Communities across North and Mid Wales are preparing to offer a warm welcome to an African Bishop from Tanzania.
The Diocese of St Asaph is linked with the Diocese of South West Tanganyika, one of the most rural parts of Sub-Saharan African, and its Bishop, the Rt Revd Matthew Mhagama and his wife Skola, are visiting Wales for three weeks (6-27 February).
They will be staying in several towns, many of which have been supporting Tanzanian villages in the Diocese since the link was established in 2010. A highlight of the trip will be a Gala Dinner in Llandudno on 10 February which will raise money for the Bishop to take back to his diocese.
One of the organisers of the visit, the Revd Mike Harrison from Llandudno, said: “We are delighted to welcome Bishop Matthew and Skola to North Wales. While I’ve visited South West Tanganyika several times, taking essential supplies and establishing projects, this is the first time the Bishop has visited Wales. He has a busy programme here as so many churches, schools and communities in North Wales have established their own links with parishes in South West Tanganyika and are keen to meet him. These links are important as they remind us of the wide variety of circumstance in which people work and worship around the world.”
On 12 February, three Bishops will gather at St Paul’s Church, Colwyn Bay for a special service to name three fishing boats donated by communities in Wales for use on Lake Nyasa in Tanzania.
The Bishop of St Asaph the Rt Revd Gregory Cameron will welcome Bishop Matthew along with Bishop Stephen, the Mission Area Leader of Aled Mission Area. The community of Colwyn Bay sponsored one of the new fishing boats which has been named St Paul’s, Colwyn Bay. Another boat has been named St Asaph, after the Diocese and a third boat, Mathrafal was sponsored by churches in North Powys. These 28-foot-long, powered boats, have replaced traditional dugout canoes previously used by communities on Lake Nyasa.
Bishop Matthew will also be hosted by Christ Church in Bala and St Collen’s Church in Llangollen during his stay. Bala has established a link with the village of Milo in South West Tanganyika and young people from the town have visited the rural community to establish woodwork, computer, hospital and football projects. The Milo link is supported by the town’s Rotary Club, Football Club, Town Council, schools and community groups. Milo football club now play in kit sponsored by Bala Town.
Drs Adrian and Hilary Murray, from Bala, have visited Milo several times and are delighted to be hosting Bishop Matthew. Hilary said: “The town of Bala has established a strong link with Milo. So far, we have raised more than £6,000 to fund a water project, supply IT equipment for the village school and train its teachers, set up and kit out a carpentry workshop and support the local football team. We will once again be raising funds to send money back with Bishop Matthew and Cor Godre’r Aran will be performing at a concert in Christ Church on Thursday 16 February at 7.30pm.
“We hope too, that the weather will be kind enough to allow Bishop Matthew to climb Wales’ highest mountain, Snowdon. He’s used to such activities having previously climbed Africa’s highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro!”
Bishop Matthew will be visiting several schools across the region before leaving Wales on 27 February.