Christmas Letter from Bishop James

Bishop’s House, PO Box Private Bag, Mtandi, Masasi, Tanzania


Christmas 2023

Our dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

“Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; And the government shall be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end”.

It is our joy to share Christmas Joy with you in this Advent season 2023 with this Isaiah’s wonderful prophetic word in chapter 9 verses 6+7. We do thank and praise Almighty God, for all we have seen and experienced of His Love and Protection, His Mercy and His Grace this last year among our people in our Diocese of Masasi. 

We are so thankful to God for the peace and unity we enjoy amongst the priests and congregations. We give Him all the glory and praise. This year has been one of rich blessings and some big challenges which I can share with you in my letter. 


Ordinations: Fifteen Deacons are now in training in the parishes and next year on their ordination we shall create and name fifteen new parishes where they will be installed as priest. This is in line with our 2026 Centenary Goals. 

Theology Students: we do rejoice in the number of men who are coming forward for training as priests: there are three at St Mark’s College; seven at Morogoro Bible College; three at St Phillips College, Dodoma; two at Bunda Bible College and one is at St John’s University, Dodoma. Meanwhile Father Linus is in his second year of study at university in Montreal Diocese, Canada. 

Kwitonji Bible School, Mtandi: two ladies completed their three years of study for the ‘Certificate in Theology’ at Bunda (Diocese of Mara). They will join the staff at Kwitonji Bible School, Mtandi with a new term starting in January, 2024. 

We are trusting to open the new year with forty five catechists from across the Diocese on training for three months as we work towards another Centenary Goal of training most, if not all, of our catechists in theology. We are so thankful to God for the leadership of Captain Catherine Lagunda (CA) for the success of the work at Kwitonji. 

Diocesan Office: Mama Joyce Liundi has taken over as Acting Diocesan Secretary in addition to her many duties in the Mothers Union.

Rondo Junior Seminary:  Father Phares has moved to Rondo as the Principal. We are facing many challenges here due to the reducing number of students. The harvest this year was not good, now the last few years, and this impacts on the economy of the Diocese and the whole of Southern Zone. This reduction in cash flow affects the income from fees and thus the number of staff we can employ. 

There are now one hundred and five students and we are striving to ensure that they receive a good education and that Rondo Junior Seminary is a great place to study. We are hoping to invest, subject to the receipt of new funds in a new laboratory, new dormitories and new toilets: these are critical challenges which we face so as to improve the facilities at Rondo that will attract parents and students. 

WASH Project:  this project is now in its second phase as we bring running water to more rural areas of our Diocese. 


We do thank God for our many wonderful partnerships. It is through them that the many great developments and the wonderful training opportunities have been made possible by our generous partners: Diocese of Hereford, UK; Anglican Aid in Diocese of Sydney; CMS, Australia; Diocese of Montreal, Canada; The Grille Foundation, USA; the Friends of Masasi and Minchinhampton Parish, UK. 

Increased partnerships in Tanzania: we are thankful to God for the increasing partnerships with other Dioceses in Tanzania including Dar es Salaam, Morogoro, Southern Highlands and Western Tanganyika. We are enjoying and blessed by the opportunities for studying, for Choirs to exchange visits, for Mothers Union visits. As Bishop I have also had opportunity to lead conferences and seminars in the Province: recently I enjoyed a week of seminars and preaching at Mzumbe University in Morogoro. I much enjoyed this week with so many of our young people.  


Income: the harvest in 2023 was once again very poor due to the lack of rain at planting time and later in the growing season. This was particularly so for the Diocesan Farm where the cashew crop amongst others suffered much; here the costs nearly outweighed the income. We are praying for the rains this year to be plentiful and to come at planting time for all the people in the Diocese and region. 

Transport and the Bishop’s LandCruiser: the challenges for me in carrying out my pastoral duties across the Diocese are significant now as I have no Bishop’s car just now. The problems over the LandCruiser are not resolved as yet. This makes travelling for Confirmations, for my preaching and pastoral visits, pastoral care and ministry very difficult. We thank some parishes in USA and Friends of Masasi for their support in this challenge for transport. God knows: so we are trusting Him for resolution. 

Bishop’s health: my health is not good due to the spinal problems caused by my constant travelling many miles over the years in Masasi and elsewhere in Tanzania. I have this year been four times to Mihimbili Hospital in Dar es Salaam but there is as yet no real resolution as I write to you. I am expecting to have an MRI scan in 2024. The generous help of friends has enabled me to fly from Mtwara for these appointments. I do thank you very much for your generosity to me. 

Mary, my mother: Mary had been living with us since December of last year but has recently returned home to Sindano. Mary needs full time care and I am so grateful to the one who is giving this for her.

Priests in poor health: Canon Matteus Binamu (our former Vicar General) suffered a stroke this year. He is paralysed and has lost his speech. While Canon Danstan Mbagwe also suffered a stroke. Both of these brothers and great servants of Masasi Diocese are living at home cared for by their families. 

