Day 10 – Sunday March 5 –Dancing in Church

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Today was a very full day. The Rev. Dr. Tuntufye Mwenisongole picked me up at 7 a.m. He is an alumnus of Moravian Theological Seminary with degrees in counseling and theology. He took me to his church for the early worship service. It is a large, beautiful church. We sat on the dais with the pastor and worship leaders. The service was led by the women of the church, but they did not use the special order of worship that the province had provided. A very dynamic woman led the prayers, which included prayers for women in sexual slavery in the Philippines. There came a time for every person to pray as they chose, including speaking in tongues. The result was a strange buzzing sound in the sanctuary. It did nothing for me, but some of the people were deeply moved. Several choirs sang, including a youth choir. I brought greetings that Mwenisongole translated. Even though it was women’s day, they brought in a lay evangelist. He preached like an American evangelical preacher – pacing back and forth repeating the same phrases over and over trying to get people to convert. He was very hard on the youth of the congregation accusing them of breaking many of the commandments. The service lasted for about three hours, and my companion kept telling me that this was not a typical sermon. After the service, we took tea with the pastors and evangelists.

Then we went to another Moravian Church in Mbeya, which was quite different. It was an older building built in cruciform style. The service had already started, so they hand to bring a couple of chairs onto the dais for us. Many of the women were dressed in white with white headdresses. Since it was Women’s Day, the pastor’s wife was sitting on the large chair behind the communion table. The worship included more traditional Moravian elements, and yet the congregation seemed more enthusiastic than the earlier church. For some reason I felt immediately at home in this congregation and my greeting was longer and more personal. They laughed very easily.

At one point a choir came into the center to sing and dance, and then members of the congregation joined them into a raucous joyful dance. People noticed that I was doing my best to dance along with the congregation, and they encouraged me to continue. The pastor insisted that I come forward and dance solo in the center of the church. You may not know that I’m not a dancer, but I felt so at ease and accepted in the church that I went forward to do some moves. And the crowd went wild, so I danced wilder. I kicked off my clogs so I move better and the congregation shouted. Many people filmed me, but alas, I have no video to show others. A man actually gave me 2,000 shillings. It was such fun. Finally, I had to stop and go back to my seat and the pastor told the congregation “if the professor can dance in church, why can’t you?”

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The sermon was given by Sr. Kyomo and Br. Mwenisongole translated for me. It was definitely written for Women’s Day as it addressed many of the horrible things that women suffer in Tanzania and the world at large. It was much more direct and graphic than American sermons. It was long, but very inspiring. I felt bad for my translator who had to work so hard, but he wanted to make sure I understand it. There were three offerings. One for daily needs of the church. One for the women’s group. And one for a new church start. There was a youth choir from a new Moravian mission congregation. They had a very loud sound system, but I liked it much better when the sound system went off and we could hear their beautiful voices. They presented gifts to the pastor and his wife and then auctioned a cloth as a fund-raiser. When the service was over we went to the porch to greet the worshipers, and a women’s choir dressed in white sang while people came into the church yard. Before long the whole congregation had reassembled and then they auctioned gifts that people brought. I joined the church staff for lunch and talked with Sr. Kyomo. After church Br. Mwenisongole gave her a ride home and we visited with her 80-yr old husband Andrew. He also attended MTS and earned a degree from Princeton and an honorary doctorate from Moravian College. Delightful man. In his retirement he is writing a book about the African worldview and modern counseling.

I was so very tired after nearly seven hours of worshiping and visitation, but it was important for me to see the TEKU library. We met Dr. Kategile who gave us a tour. The library building is beautiful and the reading room has large windows that look out on the mountains. Unfortunately there are very few books in the collection. The theology section is the largest, thanks in part to gifts from MTS, but the other disciplines have few resources. I hope we can find a way to improve things.

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We left the university and drove up a mountain. I think it was Loleza Peak, which is over 8,700 ft high and overlooks the city. We did not go to the very top because of time constraints. It is provides a beautiful view of the entire city, and Sr. Kategile showed me where the University is in the center of the valley. After I had a little rest in the room, Br. Mwenisongole picked me up and took me to Sr. Kategile’s for dinner. We had a wonderful evening talking about MTS and mutual friends. We also discussed possible ways that Moravian College and TEKU could cooperate. I think we will have a beautiful future together.

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Comments

  • Rev. Dr. Tuntufye Mwenisongole  On September 26, 2017 at 3:49 am

    I am overwhelmed by how you can keep your record in this detailed way! It is motivating to read through and to see someone opinion about your country! Thans for the report and your opennes of how you felt when visiting Tanzania. Keep it up Prof. Atwood and welcome again! KARIBU SANA!

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