Pilgrims come to the bright lights of London
This week, the Angola, London, Mozambique Association (ALMA) has hosted the first-ever pilgrimage from the Diocese of Lebombo in Mozambique, to London. The team has arranged a full-on programme for the pilgrims to churches in London and Canterbury.
For the last ten days, the 26-visitors, led by Bishop Carlos of Lebombo, have travelled across the Diocese to meet partner churches including St Paul’s Knightsbridge, Holy Trinity Sloane Square, St John Friern Barnet and St Peter’s Notting Hill. They have toured the Tower of London and Parliament, each with its own chaplaincy staff, and they have visited and taken Eucharists at Canterbury Cathedral and Lambeth Palace.
As well as meeting ALMA contacts here in London, and reflecting on our relationship, which is in its 19th year, the visitors viewed the British Museum Africa Gallery and the Swords into Ploughshares sculptures. This astonishing exhibition by Mozambique-born artist Gonçalo Mabunda, turned deactivated AK47s, landmines, and other weapons of war into chairs, thrones, masks and statues.
Towards the end of their tour, the visitors went to the Mary Sumner House in Westminster, the headquarters of the Mothers Union’ (MU), where they met staff and held lunchtime prayers. This was an important moment for the pilgrim tour, as the MU in Mozambique actively improves the lives of many fellow countrymen. The nation has suffered some serious setbacks in recent years, with severe floods affecting nearly a quarter of the population, and then by drought. The MU has helped care for the elderly, create agricultural provision and income generation activities, while caring for the sick and those with HIV/AIDS. In some areas, the MU is the backbone of many communities.
A highlight of the pilgrimage was the ALMA Sunday service in St Paul’s Cathedral on Sunday 9 July. This special service marked the Anniversary of the partnership, with the pilgrims singing and leading Mozambican worship. Bishop Carlos of Lebombo preached on being ‘Renewed in Christ’ and was joined by the Mozambique High Commissioner and the Chatham House Africa Team.
As the pilgrims have now returned home, the ALMA team would like to thank all those churches across London, who have been part of the jigsaw of hospitality over the nine days. You can find out online more about ALMA and how your church can be involved in this vital link between our Dioceses, or see the Facebook page.