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Breakaway church has African ties
Waterbury Republican-American ^ | January 10, 2010 | Sam Cooper

Posted on 01/10/2010 7:36:41 PM PST by Graybeard58

WATERTOWN {Connecticut} — A local spiritual leader's ties to Tanzania are shaping his ministries, both here and in the African nation.

The ties between the Rev. Bryan Bywater, of New Hope Anglican church, and Anglicans in Africa also help illustrate the powerful bond between conservative Anglicans in the United States and the church in Africa.

Bywater, who retains an affiliation with the Tabora Diocese in Tanzania, was ordained rector of New Hope on Saturday during a service in the auditorium at Swift Middle School. He has been the interim rector for the church, which formed after splitting from Christ Episcopal Church in 2008, for more than a year.

The breakaway from Christ Episcopal Church was part of a major rupture in the Episcopal Church of North America as conservatives rebelled against the ordination of homosexual priests and other trends in the church.

In the past decade, Africa has become a spiritual center for many Anglicans who have divorced themselves from the national Episcopal Church over divergent views on homosexuality and biblical interpretation, said Frank Kirkpatrick, a professor of religion at Trinity College in Hartford, and author of the book "The Episcopal Church in Crisis: How Sex, the Bible and Authority are Dividing the Faithful."

When dozens of congregations, like Christ Church in Watertown, broke with the national church, their leaders surrendered their religious authority as Episcopalians, he said. African dioceses, which have led the more conservative wing of the international Anglican Communion, continued to recognize the worshippers and consecrate former Episcopalian priests to lead them.

But for Bywater, his spiritual connection to Tanzania is the result of a personal journey, rather than a political one. He said that unlike other priests who are recognized by an African diocese, he is actually an ordained priest within an African diocese.

"My heart is in Africa," he said. "(But) my feet are in America."

It all started during a visit to Tanzania in 2006 with St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Brookfield. Bywater had been ordained a deacon and attended the Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, Penn., along with his wife, Lisa. While in school, the two had a son, but the boy died during birth.

As he traveled through Tanzania, Bywater started to feel a bond to the people, particularly those who had lost young children to malaria.

"The holy spirit just fell on me," he said. "I had a kinship with these people. They couldn't grasp that here was (a white person) who had experienced what they had experienced," he said, referring to his son's death.

Before he returned to America, Bywater said, he was asked by Bishop Sadock Makaya, of the Tabora Diocese, to return and preach to the people. It was a calling he couldn't resist.

After praying about the decision, Bywater said he cordially broke with the Episcopal Church and returned to Tanzania, where he was ordained a priest in 2007.

"(My wife and I) had to walk away from all the plans we had in seminary and just follow this call from God we had in our lives," he said.

Since then, Bywater has maintained his ties to the country through Restless Hearts Ministries Inc., which he and his wife founded soon after returning to America.

The slogan of the organization is "Where passion and compassion collide."

So far, Bywater said, they've distributed more than 1,000 mosquito nets treated with insecticide to pregnant women and children under the age of 5 in Tanzania, to combat the spread of malaria. Using the nets cuts the mortality rate among the two groups by 85 percent, which are the highest risk population, he said. The nets are bought in Tanzania, he said, and excess money each year is donated to purchase medicine.

His connection to Africa has also shaped his charitable work locally. Through New Hope Anglican and Restless Hearts, Bywater has established ties with local churches, with the common goal of helping single mothers and the poor. "We're getting out of the church and going into the dark and dirty places," he said. "We're finding the people on the side of the road and healing them."

Bywater said he plans on returning to Tanzania for a visit later this spring. You can read more about his experiences at

TOPICS: General Discusssion
KEYWORDS: africa; africanchristians; christendom; ecusa

The Rev. Bryan Bywater and Bishop William Murdoch speak before Bywaters new congregation during his Induction as Rector of the New Hope Anglican Church Saturday morning at Swift Middle school.

Jonathan Wilcox Republican-American

1 posted on 01/10/2010 7:36:41 PM PST by Graybeard58
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