By Gisele McKnight
Canon Caleb Twinmatsiko was one of three guest speakers at this year’s annual ACW meeting. It was held May 2-3 at St. Mark’s Anglican Church in St. George, in the Archdeaconry of St. Andrews. Farraline Place administrator Judy O’Donnell and Grand Bay Play Park Project chair Anna Caines also spoke.
Canon Caleb and his wife, Hope, have been visiting the diocese for several weeks this spring. Caleb is the assistant rector and headmaster of Bishop McAllister College in Uganda. Hope has an MA in psychology and is a lecturer at Kampala International University. She also lends counselling support to students at Bishop McAllister College.
“Back home, if you want something done and done perfectly, you involved women,” Caleb said in his speech. That statement drew enthusiastic applause from the ACW women.
He told them his father died when he was a boy and his mother raised him alone. She went to church daily, so he had to go along, whether he wanted to or not.
“Now she is 96 years old and she still gives me instructions!” he said.
Caleb has worked at Bishop McAllister College for 20 years, and before that, was a student there. He talked about the mess the school was in when Canon Paul Jeffries, rector of the school and a native of New Brunswick, arrived 19 years ago. It was about to close, but Canon Paul reluctantly took over as headmaster.
But of what, he asked? It was a shambles — crumbling buildings, no money, parents without money to pay school fees, and many of the students were orphans.
“I said, ‘it is possible to run a school that is not there?’”
But with a great deal of faith, they built a building.
“It was around then that Canon Paul Jeffries started taking about ACW,” said Caleb.
He wrote letters, petitioning ACWs for help. In fact, many in Uganda know the value, power and compassion of ACW without even knowing what the initials stand for, he said.
The ACW has given more in school fees for children than any other group in these past 19 years, he said.
“Now the school that was closing has close to 1,000 students,” said Caleb. “And now the question is, can we accommodate all these children? It is a miracle for us.”
A dorm for girls is a huge priority. Right now, a dorm built for 160 girls holds 340.
“We cannot turn girls back,” he said. “We must take them. Without girls the future is not there.”
He spoke of the botched robbery attempt last year that left three staff members dead. When the news got to Canada, both prayers and donations flowed. Instead of using the donations for a dorm or other necessities, the school divided the money between the families of the three dead men, and has spread it over a full year to lessen the harsh loss of their income.
Caleb finished by saying the school is about the children, and both he and Canon Paul have seen the transformation from sad, orphaned children who had no smile, to university graduates with wide smiles and bright futures.
“When we stand here, we are celebrating a partnership. God has used you to be a blessing to the people of Uganda,” said Caleb.
Bishop David Edwards opened the annual meeting with a sermon on Luke’s account of the events on the road to Emmaus after the dead of Jesus.
“In the story, they had given up,” he said. “‘We thought this guy Jesus was the one’ they told the man they encountered on the road. ‘You must be the only guy that doesn’t know. They crucified him.’”
Many people have given up, he said. They have no relationship with God, yet have a sense that God has something to do with their lives.
“We need to walk with these people as they’re discovering who Jesus is,” he said. “In our different ways, we are called as the church to show who Jesus is, individually and corporately. Our job is to reveal Jesus to others.”
He spoke about his friend Michael in Britain, whose parish was in a place where sport was very popular. So he got himself assigned as chaplain of many sports teams. Then he started holding a service of thanksgiving for sport, and told all the teams to come and bring their equipment for thanks and blessing. So they did.
Then they asked, ‘does your church cater?’ That led to end-of-season banquets in Anglican halls.
Then they wanted him to provide the dinner speakers, and he went to a group called Christians in Sport for well-known Christian athletes to speak. This nurturing, growing relationship is an example of walking with people, said the bishop.
“Our challenge is to walk along with people and show them who Jesus is and give them the opportunity to follow him. When I talk to people who don’t have a Christian faith, they don’t want me to talk to them about church. They want to hear about Jesus. That is our whole purpose.”
The regular business meeting included the book of remembrance — the reading of the names of ACW members who have passed on in the last year. Roll call, financial reports and other reports were also given. There were 96 women in attendance.
The offering of more than $1,000 will be split between Farraline Place, Bishop McAllister College, the Grand Bay Play Park Project and PWRDF.
Lunch was a literal tea party, with fine china at every place setting, and decorations in the hall, not to mention the amazing array of sandwiches and sweets all fit for a queen.
Rosemarie Kingston’s speech challenged members with the message that much change still needs to take place in the world.
An Anglican consultative report to the United Nations on the Status of Women showed the lack of gender equality in the world.
“No country shines when it comes to gender equality,” she said, adding the worldwide human slavery industry generates more revenue than the oil industry.
She also spoke on the Council of the North, the challenges faced by people in our Arctic region and what the ACW is doing to help.
“The [clothing] bale industry is still as important as it was over 100 years ago,” she said. “In fact, one of the bishops told us how, as a child, her family received bales. It was a very exciting time for the children for the bales often meant new clothes for the first day of school.”
To combat a high youth suicide rate, education is vital, she said.
She gave the group four questions to ponder: Whom do we talk to to bring about change? How are we going to talk to our members? What change do we want to take home to our parish ACW groups? And what do we need to say to be heard?
ACW members attended a banquet in the evening, and continued their meeting the following day with the two other speakers and the conclusion of the business meeting.