As the 18 bishops packed their bags to leave Mbagala Spiritual Centre in Dar es Salaam two weeks ago, many could not hide the nostalgia they would associate with the centre for a long time to come.
The bishops had been attending a month-long special training course for bishops, which is organised by the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA) every two years.
'I will greatly miss all the good friends and fellowship I have received here,' said the Rt Revd Bright Ogu, Bishop of Mbaise in Nigeria, as he saw off some bishops to the Dar es Salaam International Airport, Tanzania.
Bishop Ogu, who was the chairman of the participating bishops committee, said the training had changed his perception about leadership and greatly helped him to appreciate the role of a bishop in the church.
As he extended a vote of thanks during the closing session, Bishop Ogu paid special tribute to the gamaliel of the training, the Most Revd Douglas Hambidge, former Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Canada, who took the bishops through inspiring Bible reflections and discussions on the role of a bishop as a leader, servant, president, teacher, pastor, administrator and symbol of unity.
Other impressive presentations were made by Ms Nema Aluku, the CAPA HIV/AIDS co-ordinator, Dr William Ogara (CORAT Africa), Dr Mwita Akiri, (Anglican Church of Tanzania) Mr John Downing and Dr Rena Downing (St Pauls Theological College, Limuru), Prof and Mrs Rab Mollan and Mr Sam Owuor of Anglican Church of Kenya.
Others who made inspiring presentations were: Bishop Mvume Dandala of the All Africa Conference of Churches, Rt Revd Simon Chiwanga (the Bishop of Mpwapwa in the Anglican Church of Tanzania), Ambassador Paul Rupia, Dr Elizabeth Taylor and Mr Justus Waimiri who spoke on communications and information technology.
The training was officially opened by the Prime Minister of Tanzania, the Hon Fredrick Sumaye, who lauded the initiative to train newly consecrated bishops. He said: 'Your lordships, you have been given a special calling to serve our people.' He singled out economic empowerment of Africans and HIV/AIDS reduction as areas that the bishops should take seriously in their ministry.
The bishops were also scheduled to meet Tanzania's President, His Excellency Benjamin Mkapa, but he had to travel overseas to undergo treatment. A 'get well' card was signed by the bishops and delivered to the President.
During the training, the bishops had a unique opportunity to serve in various parishes in the Diocese of Dar es Salaam. Dar es Salaam is a growing city with thousands of Anglicans spread across the humid coastal city.
During his month-long ministry at the St Alban's Parish, the Rt Revd William Waqo of Anglican Church of Kenya, said he was pleased to experience the diversity of worship in the East African region. He expressed hope that partnership would be enhanced in the region and throughout the continent.
While closing the training, the chairman of CAPA Bishops Training Programme, the Rt Revd Jo Seoka, the Bishop of Pretoria, commended CAPA for contributing a unique African experience and influence to the global Anglican Communion. 'It has not been an easy road at all but through the generosity of friends we have come this far,' said the Bishop.
He however challenged CAPA to find ways and means of bringing the church together to respond to other challenges facing the continent of Africa. He singled out poverty, the emergence of sects and new age churches, and the plight of refugees and displaced people as some of issues requiring urgent attention by the church in Africa.
He expressed hope that the upcoming Africa Anglican Bishops Conference in Nigeria in October this year would come up with a way forward to address these concerns and challenged bishops to make every effort to attend the historic meeting.
CAPA General Secretary, Rev Canon John Kanyikwa, thanked the bishops for attending and supporting the programme, which he said, was historic in the quality of presentations and discussions.
'The sisters here have also confided to us that this group has been the most serious and co-operative that they have hosted,' said Canon Kanyikwa as he bade farewell to the bishops.
'Go out in peace to love and serve the Lord!'' was the parting shot from Bishop Seoka after presenting certificates to the elated bishops.
The Bishops who participated were:
The Rt Revd Josphat Mule (Kenya)
The Rt Revd Allan Waithaka (Kenya)
The Rt Revd William Waqo (Kenya)
The Rt Revd James Ochiel (Kenya)
The Rt Revd Charles Mwendwa (Kenya)
The Rt Revd Beneah Salala (Kenya)
The Rt Revd John Botola (Congo)
The Rt Revd Bullen Dolli (Sudan)
The Rt Revd Peter Amidi (Sudan)
The Rt Revd Andudu Elneel (Sudan)
The Rt Revd Alpayo Kutciel (Sudan)
The Rt Revd Rateloson Gilbert (Indian Ocean)
The Rt Revd Daniel Yisa (Nigeria)
The Rt Revd Miller Maza (Nigeria)
The Rt Revd Bright Ogu (Nigeria)
The Rt Revd Adolphus Amabebe (Nigeria)
The Rt Revd Andres Soares (Southern Africa)
The Rt Revd George Lasebikan (Nigeria)
Article by By Justus Waimiri in Nairobi