By Bellah Zulu, ACNS and the Revd Michael Nchimbi
Tanzania Anglicans have elected their Provincial Secretary to become the 6th bishop of Central Tanganyika, the Anglican Church of Tanzania’s largest diocese.
The Revd Canon Dr Dickson Chilongani was elected bishop during a Special Synod held on October 8 in the country’s administrative capital Dodoma. He is a third person in the Anglican Church of Tanzania's history to be elected bishop while serving as General Secretary for the Church.
The Synod was held under chairmanship of The diocesan Bishop of Tarime the Rt Revd Dr Mwita Akiri on behalf of the Primate, the Most Revd Dr Jacob Chimeledya. Canon Chilongani got the most votes during the special Synod whose atmosphere was described by one member as “great and interesting".
Of the 716 members of Synod 658 voted for Canon Chilongani and only 58 voted for the other candidate. “This tells you the extent of people's expectations from us, we feel powerless and will only rely on God's guidance and prayer,” the Revd Canon Chilongani wrote in a letter to his friends around the world.
The bishop’s seat in the diocese fell vacant after the former incumbent, the Rt Revd Godfrey Mdimi Mhogolo, died early this year following a severe lung infection.
The Diocese of Central Tanganyika covers Dodoma urban and rural, with a population of more than 1.2 million people. The number of Anglicans in the diocese is about 600,000, with 258 parishes and 58 sub-parishes.
It is the biggest diocese in Tanzania with others suggesting that numerically it could be the largest diocese in the Anglican Communion.
Dr Dickson Chilongani was born on 1st January 1966. Canon Chilongani is a theologian who graduated with a Diploma in Theology, at St. Philips Theological College, Kongwa in Tanzania; a Bachelors degree in Theology at Trinity, Bristol University in England; a Masters Degree in Theology at The University of Durham, in England; and finally he graduated with PhD in Theology in the University of Bristol in England.
Dr Chilongani has also held several position in Diocese of central Tanganyika including Principal of Msalato Theological College; Vicar general of Diocese of Central Tanganyika, Lecturer at Jeonju University in South Korea; External Examiner of St. John’s University of Tanzania.
He is Married to Pendo and together they have two boys Imani and John.
According the Bishop Akiri, the consecration and enthronement service for the new bishop will be held in Dodoma at the Cathedral of Holy Spirit on November 23 this year.