The newly installed Bishop of Mpwapa in the Anglican Church of Tanzania, Bishop George Chiteto, died on Saturday (3 September), just six days after he was consecrated. Bishop George, who was 59 years old, had just sat down after delivering a sermon at the funeral of Mama Hilda Lugendo, the late wife of Bishop Julius Lugendo, at Christ Church in Muheza, when he died of a cardiac arrest.
In his sermon, he urged the congregation to live by Christian values. Speaking of heaven, he told the congregation: “the place is ready prepared. Let’s go.” He then sat down and died.
“We have been informed by doctors that Bishop Chiteto died of cardiac arrest,” the Primate of Tanzania, Archbishop Maimbo Mndolwa, told The Citizen newspaper. “He was suffering from high blood pressure.
“Funeral arrangements are underway, and since the place for his burial will be held in his diocese, then the faithful in Tanga will have the opportunity to pay their last respect on Monday and thereafter, a journey to Mpwapwa will commence.” The funeral will take place on Wednesday (7 September).
The spokesman for the Anglican Church of Tanzania, Maiko Luoga, gave more details to The Citizen, saying that in his sermon, Bishop George had commented on the peaceful nature of Hilda Lugendo’s death, and had said: “I would love when my time comes, that it should be similar to Ms Lugendo’s death. It was a very soft one and with no pain.”
Maiko Luoga added: “when the faithful were meditating on the sermon, as Mama Lugendo died in her sleep, Bishop Chitego had already sat, and while in his chair, he collapsed, and rushed to the hospital whereby he was pronounced dead.”
The Diocese of Mpwapwa enjoys a Companion Link with the Church of England’s Diocese of Rochester. Responding to the news, the Bishop of Tonbridge, acting Bishop of Rochester, Simon Burton-Jones, said: “It’s hard enough trying to process this from the UK; to do so in Mpwapwa, and especially in Bishop George’s household, is unimaginable.
”Our hearts go out to them in feeling, and our prayers in faith, that God will make good his promise to draw near to the broken-hearted, to wrap Bishop George’s family, and the family of God, in everlasting love.
“May Bishop George rest in peace and rise in glory.”
Bishop George’s training began with the Church Army in Kenya. He had a Masters degree in theology from Saint John’s College, Dodoma, where he was working before his consecration as Bishop of Mpwapwa.
Prayers are requested for Bishop George’s wife Monica and their six children, his father and siblings, the people of the Diocese of Mpwapwa and the entire Anglican Church of Tanzania.