219 N. 6th Ave. E., Duluth, MN 55805

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In 1994, a sister-congregation relationship was established with Ibura Parish, in the North-West Diocese (Synod) of Tanzania. Ibura was selected because a relative of Elaine Wickstrom was married to a member of this parish (Josiah Kibira) and his mother still lives there. His father (deceased) was the bishop there and later became the President of Lutheran World Federation. This parish consists of 3 Lutheran churches with approximately 3,000 members.

In February of 1998, 5 Gloria Dei members (the Wickstroms, Harry Wick, Eldora Recksiedler and Helen Carlson) visited the Ibura Parish which is near Bukoba, Tanzania. We received a very warm welcome everywhere we went. Each of the 3 churches was visited, as well as some of the synod’s other programs it operates: Ndolage Hospital, the Reforestation Program, Deaconess School, Health Dispensaries, Orphanage, Handicraft School for Girls, Women’s Training Centers, Blacksmith Training for Boys, etc. On Sunday each of us attended one of the 3 churches: Kogondo (where Harry preached), Itawah (Eldora and Helen gave greetings and presented book marks made by the Gloria Dei Sunday School to their Sunday School), Per, with the help of Josiah Kibira gave a message at the Ibura Church. No church bells there—drums hung in the trees welcoming people to church! We also attended a song fest at the Lutheran Cathedral in the city of Bukoba.

Many of the people we met that week have become good and lasting friends. Jacki Mbuga spent a year and a half in Duluth as a college student – her father is now in Bukoba serving on the N.W. Diocese staff. Pastor John Sippola who served Gloria Dei from 1993-2004 spent a sabbatical in Bukoba and considerable time in Ruhija at the Synod’s music camp. Pastor Faith Lugazia also worked in this Diocese prior to coming to Minnesota, and completed a PhD at Luther Seminary before returning to Tanzania to teach. Since our visits to Bukoba, we have also kept up communications with the Bethania Women of Ibura Parish, and hear from Josiah Kibira who lives with his family in Minneapolis and visits Bukoba quite often.

In April 2013, Josiah & LuAnn Kibira shared about their trip in January 2013 to our companion parish in Bukoba. Through a presentation and a video their son created, “Books for Bukoba,” they told of how our offering of $5000 was used to purchase 800 textbooks for 4 schools, improving the student to book ratio from 1:20 to 8:20, to support Ntoma Orphanage, and to contribute to a micro-loan project for women. View the video below:

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10:00 a.m. Sund

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