The visit of Bishop John Lupaa and Mrs Devota Lupaa
Rev. Dr. Robert S. Heaney, Director of the Center for Anglican Communion Studies (CACS) and Andrew Hege, Student Assistant, CACS, interviewed Bishop John Lupaa.
Bishop John Lupaa, sponsored by the Diocese of Virginia, was hosted by the Center for Anglican Communion Studies from October 30 to November 26, 2013. Bishop John sat down with Dr. Heaney and Andrew Hege to reflect on his time at VTS and to reflect on issues that face him as a Bishop in the Anglican Church of Tanzania.
Anglican Diocese of the Rift Valley, Tanzania, East Africa
Bishop John leads a diocese that lies at the heart of the East African nation of Tanzania. It is a young Diocese founded from the Diocese of Central Tanganyika in 1991. It consists of almost 300 congregations with a total of approximately 100,000 Anglicans. For the Bishop to participate in the mission of God in the Rift Valley is to face the challenges of poverty and militant Islam.
Tanzania is one of the world’s poorest nations. Yet, Bishop John is determined to enhance the Christian vision and practice of serving others. He cites William Temple – existing for the sake of others in Tanzania is existing for the sake of the poor. “Poverty is the biggest challenge we face.”
While economic growth rates have been good for Tanzania compared to other African countries, it remains the case that at birth, Tanzanians have a life expectancy of 60 years, over 65 percent live under the poverty line, and HIV-AIDS remains connected to and perpetuated by lack of resources. “The response of the church needs to be,” argues the Bishop, “to make money, do business, and be involved in income-generation projects in order to do God’s mission in the Diocese.” The Diocese, in partnership with others, including Trinity, Wall Street, is seeking to do just that.
Militant Islam is on the rise in Tanzania and is creating serious tension in the country. Violence, including murder, church burnings, and threats have been on the rise in Tanzania against Christians. “Nonetheless, Muslims are our neighbors. The church is called,” submits Bishop John, “to friendship, dialogue, and evangelism.” Aware of the controversies surrounding understandings and practices of mission, Bishop John depicts his approach as holistic mission. For him and for the context God has called him to serve in, justification for the approach is summed up in two words, “it works.”
Experience of VTS
Bishop John’s experience of VTS has been good. He and his wife, Devota, have found the community to be friendly and welcoming. “VTS is a good place to rest. The library is big—providing a good study environment. The meals are delicious; good for health. The VTS community is friendly—a good place to be. The professors are hard working, which makes an excellent place for higher learning. The VTS community is generous and hospitable.”
Following his time at VTS, Bishop John and his wife plan further time in the Diocese of Virginia before travelling to Germany to continue his sabbatical.