BTI 6 Report from Recife
BTI 6 (Bishops Training Institute) held in Recife, Brazil
From 2-10 October 2019, 7 bishops and their wives from Brazil, Chile and Uruguay met for the sixth Gafcon Bishops’ Training Institute. They were hosted by Archbishop Miguel Uchoa from Recife, with the assistance of Bishop Flávio Soares from João Pessoa.
After attending BTI 2 in Kenya (May 2017), Bishops Miguel and Flávio were determined that the BTI should be brought to Latin America. This conference was the fruit of their perseverance, and the first BTI to be held outside Africa in languages other than English.
Few of us who are not from Latin America will appreciate the distances between neighbouring dioceses. For Bishop Enrique Lago, for example, from the most southern diocese in Chile, it is a 2000km journey just to the next church in his diocese. The opportunity afforded by BTI to meet with fellow bishops from other parts of the continent was invaluable.
Highlights in the programme included morning worship and exposition led by bishops Miguel and Flávio, as well as sessions led by the Director, Bishop Mwaluda, on the role of the bishop. The contribution from Gafcon’s Mike Tolmie on financial management in the diocese was greatly appreciated. Other sessions that the participants highlighted were those covering theological education, strategic planning and stress management.
New for the wives this BTI was a study on the teaching role of the woman and a session on preparing expository Bible talks for women’s conferences. In addition, Canon Agatha Mwaluda, the Director’s wife, instructed the wives in the joys and difficulties of being a bishop’s wife, and one of the Brazilian wives shared her experience of building teams for women’s ministry.
BTI is not all about classroom sessions, however. On Friday, participants attended a women’s convention or men’s gathering in Recife and on Sunday, they were all able to experience morning and evening services at various churches in the region. On Saturday, the participants had a day off, spending two hours on the beautiful beach and natural swimming pools of Porto de Galinhas, followed by a barbeque at Archbishop Miguel’s house in the hills south of Recife.
Although everyone was tired by the end of the ten days, they were also filled with joy and appreciation for the learning experience. Comments from the participants included (in translation):
“An amazing conference!”
“A very amazing experience!”
“Days of much learning.”
“A very special time” and “a loving environment”
“Thanks for everything.”
Recommendations for future conferences include more time in Bible study and exposition and further sessions specifically for the wives.
In review, the organisers of the BTI give thanks for the wonderful spirit of fellowship and cooperation at the conference. In spite of anticipated language difficulties, the interpretation skills of Bishop Sammy Morrison from Chile made the sessions accessible to all and the skills of Juliane Castro Fonseca, a member of the host team who translated the slides and learning materials into Portuguese and Spanish, made sure that everyone went home with resources in their own language.
To God be the glory for the things he has done!