Develop Principled Leaders
- Conducting a bi-annual Lay Leadership School in Zimbabwe led by resource people from both the Western PA and Zimbabwe. This will be done in collaboration with the Baltimore Washington Conference. The goal is to develop principled Christian leaders for the church and the world. The Laity school is designed to:
- Focus on theological training,
- Community and economic development,
- Church administration,
- Pastoral counseling, worship,
- United Methodist polity,
- Issues of women in ministry and
- Issues focused on funding of pastor’s pensions, pastor’s family life, youth and young adult ministries, ministry with single mothers, preaching, biblical studies and leadership among others, as identified by the Zimbabwe Episcopal Area
- Developing a Zimbabwe Immersion program for people from the UMC-Western PA to spend significant time in Zimbabwe to learn church growth, discipleship, and leadership dynamics and to further guide the Partnership.
- To establish and nurture personal relationships
- To enable church learning in another culture and to have first-hand experience that will be applicable in the US
- To enable the learning of Zimbabwean culture, history, religion and practice
- To guide ZIP alumni in implementing in their own context the Zimbabwean best practices observed during the program
Laity Academy- 2011
A delegation 7 Laity from Western PA traveled to Zimbabwe June 2011, to partner with leaders in the Zimbabwe East and West Annual Conferences to offer a Laity Academy. More than 325 Laity from the Zimbabwe Episcopal Area are invited to participate. The Western Pa team included Robert Penrose of Trinity UMC in Indiana, who serves as director of lay speaking ministries; Conference Connectional Network Chair Louise Patterson of Central Highlands UMC in Elizabeth Twp.; CCN Secretary Roberta Plohr of Christ Community UMC in Butler; Peggy Ward of Greenstone UMC, who serves as chair of the Commission on the Status and Role of Women and on the Dismantling Racism Team; Conference Controller Larry Bridge of Salem UMC in Wexford, and Jay Myers of Dutilh UMC. Accompanying the team were Ruth and the Rev. Bob Higginbotham, assistant to the Bishop; and Sandra Matoushaya, Zimbabwe Partnership coordinator. Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton was also at Africa University, speaking at Pastors’ Academy.
“It was good to see Africa University and see what it means in the lives of actual people -- the pastors who proudly display diplomas from Africa University, the lay people who proudly tell you of children that will start there in the fall,” said Ward. In Zimbabwe the group also visited some new church starts, the Mutare UM Mission Hospital, schools, women’s centers and other ministries in both rural areas and the capital city, Harare. Ward said “to have people very proudly tell you all their children were born at the mission hospital; to meet those who feel blessed to have attended the mission school; to see the bed nets in the hospital ward” showed that “what we do matters in the lives of others. There is much to do, and much that WE can actually do. It all matters and it is really up to us to make the decision to do what God has given us the resources to do, just as the Zimbabweans do every day,” she said.
Penrose said there were many spiritual and life-changing moments. “Seeing the excitement of the Zimbabwean laity who traveled hours to Africa University, their Christcentered worship and their desire to see the church grow was an amazing experience, “
he noted. Plohr said, “The people of Zimbabwe...are trying to accomplish so much for God:Trying to defeat HIV/Aids and malaria; attempting to build churches and raise families. I was deeply moved. These people have the greatest gift of all...the love of Jesus Christ.” Trevor Kayio, lay leader of Breitbridge UMC in Zimbabwe, said he was thankful for the team that helped with the Laity Academy.
“The WPA team managed to practically prove that connectionalism exists in the UMC,” he said. “A lot of topics were discussed during the four-day program...Discipleship, Worship, and Roles of the Church Council .... The one-on-one interaction helped us to
feel the way the church is being run in the USA and they also had a feeling of our church here in Zimbabwe.”
Bridge, whose Laity Academy presentation focused on finance in the UMC, said one word describes his experience in Zimbabwe: “Joy--Joy in love of Christ, in life, in our fellow man, in giving without condition and in our United Methodist Connection. “Meetings and sharing with clergy and lay leaders from the broad reaches of Zimbabwe, our visits in the homes of fellow Christians, in orphanages, hospitals, shelters, schools and even new church plants indelibly affirmed the value and worth of our collective and personal investment in the Partnership,” he explained. Penrose noted that seeing the new church starts and missions of the Zimbabwean Church “renewed my hope in what can be done when the Gospel is shared and God is trusted completely. But seeing the great needs, and families torn apart because of disease and lack of resources, broke my heart and helped me to see how blessed we are in the US. I look forward to sharing the many stories with anyone who will listen.” Myers said the trip, his first to Africa, was “like peering through a keyhole into a different world. I was humbled by the extreme generosity, joy and enthusiasm of my Zimbabwean brothers and sisters in Christ. I was enriched by the smiles, excitement and hope expressed by the young folks we met. I was saddened and troubled by the xtreme differences in infrastructure, comfort and life style between the United States I
know and the Zimbabwe I experienced.
