Chester visit to Congo Sep 2012

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Bishops Keith and Ande entering a villageBishop of Birkenhead Keith Sinclair and his family have been visiting the Democratic Republic of Congo with a team of 14 people from the Diocese of Chester. The visit was part of the process of building a link between the church in Cheshire and fellow Anglicans in the central African country.

The DR Congo covers an area the size of Western Europe. Aru Diocese is in the north-east of the country on the border with Uganda.

In the UK, the DR Congo often has a negative image of war and conflict. In fact, the experience of the Chester diocesan visitors has been the opposite. The bishop’s group is one of two teams from our diocese visiting at the present time.

Bishop Keith’s group was welcomed by the Diocese of Aru and overwhelmed by the hospitality shown by their hosts. The two bishops (of Birkenhead and Aru) are pictured above at a village visit.

The Chester people are due back in England early next week. They have been impressed by the hope that surrounds various projects in DR Congo.

Over 14 days they have visited schools, medical centres and the new university college which is training students to be nurses in Aru. Bishop Keith and his team also got a chance to visit a rural church in Ekanga, where he confirmed 290 people alongside Bishop Ande, the Bishop of Aru.

With a confirmation of 290 people this was a very different experience of usual services in rural churches in the Diocese of Chester. The service was a marvellous celebration, although with so many people it took more than four hours to complete. After the service Bishop Keith's team was given lunch by the village and as a gift of thanks villagers presented Bishop Keith with a chicken (pictured below). 

The visit was part of a growing link between the Chester diocese and the dioceses of Aru and Boga in the DR Congo, which is hoped will be of great benefit to both sides in years to come. More details of the link can be found under world mission here …  CongoLink

Bishop Keith said: “We thank God for this visit. We have learnt so much about hospitality, love and service that transcends conflict and war. We have much to learn as well as give and I pray this visit will help us do both well.”

Bishop Ande of Aru Diocese in DR Congo said: “You know your best friends during hard times. It is wonderful to have Bishop Keith and his team here in Congo and be able to share God’s love with people at the right time.”

Bishop Keith is presented with a gift of a chicken on a village visit