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A postcard home from Zimbabwe: Opening Session

July 17, 2017

By Melissa Lauber

Thirty members of the Baltimore-Washington Conference – 15 laity and 15 clergy – have traveled to Zimbabwe to help teach at a Pastors School and to help build the partnership between the BWC and United Methodists in Zimbabwe. Melissa shares the story of their journey in her ‘Postcards home from Zimbabwe.’

The glory of the connectional church was on display at Africa University July 17, when members of the Baltimore-Washington Conference joined with the clergy of Zimbabwe in the opening of the Pastors’ School. 

This is the 20th year for this event, said the Rev. Joseph Daniels, the co-dean of the School, and lead pastor at Emory Fellowship in Washington, D.C.

Over time, Daniels said, the training and the partnership have evolved to meet the needs of the Zimbabwe pastors. Today, more pastors from Zimbabwe lead the two-hour seminars that ever before – an hour of teaching, a half-hour of discussion, and a half hour of Q&A. 

Approximately 425 pastors will attend the school, said conference leaders. About 300 of them have not had any formal seminary training, but are responding to a call from God to grow churches and disciples. 

Many clergy make sacrifices to attend, Daniels said. For some, the certificate they’re given at the end of the five-day school has a place of great honor in their ministry, almost like a degree.

Classes will be offered this year on the Book of Discipline, Pastor and Family Obligations, Pastor as Administrator, Church Support in the Era of Economic Hardships, Stewardship, Disciplined Bible Study, Youth and Young Adults, Church School, Spiritual Gifts, and Project Managing. 

The Rev. Jairos Mafonkokoto, a district superintendent, opened the school by reading 2 Corinthians 5:17, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. ... Behold old things have been made new.” 

“Come, Christ is calling you; be a new preacher in Christ Jesus,” he told the pastors. 

Bishop LaTrelle Easterling, who was given authority to preside over the Zimbabwe Area by Bishop Eben Nhiwatiwa, who is in Chicago at the Commission on the Way Forward, greeted the pastors. 

She celebrated the fact that the journey they were on is both ancient and brand new. She called on them to work together in Zimbabwe and with the BWC to “forge a new and brighter future in God’s global church.” 

She praised and challenged the pastors as “the ones God has chosen to go out and preach a brand new Word of God.”

“May a new fire fall upon us!” she said. “Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah!” The people answered, “Amen!”

  

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