Letter from the Church Council

“The wolf will live with the lab, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them…They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (Isaiah 11:6&9).”

As we approach the end of our time living in Tanzania, numerous people have asked Christy and me “What will you miss about life in Arusha?” Inevitably, one of the first things on our list of what we’ll miss is the church we have called home for the past 10 years. I tell people that Arusha Community Church has given me a glimpse of the Peaceable Kingdom described in Isaiah 11. In the case of ACC, it is not the wolf and the lamb that live together in peace, but rather, the Lutheran and the Catholic and the Mennonite.

Several centuries ago our ancestors were slaughtering each other in Europe, today we are praying and taking communion together, teaching, baptizing, and nurturing each others’ children, and mourning together as we lose those we love. Is this any less miraculous than Isaiah’s vision of a leopard lying down with the goat? We worship in English, but our mother tongues are so numerous that I have lost count. In a world rife with ethnic misunderstanding and violence, we serve as proof that people of different colors and cultures can not only worship together, but can love and care for each other.

These years at ACC have not been all peace, joy, and happiness. We have suffered together through a Covid pandemic that crippled our ability to worship together, depleted our financial resources, and claimed the lives of many whom we loved dearly. Nonetheless, ACC has come through the most difficult period in our history as a strong and Christ-filled people. This morning in worship, our sanctuary was full to capacity. We welcomed new members and visitors from around the world. Last week, we celebrated the baptisms of both infants and adult believers. Over the past year, we have responded to medical needs of individuals in our community, made major improvements in our worship space, and still managed to balance our budget.

God clearly has a plan for this faith community whom we will miss so much. I pray you will continue to celebrate and build on the beauty and strength of ACC’s ethnic and theological diversity. However, I am convinced that the ACC of 10 years from now will look quite different from the ACC of old. In the 10 years we have walked together, I have seen our membership, and our leadership, become much more Tanzanian. As the influence of Europeans and North Americans in our midst diminishes, the way we make decisions, and the patterns that guide our life together as a congregation, will inevitably need to shift. I challenge you to embrace, rather than fear such change, believing that ACC continues to serve as a glimpse of God’s Kingdom here and now. We are a holy mountain, led by Christ and filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea!