The lay leaders of Francistown

Saturday is our day for the lay leaders’ workshop in the north of the diocese, similar to what we have already done in Gaborone. Actually there are two parallel workshops, one for church wardens, the other for lay leaders. We all gather together at St. Patrick’s, in the town center, and I do a meditation on 1 Corinthians 12. Then it’s tea time.

Afterwards we split up, and the lay leaders and Fr. Amanze and I head to the rectory, where I have been staying, to meet in the living room. We have been expecting, at the most, about 20, but 38 of us crowd inside. No one complains.

We hear many of the same things about what kind of training they need, but not all are the same. Two women say that they want someone to ‘teach us how to pray.’

Unfortunately I never find the chance to learn what in particular they have in mind, but several of us talk about it later. One thought is that ingrained in them is a deep respect for liturgy in the Anglo-Catholic tradition, so they can read prayers from the prayer book but have a hard time spontaneously getting wound up the way they surely have heard their pentecostal neighbors do. ‘Teach us how to pray.’

I hope someday someone will value their appeal and come, holding up for them and others the richness and diversity of prayer, in our tradition and in the church universal.

At lunch on St. Patrick’s grounds I spot a young man sporting a Carolina sweatshirt. Oteng Montwedi is his name. A part of the youth delegation that visited North Carolina some months ago, he wears it proudly. We take pictures.

Two days later he comes to my house to see me off as I return to Gaborone.

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Listening to laity

We gather again in the ‘Upper Room’ at the Cathedral. There are about 60 of us: Lay leaders, leaders of the Mothers Union, the Anglican Women’s Fellowship, the Anglican Men’s Fellowship, and the Guilds.

I ask someone about the Guilds. ‘What are they?’ I want to know. Uncertainty constitutes the reply. As best as I can figure, they are folk beyond the extended dates used to define youth, and not yet of the Mothers Union variety. Maybe adults in their 30s and 40s, I’m guessing.

Fr. Amanze organizes them all into groups to discuss particular questions we have posed. Things like: What do you consider that you and other lay leaders in the Diocese need most to increase your effectiveness? On what subjects do you as lay leaders especially need further training? What training do you who are church group leaders need to increase your effectiveness? What form should this training take?

Having small groups report back is usually a nightmare for me. There seems always to be someone who talks far beyond her allotted time, or someone who yields to the temptation to say what he thinks rather than what the group said. And the rest of us often seem bored except when our group is reporting.

And so I am pleasantly surprised at the efficiency with which Batswana report. One, two, three; here are our key points. They hand me well-organized sheets of newsprint to post. ‘Does anyone in our group have anything to add?’ their presenter asks. ‘Are there additions anyone wishes to make?’


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