Mission and Education in Africa

24 May 2017

The command of the Lord Jesus Christ to His Holy Apostles and, by extension, to the Church and every single Christian, was clear: “Go therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matt. 28: 19-20). This command is the starting point and the guideline of every missionary effort of the apostolic Church throughout the centuries. It is also clear that the command of Christ relates to a teaching-learning relationship between the evangelical message conveyors (“everything I have commanded you”), and the recipients of this message (“all nations”).

The Church is called to incarnate and teach the great, admittedly, mystery of godliness (1 Tim. 3:16), and the nations are called to become disciples and be initiated into the mystery. The teaching process is laborious, requires suitable and favorable conditions, deposition of blood and spirit on the part of both participants in the teaching-learning process, which can be lifelong, perennial, until it reaches Christocentricity (i.e., Christ-centeredness) and Christoethics, always by the grace of God.

This is therefore the very essence of Mission. The reason, the activities, the visions of the missionary work of the Church should constitute its very existence. Only then will the results be pleasing to God and beneficial to the present and the eternal future of those people of the world who hunger and crave for the Truth and the Light.

In her course the Church preaches, catechizes, admonishes, is evangelized by her word and deed, using forms and terms of this world, to which she gives a whole new dimension and depth. The conditions of the various peoples are considered and exploited in the best possible way in order to become the tools of sowing the seed of God’s Word, i.e., of Christ. This path is the uninterrupted Incarnation of the Son of God in the hearts of His children.

In the case of Africa, and not only, the missionary plough is called to proceed slowly and very carefully, and spend a lot of time and effort preparing the ground which fell to its lot. It first needs to develop culture and then transform it and make it Christ-centered. The road to civilization has always passed through education. Therefore, it would be no exaggeration to say that in the African reality before the Mission builds, organizes and operates a church, it should build, organize and operate a school.

Once again, it is on the school-church pair that we are left to build our missionary visions and orientations.

From the Holy Metropolis

The Bishop of the Newly Established Third Diocese of Tanzania

24 December 2016

On 11th December 2016, His Beatitude Patriarch Theodore of Alexandria officiated at the Patriarchal Divine Liturgy at the Sacred Patriarchal Cathedral of St. Savvas the Sanctified of Alexandria and during that he performed the ordination of the new Bishop Agathonikos of Arusha and Central Tanzania.

His Grace Bishop Agathonikos (Nicolaides) of Arusha and Central Tanzania was born in Giannitsa in 1964. He graduated from the Pedagogical Academy of Florina and the Theological School of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. Since 1986 he has been a monk of the Monastery of Saint Dionysius of Olympus. He served as Preacher of the Holy Metropolises of Florina and Kitrous, while from 2004 to 2011 he served in various Missionary Divisions of Africa, and then as a Chancellor of the Holy Metropolis of Irinoupolis in Tanzania. In December 2013 he went to Alexandria, where he served as Dean of the St. Athanasios Patriarchal Academy, and as Codicographer and Director of the Patriarch’s Private Office. On November 17, 2016 he was unanimously elected Bishop of the newly created Diocese of Arusha and Central Tanzania.

The Orthodox Missionary Fraternity welcomes with emotion the assumption of duties of the new missionary struggles by His Grace and hopes that he will continue the rich fruitfulness of his predecessor. Worthy!