29 May 2013

Africa’s first woman bishop visits Ireland

Bishop Ellinah Wamukoya with Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town at her consecration … she preaches in Dublin this evening (Photograph: AFP/Anglican Church of Swaziland)

Patrick Comerford

Africa’s first Anglican woman bishop is in Ireland this week to join the celebrations marking the rebranding of the Anglican mission agency, the United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (USPG), as the United Society – Us.

The new Bishop of Swaziland, the Right Revd Ellinah Wamukoya, will preach at a special Eucharist in Saint Michan’s Church, Dublin, at 7.30 this evening [Wednesday 29 May 2013].

Bishop Ellinah was consecrated last November and her visit to Ireland this week is her first official trip overseas.

The Archbishop of Armagh, Dr Richard Clarke, will preside at the Eucharist. Earlier in the afternoon, there is an open house to mark the opening of the new Us offices in Egan House, beside Saint Michan’s Church in Church Street, Dublin.

I serve on the boards of Us, the former USPG, in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, and on the council of Us in Britain. This Anglican mission agency works in direct partnership with Anglican Churches in over 50 countries, helping to support vital work, including healthcare, education, leadership training and action for social justice.

Us in Ireland works directly with the Diocese of Swaziland, where we have been building up strong networks over the last five years working with all members of the community.

The Anglican Church in Swaziland works to respond to the huge difficulties faced by the country. However, the Church there has few resources and currently relies on overseas donations to run its programmes which include local care points and feeding stations for the many child-headed households. Training in life skills is also provided for young people.

Bishop Ellinah Wamukoya (61) is the first Anglican bishop in Africa. Her election came last November – just as the Church of England failed to vote in favor women becoming bishops.

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town said at the time of her election: “We have witnessed a great occasion, and now it does indeed seem that the heavens are about to fall upon us – the falling of rain, which this country and its people so desperately need.”

Bishop Wamukoya is a former mayor of Swaziland’s economic capital, Manzini, and has worked as town planner. During her visit to Ireland she is meeting the staff and board members of Us, bishops of the Church of Ireland, and supporting parishes throughout the island.

Rebranding USPG as Us at the annual conference at the High Leigh Conference Centre in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, last year

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