Tanzania mourns death of Bishop Godfrey Mdimi Mhogolo

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Bishop Godfrey Mdimi Mhogolo of the Diocese of Central Tanganyika died yesterday at a hospital in Johannesburg.

ENS:

Mhogolo served his diocese since his consecration in 1989 with distinction and dedication…

…Mhogolo was an able theologian with a remarkable intellect. He studied theology at St. Philip’s Kongwa and in Australia, but he will be best remembered for his energy and drive. He gave purpose and direction to his diocese and inspired those around him to do great things. The Diocese of Central Tanganyika was very large and his predecessor – the late Bishop Yohana Madinda – had begun the task of enabling the emergence of new dioceses. Mhogolo took this further as a sign of success as the number of churches and Anglican Christians grew in the Dodoma region.

Theological education was a priority for Mhogolo, who considered the formation of new leaders as something vital for the church. The development of the Diocese of Central Tanganyika depended on good leadership and during his time the Bible School at Msalato developed into a Theological College of substance and significance in Tanzania with a reputation for excellence throughout the Anglican Communion. He also relied on great leadership to run the health facilitates and schools in his diocese and supported all who worked in serving the Lord. He was active in enabling local congregations in the rapidly developing city of Dodoma and throughout the rural areas of the diocese.

With his Wife Irene, the bishop championed the full equality of women, encouraging their empowerment through the Women’s Union. He was the first Tanzanian bishop to ordain women and championed their development in the church. He was a fiery opponent of Female Genital Mutilation and encouraged programs aimed at ending the practice.

During the 1990s, Mhogolo was recruited by Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey to participate in the design Group for the 1998 Lambeth Conference. He was already known in many places and he had a deep knowledge of the Anglican Communion. He developed many friendships and partnerships with Anglican churches across the world.

He wrote the following on the Cafe in 2007:

The issue of homosexuality with its various understandings is not only an ECUSA issue, but involves all of our development and mission partners. If one is realistic, the issue of homosexuality and their money affects all our partner organisations, Churches, missionary agencies, governments and secular organisations. We then ask ourselves, why should we single out ECUSA and treat it differently? We know that a substantial amount of money and funding that governments, Churches, and missionary societies, comes from gay and lesbian people.

We live in our cultural context where gay and lesbians are regarded as criminals punishable to long term imprisonments. We also live in a country where gay and lesbians are violently persecuted, mistreated, hated and ostracised. We as Black Africans know the hurts and permanent damage caused by our past experiences which still linger on to the present. We have gone through all that and we know how it hurts. Once we were regarded like animals to be shot at, less than humans, to be turned into slaves and without God, to be taught the Western Christian gods. We have gone through that and we don’t want to go that way again. We hold the Gospel of grace and love where all people are welcomed, loved, cared for and treated with dignity. We preach a Gospel of restoration, reconciliation, love, peace, grace and healing. Many people are already feeling bad, hurt, disoriented, frustrated and bitter. We do not want to make life worse for them; instead we provide spaces for grace, love, and care to grow, and healing to take place for all.

For this reason, we will continue to welcome all our true brothers and sisters, children and adults, adolescents and mature, black and white, African American and White Americans to work and have fellowship with us; as much as we also welcome all Christians from the rest of the Christian world, both Anglicans and non-Anglicans; Christians and non-Christians. If Episcopalians visit us, we ask them to honor and respect our Faith, our cultures, our traditions and our way of life in Jesus Christ. People or mission partners do not come to change us. They come to appreciate, share and learn of our faith, our Christian culture we have developed and our way of life as we work together for the kingdom of God on earth.

We are not a closed Church where we reject some and welcome others. We are an open Church where even our enemies can find food, love, care and shelter. We always try to become like Jesus Christ our master, to everyone who comes into our home. The issue of homosexuality is not fundamental to the Christian faith, although many try to make it that way!! We would have become wiser if we had learned how the Roman Catholic Church, the Lutheran World Federation, the Presbyterian Church, the Reformed Churches and the Society of Friends are dealing with the issue. We are in a mess because we do not want to learn from other world Christian Communities!!! The source of our faith and mission in God is Jesus Christ….

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