“I don't understand and am still trying to reconcile why there is such a disproportionate allocation and usage of our world's resources,” Myers said. “I was in awe of the beauty of the Zimbabwe landscapes, but even more in awe of the beauty of their
peoples' spirits. They are so genuine and passionate in their worship of our God, their singing, their dancing, their thankfulness, and the love shown to us during our visit. He added that he was encouraged to see how vital the role of the United Methodist
church is in Zimbabweans everyday lives....”for some a place for education, for others a place for medical help, for yet others a place for shelter and food.....and for all.....a place to experience fellowship, love and hope. The church and their faith seem to be at the core of their being; the way it should be. And the church is rapidly growing!” Kaiyo offered thanks to everyone who made the Lay Academy possible through contributions of resources and those that prayed for it to be a success, adding: “May God
continue to shine upon us as United Methodist as we continue in our quest to make disciples throughout the world.”
After the academy ended Sunday, June 19, the group traveled to the Great Zimbabwe Ruins in Masvingo, about 170 miles south of the capital city of Harare. Great Zimbabwe was the capital of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe, between 1100 and 1450 AD. On the way the team stopped to worship with a congregation in Nyanyadzi. They also got the opportunity to visit projects within the Masvingo District- these are the Rujeko UMC, Runyararo UMC, the Gutu Mpandawana UMC and the United Methodist Women's Centers in the Zimbabwe West and East Conferences.
Reflections from Zimbabwe by Louise Patterson
Little Brown Eyes
Little brown eyes tucked in onthe back of your mother,
Little brown eyes what will you see
As you grow, as you learn of the life of your people,
Will you be safe, will you be happy and free?
Free from the hunger that robs years of your life,
Free from oppression and fears;
Free from diseases that are so easily cured,
Who will be with you to wipe away tears?
Our hearts join as one as we sing to the Lord,
Our hands clasped sharing love from above;
We will tell of your story and help others to learn
Of your need, of your faith, of your love.
Zimbabwe Immersion Program
In order to develop relationships with Zimbabwean United Methodists and to enable Zimbabweans to help us learn best practices about ministry and church, The Zimbabwe Partnership is offering an Immersion Program. Selected applicants will be responsible for only $500 of the cost. The rest of the program cost will be paid by the partnership.
The Zimbabwe Immersion Program offers laity and clergy from WPA UMC the opportunity to:
- travel to Zimbabwe,
- live with a Christian host family for an extended stay (approx. 5-6 weeks)
- participate in training relevant to life in Zimbabwe (before, during, after travel),
- learn from Zimbabwean Christians, and
- witness and participate in a variety of life styles in Zimbabwe (rural, urban, tourist).
The purposes of the program are, generally, to introduce US citizens to Zimbabwean culture and to enable participants to learn from Zimbabweans best practices in ministry and church. Participants will be expected to participate in all trainings and debriefings as well as to share their ZIP experience with future ZIP participants, local churches, and at district and conference events.
1 To establish and nurture personal relationships between Western Pennsylvania United Methodists and Zimbabweans.
2 To enable laity and clergy to learn about “church” in another culture and to have firsthand experience that will be applicable to their ministries back home.
3 To offer WPA laity and clergy the opportunity to learn in depth about Zimbabwean culture, history, religion, and practice.
4 To enable Zimbabweans to teach WPA United Methodists without travel costly to Zimbabweans.
5 To guide ZIP alumni in implementing in their own context the Zimbabwean best practices observed during the program.
The ZIP program is NOT the following:
1 Evangelism – the program recognizes that Zimbabwe is a largely Christian country and that most of its peoples are more “churched” than Americans.
2 Charity – the program is to be focused on Zimbabweans teaching, helping, and training Americans.
Zimbabwe Immersion Program 2012
Members of Western Pennsylvania’s first Zimbabwe Immersion Team have returned home, eager to share their experience with churches and groups. All remarked on the faith, love and joy they saw among Zimbabwean Christians. Shown above are team members with their host families and Zimbabwe Area Bishop Eben Nhiwatiwa, shown in the center behind the Rev. Kimberly Greway, who helped arrange for the immersion along with Zimbabwe Partnership coordinator Sandra Matoushaya.
Reflections by Immersion Participants.
