St Philip’s has another innovative project underway. The Bethesda Disability Program. This was envisaged in 2014, with the active support and encouragement of Archbishop Jacob, and is now embedded at St Philip’s. This is designed to train priests to support families living with disability, embracing the philosophy that disability affects whole families, not simply the one who is disabled. The program began with student discussions to design the project, and led to setting up two local family support groups. By Autumn 2015 two further groups were in place, and plans in place for two clinics and a student course. The theological basis of mission to disability was researched by St Philip’s. Plans and the syllabus were approved by the Bishops, and are now being rolled out. In 2017 over 450 people took place in a ‘walk-a-thon’ to raise awareness, and all students have the opportunity to take the optional course.
The Bethesda Disability Program is attracting national attention in government and the university/college sector, as well as in Church circles. The project has already improved the lives of around 2000 people who are involved in the family support groups.
This is only the absolute bare bones of an entirely novel piece of work that has the power to transform lives that are even more disadvantaged than the Tanzanian norm.
You know about the other excellent but less spectacular work of St Philip’s which soldiers on. There is a perceptible shift of emphasis to training a generation of empowered priests who can lead on mission and community development, spreading the gospel through deeds as well as preaching.
Long term Visions
•To address family-identified needs through pilot programs tested first in Kongwa family support groups