Christians from across the county are heading to Africa where they will be linking up with those struggling with the effects of climate change, rising prices and poor infrastructure - many homes do not even have running water or electricity. They will be based in Kagera in Tanzania, East Africa, where most roads are dirt tracks and the average life expectancy is under 70 years.
Heading the group is Bishop Mike who lives at Mendlesham near Stowmarket and the Revd Canon Sharron Coburn, Rector of St Peter’s Church in Brandon, who is the newly appointed Diocesan Director of Mission and Ministry.
They are accompanied on the two-week trip from Friday (February 2) to February 16 by several curates and the visit will enhance the relationships made last year by Bishop Martin, who visited Kagera for two weeks during July.
The visit comes as the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich has been striving for years to make a difference in their Suffolk communities too, through organising food banks and top-up shops not least during the cost of living crisis, as well as providing shelter for the homeless during the bitter winters.
It is hoped the visit will provide insights into life in communities abroad where people of faith not only survive at the sharp end of climate change but demonstrate enthusiasm and joy.
The Revd Coburn said she wanted to understand how parishes in Suffolk could learn from people living in such challenging conditions.
"The curates we are taking out with us will be a catalyst for their own churches to think more globally. The learning, challenges and their experiences that they will encounter can only deepen their own ministry for the future. I have never travelled like this before so I have a mix of anticipation, fear and excitement at the prospect," she said.
Bishop Mike added: "I hope that the visit will enable our curates to be so inspired, and indeed to have experiences motivating them to engage passionately with the link with Kagera upon their return to our diocese."
The dioceses in Suffolk and Kagera have been linked since 1994 with the aim of benefiting from shared experiences.
Accompanying Bishop Mike and RevD Coburn on the trip are: Curate at St Andrew's Church in Great Cornard; Revd Gail Minter, Carlford Benefice near Ipswich; Revd Kate Hacker Hughes, Priest Pastor at St Marylebone Parish Church, Diocese of London; Revd Nicola Tindall, Associate Priest of the Benefice of Higham, Holton St Mary, Raydon and Stratford St Mary; Revd Diane Grano, leading the Lightwave Resource Hub in Red Lodge, near Bury St Edmunds; Revd Linda Pepper, Lead Chaplain at the University of Suffolk and Suffolk New College; Revd Mark Bee, Priest in charge of Hundred River & Wainford Benefice (10 parishes in the north of the Diocese).
To follow the group on their journey please visit our visit blog here.
To find out more about those participating in the visit click here.
The trip coincides with the Bishop's Lent Appeal, focussed on: Faith in Action - Transforming Lives in Kagera, find out more here.