The Chief Apostle in the land of Mount Kilimanjaro
Mwanza and Dar es Salaam are the cities that are on the Chief Apostle’s divine service agenda on the second weekend of August. It will be his second visit to Tanzania, and there is a lot of excitement in the congregations.
Tanzania, situated in East Africa, borders the Indian Ocean in the east. The large country is probably best known for Mount Kilimanjaro, the volcanic massif in the north-east, Lake Victoria, or the Serengeti. More than 57 million people live here. The country’s capital is Dodoma. The largest city is Dar es Salaam (Arabic: “Abode of Peace”) with five million people. Situated on the Indian Ocean, Dar es Salaam is the country’s commercial hub and the second busiest port in East Africa, making it known far beyond its borders. Situated on the southern shores of Lake Victoria is Mwanza with its 700,000 inhabitants. It is the country’s second largest city.
A well organised programme
Two divine services, a meeting of the Apostles and Bishops, and a concert on Saturday evening at the Dar es Salaam University College of Education await the international Church leader. Some three thousand participants are expected to attend the service in Mwanza, which will take place on Friday morning. Alone the choir is 400 members strong. The service on Sunday will take place at the Diamond Jubilee Hall. This hall in Dar es Salaam has been used for services by the New Apostolic Church on several occasions before. Five thousand members have been invited to attend. Apostle Francis Charo Kazungu Kingura has reached retirement age and will be retired in this service.
How everything began
The history of the New Apostolic Church in Tanzania dates back to 1978. Two ministers from Zambia made their way east to neighbouring Tanzania. In April 1979 the Church was officially recognised by the authorities. District Apostle Michael Kraus, Apostle Wilbert Vovak, District Evangelist Donald Kratt, and Shepherd Adolf Eichsteller were among the early pioneers. Reinhard Hecht, who later became an Apostle, did evangelising work in Tanzania for 21 years. Zacharia Deuly was one of the first local ministers. He became New Apostolic in 1981. In 1982, when Apostle Vovak visited the congregations, he was able to seal nearly 2,000 people. In this service, Mathias Nzarombi was ordained as a Priest and Justin Mwegoha as an Evangelist. A year later already, both men were ordained as the first Apostles for Tanzania. In 1983, nearly ten thousand souls were sealed. In only five years, 150 congregations were established.
Low average age in the congregations
Today the Church in Tanzania belongs to the District Apostle Area of Joseph Opemba Ekhuya. He is assisted by 13 Apostles and twelve Bishops. Two Lead Apostles ensure that there is uniformity in all spiritual activities: Zachariah Deuly is responsible for the eastern part of Tanzania and Sebastian Maneno for the western part. There are 1,800 congregations with 220,000 members. The majority of the members are children and young people.
Previous Chief Apostle visits
Over the years, Dar es Salaam has seen several Chief Apostle visits: Richard Fehr was there in August 1994, Wilhelm Leber in November 2007 for the first time. His visit was historic in that, at the end of the service, a new Church administrative area was established, namely East Africa. It includes the countries of Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. Apostle Shadreck Lubasi from Kenya was commissioned as the new District Apostle Helper for this area at the time. In 2009 then, Shadreck Lubasi was appointed as a District Apostle and the administrative area East Africa became an independent District Apostle Area.
District Apostle Joseph Opemba Ekhuya has been at the helm of the Church since 2015. In addition to the East African countries of Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, he also takes care of church matters in Sudan and Southern Sudan.