House of Bishops

 
 

I have had 3 full days of worship, fellowship and engagement with fellow bishops in the Episcopal Church!  Getting acclimated to the Ecuadorian elevation is a constant reality and my own experience has been dealing with headaches from time to time.  Keeping oneself hydrated is crucial.  It is good to have internet access in our rooms.  I have been able to stay in touch with my amazing staff at Diocesan House, and other leaders who act out of a deep affection for the Church.

 My main highlight has been the interaction with fellow bishops one-on-one in conversations, as well as together in worship.  I feel we share a unique bond in this community called the House of Bishops.  I guess it comes from knowing that a lot of our work in this office of serving God, as with many others, has to do with managing projection and transference of unresolved grief and failed expectation.  Our Presiding Bishop preached a thoughtful sermon framing emergent new life on the other side of disaster, of which there has been plenty—earthquake, tornado, hurricanes, flooding, wildfires, etc.—at the opening Eucharist.  We always hear the Word preached beautifully here.  We remembered the passing of Bishop Walter Rider.  May he rest in peace and rise in glory!

 The other highlight for me has been engaging in the foundations of Liberation Theology and its journey in Latin America.  It has been a great experience to hear most of these presentations in Spanish and translated in English (we use headphones for this and our translators do an amazing job!).  It is amazing to find that so many of us have been brought to faith as followers of Christ in the Episcopal Church through some engagement with liberation theology.  So my question is, “Why are we so reticent in the Episcopal Church when it comes to proclaiming our praxis with the intention of making disciples?”  Still grappling with this….  I am also grappling with framing our common life in such a way that we do not create a hierarchy of needs or pain where sometimes only the loudest scream or squeak is heard and acknowledged.  We are limited in what each of us can do and that is why we have many of us who are invited to pursue our passionate spirituality with thoughtful engagement.  And while we are called to bring attention to our discerned areas of passion, we may be careful not to impose them on others as the only areas that need focus if we truly wish to be a liberation or beloved community.  If we are unable to practice this we end up creating more “us-them” scenarios, in my humble opinion.  I am sure as a passionate advocate I end up doing this unintentionally.

 So far, I have had the opportunity to have breakfast with Mark Lattime, of Alaska, lunch with Dan Edwards,Nevada and Scott Mayer,Northwestern Texas, dinner with Gayle Harris , Mass and Assisting Bishop of North Dakota, Carol Gallagher. Steve Lane,Maine, is not here since he is recovering from prostate surgery.  I miss him.  Yesterday, Dan Edwards of Nevada, and I got ourselves nice hats after a pleasant walk followed by dinner and conversation.  It rained! 

 The Indaba (an African methodology of sharing in community without the intention of scoring points) group on the Standing Committee on liturgy and music was to me a slice of heaven, where differing opinions were articulated passionately and heard with gentle grace.  What a privilege to have encountered this.  It is nice to have bishops disagree without being disagreeable!  It warms my heart that this is possible from time to time!  To engage an issue as marriage equality in a circle of such honesty and trust was just a gift.  We did this on the evening of the thirty-fifth anniversary of the Ordination of Women in our Church. 

Off this morning, visiting missions in Quito…

 We just got back after an inspiring engagement with a community of seniors, young people from  Christ the Liberator Church which is north of Quito, and children in a diocesan run day care center.  The warmth of Christian love and friendship is beyond the limitations of language.  Since my Spanish is just not there,  I was reveling in the human connection and smiling a lot.  Funny, how one says “si” so much when there is not much else to say.

 Peace, +Prince

With Pastor Raul of the Christo Liberado Church, North Quito

Our PB and others from our mission morning….

During our mission.

 
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Bishop Singh’s Photos of Tanzania Mission Trip

Visit our Facebook Page (Episcopal Diocese of Rochester, NY) to view photographs.

