Ralph Kenp Congo 2012

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Chester priest Ralph Kemp among the Congo ChristiansA priest from Christ Church in Chester recently returned from a trip with fellow Church of England people to the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Revd Ralph Kemp (pictured on the visit) is Associate Vicar at the Newtown parish in Chester, which is part of the Diocese of Chester's Congo Link - an organisation which co-operates with and helps Christians in the African country.

Revd Kemp said: "Returning to the UK from Congo recently I was humbled by the welcome and hospitality we received and hugely encouraged by the sense of hope and vision of the people there.

"The church there is improving lives through reconciliation for peace, education and through healthcare. Our Link helps both those in Congo and those in Chester diocese as we work together to see lives restored in both places and learn from each other. "

The DR Congo covers an area the size of Western Europe. Parts of the country have seen considerable civil strife in recent times.

The recent visit (September 2012) – which included Anglicans from around the Diocese of Chester – was focused on Aru diocese, which is in the north-east of the country on the border with Uganda.

Also on the visit was Bishop of Birkenhead, the Rt Revd Keith Sinclair, whose group was one of two from the Chester diocese to make the trip at the same time.

In the UK, the DR Congo often has a negative image of war and conflict. In fact, the experience of the Chester diocesan visitors was the opposite.

Members of Bishop Keith’s group, who included the Revd Ralph Kemp, were impressed by the hope that surrounds various projects in DR Congo. They visited schools, medical centres and the new university college which is training students to be nurses in Aru.

They also got a chance to visit a rural church in Ekanga, where Bishop Keith confirmed 290 people alongside Bishop Ande of Aru.  After the confirmation service the Chester visitors were given lunch by the village and as a gift of thanks the villagers presented Bishop Keith with a chicken.

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 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.”

For more information visit chester.anglican.org and follow the drop-down link from World Mission to Congo and then to Chester Congo Link.