The link between All Saints' and St Andrew's and St Bernard Mizeki Church is part of the link between Bath and Wells Diocese and Northern Diocese, Zambia.
St Bernard Mizeki is in the Butondo district of Mufulira, a town in the Copperbelt region of Zambia. It is a simple building in a large plot of land within sight and down-wind of the mines and copper-smelter. Members of the congregation live mainly in the nearby 'compounds' in single-storey houses with small gardens.
Some still work at the mines but many are unemployed. Visits to Mufilira by members of All Saints and also the visit of Father Joseph and his wife Barbrah, to Castle Cary a few years ago, strengthened the link and helped us to appreciate and reflect on our own and each others cultures and way of life.
The link between Castle Cary and Mufulira continues– especially between the churches and the schools. Students from Ansford Secondary School (now Ansford Academy) are able to make exchange visits with students from Mufulira High School. Castle Cary Primary School and Winter Muleya Basic School are linked and there has been a teacher exchange. Churches Together in Castle Cary and Ansford have also raised money to refurbish the Home Economics room there. There are regular visits to Mufulira through the Intro Zambia Project. The next visit is planned for February 2013.
We heard in the summer of 2012 that pollution from the mines and smelting plant has become a very serious problem with many of the congregation suffering respiratory illnesses.
At a meeting with Laura Tilling, who has made a visit to Mufilira with Intro Zambia, we learnt that the plan to build a 'Converter' that will hopefully remove the toxic emissions is to be brought forward from 2015 to the end of 2013.
Following her visit in February 2013, Suzi McKenzie writes:-
I went with an IntroZambia group with four of us visiting different links of the Cary/Mufulira Community Partnership Trust. Pre 1993 The Diocese of Bath and Wells already had a strong link with Zambia. That year a lady in the Zambian Anglican Church visited Castle Cary with her husband Charles who was the Head Teacher of Mufulira High School. Charles met Mrs Bardgett (Head Teacher of Ansford School) and the exchange link was started. Since then Primary schools, Colleges, Churches and Rotary Clubs have formed links.
So it was with great excitement that I landed at Kaunda Airport in Lusaka and immediately experienced the heat and smell of Africa. The 7 hour drive north to Mufulira passed through the green and fertile land of central Zambia. We passed towns and villages and roadside sellers of vegetables and fruit so it was a colorful drive. Arriving at the house in Mufulira we were immediately entertaining friends of our group, and this was the start of meeting and being welcomed by wonderfully friendly Zambians.
It was my great delight and privilege to worship in St Bernard Mizeki Church Mufulira (All Saints and St Andrews link) on Sunday morning and to experience and enjoy theEucharist Zambian style! I met the new Priest Fr Williams Chasanga who is also priest at St Cyprians Church Mufulira.
Mufulira is in the Copperbelt region of Zambia and is greatly affected by the environmental issues of the copper mining. We were very fortunate to have an arranged visit to Mopani mine on a guided tour. This visit was both interesting and enlightening. I had already seen the devastation in Kankoyo township from the sulphur emissions from the mines. The area is now dusty and barren. No vegetables will grow. There are serious health problems for the inhabitants. The mine Chairman assured us that they are undergoing projects to eliminate the problems but there are still many unanswered questions about the mine. Future rehabilitation of the area will be major. However Mopani have recently sponsored some corporate social responsibility projects.
I have so many images in my mind since my return. There is still awful poverty, lack of resources, everything associated with a developing country. But I saw a richness in family and community life that was heartwarming. I think that my perceptions of life and living are forever changed.
Update in 2016 - we heard that Glencore has mothballed the Mopani mine, and 4,000 workers have been made redundant due to the falling price of copper. However there are promises of a reopening possibly next year, and the pollution problem has been resolved since a sulphur dioxide converter was installed.
However the local community continues to suffer severe hardship, and we should indeed remember them in our prayers.
This photograph shows Father Williams at the site for the new church.
Father Williams has now moved on and the new Priest from January 2017 is Fr Dismaschandra.
Joy Cross heard from Mary Phiri, the Priest's Warden, on 1st April 2017. She said that the building work on the church is at a stand-still as the caretaker's house has needed a lot of work; however this is almost complete and work will start again on the new church. Mary also said that the church membership has risen recently and the new priest is 'doing well'.
Please continue to pray for the work there which includes Mothers' Union, Sunday School and Bible Class together with various youth clubs and Girls' Brigade and Boys' Brigade, together with Fr Dismaschandra and his parishioners at St Bernard Mizeki.