On Sunday, June 25 the Rev. Blaston Tuluwene Gaville was consecrated and installed as the new bishop of the Iringa Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania. Some six thousand Christians from across the region joined representatives from other dioceses, government officials, and foreign companions in celebrating the occasion. Addressing the crowd, Bishop Gaville challenged all who were gathered to strive for unity in fulfilling the Great Commission and in seeking the betterment of their fellow citizens and neighbors. An excerpt of his speech, roughly translated from Swahili, is included below. Photos from the day can be viewed here.
The great work ahead of us is to fulfill the Command of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our work includes the delivery of various community services such as education, health care, concern for the poor, and economic development. All of this can be done only with God's help - with God's power - and with cooperation between believers, between leaders, and between the church and the government.
In order to provide spiritual and social services, we need unity and cooperation at the level of the family, preaching point, congregation, district, diocese, the whole church, and the nation. We need unity between the church and the government in order to continue to provide various services to all Tanzanians, together, regardless of their differences. Unity between different Christian denominations is an important factor for our nation and its future. So too is unity and cooperation between the various religions here in Tanzania as, in our common life, we people of different religions study together in school, are treated together in hospitals, and bury our family members together.
We need unity and solidarity between our friends in Tanzania, Africa, Europe, America, and Asia. It is through unity and cooperation that we will maintain the peace, love, and development of Tanzanians, Africans, and all people in the world.
In unity there is support, cooperation, sharing, forgiveness, prayer, visitation, tolerance, and agreement on what is good. For this reason everyone who destroys any kind of unity at the level of the family, preaching point, congregation, district, diocese, the whole church or the nation should see that he (or she) has sinned before God and before the community - unity is strength, separation is weakness. For this reason our unity is to be protected and maintained by all people.
Unity will not be broken. Unity grows and expands... You can start with two people and you will grow into one hundred people. As unity grows and expands, it does not destroy the original relationship. Rather, the original relationship promotes new relationships and these new partnerships strengthen the original and thus people grow together as one...
The Iringa Diocese invites all parties and all Tanzanians to continue to advance this strategy of unity and cooperation with love for our country in order to ensure that it continues to develop effectively...
I invite all believers to pray for the Iringa Diocese, our nation of Tanzania, and its leaders - that they may guide this country with the peace and fear of God. After saying this, I say thank you all for listening and God bless you so much.
Bishop Blaston Gaville
Head of the ELCT Iringa Diocese