Women - Dwelling Spaces

Thursday, 8 March 2018


During our time in Tanzania we met so many amazing women.  Women who were bringing up large families, women with important jobs, women walking miles with heavy loads on their heads, women doing hard manual labour with babies strapped to them, women who were overlooked despite their skills because of their gender, women who were studying hard, women who exuded joy, women who seemed crushed.  It was a privilege whilst there to have a week as a group teaching and spending time with the students at Lake Tanganyika Theological College. This college runs to train priests and evangelists and anyone who wants to undertake, and can afford to undertake, theological training within the Diocese of Western Tanganyika.
At the moment in the diocese, women cannot be ordained priest, and because four of us in the visiting group were ordained women, this generated some great conversations.  Everywhere we went people were very gracious and accepting of our ministry.  The principal of the theological college is keen to encourage women to study and train for ordination in the hope that the diocese will approve the ordination of women in the near future, and one of the things we did during the visit was to lay a foundation stone for a new women's dormitory at the college. Money that has been raised through offerings in Gloucester Diocese, including at my own ordination, have been sent as a gift to help with this building project.  It was a joyous moment to see the building emerging from the mud, and we prayed for the women who would study there.  £25 a month will cover their tuition fees, and sponsorship is needed as it is harder for women to get funded than for men at the moment.

During our time teaching at the college, we looked at several different biblical characters, and the leadership lessons that we could learn from them.  It was a really good learning experience for us and for the students as we looked at the Bible from very different perspectives.  At the end of the week the students gave feedback to the whole college, and it was really encouraging to hear a shift in the perspective of the (all male) students.  I wrote down a couple of things they said:
"I learnt from studying Deborah in the book of Judges that the service of God is not just for men but for women. We can support them to become brave. We can empower them to become good leaders."
"We learnt women can do everything a man can do. They can be brave strong leaders."

If we did nothing else during our trip, it was worth it to hear these things, and we pray that it has opened the door a little wider for the women God is calling to serve in the church in that diocese.

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