GNJ-Tanzania UM friendship grows with funding for new church and pastors

May 29, 2024 |

On May 20, during its 2024 Annual Conference Session, The United Methodists of Greater New Jersey surpassed its $100,000 goal for the #ForTanzania campaign after a special offering raised $24,373, pushing the total contributions to over $110,000. The funds are designated for constructing a church in the fast-growing Bamia neighborhood of Dar es Salaam and ensuring a sustainable wage for Tanzanian United Methodist pastors.

A mission team from Greater New Jersey, including Eric Drew, Rev. Leslie Houseworth, Rev. William D. Carter III, Rev. Dawn Taylor-Storm, Rev. Eunice Vega-Perez, Sam Perez, and Bishop John Schol, landed in Tanzania on May 25. They are attending the Tanzania Annual Conference session and will be leading the fourth annual Tanzania Pastor’s School.

The newly completed sanctuary in Bamia, featuring pristine white walls and a turquoise roof adorned with a cross-and-flame, was dedicated at the opening of the Tanzania Annual Conference Session on May 26. Representatives from every United Methodist church in Tanzania and choirs from all seven congregations in Dar es Salaam, totalling over 300 attendees, came together to celebrate the dedication. 

Shift toward partnership model

This year’s mission to Tanzania embodies a shift away from the traditional “aid” model and more towards a partnership model that emphasizes mutual respect and shared learning. Team members often find they receive more from the experience than they contribute. 

Such a dynamic is exemplified by individuals like Nyasinde Pablo, the conference youth leader and architect behind the church’s design, who was recently elected as Conference Secretary. Additionally, Ms. Rosemary Emmanuel Masele, the CFO/Treasurer of the Tanzania Conference, will co-lead the “Stewardship and Administration” course, further demonstrating the vital, empowering roles local leaders play in this shared mission.

The ongoing edification of women in leadership is especially noteworthy. The Rev. Leslie Houseworth of Christ Church UMC in Paterson and Rev. William D. Carter III of Franklin-St. John’s UMC in Newark will lead a course on Women in the Bible. “I hope that those attending the Pastors School grow in their preaching and worship planning, and that they rediscover the positive impact of women in the early and contemporary church,” shared Houseworth.

Breakthrough worship series translated into Swahili

Eric Drew shared insights on the translation efforts, noting the adaptation of three “Breakthrough” sermon series into Swahili, which was a direct response to requests from local pastors on previous visits. These resources will help Tanzanian clergy with three-months worth of worship preparations and sermon writing. “During our preaching class last year, many pastors expressed the lack of commentaries and books in their language. We’re excited to continue meeting the needs articulated by Tanzanian pastors and support their ministerial growth,” he said.

There were also other, more subtle but no less meaningful ways the team from Greater New Jersey is benefiting from the experience. This is Houseworth’s first trip to Tanzania. “Being in Tanzania would be a gift to any person, but as a woman of African descent, it is particularly moving,” she shared. “When I experience the Tanzanian worship services—the joyful singing, the rhythmic dance, and the fiery praying and preaching—I feel like I am home.” 

Classes offered during the Pastor’s School include:

  • The Book of Acts, taught by Bishop John Schol
  • Renewal in UMC History, taught by the Rev. Dawn Taylor-Storm and the Rev. Dr. Eunice Vega-Perez
  • Women in the Bible, taught by the Rev. Leslie Houseworth and the Rev. Dr. William D. Carter III
  • Preaching Renewal and Breakthrough, taught by the Rev. Leslie Houseworth and Mr. Eric Drew
  • Stewardship and Administration, taught by the Rev. Dr. Eunice Vega-Perez, Mr. Samuel Perez and Ms. Rosemary Emmanuel Masele
  • Renewal in Discipleship and Christian Education, taught by the Rev. Dawn Taylor-Storm and the Rev. Dr. William D. Carter III.

View more photos of the GNJ to Tanzania visit at Tanzania Mission 2024 – EPA&GNJ Communications (