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Tanzania: ”The worldwide church needs to be active all the time”

Anania J. Ndondole. Photo provided by ELCT

For our issue on the Church of Sweden’s 150 years of international work throuh what is now Act Svenska kyrkan, we asked Anania J. Ndondole, the National Youth Chairperson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT) and the Coordinator for Partnership, Ecumenism and Interfaith in the Eastern and Coastal Diocese of the ELCT, to share his impressions of how the worldwide church is visible in the everyday life of ELCT.


The church must be visible to and discoverable in the public space. This is the vital and precious element of what it means to be a worldwide church.

The visibility of the church should not be a debate in the world but should be the authority of the church in the contemporary community, which is accompanied by a lot of challenges.

The worldwide wide church is us, and where we are, in many places, we must provide solutions, be problem solvers.  We are living in a world where there are of a lot of challenges — some are human induced, and some occur naturally, but this is the role and authority of the church worldwide.

To me, it is clear that the worldwide church cannot remain silent but needs to be active all the time. In the churches, we have all academic professions, being it sociologists, economist, lawyers, medical doctors, nurses, pharmacists, journalists, engineers, environmentalists and climatologists, managers, teachers, administrators and others. How do leaders in the churches involve these professionals in the work for sustainability within the churches? Our worldwide church needs innovative strategies for engagement where all groups in the church can make contributions for the development.

The church can make itself visible and known through partnership – churches cannot work alone to strengthen our faith. Partnership activities and plans must be implemented together, for example exchange programs for pastors and other church workers. Learning from each other in this way and visiting each other is very important.

Through inclusivity in the worldwide church, children, youth, women and men are incorporated and have a space in the church to showcase their visibility as well as to be involved in decision making organs, representations and implementation of programs. An inclusive church enhances sustainability. People can show their abilities and talents when they are involved and are given tasks to do.

A worldwide church also means engagement in the global challenges. There are a lot of catastrophes or challenges where churches can play an important part in helping to mitigate the impact. For example, the world is facing the challenges of climate change. What is the role of the church … is it only preaching? Can we preach in areas where people are suffering for floods or any other impacts associated with it? What happens when floods takes off the church buildings? ”Together we save the Earth — green leaders change the world” — but who are green leaders? They are those who can jump over the barriers in obstructing sustainability of the Earth, who find solutions, who fight for changes, and thus find innovative measures. Worldwide churches can chip in for the sake of visibility while saving the people. Eco theology is of momentous importance and its applications in the practical aspect.

Caring for the needs of teh most vulnerable and protecting human rights are also two very important aspects of the work of the church. Issues of gender-based violence in many places, especially the Global South, are very high; how can the church play its role in advocacy and strategic awareness? The worldwide engagement is important in this aspect: the worldwide church can establish advocacy and human rights desks in the local churches for advancing the needs of the community and taking actions for other groups like marginalized people, orphans, elders and all other groups with special needs.

Strategic leadership is important. Leadership is all about church development. All other things are important if leadership is taken into consideration. In this era of technological advancements, helping emerging leaders to grow is of momentous importance. Thus, strategic leadership is important for development in the worldwide church. Leaders in the church, like pastors, communicate the true doctrines in a credible manner, but they also have to cope with the changes in the world. These are often associated with challenges in other places. If, for example, in other places people cannot attend church, then the church leaders cannot remain silent. They also need to be innovative and learn from each other why in some places people can go to church and others not. Leaders always need to find solutions and come up with implementation strategies.

The word from Ephesians 4:4 tells about one body, one spirit, one hope: “There is one body and one Spirit just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call.” This is very important in a fragmented world, and the worldwide church can be visible in the place where everyone has his/her abode.

Hope, plans and expectations are important for the worldwide church.