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First-timer valued gracious debates: transplanted Ugandan liked the fellowship.

St. Catharines, Ont.

Delegates from the diocese of Rupert's Land immediately put forward the name of Canon Godfrey Mawejje when asked to recommend a newcomer to General Synod that Anglican Journal could interview.

It was easy to see why. Mr. Mawejje (pronounced mah-WEDGE-ay), originally a priest from Uganda who immigrated with his family to Canada in 1992, is difficult to ignore. Not only does he wear the colourful and intricately woven clothes of his homeland, he made sure he introduced himself to other delegates that he saw. "I am so happy to see you," he said with a big smile to each person he met, moving to shake hands.

Meeting people was for him the highlight of General Synod. "I liked the fellowship," he said. "It was nice to meet people from everywhere. One is happy to see you and there's a feeling of belonging."

A member of the antiracism working group, Mr. Mawejje took part in a presentation about a draft antiracism charter. He also participated in worship services and spoke at an open forum with United Nations special envoy Stephen Lewis for HIV/AIDS in Africa, commenting to the gathering on how women get AIDS when they are raped during war. During a reception hosted by his Winnipeg-based diocese, he gamely wore the traditional voyageur's sash that Rupert's Land is known for and warmly welcomed delegates by handing out drink chits.

His colleagues say they are amazed at how easily Mr. Mawejje adapts. For Mr. Mawejje it comes easy. "We are family and friends with the same faith," he said. "I'm happy to see the church family together."

The intensity of the debates on same-sex blessings did not bother him, he said. "I expected that people would talk strongly on issues, whether they agreed or not. It was good to see people make an effort to meet others." Besides, he adds, "in Uganda we struggled with issues in similar ways. It's the same wherever we are. The church is the same."

He also said he did not agonize over how he would vote on various motions, including the controversial one involving same-sex blessings. "I listened to the discussions and made up my mind," he said.

His lasting impression of General Synod is the way people engaged in debates, he said. "I appreciate the struggles we are going through and I'm impressed that we're doing it graciously."

He seemed surprised when asked whether there had been any disappointments. "No disappointments," he said smiling.
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Title Annotation:Oldies and newbies: Anglican Journal looks at General Synod through the eyes of a first-time and a long-time delegate.
Author:Sison, Marites N.
Publication:Anglican Journal
Date:Jun 1, 2004
Previous Article:Church's youngest members voted too.
Next Article:Synod meeting has changed 'for the better'.

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