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Mission-log continued…

 August 17:  We left for Chikola for Carpenter’s Kids distribution day.  Overwhelming welcome (the Kiswahili word is Karibu) with dancing, singing and much communal joy; “visitors” are a good excuse for this kind of effusive celebration.  Chikola is an impoverished village located about forty minutes drive from Dodoma.  This partnership was made possible by Laura and Todd Cook, who were introduced to Carpenter’s Kids by the inimitable Dahn Gandell.  Dahn struck up a conversation with Laura on an airplane trip while in the States.  The rest is history!  Her evangelistic fervor in sharing her joy for this ministry is truly an inspiration to all of us.  We are so proud of you, Dahn! 

 The church building in Chikola is a work in progress and members of this church are slowly but surely intending to finish this work.  They need to have windows, a door and the flooring done.  After elaborate greetings, introductions and gift-giving, we had the children receive uniforms, backpacks, and shoes.  It was clearly a transforming experience for us and the kids.  We see such promise in the brilliant eyes of these beautiful children!

 That afternoon found us in Ibihwa Christian Education and Development Center.  This is a center for children who have come through Carpenter’s kids and wish to pursue vocations such as carpentry, tailoring and agriculture.  Almost all 160 children here are able to live in a residential setting and develop varying degrees of proficiency in each of these skills.  At Bishop Mhogolo’s request I confirmed forty-five young people during a bilingual liturgy.  Ned sang a song for them with great enthusiasm and then was invited to do an encore performance!  Eklan has come out of his shell in an amazing way.  Everywhere we go he would introduce himself by saying, “jina languni Eklan!”  He was never shy to share his thoughts. 

 We headed back to Ipolile, the Bishop’s residence.  It was much later than we had anticipated, but we did check out of the Bishop’s house that night since the Bishop and his wife were heading off to villages for the next few days of confirmation visitations.  We checked into the New Dodoma Hotel in town and caught a late Chinese dinner. 

 Throughout our time we have had the help of several people, but chief among our immediate helpers was Magi Griffin, a Missionary from the Diocese of Atlanta.  Magi, serves as adviser to the Bishop and is entrusted with monitoring projects such as Nets for Life, MDGs, etc.  She is just the most radiant witness for Jesus exuding her Christ like love and compassion in practical ways and has walked—more accurately been tossed around in the vehicle as we have travelled many a bumpy road—with us throughout our trip.  She has dedicated the last eleven years of her life to mission work in this part of God’s vineyard.  She is a great inspiration for those who wish to serve in these parts of God’s vineyard.

 August 18:  We headed off to Mvumi (Mu-Vumi) to visit the diocesan secondary school.  It is mostly residential and is supported by a Trust Fund based in the UKw ith some real connections with Eaton College.  Over a hundred of the nearly six-hundred children are sponsored through this fund and Ned Kemp, an ex-naval officer oversees this on site as the Bursar for the school.  Our older son got a kick out of introducing himself.  He does not meet a whole lot of Neds, and who would have thought in Tanzania!  Ned, who is in his early fifties, was our gracious host.  We spent the day touring the school and the diocesan hospital in this little village.  The medium of instruction in this school is English and we had the opportunity to interact with a few of the students while we were there.  There were two students from Eaton College who spent their summer at Mvumi.  Endearingly referred to as “gappies,” Tim and Miram, were visiting during a gap in the school year; they were bright, humble and engaging people.  We had lunch with the teaching staff, most of whom were men, and discussed education, health, and maternity leave in various parts of theUK, US and Canada.  The staff got a kick out the possibility of envisioning maternity leave in Tanzania where families tend to be rather large!

 In the evening, our host had a few of the seniors (Jerald and Sarah), a few recent graduates (Abel and Nuomi), and the gappies for dinner.  We had amazing food cooked by Ms. Agnes, who did some of the house work for Ned.  The conversation around table was most fascinating.  It was about the future of Tanzania’s education, politics, the economy, etc.  We even had Sarah and Jerald give us speeches they had made or were working on making soon.  They were substantive, thoughtful and delivered with sincerity.  Fascinating!

