Rural pastor perseveres amid challenges

The Rev. Annamore Kahlari walks home from Nemanje United Methodist Church, one of five congregations she serves near Makoni Buhera, Zimbabwe. The church is about 15 miles from her home. Photo by Chenayi Kumuterera, UM News. 
The Rev. Annamore Kahlari walks home from Nemanje United Methodist Church, one of five congregations she serves near Makoni Buhera, Zimbabwe. The church is about 15 miles from her home. Photo by Chenayi Kumuterera, UM News.

Key points:

 • With unreliable transportation and fickle weather, a Zimbabwean pastor’s job is physically challenging.

 • The Rev. Annamore Kahlari sometimes walks as many as 30 miles on Sundays to conduct worship and minister to members.

 • Travel can take five to six hours each way.


Every Sunday, the Rev. Annamore Kahlari awakens before sunrise to pack a bag for her long walk. She is the pastor in charge of Zimbabwe’s Chikore Circuit, Makoni Buhera District.

She journeys about 15 miles each way, carrying a satchel containing a Bible, hymnbook and bottle of water. Her destination is not just one local church, but five.

Chikore Circuit includes Chikore, where the parsonage is located, Nemanje, Chitsiwa, Manyere and Nyamazira United Methodist churches. “I feel renewed each day,” Kahlari said, “as I walk from local church to local church, conducting my door-to-door visitation to the elderly members and their grandchildren.

“The weather is very hot, especially in summertime, and very cold in winter season; moreover, we do not have electricity,” she continued.

Only one of the churches, Chikore, has an actual sanctuary. At the other four churches, the congregation gathers outdoors for worship.

“Rev. Kahlari is such a strong woman of God,” said Sekuru Edward Haparimwe of Nemanje United Methodist Church. Along with visiting members, she conducts funerals and provides counseling. “This pastor is always there for us,” he added, “despite the distance she walks alone or sometimes accompanied by her lay leaders or a pastor-parish committee member.”  

Mbuya Loveness Chikotora, 82, described Kahlari as a visionary, loving pastor.

“Since the COVID-19 lockdown, Rev. Kahlari has been there for us,” Chikotora said. “She schedules quality time to be with us, the old-aged members in the circuit, teaching, counseling and praying with us.”

Transportation is an ongoing challenge, Kahlari said, noting that travel can take five to six hours each way. 

“I have a motorbike in my circuit,” Kahlari said, “but I cannot use it because of the terrain of the road, and I have a leg problem.”

The Rev. Diana Matikiti, Makoni Buhera District superintendent, understands. Without a reliable terrain vehicle, she said, the district office also faces a transportation crisis.

“Geographically,” Matikiti said, “the district I am superintending is the biggest in Zimbabwe East Annual Conference, which is composed of 29 circuits that are very rural.”

The Rev. Annamore Kahlari (left) visits with church members Mbuya Marble (front) and Danmore Chagonyera while they prepare corn for storage at their home in the Chitsiwa Circuit near Makoni Buhera, Zimbabwe. Photo by Chenayi Kumuterera, UM News. 
The Rev. Annamore Kahlari (left) visits with church members Mbuya Marble (front) and Danmore Chagonyera while they prepare corn for storage at their home in the Chitsiwa Circuit near Makoni Buhera, Zimbabwe. Photo by Chenayi Kumuterera, UM News.

“Chikore Circuit is an agro-based community, living by farming,” Kahlari noted. “Ninety percent of my members are old-aged, who are prayerful, lovely (and) committed to church business.”

She is pleased that the churches are thriving, with an average Sunday worship attendance of 40 adults and 15 children.

“Our pastor is amazing,” commented local lay leader Kasirai Toronga. “Our pastor has taught us to give, which has (encouraged) the Manyere local church to be hardworking.”

On the donated “Munda Wa Tenzi,” which means “God’s land,” the congregation raises crops to help support the church.

“Every year,” Toronga said, “we harvest one to two tons of groundnuts (peanuts), and we use the money to buy building materials.” 

Before the pandemic, the congregation worshipped in a school classroom. Now, however, “we are no longer using these premises,” Toronga explained. Members struggle through summer heat, winter chill and rain.

“Our pastor always encourages us to support the church and build our own sanctuary,” Toronga said. “So far, we do not have an income-generating project, but if funds permit, we would like to engage as a church in a poultry project and maximize farming in Munda Wa Tenzi.” 

Jonathan Gwete, 81, chairs the circuit’s pastor-parish committee. “Recently,” he said, “Rev. Kahlari’s retirement home was destroyed, and building material worth $3,000 (U.S.) was stolen.

“Despite these hard times, our pastor does her work as usual and even taught us to pray always amid all.”

Kumuterera is a communicator in Zimbabwe. News media contact: Julie Dwyer at (615) 742-5470 or [email protected]. To read more United Methodist news, subscribe to the free Daily or Weekly Digests.

 

 


Like what you're reading? Support the ministry of UM News! Your support ensures the latest denominational news, dynamic stories and informative articles will continue to connect our global community. Make a tax-deductible donation at ResourceUMC.org/GiveUMCom.

Sign up for our newsletter!

UMNEWS-SUBSCRIPTION
Local Church
The Rev. Kelvin Mwandira (right) delivers mushrooms he has cultivated to customers Esther Razo and Solomon Chiripasi outside the Zimbabwe West Conference offices in Harare. Mwandira is among retired clergy in Zimbabwe who have turned to agriculture and other small business ventures to help fund their retirements. Photo by Chenayi Kumuterera, UM News.

Retired pastors reap benefits of farming

Whether raising livestock or produce, new small-business entrepreneurs enjoy learning and earning.
Global Health
The Rev. Marvin Sulayao De Leon of Manena United Methodist Church in Bulacan, Philippines, receives a COVID-19 vaccine at San Miguel Bulacan Vaccination Center. United Methodists in the Philippines have worked with the government to fast-track vaccinations for church leaders, who are not categorized as front line workers, so that their ministry with the community can continue safely. Photo courtesy of  Glessie Yambot De Leon.

Filipino churchgoers minister amid COVID-19

United Methodist churches have responded with prayer vigils, outreach to those affected, fast-tracked vaccinations for church workers and ongoing information sharing.
Evangelism
The Rev. Dariusz Zuber (right) conducts a service of baptism at God’s Love United Methodist Church in Ełk, Poland. The congregation has earned a reputation as an open and cooperative church. Photo courtesy of the Rev. Dariusz Zuber.

Partners help pastor revitalize struggling church

When the Rev. Dariusz Zuber and his wife, Monika, came to Ełk in northeastern Poland in July 2012, they found a congregation yearning for new life.