Victoria Konopasek- Rochester Institute of Technology and member of Faith UMC in Fox Chapel- Pittsburgh District
In Zimbabwe I learned not only a new way of life but found a refreshing approach in our faith. Life in Zimbabwe is not on your time it is on God's, there are no worries for what has to get done, what's to come, the focus is just on the here and now and thanking God for all that the day ahs brought. Staying in Zimbabwe for 6 weeks really put in perspective how many little things in life we as Americas take for granted and should be so grateful for, things as simple as knowing that water will flow from the faucet as soon as we turn the handle. Being able to walk the Christian life and worship like a Zimbabwean is an experienceI wish all Christians could have. After my trip I'm very excited abotu the work they are doing at the farm (Pittsburgh project) and I hope to spread that excitement and knowledge about the program with the church's in my district.
Jessica Speer- Clinical Social worker and member of First Bethel UMC, Pittsburgh District
When asked to share about my trip I find myself pausing because I’m not really sure where to even begin. The past 5 ½ weeks of my life have been truly amazing and I have been truly blessed by the people I met and the experiences I have had. I was placed in the Harare Central District and got to visit several of their projects/ministries that they have going on. A few of the projects that I had the privilege to learn about included the Highglen Homebased Care program where members of the church go around and visit people who are sick, orphaned or are just experiencing some sort of challenge in their life; the Kambuzuma Creche program where I spent the morning playing with the kids teaching them how to play “Duck, Duck, Goose” and “Simon Says”, then there was the visit to Nyamacheni which is a mission that is working to improve the education of the children in the community and to build a bore hole so that people in the community can have decent water. Behind each of these projects are people who are passionate about making a difference and helping those within their community as well as doing God’s work.
I have only been home for a few days and people have said to me “I bet you have a better appreciation for everything you have”, but I can honestly say I don’t. It’s not that I’m not appreciative or grateful for the things I have, its just that I find myself feeling claustrophobic by having so much. In my experiences there is happiness and joy that you see everywhere and it doesn’t come from what you have, it comes from your relationship with God and your relationship with others. You want to talk about faith…. There were adults walking up to the front of the church sharing with their congregation why they were thankful and then giving a dollar or less to the church in some circumstances and there was no judgment about how little they gave but rather a community of rejoicing about the blessings God had bestowed upon that person. As I traveled around to the various ministries the idea of the chabadza partnership really came to light. People looked to me for the answers on how they should be doing their ministry but one of the things that I saw over and over again was how we need to adapt our way of thinking to be more like them. It is my hope that I can share my experience in a way that will help people to think less about and find less joy in the material items of our lives and to strive to have more of that “African” happiness.
Rev. Erik Hoeke- Associate Pastor Chippewa UMC- Butler District
The Zimbabwe Immersion Program was the experience of a lifetime. I feel truly blessed to have participated, and I am humbled by the amazing gifts and abilities of the rest of the Immersion team. I return with many reflections and lessons for holy living both in the life of the church and in personal spiritual formation.
More than once, John Wesley wrote, "I look upon all the world as my parish." I have always loved this phrase, as it directs our focus beyond our local church. Now, after spending five weeks in Zimbabwe, I have come to understand more deeply what these words mean. I spent the majority of my time in Mutare, a city nestled in the mountains on the eastern border of Zimbabwe, where I stayed with the Rev. Dr. Gift Machinga and his family. While there, I expected to simply observe pastoral ministry and reflect on what I saw. However, my Zimbabwean colleagues frequently thrust me into the practice of pastoral ministry whenever they saw an opportunity. I preached three sermons in two churches. I made dozens of home visitations, singing and praying with people in the slums of Sukubva, the suburbs of Dangamvura, and the wealthy mountain homes of Bvumba. I served Holy Communion, both in worship and with our Immersion team. I even assisted in a wedding ceremony. And at choir festivals, worship services, and weeknight programs, they always seemed to ask me to give the benediction!
Although John Wesley's words were often used to silence those critical of his field preaching, they also remind us of a deeper truth: he did not limit pastoral ministry to one particular congregation. He would not limit himself to one community. Instead, he insisted on being a preacher and pastor wherever he went, with whoever he encountered. My immersion into Zimbabwean life and ministry forced me to live this phrase more than ever before. I can now boldly proclaim that I look upon all the world as my parish - from Chippewa, PA to Mutare, Zimbabwe, and everywhere in between.
Interested applicants should fill out an application and return it by email or mail to Sandra Matoushaya- Zimbabwe Partnership Coordinator, 1204 Freedom Road, PO Box 5002, Cranberry Twp, Pa 16066. Sandra.email@example.com or 724.776.2300, ext 249
Zimbabwe Immersion Program Application