Disciple: A Golden Celebration
The 2022 pilgrimage to Botswana included celebrating the Diocese of Botswana’s 50th anniversary
By the Rev. Miriam Saxon
What happens when you take 10 North Carolinians on a pilgrimage to Botswana?
Well, you have a fabulous time, eat way too much food and get very little sleep. (Who needs sleep? We’re in Botswana!) But you also have deeply spiritual and theological conversations with strangers who end up being new friends, even though we are geographically separated by thousands of miles. Best of all, you experience lively worship, filled with acapella and, often, spontaneous singing, and people of all ages dancing, praying and joyfully sharing their love of Jesus. What more could a good Episcopalian need or want?
[Image: The Botswana pilgrims. Photo courtesy of the Rev. Miriam Saxon]
The pilgrims departed North Carolina on September 22, and, after a week of worshiping in small parishes in Gaborone, Serowe and Francistown, we returned to Gaborone. There, we were joined by the Rt. Rev. Sam Rodman and Alice Freeman, who had flown in for the weekend to be a part of the inspiring 50th anniversary celebration of the founding of the Anglican Diocese of Botswana.
Joining our North Carolina delegation were members of Botswana’s other companion diocese from Newcastle, England, as well as a large contingent from Nashville, Tennessee. That group was comprised of Episcopalians who have worked for many years with Holy Cross Hospice, a ministry sponsored by the Diocese of Botswana.
The weekend was a mixture of celebrating the parishes in the Diocese and of the work being done within the Diocese. There were also times of pure fun, especially two evenings of entertainment, whose highlights included a contest to crown Mr. and Ms. Anglican and an amazing singing competition among the choirs from seven diocesan parishes.
That Saturday was filled with singing, laughter and a powerful homily by Bishop Rodman (page 4). We were also honored by the attendance of President Mokgweetsi Masisi, the president of Botswana, and his wife, who were there to share in the festivities. In his speech, President Masisi provided strong words of support for the Diocese’s ministries and for the leadership of the Rt. Rev. Metlha Beleme, bishop of the Diocese of Botswana.
It was all wonderful, and the best was saved for last when the weekend of celebrations concluded on Sunday morning with the ordination of seven new priests. Most of us had never attended a five-hour worship service, and we experienced the presence of the Holy Spirit together as these men were surrounded by three bishops and a crowd of priests (five of whom were from North Carolina), and Bishop Beleme laid his hands upon them and ordained them into the ranks of the Sacred Order of Priests. This was especially meaningful to us, as these men were trained at the St. Augustine Theological School in Gabarone, a seminary that the Diocese of North Carolina supports both financially and via seminary classes taught by the Rev. Dr. Leon Spencer and the Rev. Dr. Fred Horton.
We rejoice in the ever-deepening bond between the Diocese of North Carolina and the Diocese of Botswana. We are grateful for the model of Christian hospitality taught to us by our brothers and sisters in Botswana, and we are delighted that so many new relationships have been formed.
If you have an opportunity to ask one of the 2022 pilgrims to share their experiences with you, do so. But be forewarned: Hearing our stories may make you determined to visit this amazing country and begin your own relationships with these most loving and faithful of God’s children.
Tags: North Carolina Disciple