Forfar minister on mission to Africa

Rev Barbara Ann Sweetin, who is representing the Church in Malawi.
Rev Barbara Ann Sweetin, who is representing the Church in Malawi.

A Forfar minister is undertaking a mission on behalf of the Church of Scotland to help support churches and congregations in Africa.

Reverend Barbara Ann Sweetin, of the East and Old Church, left on Friday for a two-week visit to Malawi to represent the national church at the signing of an agreement that will see additional support for the Church of Mozambique.

Mrs Sweetin is making the trip as a member of the Church of Scotland World Mission Council’s local development committee which helps to engage churches in this country with Christian congregations across the world.

The tri-party agreement has come about due to a 150-year relationship between the Church of Scotland, Blantyre Synod in Malawi and the Church of Mozambique; Scottish missionaries were sent originally to Blantyre and the synod subsequently sent people to Mozambique.

Mrs Sweetin said: “Numbers there are quite low and they’re struggling to recruit and train ministers and maintain buildings and the plan is for all three to work together. We can help out people in Mozambique by sending missionaries and financial help administered by Blantyre Synod.

“It’s about a willingness to listen and learn and keeping communication open, sharing resources financially and materially and it’ll be a three-year agreement.”

While in Malawi, Mrs Sweetin will visit the Mulanje Mission Hospital, which receives funding from the Church of Scotland.

She continued: “We’re visiting to show that we’re still taking an interest and to make sure all is as it should be. We’re also going to give pastoral support to medical director Ruth Shakespeare. We also fund a radio station there which does religious broadcasts in English so I’ll be visiting that and will be interviewed.”

The local development committee also has a remit for twinning and there are many Scottish churches twinned with congregations in Malawi and during the visit these churches will also be brought together.

Mrs Sweetin added: “It’s the first time I’ve been abroad for the national church and I’m excited and looking forward to it. I’ll be preaching two services, on the Sunday after I arrive and again the following Sunday. The second week will be to all parties involved in the tri-party agreement. It’s exciting and it’s going to be great learning about another culture and their customs.”