McCann Mission Today
Newsletter # 29
Oct 2010


The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind—Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you, So they might be one heart and mind with us, Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me. John 17:21-22 (The Message translation)

The foundations of our faiths-one God, one world, one humanity, and one heaven-are strong and everlasting realities that can enhance peace on earth. We have to learn to come together regularly and renew ourselves for cooperation in keeping and preserving peace in our world. (from Bishop Mdimi Mhogolo’s opening remarks at the Interreligious Conference on Conflict Analysis and Peace Building, June 29, 2010, Dodoma, Tanzania)

A lot has happened to the faith community since our last newsletter at Easter time.  God has been with us every step of the way.  Many persons and groups have visited or come to stay for prolonged periods of time.  Each has contributed to the godly equation.

In late June over 55 Christian and Muslim leaders from Kenya, Malawi, and Tanzania gathered together for three days of community building, networking, and professional development at the lovely St. Gaspar’s Conference Center in Dodoma.  This international conference was organized by Msalato Theological College (MTC) and Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) and funded by a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation.

The principal focus was on conflict analysis and peace building as well as providing time for renewal.   The setting for the conference provided a beautiful space for Christian and Muslim colleagues to get to know one another more deeply, to learn together and to share fellowship during meals, tea breaks, and World Cup Soccer.  Tours of the Gaddafi Mosque, the Anglican Cathedral and the new University of Dodoma were enjoyed by all.The magnificent mosque was funded by Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi of Libya at a cost of five million dollars.  It is the second largest mosque in East Africa, with Uganda having the largest.  The University of Dodoma is beyond belief—7 miles of impressive buildings, including a new medical school and plans for the largest hospital in Tanzania.  There are 60 students in the first year medical school class. 

Gadaffi Mosque (2000 prayer places inside)                                      

Dodoma University

A side benefit of this conference was the reunion of old friends from Virginia.  Leslie Steffensen, a former missionary here, now working for the Center for Anglican Communion Studies at VTS, and Sandra’s former professors, Drs. Barney Hawkins and Judith McDaniel were among those who came from VA.  Also present were the Rev. Robin Gulick, Interreligious Officer and VTS student James Livingston, a descendent of Dr. David Livingstone.  Additionally they were accompanied by Ms. Susan Lukens from Houston, TX, who is working on her doctorate at VTS. 

Susan is a retired middle school dean who has great interest in children’s ministry and spirituality.  She spent the week at MTC working with women priests and Christian Education ministers from the Diocese of Central Tanganyika (DCT.)  She taught them how to use the Godly Play Sunday School curriculum, making all the props from clay, paper, and other indigenous materials.  For contemplative prayer she made a labyrinth out of old twine and electrical lines.  The final day she took her students to practice presenting a parable with the children in a village.  It was a very moving and touching experience for all.  By the end of the week Susan committed to coming back to MTC to teach English to pastors’ wives for the first quarter of next year.  Surely God was in the equation!

The Solar Light for Africa team arrived in mid-July.  They are mostly from St. David’s in Roswell Georgia and are led by solar engineer Alden Hathaway Jr. (shown on right in blue shirt with Scott Freeman, Ayubu Mazengo, Gershon Maloda, Marge and Dave Garrett, Emily Ridgeway.)  Last year they solarized the cafeteria and library at Msalato.  This year they added to the library and the administration building at Msalato. 

They also solarized the Matumbulu Secondary School.  Matambulu has been struggling as a new secondary school designated to better preparing entrants for Msalato.  This solar project gave them some lift.  Later after Sandra gave a Sunday address to a women’s conference in a remote village, the team put lights in Pastor Ayubu Mazengo’s home.  Last year Ayubu had worked with them, helping as translator but also learning the fundamentals of solar power and wiring.  He will be able to maintain the system and his children will have light at night to do their studies.  He already has a thriving business of charging cell phones for the neighbors (rather than sending their phones by bus to town to be charged.) The solar team plans to return next year with a group of young people and continue their work.  God is in this equation for the long term.

Another group came from New York, led by old friends, the Reverends Deb Tammearu and Patrick Ward, to visit their Carpenter’s Kids’ link parishes. They came bearing gifts of clothing and school supplies.  It’s true—in DCT everyone does love NY! Another group came from Ivy, Virginia, led by the Rev. Miller Hunter from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church near Charlottesville.  They are also linked with a Carpenter’s Kids parish and are committed to helping the village of Nzali with water and medical services. 

Sandra preached at St Paul’s when she returned to the states in September where she was graciously hosted by Carolyn and Bill Achenbach. Since we once lived in nearby Louisa, VA, and Sandra’s first job was at the University of Virginia Hospitals, Sandra especially enjoyed seeing the changes in Charlottesville and meeting up with old friends.

For the past 2 years the Foundation of the Diocese of Wyoming has supported Msalato Theological College with a printer, forty computers, and many student scholarships.  In May a group from St. Andrews and St. John the Baptist in Pinedale and Big Piney came to evaluate the projects they were committed to and to see what else they could do.  Some Christians come from places in our own country that we are not very familiar with.  Sandra is looking forward to a visit with them for a few days in October.

