Building for the Future; Some thoughts about community as we start the new year.
If you had been lucky enough to have stood in front of the new church our friends in Chunyu, Tanzania are building, you would marvel not only in its construction but what it represents about community. Firstly each brick is fashioned by hand for the building. Secondly each brick has been laid with manpower from the congregation. Thirdly the church is being built because the current church can’t fit in everyone who wants to come. Fourthly some of the bricks have been paid for by money sent to our friends in Chunyu, from the village, from the church here and our schools.
In any relationship, there is learning and discovery, there are questions and sometimes difficult answers and there is growth and connection. Thus our partnership brings with it opportunities for us to learn, discover, ask questions, listen to the answers and be inspired to take action.
Mirroring in some ways the brick by brick growth of the church in Chunyu, in our schools and in our village, there is building happening for the future. In the village, crowd funding has enabled works to start on the new Learning Space for the school and the photos now give a little sense of what will be achieved once work is underway. Up on the hill we are converting a disused stable block into three new classrooms. Alongside the church is a splendid new extension, beautifully crafted with respect for the old and stylish designs for the new, which will help us meet the needs of all visitors, seeking the peace to say a prayer, wanting the company of other people, celebrating markers of the church and farming year, for those who are baptised or laid to rest and their families and those who marry here.
In all of these projects there is someone with vision and drive, and a whole team of volunteers and professionals who make the vision a reality. But what is much, much more important than the bricks and the space are the possibilities that these buildings offer for growth and connection.
A huge number of people have generously given money, time, talents to get these four projects going. New understanding is already growing about the potential to deliver a shared experience in each of our new spaces, whether it be as in Chunyu, enough space for everyone to attend a service, or in the village school, the possibility for children to make music and share their thinking in the Learning Space, whether it enables children to enjoy bright new classrooms at St Michael’s or encourage community groups to be based in our church room and grow connections and opportunities. Whilst undoubtedly the bricks and mortar aspect are crucial parts of the projects, it is the people and what they might learn and do and share and how they might grow and connect which is really what the future is all about.
Jill Aisher (Tanzania Partnership team member)