards where temperatures of 29 degrees in the mountainous areas are the norm.
The team visited the shade of Topsy's Spinney, an area of church land that is maintained as a conservation project by Andy Bufton. The spinney (a small group of trees) is managed by removing older trees and replanting new ones along with hedgerows to conserve the area. The Spinney includes seating for meditation, prayers and relaxation. Andy showed the group the nesting boxes, including one for a tawny owl, and the bishops were impressed by the area and full of questions.
The was followed by a visit to Cockfield CEVP Primary School during which the bishops answered the children’s questions about life in Tanzania.
After a tea break in the local church, the group went to Bradfield Wood Nature Reserve, which has been a working woodland for over 800 years. Run by both Suffolk Wildlife Trust and as a commercial concern.
Richard said “I wanted to show the bishops how we are ensuring that these woods will be an asset for the long-term future. By using the timber commercially, we can also protect it as an environmental asset. By coppicing the trees and encouraging re growth there is always a variety of habitats for wildlife and money to support the conservation work.”
The last visit of the day was to Bishop’s Farm where the owners Mike and Lorraine Morley are moving to re generative agriculture techniques. This involves reducing the chemicals being used and direct drilling the fields to improve yields and soil fertility over the next 15 – 20 years. Bishop Godfrey was very impressed stating that it had been the best part of the trip so far. We showed them wheat and barley, and a sugar beet which he had never seen before!
Richard concludes “it was lovely to meet the bishops and show them some of the things we are doing to protect the environment in light of the eco crisis. The exceptional heat of the day did highlight the problems we are all living in. Climate change is happening, and it is happening now.”
Conversations during the day did turn to God’s mission and our vision Growing in God. We talked about our faith and how congregations are small here versus the growing congregations in Tanzania. We shared how we demonstrate God’s love through community engagement and social projects – showing people the love of God through witness. They do things a bit differently in Tanzania; Bishop Vithalis said “God is central to our lives, we knock on doors and tell people to come to church on Sunday and they come”.
The Lambeth Conference 2022
Convened by The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference is a gathering of bishops from across the Anglican Communion for prayer and reflection, fellowship and dialogue on church and world affairs. With the theme of ‘God’s Church for God’s World - walking, listening and witnessing together,’ the conference will explore what it means for the Anglican Communion to be responsive to the needs of a 21st Century world.
For further details
Kagera Link Diocese | Weblink