Diocese of East Tennessee
Brother Bishops, the Rt Rev Brian Cole, Bishop of East Tennessee with Bishop Given in 2018
Bishop Given met Rev Charles Fels while attending Virginia Theological Seminary in 2010. Their friendship brought Given, now a bishop, to Tennessee in 2014.
During this visit, Bishop Given spoke to the congregation of The Church of the Good Shepherd, Rev Fels’ parish. He said that Americans come to Tanzania to see the animals while on safari.but he hoped that visitors would come see his people in their villages, THEN go on safari!
Those were the magic words that started the relationship between the diocese of Kondoa and the diocese of East Tennessee.
Rev Fels took a group of his parishioners on a pilgrimage in 2015 and they said: 'the love that was shared by Baba Askofu, Mama Lillian and the parishes of Kondoa' was contagious
The group returned from their pilgrimage ignited and, since then, four other groups have traveled to be with the parishes of Kondoa. These groups have been led by The Rev Cal Calhoun (Episcopal Church of the Good Samaritan), The Rev Dorrie Pratt (Church of the Good Shepherd), and Nathan Officer.
Pilgrimages from East Tennessee have been blessed by traveling to many villages to be with the people of Kondoa. Additional highlights included a group being there for the ordination of 10 people to the diaconate, including the first four women being ordained in Kondoa in 2018. Bishop Brian Cole was a pilgrim and helped with this ordination.
The following year, another group was able to be a part of these same deacons being ordained into the priesthood.
In 2019, a proclamation was announced forming a companion diocese between the Diocese of Kondoa and the Diocese of East Tennessee. The group which travelled in 2019 was able to meet several from the Diocese of Rochester
England, which has a longstanding relationship with Kondoa. The two dioceses are coordinating their efforts to support the people of Kondoa.
Bishop Given and Lilian have since visited different parishes in East Tennessee, spreading the Holy Spirit in their message of love between our two dioceses.
Our friends in East Tennessee have generously supported our work over the years, with individual donations and parish donations. .Many funds are directed for use in the Chemba school
, as well as environmental causes such as a new well. Many funds are given for use at the Bishop's discretion, including food, flooding, ruined homes and medical needs.
East Tennessee has also generously funded a three month project in late 2019, durng which Anita Ayers-Henderlight from Africa Education and Leadership Initiative provided support and advice to Kondoa on the school development and its funding.
Further information about the Diocese of East Tennessee is here.
Pictures of our friends from East Tennessee in Kondoa