Plans for new African Anglican-Episcopal Mission Center in Everett announced

Music at 2024 Pan-African Conference Keitha Hassell "Keep the fire burning!": The third annual Pan-African Conference was an occasion to share in liturgy and song, fellowship, culture and food from around the diaspora.

St. Thomas's Church in Taunton hosted the third annual Pan-African Conference in the diocese, held on April 27 and offering those gathered from across the diocese an occasion to share in liturgy and song, fellowship, culture and food from around the diaspora. Bishop Alan Gates officiated and preached at the day's service, taking up the conference's theme message: "Keep the fire burning!"

The Rev. Joseph Mumita presents staff to Bishop Gates Keitha Hassell The Rev. Joseph Mumita presents Bishop Gates with a carved staff for leaders and elders in the African tradition. It complements the African stool that Gates received from the Pan-African contingency 10 years ago.

Highlights included two baptisms and the announcement of an African Anglican-Episcopal Mission Center that is beginning to take shape at the now-closed Grace Church in Everett. The center is being proposed as a hub for cultural exchange, community services and events and spiritual enrichment.

The diocese's African Clergy Caucus--whose members' countries of origin include Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Zambia and Nigeria--sponsor the annual conference, together with the diocesan Office of Immigration and Multicultural Ministries, and will manage the new center.

The annual Pan-African Conference is open to everyone, and the hope is that next year's conference will be held at the new center, the caucus's chair, the Rev. Canon Jean Baptiste Ntagengwa, said in a post-conference interview. 

Like the conference itself, the center will be a means for building community, unity and fellowship, he said. "Another part of what we will be doing at our center will be to provide a space where we can expose our culture and our arts, so it is exciting, yes."

Some of those cultural gifts were shared at this year's conference in Taunton.

The St. Thomas Praise Band and Joyful Noise singers led the conference in song. The Rev. Zachary Kinyua, of St. Mark's Church in Dorchester and St. Bartholomew's Church in Cambridge, played acoustic guitar with several choral groups, whose vocalists and musicians moved the congregation to clap and sing along. There was also a steel pan band and a Ugandan chorus from St. Peter's in Waltham.