The church is called St Mark's and the Pastor is the Reverend Abeli Mathayo Billa. Rev'd Billa's wife is Rebeka and they have been blessed with seven children. Rebeka is shown below, with the church choir. Reverend Billa is also Area Dean for the Itolwa Deanery.
There is a daily service at 6am and the Sunday service is at 3.30pm. After the Sunday service, the youth gather to learn games, sing, and read and study the bible.
Pastor Abeli leads four churches and visits parishioners in five villages by bicycle. St Mark’s Church in Itolwa is the largest of the four and there are smaller congregations in the nearby villages and hamlets of Mlongia, Machakosi and Kihogoro. The parish has an active Mothers Union as well as youth and children’s groups. The photo below shows the Mother's Union choir at Mlongia.The parish has a number of projects including renovation of Itolwa church, building a classroom for a kindergarten and buying musical instruments for the church.
The villages continue to be threatened by water shortages. There are no operating wells and in the dry season, water has to be collected by digging down into the dry river bed over a mile from the village. In the rainy season the soil is fertile and good crops of maize and sunflowers can be harvested, but climate change has made the rains more unreliable in recent years.
Despite poverty and lack of water and other basic facilities, the churches are vibrant and the church elders are eager to spread the good news and involve children and youth through teaching, music and sport.
Itolwa parish is linked with St John’s and St Mildred’s in the UK Diocese of Rochester: http://stjohnsmeopham.co.uk/itolwa-tanzania/
“Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land”. Proverbs 25:25.
The link started in 2015 with an exchange of letters shortly after Revd. Bira, had been appointed as pastor for Itolwa parish. Two members of St John’s church, Jill and Peter Kettle, were able to visit Itolwa and Kondoa in September-October 2016 and meet the church families there.The photo below shows Rev Bira and Rabeka with Pete and Jill Kettle.
The two parishes aim to strengthen links between Meopham and Itolwa, so that the churches can provide each other with mutual support in spreading the word of God, sharing spiritual and material resources. They also hope to encourage village schools and other organisations in Meopham to establish links with Tanzania.
The friendship has been continued since October 2016 through various means of communication, including e-mail, phone calls and text messages and Facebook. A video of the 2017 New Year Service at St Mark’s was shown at the morning service at St John’s the following week.
The Christians of Itolwa have chosen 3 John 1: 13-14 as their mission for this relationship:
"I have much to write you, but I do not want to do so with pen and ink. I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face. Peace to you. The friends here send their greetings. Greet the friends there by name."
Here is a picture of Rev Billa with his new motorbike, funded by St John's Meopham with st Mildred's Nurstead:
Photos of St.John's Meopham with St. Mildred's Nurstead are shown below:
Enquiries concerning baptism, marriages, funerals and Sunday Services should be addressed to the Pastor.
Any correspondence should be addressed to
Kanisa la Anglican
Itolwa Parish - Dinari ya Itolwa
Dayosisi ya Kondoa
PO Box 7