Ali Rowe has been involved with the Diocese of Bristol link with Uganda for over 10 years. After acting as the link coordinator for the Bristol West Deanery for several years, she is now leaving the role to become the link coordinator for the Kingswood and South Gloucestershire Deanery.
Ali has lived with her family in Severnside, in the Bristol West Deanery, for 25 years and is due to be licensed as a lay minister on 8 October 2022. In August, she and her husband are retiring to Downend.
In her role as link coordinator for the Bristol West Deanery, she focused on increasing and improving the relationship between the Bristol West Deanery and the link Dioceses of Gulu, Kitgum and Nebbi.
Ali sees the role as primarily about networking, linking people in Uganda to people in Bristol. She is responsible for engaging with churches and encouraging individuals to sign up for trips to Uganda. She also coordinates events when Ugandans visit Bristol. Ali recalls one trip when she found herself with two Bishops and their wives singing in a cramped car on the way to visit Western-super-Mare.
Ali has personally visited Uganda four times. During her first trip 15 years ago, she described a culture shock but has since grown a love for the country.
Ali commented on the strength of the link being its history, with many years of trips as well as churches in Bristol supporting the link through prayer, offering hospitality and giving financially. Notably, St Peter’s Henleaze has been involved in a scheme to pay for schools in Uganda and Christ Church Clifton has supported the training of supported many Ordinands in Northern Uganda through Mukono Christian University and Janani Luwum Theological college in Gulu.
With some big life changes ahead, Ali will be taking up the new role of link coordinator for the Kingswood and South Gloucestershire Deanery following her move to Downend. Ali describes how, since she has never visited the Dioceses of Ankole, West Ankole and Ruwenzori, time will be required to build up new relationships. Whilst being thankful for the faithful people in the Deanery who have kept up the link in the past years, Ali is hoping to inject some new enthusiasm into the Kingswood and South Gloucestershire Deanery link.
Ali will be visiting Uganda in October, along with 15 others from the Bristol West and Kingswood and South Gloucestershire deaneries. Ali will be saying goodbye to old friends in the Dioceses of Gulu, Kitgum and Nebbi and making new introductions in the Dioceses of Ankole, West Ankole and Ruwenzori.
Commenting on this role change and the upcoming trip, Ali said, “I am sad to be leaving my current link role, but I look forward to saying my final goodbyes in October. I am excited to be part of the future flourishing of the Kingswood and South Gloucestershire Deanery link in the coming years.”
During her time involved in the Uganda link, Ali describes learning to appreciate the differences between the Church of Uganda and the Church of England. She describes the culture of constant and mutual learning, particularly about Christian servitude, humility and grace.
When asked about her thoughts on the future of the Uganda link, Ali describes a need to focus on climate change as a big issue and our responsibility to stand beside Ugandans on this crucial topic. More broadly, Ali describes the need to keep the dialogue going between the two regions, through relationship and friendship.
The Bristol Uganda link began in 1969 through the friendship of two people, the Archbishop of Uganda, The Very Reverend Erica Sabiti, and the then Bishop of Bristol, The Right Reverend Oliver Tomkins.
It has always been seen as a partnership of two Anglican Churches, sharing friendship in Christ across the world, through mutual prayer, support and continuing understanding of one another, thus opening up our concept of the worldwide Church of Christ.
For more information about the Bristol Uganda link, visit https://www.bristol.anglican.org/aboutus/bristoluganda/