August 2018 Newsletter


In Tanzania for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Serving with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania

Greetings! We’ve been VERY BUSY over the last couple months with work required to complete our first year of teaching here at Tumaini University Makumira. The year has been rich and we have learned so much. Here, a few details of what we’ve been up to and where we have seen God at work recently.

Cynthia was pleased to accept the invitation of the ELCT Women’s Office to speak at their quadrennial Women’s Assembly in June. The conference theme was “Overcoming Gender-Based Violence”. Hundreds of women from across the nation gathered in Shinyanga for learning, worship, and fellowship.

Second semester ended June 29, which threw the campus into the frenzy that is University Examinations. Over 10 days, students gather in three sessions a day to write exams. Here’s a view of the Assembly Hall during exams.

TUMA Assembly Hall exam

In addition to exams, each student, undergrad and graduate, writes a research thesis. Graduate students have to defend them before a panel of internal and external examiners. We laughed when this stack of theses to read arrived at our house! It took a lot of hours to get through these in time for the days of oral defense of theses.


Both of us supervised a number of Bachelor’s and Master’s research theses. The students must write in English, which is for most their third language. It is not an easy task, and supervising the work takes time, energy and patience. We are grateful that we were able to bring much of our library with us, and it has been put to good work this year with our classes and research students. Fortunately, our students did reasonably well.

After days of oral defense, all academic staff of the university gathered with external examiners to hear their reports of what they had heard, read, and experienced. It was an informative time to reflect on what is happening academically at Tumaini, and to think with others about how what we do might be improved, expanded, and given more depth. The number of Tanzanians who are able to complete a university education is very low, currently in the single digits nationally. We’re grateful for the opportunity to serve with colleagues who are doing important work to increase the educational standards in the country.

We are looking forward to two conferences this month. Bishops and representatives from ELCA Companion Synods and their ELCT Companion Dioceses will meet next week in Moshi, Tanzania for an ELCA/ELCT Companion Consultation. Tanzania mission personnel are taking part as observers. Many friends and colleagues from the churchwide staff, particularly from Global Mission, and from a number of ELCA synods have arrived or are arriving soon. Please join us in prayer for good, creative and faithful outcomes from the consultation.

Following on the heels of the Consultation is the 1st International African Lutheran Conference. ELCA Domestic Mission staff have been central in the planning for this event, which will also be held in Moshi. Many ELCT leaders will take part, along with Lutheran leaders from across the continent and the African Diaspora. We are very much looking forward to seeing many friends and making new connections!

In all of this, we thank God for you—for your prayers, for your calls, emails, and messages, and for your financial support. We couldn’t do it without you! And, we are seeking others to join us in this journey of mission, witness and service. If you are interested in learning more—check out our updated Mission Profile on our website here, and also follow us at our FB page. Links to contribute support are included at the bottom of our Mission Profile. AND, we will be in the US in late summer. If you’d like to talk by phone, Skype, or Messenger about joining us on this journey, please be in touch at the email addresses below.

AND, Grace Lutheran Church, Pembine WI, St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church, Princeton IL, and Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church, McHenry IL: thanks so much for walking with us!

In Christ’s peace,

Cynthia Holder Rich ( and Mark Rich (

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