 August 19:  The next morning, we were mostly awakened by the rooster choir.  One after another they went off waking us up with great diligence.  We headed back to Dodomain Ned’s Nissan Van.  The bumpy road seemed like an inspiration of sorts to our host who got us back to the hotel for a fresh new day of events.  Today we went off to the Diocesan office, also known as Mackay House, for an intro and tour of the various ministries.  Mackay House is a multistory building in the heart of Dodoma.  It was bustling with activity around the general clinic, an eye clinic, a dental clinic and a pathology lab, which is run by a Rochester native!  Dr. Martin and Sandra McCann met at the University of Rochester and were married at Grace church in Scottsville in the early seventies.  Sandra now teaches and coordinates communication at the seminary.  Diocesan offices and other ministry offices, including the Bishop’s office, are located here.  Our host and guide for the morning was the General Secretary, who is like the chief of Operations of the Diocese, Lt. Col. Tandila who introduced us to the Vicar General, who is like our Canon to the Ordinary, The Rev. George Chomolla. 

 Across the street from the diocesan office is the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, which is an intriguing structure with an Islamic architectural flair to its design.  Wisely contextual, I thought to myself.  We had a lovely tour of the Cathedral with the gracious Sub Dean the Rev. Emmanuel Madinda. 

 We had lunch at Mamma Rose’s, a corner restaurant which is apparently a hot spot for many of the Diocesan and Carpenter’s Kids staff.  There is significant Indian influence in a lot of life in Tanzania due to a large Indian population in the country.  Mamma Rose, who is from India, specializes in amazing Indian food.  Roja and I were in heaven with the Biriyani and fish curry.  We had decided to give the boys the day off at the hotel to swim in the pool and take it easy.  They were hospitably engaged by Will Brooks the missionary from the Diocese of Virginia.  Will is in his early twenties and is helping Carpenter’s Kids with their communication and more.  Amazing guy!  Our kids had a blast with him.  What an inspiration!

 We then headed off to Bishop Stanway Primary School, another school run by the Diocese.  The teachers were kind to wait for us and give us some time explaining their mission and challenges.  Following this, we went to the Diocesan seminary,Msalato Theological College, which offers courses in English language studies, theological education to train lay and clergy leaders, as well as training for secretarial positions for both men and women.  We had a great time of interaction with the students.  We spent some time encouraging them in their pursuit of preparing to serve God while already engaging in this service.  This is an amazing place with an international faculty from Tanzania, theUK, New Zealand, the US, Korea, etc.  The Principal, The Rev. Canon Moses Matonya, was a gracious, young, gentle and wise leader.  He has helped build this substantive ministry with his leadership over nearly ten years.  We were able to put our feet up for a few minutes at the McCann’s (the Rochester connection) before heading for dinner with the staff and faculty.  We were warmly surprised at dinner with a cake baked by one of the faculty women to celebrate Roja and my twentieth anniversary.  For those who don’t recall, this trip is a celebration of our journey together.  We headed back home with full hearts and sore feet.

 August 20:  We headed out to some of the farthest villages of the diocese for a confirmation liturgy with the Bishop.  It was a good two and a half hour drive to Chali Isangha and Igongo, where in a fabulous liturgy under Neem Trees, Bishop Mhogolo and I confirmed several young and old saints.  It was a profound liturgy to say the least.  Never felt the significance of our global apostolic ministry in this Church like I did under those trees of Chali Isangha.  The Pentecostal significance of Bishop Mhogolo saying the conformation prayers in Kiswahili and me saying them in English was quite profound!  After confirmation, the three congregations represented presented verbal reports to the Bishop listing the progress they had or had not made with their goals.  I am amazed at the amazing drive that these clergy and lay leaders have for the gospel.  They surely have a lot to teach us in the US.  This area has been devastated by drought this year and harvest of all produce has been affected here.  Yet the resilient spirit of these saints is remarkable.   I also got to hear about the drought resistant seeds scheme offered by Episcopal Relief and Development in these parts.  This scheme allows some of these farmers to avail of such seed and then pass it along to others out of their harvest.  It is part of the food-security strategy of the Episcopal Relief and Development Fund.  We headed back toDodomaafter a scrumptious meal of rice and goat curry.

