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Report from the Diocese of Lebombo Synod

[Source: Bishop Carlos Matsinhe, November 2015]

We have received a letter from Bishop Carlos Matsinhe, Bishop of Lebombo, about the 21st Synod of the Diocese of Lebombo, held from 22 - 25 October 2015:

New Lebombo Coat of Arms
Old Lebombo Coat of Arms

Diocese dos Libombos
Comunhão Anglicana em Moçambique
Igreja Anglicana da Africa Austral

25.11.2015

DEAR Partners and Friends of the Diocese of Lebombo

Peace and Grace from Our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all!

We thank God unceasingly for our companionship with you in our mission. Your prayers and support not only have strengthen us in many ways but also have encouraged us in such a way that when we look back we only can praise God and celebrate this gift of friendships. Many are the achievement that we have made in this diocese, especially because of your support. Lives of children and adults have been changed and faith consolidated. Thank you for this.

Lebombo Synod (21st Session)

We, in the Diocese of Lebombo are well and grateful to God for His Grace that followed us this far in our ministry of serving our Lord Jesus and His flock in the Diocese. For this, we Him and all of you who, through your prayerful and active support you have, in many and different ways enabled and strengthened us in this duty.

Although the end of the year is very close, with the Advent of the Lord at hand, this is not our end of year report but a short sharing of the outcome of the Diocesan Synod and Diocesan Family Weekend which took place from the 22nd to 25th October, 2015.

We want to thank you for your prayers. We did have a life changing Synod not only because of the resolutions passed but more especially for the sense commitment of the Synod members to contribute heart, mind, soul and body to a transforming way of being a church in quest of fulfilling its vocation.

Some of you will remember from earlier correspondence that we started early in the year by bringing people together for the purpose of visioning. This process involved many members of the Diocese from small congregations to the diocesan level. In March we defined the vision and mission statement affirming that we seek to be a Diocese Living out the Gospel of Christ to the Service of the World in the Power of the Holy Spirit for the Glory of God. And we set our mission, priorities and values. We convened again in July for the Strategic Planning 2016-2025. The Strategic Planning process has helped us not only in looking at the most crucial problems and their causes but also in set out our objectives and goals for each of the 6 following priorities: evangelization and pastoral care; theological education, formation and training equipping) the people for ministry; stewardship and sustainability; diakonia; partnership in mission and communication.

During the same period we reopened again the discussion about the ordination of the women in the Diocese. One encouraging thing is that there was eager involvement of many people of the diocese, young and old in the discussion processes that were aiming at paving the way and setting up agreed principles that should guide the ministry of the diocese across the next 10 years. This Synod was very important at this moment because we needed to apply time, efforts and resources on a ministry that has been canonically approved. We pray God and ask you to join us prayerfully in this journey so that we respond to the call of God.

Below we share with some of the major resolutions of the 21st Session of the Diocesan Synod which did wrestle with various issues pertaining the life and growth of the Diocese and I, personally, am happy with the achievements of the Synod because I believe they open the way towards a brighter and effective future for the Lebombo Diocese’s mission in our times. Allow me to share some of the most fundamental decisions made:

  1. The Vision, Mission, Values and Priorities Document for the Diocese was approved unanimously.
  2. The Diocesan Strategic Plan 2016-2025 was approved unanimously.
  3. The Ordination of Women to the Holy Orders of Deacons and Priests was approved with absolute majority.
  4. The Evangelization and Pastoral Care was approved as higher priority.
  5. The Raising of Theological Education and Formation Standard and Relocation of the Theological College was approved unanimously.
  6. The Principle of Property Development for Economic Sustainability of the Diocese was unanimously approved.
  7. The Plan for the multiplication of the Dioceses was reaffirmed with an implementation plan indicating the launching of the first of the two proposed dioceses (Inhambane) by the end of 2017, and the second Pungue) by the end of 2019. A Special fundraising plan to support the inception of the new dioceses was approved.
  8. Principle of gender representation in church decision making boards was approved.
  9. Redefined Role of the Anglican Church in the political, economic, environment and socio - cultural areas was approved.
  10. Revision of the Diocesan Rules and members education about ACSA Canons and Constitution was approved.
  11. A revised Diocesan Court of Arms which incorporates the old symbols and introduces new elements such as the mountains, flat landscape and the Indian Sea to represent symbolically the Lebombo mountains, the land scape and the sea which are part of the geographical characteristics of the Diocese, was approved.
  12. Several other resolutions pertaining ministry and church governance were approved.

Now the Synod has done its work and we have the necessary instruments to implement our priorities and plans. The overall challenge is to turn our vision of living out the gospel of Christ in service to the people of God into reality. And to this we call all our friends to support in whatever way they can for it is our conviction that we really share the calling to be of service in the love and on behalf of our common Lord Jesus Christ.

Way Forward

Where do we start from? Of the six priorities, theological education, formation and equipping is the principal key with which to unlock the gifts of God to his people.

2015 was, for me, particularly, a year of deeper learning and listening as much as I could and, of getting to know the gifts and the needs, the strengths, opportunities and weaknesses of the Diocese. The processes we went through helped me to know that the diocese has got many lay sons and daughters with lots of gifts and wisdom who are ready to contribute to the mission of their church as long as they have space.

The strategic planning exercise clearly indicated that the training of, capacity building and upgrading of the qualifications of all levels of leadership (lay ministers, church councillors, priest, new ordination candidates, etc.) is a very high priority, if we are to respond adequately to the spiritual demands of our congregants and if we are to be a relevant church in a market of plural and aggressive religious environment which characterizes Mozambique today. Currently we baptize, teach catechism and confirm many young people and adults but then they move to Pentecostal churches. This indicates that the quality of our biblical teaching, preaching and pastoral care must improve and we can only do this through good training.

We are taking 2016 - Year of the Edification of the Body of Christ to emphasize the training and equipping of leaders aspect for the building up of the Church and the Kingdom of God. We want to focus on:

  1. Lay Training at all levels
  2. Continued formation of clergy.
  3. Planning, fundraising and starting the construction of the new Theological College away from the diocesan center but in Maputo Province.
  4. Writing new curricula for theological education and for lay training at various levels.

This is what I wished to share with you and I thank you for being committed to be in partnership with the Anglican Diocese of Lebombo in Mozambique. I want to assure you of our prayers, please lets us know what to focus on when we pray for you.

God bless you abundantly.
Yours in Christ,
Bishop Carlos Matsinhe
Anglican Diocese of Lebombo
Mozambique

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