The new Primate of Tanzania, Archbishop Maimbo Mndolwa, was enthroned amid colourful scenes of celebration at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in Dodoma on Sunday.
Hundreds of people packed into the cathedral to watch the ceremony. Among them was the guest of honour, the Prime Minister, Kassim Majaliwa. He was joined by other ministers, commissioners and a former Prime Minister, John Samuel Malecela. Tanzania’s President, John Magufuli, had been invited as guest of honour but was unable to attend.
Bishops from across Tanzania were also there as were guests from around the world representing a variety of organisations included USPG, CMS, and CMS-Australia. There were messages of congratulation and support from the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion.
Archbishop Maimbo is the seventh primate of the Anglican Church of Tanzania since its foundation in 1970. The 49-year-old is married with four children and was consecrated as a bishop in 2012. He is a church historian and holds a doctorate in Theology, Church and Politics.
In his address, he paid tribute to the work of his predecessors particularly for their work in improving health and education and fighting corruption. He spoke of the growth in the number of dioceses and said he was thankful for the work that had been done.
But now – in a reference to his relative youth as a primate and bringing cheers from some of the congregation – he said that the “young people were taking over”. He recalled the story of how when King David was first chosen by the Israelites, others tried to get him to wear special robes. And he had refused.
“I am Maimbo – don’t compare me,” he said. “Don’t give me their shoes to wear, they are not my size. I will do the work that God gives me to do.”
He promised to visit his dioceses, meet people and he said he would pray for co-operation among the bishops.
“I pray that whatever we do, we don’t do because we are influenced by others but we do because it is what God has called us to do.”
He also promised to work with the government to promote peace in the country and would meet non-Christians leaders too.
Speaking later to the Anglican Communion News Service, Archbishop Maimbo said he wanted to concentrate on church planting and improving financial investments so that the Church was less reliant on tithes and collections. He also said he wanted to continue to develop theological education to help schools and hospitals have proper qualified competent staff.
On wider issues, he said he hoped the Anglican Communion would continue to work together where there were issues of disagreement – rather than break away. And he confessed that he had been uneasy at the start of the service but had enjoyed it.
“The service was full of joy and dancing and we enjoyed the readings,” he said. “It was great.”
In his address, the outgoing Primate Archbishop Jacob Chimeledya said he was thankful for his time in office. He said how important it had been that others had supported his diocese. He noted that Archbishop Maimbo’s diocese of Tanga would need support now because he would be working away much of the time. He also urged the people of Tanga to pray for him. Archbishop Jacob also thanked the government for the way they had worked with the Church.
In his greeting, the Prime Minister, Mr Majaliwa, congratulated the new primate and said his election was a sign of the love he had for Christians in Tanzania. And he assured Archbishop Maimbo that he was perfectly able to fill the shoes of his predecessors.
The message of congratulation from the Archbishop of Canterbury was delivered on his behalf by the Bishop of Rochester, James Langstaff. He said he prayed that the church of Tanzania would continue to go from strength to strength under the new Primate. He said the support and prayers of bishops in his province and across the Anglican Communion would be with him.
In his message, the General Secretary of the Communion, Dr Josiah Idowu Fearon, described the Anglican Church of Tanzania as a precious part of a special family (the Communion) and said he looked – and the Anglican Communion Office looked – forward to working with the new Primate and serving him in his new ministry.
The service included the presentation of a number of gifts to the incoming Primate. And the Anglican ChurcCathedral of the Holy Spirit in Dodomah presented a gift to the President – a young cow which was tethered outside the cathedral!