 August 21, 2011: our last day in Dodoma.  Our day began very early.  I preached at the 7 AM service, which was attended by over six hundred people.  The liturgy was in Kiswahili and four of the six Cathedral choirs sang their hearts out in praise of God.  The gracious hospitality extended was again heartwarming.  The Cathedral gifted us with a photograph of the Cathedral building and gave us gifts of traditional clothing. 

 We have mixed feelings about leaving.  Interestingly, we all feel a sense of sadness about leaving the good part of our family.  This has been an amazing trip in so many ways and we will be processing this trip for a while.  We have grown closer as a family and have developed greater respect for each other.  I feel renewed in spirit about this ministry that we share with brothers and sisters across the globe.  They have helped me put some of my existential struggles as your bishop in perspective.  I am aware of the gift we inherit from these saints who have very little materially and yet have so much spiritually.  These faithful ones have so much to teach us.  I feel so good that we came here.  Thank God for providing for us with the resources to make this happen.

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Our First Few Days…

August 11: We left Rochester after making sure our pets were taken care of and then drove to NJ to spend the night with friends in Kinnelon.

August 12: Left at 7:20 AM for JFK with a lovely sending prayer by Brian and Ginny our hosts in NJ.  We had the smoothest ride to the airport on a picture perfect day in New York City.  We flew out on time and arrived fifteen and half hours later in Johannesburg, South Africa at half past eight in the morning on the 13th

August 13: After a quick transfer in Johannesburg, which included a long walk to the transfer area, we flew another nearly four hours to Dar Es Salam, the capital of Tanzania.  The country’s population is nearly 50 million with a nearly fifty-fifty Christian, Muslim religious proportion.  We were received warmly by Pastor Noah Masima, who is the coordinator of Carpenter’s Kids, and one of his staff associates, Will Brooks, a young man from the Diocese of Virginia, who has spent a year here.  They along with Sam, the long-time driver for Bishop Mhogolo, gently checked us into the Peacock hotel for a comfortable night’s rest.  We had dinner as a family and retired, or at least tried to.  Jet lag was at play and all of had some sporadic sleep. 

 August 14: We had breakfast at the hotel with Bishop Mhogolo, who arrived from London that morning.  That was some breakfast with beef stew, beef liver fry, baked potato, baked sweet potato, cereal, pancakes, eggs, sausages, etc.  Rather ironic to be served all this food in a country with so much poverty.  This guilt just co-exists with opportunity to reflect.  We then hit the road at 9:30 AM after a brief stop to get some cold sodas/snacks and a longer stop for lunch at Morogoro for a nearly nine-hour drive to Dodoma.  Lot of Indian influences on the food here with curry present in most everything.  No fear of my brain or body going to subsistence with such good food!  We arrived the Bishop’s village, Nala, where he and his wife Irene live in this ranch called Ipolile with birds chirping.  We were treated to a sunset to die for followed by a meal that included goat, pork, cabbage and a taste of Dodomawine!  The color of the sky is just different here with an earthy radiance that has remained in some form.  We then shared some gifts we had brought for the Mhogolo’s including a few mementos from the Diocese.  Slept under mosquito nets with a cocoon like feel and a strange consciousness that the first woman out of whom all humankind emerged came from this ancient continent.

 August 15: woke up to a spectacular sunrise and a morning filled with birds chirping pronouncing life and a new day.  It is India’s Independence Day!  We spent the day at Chimuli parish being introduced to Carpenter’s Kids, the ministry.  But first, we were just smothered in the loving kindness of people who know what radical hospitality is about.  They danced and sang with their four choirs using indigenous musical instruments as well as a guitar.  I have come to believe that God is a moving God.  We sang the praises of Mother Dahn and her witness in this place. 

