Highlights from Madi West Nile

Posted by Roger Cooke on Mon, 24 Nov 2014 | 0 comments | Bookmark: digg this Post this to del.icio.us Post this to Facebook

In April/May this year, I decided to accompany my husband on his overseas placement as part of his training as a minister in the Church of Ireland. This is very unusual, and I was the only one to do it. This is because we see ourselves as both being in training for our future ministry together. I know other spouses feel the same way, but I was fortunate enough to have been given the time off work by my very understanding and supportive employers!

We spent three weeks in Arua, in Madi West Nile Diocese, working very closely with the Emmanuel Cathedral and the diocesan staff. I found this very interesting and useful on two levels – one, working in a parish setting (albeit a cathedral!) and two, seeing how things work and what structures are in place on a diocesan level. I work in the Diocese of Derry and Raphoe, and so it was interesting to see how things compared with Madi West Nile Diocese (yes, I’m that sad!).

One of my highlights was meeting the women from the cathedral, and journeying alongside them for three weeks. They are so active and have a meeting of some sort or another every day for various different groupings – Mothers’ Union, Christian Women’s Fellowship, etc. But these weren’t planning meetings – no, they were prayer meetings, worship services, or something more practical. I did go to a Mothers’ Union exec meeting whilst I was there, and that was also a time of great encouragement, to hear about all that it happening across the diocese. It was a great challenge to me, as a woman, of the importance of fellowship and celebrating our identity as women.

On the flip side of that, I spent some of my time just supporting my husband. As an ordinand, he was treated much like a minister. He was therefore preaching in most places we visited, and my role was generally to sit beside him and so visibly show my support. I thought I would struggle with this, as I’m not one to just sit down and keep quiet, but actually I realised it was culturally appropriate and an important role for me to fulfil. I was able to pray for Chris and the people in the meeting, as well as say hello and send greetings from our diocese/Mothers’ Union etc.

One thing I was particularly challenged by was people’s generosity and the joy with which they gave. We were fortunate enough to attend three weddings during our visit, and so we became very familiar with the way they give gifts. As the music is playing, each person or group giving a gift is announced. They then come in bearing their gift for all to see, whilst dancing and singing the whole time. They may have brought a saucepan, a chicken, a goat…or even a bed! It didn’t seem to be that they were showing off, but that they were so joyful to be able to give to the couple in question. This joy was also evident in church, as people celebrated their giving and gave out of what little they had.

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