"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." -- Acts 1:8
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The Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod (SEPA) and its congregations actively participate in many of the Global programs for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) including the Malaria Campaign; ELCA World Hunger; ELCA Good Gifts; Lutheran Disaster Relief; and Sponsoring Missionaries around the globe. In addition, SEPA Synod experiences the rich blessing of many long-term companionships with Lutherans in Tanzania, Africa. These begin with our Synod’s companionship with the North Eastern Diocese (NED) of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT). All our relationships in Tanzania are designed as “accompaniments”—we walk together with our brothers and sisters in Christ in Tanzania, in mutual service of God’s mission.
Individual congregations in SEPA Synod partner with individual parishes in NED to enrich our faith and strengthen our ability to engage in God’s mission. Go to the Tanzania Congregational Companionship Handbook to learn about this opportunity.
From the very beginning, SEPA Synod has worked with NED to build and support this leading African institution of higher learning that fully recognizes and actively professes the human value and dignity of all society members, including people with disabilities. The Sebastian Kolowa Memorial University (SEKOMU) focuses particularly on serving people with disabilities and training graduates to work with people who have physical, sensory, intellectual and behavioral barriers. SEPA’s fundraising to date for SEKOMU totals $441,000. Learn more.
SEPA provides regular support for Mwangaza, a grassroots, faith-based organization, located in Arusha, TZ, that fosters a variety of educational programs for secondary teachers and community leaders.
The ELCA offers opportunities for pastors, lay people, and youth to work as missionaries. Currently, Tom and Susan MacPherson, members of St. John’s Mayfair, are serving as self-funded lay missionaries for a three-year term at the Irente Children’s Home. To follow their work, see their blog.
In 2005, a delegation from SEPA visiting our companion synod, the North East Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania, heard a dream from the Rev. Dr. Anneth Munga — a college on the territory of the diocese that would help train badly needed special needs educators and other professionals. Today the Sebastian Kolowa Memorial University enrolls nearly 1,600 students in programs in special needs education, eco-tourism and nature conservation, law, and teaching.
This is how the SEKOMU-SEPA partnership developed. In 2005 a team from SEPA sprang into action and began working on Dr. Munga’s dream. Special education experts began working with leaders of what would initially become the Sebastian Kolowa University College (SEKUCo) of Tumaini University developing curriculum. Individuals and congregations donated books and thousands of dollars to futher the effort. SEPA volunteers helped to design the technological infrastructure for the new college. Buildings were renovated to serve as classrooms, computer labs and dormitories.
In the fall of 2007 SEKUCo opened under provisional certification from the Tanzania Commission on Universities, and in its first year enrolled 137 students. The following fall nearly 400 students enrolled, with programs in law as well as special needs education, and work was begun renovating a second campus. In 2009, the curriculum expanded to include business and eco-tourism, with 600 .
In December, 2010 the college graduated its first class of 138 students, and the following fall opened its fifth year of operation with nearly 1,600 students on two campuses – more than a 1000% increase from its initial enrollment.
In 2012 the TCU granted full-fledged university status, and the institution’s name was changed to the Sebastian Kolowa Memorial University to reflect its full charter.
SEPA congregations and individuals have provided significant support to the university throughout its history. In 2013 a campaign was conducted to provide furnishings for lecture rooms in a newly completed academic complex.
It is evident that God has a plan for SEKOMU and for SEPA’s partnership with this college. SEKOMU’s vision is
to be a leading African institution of higher learning that fully recognizes and actively professes the human value and dignity of all society members, including people with disabilities, and whereby everyone is able to learn and live in harmony with God, fellow human beings and all creation.
For information about how you can help support SEKUMO’s vision
Assistant to the Bishop for Global Vision and Events
Mrs. Carlson coordinates major synod meetings and events and works with our international partnership with our companion synod, the North Eastern Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania. She also works with groups related to World Hunger, Lutheran World Relief, Advocacy (international issues), Resources and Volunteer Opportunities (international) and all other international related issues/involvements.
Communications Assistant and Database Manager
Mrs. Outterbridge handles day-to-day updates to the Synod website, ministrylink.org, and compiles the bi-weekly SEPANews e-mail updates. She also manages the Synod databases of rostered leaders, congregations, congregational contacts and other constituents and is the statistician for the Synod. Contact her with changes to your contact information. She is assistant to Mr. Fisher and provides computer support for Synod staff. She also provides support for Global Vision and Synod Events, serving as registrar for the Assembly, Convocation and other major events, and is assistant to Mrs. Carlson.