 All of us made introductions and speeches.  They showered us with locally made gifts: Ned and Eklan received paraphrased verses of scripture, Roja was adorned in an amazing print of the big-five and I was adorned with an outfit fit for a chief, seated on a special stool and given a hand carved walking stick.  All the gift-giving was wrapped with singing and dancing.  We felt a slice of heaven.  I wish you could have experienced the joy, the hospitality, the passion, and the thoughtfulness that these faithful Anglicans have figured out how to live into.  There are amazing local leaders and those from theUSwho serve in this ministry as staff or volunteers to make it run so efficiently.  We’re tired, but our hearts are full!

 Today, August 16, we visited three different schools.  The first was a public primary school in Chimuli where many of Carpenter’s Kids children attend.  Roja taught two substantial geography classes, one onIndiaand the other on New York State!  She’s so good!  We then went to Holy Trinity, a primary school run by the Diocese of Central Tanganyika.  We were also treated to some scrumptious lunch of chicken, peas, potatoes and cabbage!  We then went toJubilleeSecondary School, also run by the Diocese, where we met young men and women about to graduate form high school for some interaction.  It was good to see Ned and Eklan in full action speaking charmingly about education in the US, volcanoes, and more….  We found the children we interacted with to be really smart kids!  Many of them deal with incredible odds, but keep their eyes on the prize to obtain a good education.  There’s more, but I am out of time and energy!  We are blessed to have this opportunity.  Bishop Mohogolo and Irene, his beloved, have been most gracious hosts to us.  They have pampered us with kindness and generosity.  Our hearts are full.

Be well friends!

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Dodoma Itinerary

 

DATE

ACTIVITY

Seeing is different than being told African proverb

13 Aug, Sat Bishop & Mrs Singh (Roja), sons Nivedhan (Ned) & Eklan  – Karibu/welcome to Tanzania!
14 Aug, Sun Bp Mhogolo arrives Dsm (BA 7 AM flight); he will meet you to motor together fromDar es Salaamto Dodomato guest at his Nala home (Sun-Wed); breakfast this morning at hotel

  • 6 ½ hr trip with break on road & dinner at the Bishop’s
15 Aug, Mon  Chimuli – an introductory day at your Carpenter’s Kids link village
16 Aug, Tues  Chimuli – Primary School Visit CK’s in their school surroundings; among activities, give geography lesson to classrooms (from upper Standard age children)
17 Aug, Wed  Chikola CK Distribution Day; Ibihwa Christian Education and Development Centre Visit Ibihwa is the home of DCT residential Vocational School for CK and Catechist School
18 Aug, Thurs Mvumi Secondary School & Mvumi Hospital
19 Aug, Fri
  • DCT Overview at Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, Mackay House offices, food security & medical departments; Bp Stanway Primary School; Msalato Theological College overview with Rev Cn Moses Matonya, Principal; tour and evening with staff
  • DCT-MTC Partner Appreciation Dinner for Bp Singh and his family
20 Aug, Sat Confirmations with Bp Mhogolo and Bp Singh and Family to Chali Isangha and Chidilo
21 Aug, Sun Cathedral of the Holy Spirit – Worship & Preach 7 AM HE ServiceTBD Departure time & extended plans for Lake Manyara Sun or Monday AM
22, 23, 24 Aug, Mon, Tue, Wed Fly to Ngorongoro.  Visit Serengeti and depart for Dar.  Fly back to the US on the 25th.
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Celebrating 20 Years of Marriage Through Mission.

Beloved saints,

I hope you are enjoying these wonderful summer days.

 This October, Roja and I will celebrate the twentieth anniversary of our marriage.  We were married on a beautiful evening in Chennai when it used to be calledMadras.  We had about two thousand guests, most of whom were friends of my mother and Roja’s parents for a typical sit-down meal served on banana leaves in traditional festive south Indian style.  We still remember our cheeks hurting from just smiling at the receiving line!

