ELCT-North Eastern Diocese is located in the North Eastern part of Tanzania in the Tanga Region. With this website we wish to give you information about our Diocese and the events in it.


On the 19th of June 1963, the Usambara - Digo Church and six other Lutheran Churches decided to unite and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT) was formed. Today, the North Eastern Diocese is one among the 27 Dioceses within the ELCT.

The bishops of ELCT-NED have been:

  • Heinrich Waltenberg (1962 - 1963)
  • Rev.Dr. Sebastian Kolowa (elected 1972, consecrated 1974 - 1992)
  • Rev.Joseph M. Jali (1993 - 2001)
  • Rev.Dr. Stephen I. Munga (2001 - 2020)
  • Rev.Dr. Msafiri J. Mbilu (2021-)


The North Eastern Diocese is part of the worldwide church whose foundation is Jesus Christ. We confess that the Word of God which is written in the Old Testament and in the New Testament is the basis of the Church's right teaching and the guideline for the life of the Church. We believe that we are part of the family of the one holy church which is worldwide. We confess the Apostolic, Nicene and Athanasian Creeds and we accept the Lutheran teaching as expressed in the Augsburg Confession and in the small catechism of Martin Luther.

The mission of our Diocese is to proclaim the Gospel of God as revealed through the life and work of our Lord Jesus Christ. With our proclamation, we intend to reach non-Christians and help Christians to live as true followers of Jesus so that the church becomes a genuine expression of the kingdom of God here and now. Together with other Christians, we share the hope of resurrection and the fulfillment of life in eternity.



The foreign missionary activities resumed again some years after the war. Johannsen and Hosbach came back in 1926. In the same year, Dr. Muller started medical service at Bumbuli Hospital. More pastors were ordained and several mission stations were built as the work expanded. Institutions like Magamba Secondary School, Magamba Trade School, Irente School for the Blind, Irente Orphanage and Lutindi Mental Hospital were started.


The first three pastors of the Bethel Mission in Usambara
Lic Trittelvitz
Mission Inspector of the Bethel Mission

The history of the North Eastern Diocese (previously known as the Church of Usambara - Digo) goes back to the 6th of July 1890 when the first German missionary, Kramer, arrived in Tanga from Zanzibar, to start mission work. The indigenous people of Tanga area were the Digo people but Kramer also met a lot of Arabs and some Sudanese. Just two weeks after Kramer had started his work, he managed to open a school in Tanga with about nine children. In spite of opening this school, there were no Africans who converted into Christianity.

On the 6th of February, 1891, Johannsen and Wohlrab left Europe for Africa and came to Tanga. When they learned that Kramer hadn't succeeded in his work, Johannsen and Wolrab left Tanga for Mlalo via Digoland on the 1st of April, 1891. Five days later, they arrived at Mlalo. There, they met "Zumbe Mkuu" (i.e. the Chief) Shekinyashi whose village had about 80 houses.

On the 7th of April, 1891, Johannsen and Wolrab saw an attractive area which they believed would be suitable for building a mission station. It was a hilly place with a very big tree, known as "muula" in Shambala, the language of the indigenous people in the area. On the following day, the missionaries met Shekinyashi and his relatives but the chief didn't give the Germans the area which they had hoped for. Deeply disappointed, Johannsen and Wolrab returned to Tanga on the following day. On Pentecost the same year, Shekinyashi's eldest son Kinyashi left for Tanga with a contingent of about a hundred people with the aim of persuading Kramer and Johannsen to return to Mlalo. Kinyashi's attempt was successful. With the good help of a hundred luggage carriers, the entourage left Tanga for Mlalo on the 21st of May, 1891. They arrived at Mlalo six days later and were received by many people who welcomed them cheerfully.

On 24th of April 1892, a young ex-slave called Koba was baptized. Some months earlier, this young man had been taken as a slave in order to serve in an Arab home in Tanga. His Arab master earned money by "hiring out" Koba to work for rich people. Through his slave duties, Koba happened to work for a German missionary who lived in Mbuyukenda, Tanga. It was at this place where he heard the Word of God for the first time. He also learned how to read and write. When Koba's master heard about it, he sent him to another place. As time went by, a Sunday School class from St. Michael's Church in Berlin heard about Koba and his situation. These children collected about 50 rupees which were enough to buy him out of slavery and set him free. Koba got his Christian name in memory of the congregation in Berlin whose Sunday School pupils had collected money for him. Thereby he was called Michael and became the first Lutheran Christian in German East Africa.


We can follow the early mission through the history of the first Mission Stations:

  • Mtae - 1893
  • Vuga - 1895
  • Lutindi - 1896
  • Bumbuli - 1899
  • Lwandai Middle School (Mlalo) - 1900
  • Bungu - 1903
  • Gombero-Digo - a Bush School was started in 1904
  • Mshihwi(Usambara) and Vunde (Digo) - 1905
  • Vuga Press - started to work in 1912

There are also other historical events which reflect the fruits of the early mission activities in this diocese:

  • Beginning to train evangelists - 1907
  • Sending Shambala missionaries to Rwanda and Urundi (Burundi) - 1907
  • Sending Shambala missionaries to Bukoba - 1910
  • Christian Pohl, who 1994 - 1998 served as youth pastor in Tanga, is now working with Mission EineWelt, the Centre for Partnership, Development and Mission of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria, Germany.
  • At the same time he is writing the church history of Tanga. During this process he has written two biographies for the Dictionary of African Christian Biography. These persons are among the first Christians of what is now the NED: Paulo Pera , who founded the first mission school in the Gombero area and Yakobo Lumwe(Ng´ombe), who was the first pastor in Tanga and the surrounding area.  
  • Click on their names to read the interesting articles!


 When the German's were defeated by the British in World War I, the German missionaries had to leave for Europe. Before they left, seven African pastors were ordained in 1920:

  • Hiyobu Kuyonga
  • Andrea Mwenfula
  • Luka Sefu
  • Yakobo Lumwe
  • Paulo Mazimu
  • Samuel Akile
  • Lazaro Shauri




The emblem of our diocese has four symbols. Each of these symbols carries an inner meaning.

Waves at the bottom The WAVES represent water, which is the symbol of THE WORD OF GOD. The Word of God is like water that sustains and nourishes life.
A tower with a bell The BELL signifies the CALL. In Jesus, God is calling his children to return to him. He wants them back home.
A tree on each side of the bell The TREES are a symbol of FAITH that is nourished after hearing the Word of God.
A cross on top of the tower The CROSS is the place where we are called to go. It is a sign of our SALVATION. We need to lay down our burdens and sins at the cross as a sign of repentance.