Photo Credit: Diocese of Egypt
Only 20 out of the 70 Anglican congregations in Gambella, Ethiopia, have a church building. These buildings not only provide places sheltered from the sun and rain for church services, but they are often the only public meeting space for the community. There is an urgent need for new buildings in these communities, which will be used for worship, for women’s literacy classes, and for training in health and development.
Need for New Church Buildings
The Anglican Church in Gambella was begun by refugees who planted church communities in refugee camps. Since then, the church has grown at an astonishing rate and there are now church communities in local villages among several tribes.
Although there are 70 church communities, there are only 20 church buildings. These building are traditional structures made of mud walls, and thatch roofs. A few have only plastic tarpaulins as a roof, a few have upgraded to having tin roofs and stone and cement foundations. Those without a church building meet under a tree, braving the scorching sun in the dry season, and heavy rain during the wet season.
In 2012 most of the church buildings were destroyed by floods in an especially devastating rainy season. Many of the destroyed buildings have been re-built or partially re-built, but this work has depleted the available funds.
The need for buildings for church communities is acute because these buildings are often the only public meeting space for the community. In particular, the churches are used for two projects which aim to build up the women of the community: literacy training, and the Mothers Union Community Development and Education program started.
Plan for 2014
In 2014, the Right Rev. Dr Grant LeMarquand, the Area Bishop for the Horn of Africa, plans to build 30 new structures, and renovate another 15.
Constructing a new church building requires stone and cement foundations, walls of mud, and a tin roof. These buildings, which on average hold 200 people, cost approximately $2,500. The renovations include furniture and doors for some churches, and for others replacing parts of walls or roofs because of rain or termite damage.
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