Incessant ululations, clapping of hands and vibrations of the African drum and rattle-shaking filled the air at the Murewa mission church as the church celebrated the eight years of ministry of the outgoing Murewa UMP District Superitendent Rev. Alan Masimba Gurupira.
At the back of the church a pictorial and audiovisual presentation of the 8 years of ministry marked the beginning of the celebrations led by the guest of honour for the celebration, Mr.
Theophilus Gambe, a member of the judiciary in the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe and Chancellor of the United Methodist Church in the Zimbabwe Episcopal Area.
Speaker after speaker showered well deserved words of praise to the son of the late renowned pastor, Rev. Philemon Gurupira and a woman of humility Getrude.
“Rev. Gurupira’s report to cabinet was never complete without mention of Hanwa and Mashambanhaka mission centres…”said Rev. Vienna Mutezo, the District Superitendent for Harare Central District.
Hanwa and Mashambanhaka mission are some of the new mission schools in the Episcopal Area. These are proofs of how “Chabadza has indeed brought positive results in Murewa UMP District and to the entire area” added Mutezo.
Over the past quadrennium the church has seen a new development whereby either government or council schools are handed over to The United Methodist Church.
The slow pace of development of the mission prompted the involvement of the church and ultimately taking over the running of the school. Added to that is a well maintained track record in provision of education, health and a balanced ministry in the rural areas.
Through his leadership in the District, Rev. Alan Gurupira has made major strides at both Hanwa and Mashambanhaka mission by engaging the district and partners from sister conferences.
Hanwa mission centre in 2007 but established in 2002 as a new school for the resettled farmers, run by council up to 2006. It was taken in as a mission centre by the church as of June 2007. It currently has an enrolment of 400 pupils at Primary level and 120 pupils at secondary level. Since 2002 pupils were learning inside the former farm workers’ staff houses and the UMC members who were resettled in the area saw it fit to engage the church in changing the face of education in the area.
“The church was indeed equal to the task and they came in handy to build proper classroom blocks.” said Mr. Gift Machanzi (42), the head of Hanwa primary School. “The church has built a classroom block for the secondary and another for the primary school. We are in the process of building a second block for the primary school”, he added, and “Ds Gurupira was the brains behind the establishment of the mission centre”.
The church through its partnerships has managed to renovate the teachers’ houses which were formally farm workers’ houses that had no ventilation and windows have been put and the inside walls painted. Further electrification of the houses has begun and we now have properly electrified houses at the school.
Baltimore-Washington through Community UMC has been the driving force in the developments at Hanwa and Mashambanhaka schools. To date they have erected one classroom block for the primary and secondary schools. They have also renovated one of the houses into a beautiful looking church. They have also brought furniture and text books for the primary school. The area of water and sanitation is one such area the mission is working on. Charles Eric Moore Jr spearheaded the Community UMC projects in Murewa UMP district.
The 14-year partnership of Community UMC and Murewa UMP district has seen major successes; Maponongwe church(1997), Muchinjike parsonage (2001), Chipfunde church(2003), Dindi Clinic(2005), Juru church(2007), Hanwa Primary school(2009), and Hanwa Secondary school(2011).
“The community response has been quite welcome; they have come up with building materials such as bricks and labour.” said Mr. Machanzi.
Development at Mashambanhaka was not to be outdone. Major face-lift of the school has been done. There is a very positive development and the rate at which infrastructural development is happening is just a miracle. The school was neglected and buildings were in a dilapidated state and from the point the church took over running the now Mashambanhaka mission centre.
“This school has now raised its standards higher compared to other neighbouring schools. I foresee the school getting its pass rates to around 80% considering that within a period of two years since the church took over – the pass rate improved by 300%”, said Pastor Rumbidzayi Siyakurima (33) an assistant pastor at Mashambanhaka who also doubles as a teacher at Morris Primary School, a neighbouring school.
This jump in the school performance is attributed to the support the school got from their Murewa central Primary School and Murewa High School that have donated furniture and stationery.
A staff house that houses two families was constructed within a year. At the school major renovations have been in increasing ventilation in the classrooms; roof height was increased and sizes of windows enlarged.
A new clinic has been built has also been built at Dindi Mission through the support of Community UMC, Maryland, USA in the Baltimore-Washington conference. Community UMC has further stretched its hand in carrying out four Volunteers in Mission projects in the district. A V-Sat Communications System was also erected, making Murewa UMP the first to have such infrastructure at district level in the annual conference.
An innumerable number of projects and programs were carried out during Rev. Gurupira’s tenure in the district. Amongst them was the Centennial Celebrations in 2009, two years after the denomination’s centenary celebrations were held at Old Mutare. Monuments were erected in black granite stone at; Chitimbe church, Murewa Mission Centre and Dr. Gurney’s well. The celebrations brought the whole church and community together.
A state of the art district parsonage has been built during his tenure of office. The groundbreaking ceremony was held in 2009, as part of the centennial celebration and in 2013 the new District Superitendent Rev. Josephine Bopani will be the first occupant in the parsonage.
Building and subsequent dedication of the Surviving Child Orphan Trust Girls’ Hostel with modern facilities in 2011 was indeed a seal that the church “is here to stay” said Mrs. Rarayi, the Head at Murewa CPS.
Rev. Gurupira, a holder of MA in Religious studies himself has left imprints in the development of clergy in the district. The district produced eight candidates for theological studies at United Theological College. Six more ministers graduated in the Conference Course of Study program. Of the 40 elders ordained in 2011(24) and 2012(16), 9 came from Murewa UMP District.
With regards to congregational development, “I took over the district in 2005 with 18 circuits, and it has been a blessing to see the district grow to the current 26 circuits – a growth of about 45%, or an average of one new charge per year.” Said Rev. Gurupira.
The Murewa UMP men’s choir provided good pieces of music. This choir boasts of the unwavering support they got from their outgoing district superintendent.
Ds. Gurupira was a sense of inspiration said Wonder Mhangira, the circuit treasurer of Kambarami Mutowani who could not hide his excitement in his speech.
His joy was joined by an elated Mr. Chakupa, a District Lay leader from Harare West District who could only sing words of encouragement, “Ngatibate basa redu nemasimba misi yese, ngatitaure zvishamiso zvake zvese…” which means “Lets us put our hands to the work before us, then we will surely share how God would have surprised us…”.
Rev. Alan Masimba Gurupira now moves to the conference office as Connectional Ministries Director and as the Deputy Administrative Assistant to the Bishop, while his wife Mrs. Tendai Gurupira joins him at the Conference office as the Women’s Area Coordinator.
Tendai Gurupira(44) dedicated 16 years of faithful service to the church in Murewa UMP district doing women’s work. The position of Women’s work is by appointment of the Bishop to the District Superitendent’s spouse if the superintendent is male, or to any pastor’s wife in the district in the event that the superintendent is female. Tendai has therefore served in both capacities for eight years in either case. She also continues to hold the position of the Vice President of RRW (women’s organisation) in the Zimbabwe West Annual conference.
The husband and wife team has indeed served the district with all their energy and today the church celebrated their ministry as they move on to higher responsibilities.
Story Compiled by:
Taurai Emmanuel Maforo
(Zimbabwe West Annual Conference Communicator)