Family News: we do thank God for His faithfulness and goodness we see in our children. Farajah is now at Mihimbili University doing his second degree studying for his Masters in Public Health. Hugh is volunteering at the National Bank of Commerce in Masasi while Farahah is in her second year at the University of Dodoma reading Development Studies. 

As a Diocese we pray the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of the Father and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all; your families, your Churches and all those for whom you pray this Christmas and through the New Year 2024.

May God bless you and encourage you in your faith and love for Him this Christmas time as you celebrate “His inexpressible Gift” at this nativity season.

Sincerely, and with my love in Christ.

Your friend and brother,
Rt Revd Dr James Almasi Bishop of Masasi, Tanzania

Bishop James consecrates site for new Bishop’s House and its progress to date

Bishop James has consecrated and dug a symbolic foundation for the building of a new Bishop’s house at Mtandi. The location overlooked by the famous mountain at Mtandi will in time be the site of the new house so that the existing house can be repurposed for the diocese and the bishop and his family can live in a larger dwelling that is able to provide accommodation for guests. The Vicar general and members of the Mtandi cathedral congregation came to pray and sing blessings over the site. Brick making has already begun. Any support for this project would be gratefully received by the Diocese.

Progress as of August 2023

New Maternity Unit at Ngara Dispensary – Rondo

The new Maternity Unit named after Shirley and Fr Allan Talbot who founded African Palms
The unit was opened by Rev Dr Bishop James Almasi and the Secretary to the Regional Commissioner. Fr Linus Buriani, Rector of Rondo oversaw the project.
Prayers and Blessings over the new building, its staff and the community who will use it.

Three new priests for Masasi Diocese

The ordination of three new priests this month.

Bishop James ordained three new priests for Masasi diocese. Two will go to parishes and Rev Vincent Masimosya (right) will return to Rondo Junior Seminary.

Pleased to announce the appointment of a new Rector at Rondo

Bishop James has appointed Father Linus Buriani to be the new Rector of Rondo School and Seminary, with immediate effect, as the school has been without a Rector for sometime. Fr. Linus is currently the Assistant Diocesan Development Officer, and led a three year project in Tunduru called All Mothers and Children Count, that ended in February, aimed at reducing the incidence of child and maternal mortality.

In Tunduru, Linus worked on creating an holistic approach to developing the welfare of villages, with new clinics established, diets improved through the teaching of livestock husbandry and agricultural techniques, contraception and building classrooms, which has had the hoped for outcomes of improving the life chances for both children, and mothers. Linus is a graduate of University of Dodoma in Tanzania in Development Studies and was educated at Rondo and Lindi High School.  He is the son of Canon Buriani.  Linus is married to Thabiti who is a Secondary school teacher and they have a son Ethan Joel.


Lambeth Conference Postponed

After the news that the Lambeth Conference has been postponed until 2021, there will therefore not be a visit this year by Bishop James and Veronica from Masasi.

Latest News from Masasi and Newala from Jonathan Rendall

Jonathan Rendell writes:-

News from Masasi:

  • The House of Bishops met last week for a briefing on COVID-19 amongst other business
    • All the necessary hygiene matters have been clearly explained to all Bishops who will take these instructions back to their Dioceses: +James was meeting with the Rural Deans yesterday who will intern give the messages to their congregations today
    • Churches must only meet in small numbers from this week: two services or more each Sunday if that is necessary
    • There are at present 6 people infected with COVID-19 in Tanzania: only one is a Tanzanian; the others have entered the country from abroad.


  • Schools and Universities are closing across the nation
  • Farah is remaining at home and not going to Mbeya now for her pre-Form 5 three months education
  • Hugo is coming home today from University
  • Farajah is working still at Mtwara: at the Mkapa Foundation – a three months contract
  • Veronica came home from her English course in Mombassa this week
  • Rondo: students have all gone home
  • Revd Vincent Masimoysa returns home today from Kampala Christian University


  • +James diary is somewhat curtailed due to CORVID-19 but will travel to parishes on Sundays, Maundy Thursday and Easter Day
  • Saturday, 25th April: the Commissioning Service for the 18 Catechist Graduates from Kwitonji Bible School


  • The harvest this year will be a reduced one: some people have managed to plant but many have not been able to do so ….. it was still raining in Masasi on Friday


  • The flood relief continues to bring real help to the people of Kilwa District. There is still much lying water but people are planting for the harvest. The Diocese has given many bags of seed to the Regional Commissioner for  distribution: they met at Lindi. Hope is being restored through the clothes, the food and the seeds from the Diocese. +James was able to meet with the Regional Commissioner with these gifts and to pray with them.


  • +Oscar is back home in Newala; he is working as Bishop again so clearly is recovered from his illnesses. Good news. No other news from Newala just now

Bishop James and Veronica to Visit the UK in 2020

Bishop James, and his wife Veronica, will visit the UK in July 2020 visiting friends before joining the Lambeth Conference, which is to be held in Canterbury from 22nd July until the 2nd August.

Details of his itinerary will be published under our NEWS section.