Well begun is half done
Written by Alex Bjergbæk Klausen

Join us, as we celebrate the commencement of the Mount Zion training and retreat centre’s construction in Freetown. Bishop Wilson of Freetown Diocese officially opened the construction site with a turning-of-the-sod ceremony on Wednesday, 11th November, as prayers and appreciations of those directly involved in the project were shared.

The project began on a rainy evening in 2016, when the Bishops of Bo, Guinea and Freetown met with Relay Trust representatives in Bo, in the south-eastern part of Sierra Leone, to discuss issues with the training of future church leaders. These conversations climaxed in a decision to construct a new training centre in Sierra Leone. The Freetown Diocese, represented by Bishop Wilson, agreed to take a lead role in the project and even donate a piece of land for the buildings.

In 2017, the proposed construction site was identified in the mountains outside of Freetown. Mount Zion seemed to be an obvious name, from the steep dirt road leading to the site and the amazing view which rewards one upon climbing it. After a lot of deliberation and ongoing discussion, an application was made for Engineers Mission International (EMI) to assist with the conceptual design for Mount Zion.

EMI approved the application, and in early 2019, a team of 10 architects and engineers came to evaluate and prepare the ground for the centre. The conceptual design was completed by May of the same year. Following that, the diocese started setting up a project team and initiated the bidding process for a design and build project. By mid-2020, the contractor was identified, and the design of the detailed drawings began. The coronavirus outbreak caused some delay in this process, but we are grateful that it was still possible to begin construction immediately after the rainy season.

Mount Zion will accommodate 40 long-term students but can host up to 100 participants for shorter retreats. Apart from the main building, the construction includes a chapel, dining hall and several buildings to accommodate the resident teachers, students, and participants. The intention is to create a small “Garden of Eden” where students and participants can reflect and connect with God. We are anticipating the full completion of the construction in November 2022. Meanwhile, we are preparing for the organizational structure that will carry the centre and deliver effective training.

The training centre will eventually serve the entire Anglican Province of West Africa, catering to the training of church leaders on different levels, but with a special attention to grass-root church leaders in remote areas. Mount Zion will become a resource centre for transformative and digitally enhanced community-based learning. It will coordinate distance learning to various local hubs and serve as a bi-lingual institution for French and English students. Furthermore, Mount Zion intends to serve communities with materials in different heart-languages, initially starting with Krio, Mende, Temne and Sosou.

Please join us, as we pray for the construction of the Mount Zion project. Pray for the project team in Sierra Leone and for good collaboration with Relay Trust team members. Pray for the contractor. We know that construction is never straightforward and that we will encounter many challenges, especially when we are building on a slope in the mountains. We pray for God to guide us through hindrances and challenges, so Mount Zion can become a fruitful centre to equip and empower the future church leaders in West Africa.