In March 2008, Rev. Father Edward Tamba Charles was nominated as the Archbishop of Freetown and Bo after the resignation of Bishop Ganda. Since his appointment Archbishop Charles has spent six years serving and leading the people.
In an interview with Awoko, Archbishop Tamba Charles said that being a Bishop “at this stage is demanding especially in these parts when everything has to pass through the Bishop, so this kind of work takes a lot of your time and energy but you have to keep serving.
As a Bishop, you are entitled to other duties in addition to being a pastor in your church, you are also doing public relations exercise, so you are the link between the church and the government, other churches and other religions.”
Questioned whether he regretted the decision of becoming an Archbishop, he said “I only accepted it in obedience to the church. I had no ambition of becoming a bishop, the reason being that perhaps I had a very modest opinion of myself as a priest. I always go to the outstation but I always enjoyed teaching because I had been doing it for the past 18 years.”
Archbishop Charles said that “when I was nominated in March 2008 it came to me as a great surprise because I never dreamt of becoming a bishop and so it created in me a psychological crisis. It took me a long time to overcome it. I remember coming into this office for the first time. Luckily there was nobody around. I stood there and wept.
The reason is that I used to come to this office through the call of Archbishop Ganda and there was a particular area I will stop and talk to him but now I will be the one sitting on that seat behind this desk and deal with people.”
On the assignment given to him, he said “at my nomination, the Nuncio told me to work towards creating a new Diocese and that took me a lot of a time, since I was a new Bishop lacking experience here, I was saddled with the responsibility of creating a new diocese with nobody to refer to as my mentor.” `
Being in the priesthood for 28 years, Bishop Charles however pointed out that he never had any regret being a priest although in every sphere of life there is always some unhappiness “but on the whole I am a happy priest I am very positive. If God were to give me chance to go back and restart my life, I will still become a priest, it is not that I hate marriage, but God’s grace has touched me in this way. This is where he wants me and I have no regret and my family has also accepted that and are giving me a lot of support.”
Comparing life as an Archbishop to that of a priest he disclosed that “it’s incomparable in the sense that before I was ordained Archbishop, I was a Priest and a Rector in the seminary and it was a small world where everything was done in order. As an Archbishop, people call on you any time, you are like on 24/7 service. Though the seminary was a hectic ministry to me as a Rector in addition to that I was also teaching three courses and I got involved in pastoral ministries, starting a small community- Saint Paul Community.”
Questioned about his challenges in the Ministry, Archbishop Charles said there is challenge in every spheres of life “and the episcopacy is not immune from that. The first challenge I have is getting used to the fact that I was now a bishop one with great responsibility.
One of the greatest challenges I faced is that in many countries when you are ordained as a bishop, you are first put in a small diocese to get used to the system but I was catapulted from the Seminary as Rector to the Metropolitan Archbishop. That was not a small job it was a major challenge psychologically. I was used to teaching, theology of the church doing the actual thing is a different thing altogether.”
Another challenge he said “is winning the confidence of the priest and the lay faithful, since I was from the Diocese of Kenema, who came here with a displaced mission with no intention of staying here, so in my mind I was a bit hesitant about the transition but I don’t think that the people had that problem of transition affecting me.”
By Betty Milton
Wednesday May 28, 2014