The concluding element of the CMSI Partner Visit to the Diocese of Northern Zambia involved Archbishop Richard and myself visiting different areas in the diocese and spending time with the people there.
Archbishop Richard spent two days with his Zambian counterpart, Archbishop Albert Chama. On Monday, they toured the city of Kitwe, which is the second city of Zambia and the base for the diocese. This included calls at several churches and a tour of a meeting facility the diocese is developing. The intention is to set up a multi-purpose venue that the Church can use for large gatherings but that can also be rented commercially, enabling the diocese to move towards financial stability. Poverty is a very real issue here and while people are very generous in their giving, the Church struggles with its income.
On the same day, I accompanied Father Stephen Chibubi around Kitwe. Father Stephen is the New Testament lecturer at St John’s Seminary but he also has responsibility for two parishes in the diocese. We visited both parishes, one of which (St Andrew’s) includes an early years’ provision centre – the parish offers a free pre-school facility for the local community that is already heavily oversubscribed.
Work will soon begin on a new toilet facility and there are longer term plans to use the church land to build classrooms. Alongside these Church visits, I joined Stephen for some pastoral class – one to a parishioner who had recently been discharged from hospital after suffering a stroke and the second to a wake, where we joined in singing hymns and saying prayers with the bereaved family.
On Wednesday, I joined Archbishop Richard and Archbishop Albert on a visit to Chingola, a mining town about 50km north of Kitwe. Here we visited four parishes and made pastoral visits to several clergy and their families. We also met with a Mothers’ Union Group in St John’s Chingola and visited two different schools, one in St John’s and one in St Monica’s Church.
At the end of this final full day in Zambia, we shared a meal with the Chamas and the Scotts. Please continue to pray for the Church in Zambia, for Archbishop Chama and for Keith and Lyn Scott as they serve in the seminary. Pray too for Archbishop Richard and myself as we depart later today (Thursday) on our journey back to the wind and the snow in Ireland.