Pictured above are Leanne Rellstab (back left) and Phil and Patty Washburn with the Msalato students that the Foundation of Wyoming sponsors.


We received a surprise visit from our long time friend Agnes Shelton and her daughter Andrea McKinney. They were on a tour with Texas Southern University where Andrea works.  They took time out from the tour to come from Morogoro to Dodoma.  Although they could only stay one night they came to a staff dinner and met the faculty of MTC.  They brought warm greetings from the Reverend Harry Carlson and St. Mary Magdalene’s Columbus.

Msalato was triply blessed this semester by the arrival of three recent theology graduates of St. Andrew’s University in Scotland.  They have enthusiastically taken up teaching various courses.  They have stepped out of their comfort zones to learn as much about Africa as they can in one semester.  We call them the “Scots” but Guy Scott-Martin and Marcus Mayo are from England and Oliver Langworthy is from the US.  They stay in shape running and smashing the birdie around the badminton court.  All of MTC feels God was doing higher math in this equation.

Two close friend from the Diocese of North Carolina, Jessie Mackay and Tally Bandy, returned to Msalato for a third time.  Tally is a deacon from the Diocese of North Carolina and Jessie is a professional artist from Pinehurst.  Both taught at Msalato and Bishop Stanway for one month.  There biggest impact though was to do a seminar on empowerment of women in the nearby Diocese of Rift Valley.  This was attended by all but two of the pastors and their wives in the diocese.  Think of what God added to this equation.  (This picture was taken at St Paul’s Ivy on September 12 when they drove from NC to surprise Sandra.)

Tally and Jessie have also been involved in women’s issues at Msalato.  One of the problems in the Diocese of Central Tanganyika is that male pastors become proficient in English but their wives are held back socially by the lack thereof. Tally and Sandra wrote a grant that was accepted and funded by the Diocese of NC to provide an English Course for the pastors’ wives.  The first class of 15 commenced this semester and was taught by Helen Entwistle.  This English woman has had extensive experience in teaching in DCT and her Kiswahili helped get a basic course off the ground.  Now another English woman, Peta Groome, also proficient in Kiswahili, has returned to continue further course work.  The wives are enthusiastic and grateful.

There is another women’s project at MTC that is taking form. In Tanzania the wife of the Bishop is head of the Women’s Union.  Irene Mhogolo is active in teaching and empowering the women of the Diocese. She has a vision for a Women’s Center for meetings, seminars and retreats.  Now plans are taking shape to build this center on the campus of MTC.  Johanna Jacob, an architect by profession and Msalato Episcopal missionary, has drawn plans for an administrative building, hostel, multipurpose conference hall, and dining area.  The mission statement is: To provide a center that promotes gender equality through spiritual development, training, and education.  The project has full approval of Bishop Mhogolo and he promotes it as an important step forward for his people.  As we have mentioned before, he is the only bishop in Tanzania who at the present time is ordaining women.  Unfortunately, funding for this remains in the future.

Martin’s histopathology has enjoyed recent blessings.  He experienced a severe problem with a broken drive pin in the tissue processor (essential equipment to get biopsies ready to be put in paraffin to be sectioned).  After several tries and with the help of a clever mechanic the pin was replaced with an automobile bearing.  It has continued to work but the 30-year old machine could falter at any time.  The blessing comes in the form of a new machine provided by an anonymous donor.   Along with the processor comes an embedding center previously done by a makeshift method needed to put tissue into paraffin.  Both of these pieces of equipment have arrived and are being put into a new expansion of the laboratory.  Since lab volume has increased there is a need to expand the work area and the workforce.  Another technician has been trained and will start work in October.  An opening blessing ceremony is being planned for early November to introduce the improvements to the local doctors and health officials.

Our dear friend, the Rev. Beth Palmer, from St. John’s West Point, Virginia, visited Msalato again for the fourth time for the month of August.  She taught at the college and then spent a week teaching and preaching in a village.  She stayed with Rev. Emmanuel Petro and his family, the same pastor and family with whom Sandra spent Holy Week.  Now he has moved to a new area where he serves as pastor and as Area Coordinator.  Sandra did an introductory sermon at the beginning of the week, Beth taught and evangelized during the week and gave a concluding sermon at the end of the week.  It wasn’t easy riding to remote churches on a pikipiki (motor bike) as she and Emmanuel were getting acquainted with his new domain.  She is a discerning joyous Christian and gained a profound insight into the local community.   Not hard to see God at work in this equation. 

In Africa when our friends leave we say SAFARI NJEMA (safe journey) and Mungu awabarki (God bless) until the next time.  It seems that good-byes are rarely final as Africa gets under one’s skin.  It was in this vein that we said farewell to Sewanee professors Bob and Barbara Hughes who returned to Tennessee in June after a semester of teaching.  They became beloved members of the MTC family and we look forward to their returning soon.  Sandra will be visiting Sewanee on October 14th for Mission Night.


It is truly amazing to see Christians from all parts of the world coming to Tanzania and melding with the faith communities.  How do you see God entering into the equations in your lives?

Peace and joy,

Sandra and Martin