 We wanted to mark our gratitude for the opportunity to journey together by engaging in mission, which is what brought us together in the first place.  So this Friday in August we leave as a family on a mission trip to Tanzaniafor two weeks.  During our time there we will visit our emerging global companions in the Diocese of Central Tanganyika, spending most of our time with Carpenter’s kids, a ministry focused on educating children orphaned primarily by the AIDS epidemic in Africa.  Bishop Mdimi (pronounced Mi-dimi) Mhogolo has been gracious in welcoming us as his guests.  Our itinerary is available for your prayers.

We hope our visit will be mutually inspiring and that it would strengthen our bonds of affection as brothers and sisters in Christ.  We are grateful for the leadership of the Rev. Dahn Gandell, our Diocesan Missioner for Global Companionships, who has been our vivacious bridge to this mission.  This ministry is a good example of how we are able to build a cadre of companions from our Diocese who are sowing seeds of hope and new life in practical ways that enrich all of us locally and globally.  I invite you to keep us in your prayers as we travel as your ambassadors and Christ’s.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of neighboring Somaliaand the contiguous region as they wrestle with famine in our time.

I will blog whenever I am able during our sojourn.

 Peace,

+Prince

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Lent as culture-counterculture

March 15, 2011

Dear saints,
Lent is a mixed bag of culture-counterculture in pursuit of holiness. It is an opportunity to look in our spiritual mirror because it helps us see if the image we reflect really radiates, ever so gently, the goodness of God. Lent is like looking into the eyes of another person and seeing a vague reflection of your very self in their eyes while allowing them to see a vague reflection of themselves in yours. Most of Scripture would reflect to us how we really are on the inside while pointing to how we ought to be. It is somewhat like the difference between what we budgeted and what we actually spent; it is tax season, isn’t it! Our relational interactions also reflect how we are on the inside. Our tradition provides us the medium of prayer to reflect in word, music and silences. We have many internal and external mirrors inviting us to a maturation process.

Most of us sigh and breathe-in the ambiguities that surround our sense of self, observing the parts in us that struggle to be holy and other parts that aspire and often live into the holiness that God calls us to. We call these struggling parts sin, and that helps in itself. By not making that which is sinful normal or good, we make an important distinction internally. Our awareness moves us from wallowing in that which alienates us from God, creation, or one another to wrestling with such realities. It is not unlike living with the ambiguities around good and evil, or greed and generosity. We live with both, often intertwined. While we cannot always untangle them, we have the capacity to clarify that one is not the other. These various internal and external mirrors are helpful to us in that they draw us to a dependence on God like no other. They often help us understand that it is truly by grace alone that we are children of God. In such places of humble affirmation we have the capacity to rise from hypocrisy to generous hospitality.

We encounter domestic and global disasters with a sense of the fragility of life in these places of humility. We recognize that we never were quite in control, but that the semblance of control did feel good when we had it. We offer restful prayers for those who perished in the recent earthquake-Tsunami-nuclear combination and remember those living in the normalcy of triggers of terror. Nevertheless, could these reminders of the fragility of our human existence point us to places of holiness expressed in greater compassion, kindness, and hope in every day?

In Western New York, we struggle with hope since we easily move to a place of normalized defeatism that overshadows our culture. Every silent and loud disaster seems to add yet another notch to our tree of despair to confirm that things will not get better, that the shoe will drop, and that things could not but get worse. So, could Lent help? Lent could only be helpful if the source of our reflection is life-giving. Mere reflection on this larger depressed culture could only drive us to greater melancholy, or avoidance through various anesthetics, in my opinion. The weather is but an external expression of a deeper tendency in our collective human psyche to ratify hopelessness. What we have as a clear counterculture is Lenten journey to the Joy of Easter. We have this insatiably joyful hope of resurrection in Christ Jesus who invites us to live beyond our domestic or global, silent or loud disasters. Lent can be holy when we refuse to become the very thing we are fighting against. Therefore, a Holy Lent is a countercultural choice. Let us strive collectively to become an embodiment of Easter as we seek a Holy Lent.

Joy,
Bishop Prince

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