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Rwanda: 20 Years Later
An interview with the president of the Presbyterian Church of Rwanda by Nancy Collins, regional liaison for East Central Africa, and mission co-worker Christi Boyd, a facilitator for women’s and children’s interests in French-speaking African countries
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is engaged in ministry in Rwanda through mission personnel and our partner church relationships. The PC(USA) joins its partners in Rwanda in a holistic approach to ministry that includes education and leadership development, community development, evangelism and new church development.
Our principal partner in Rwanda, the Presbyterian Church of Rwanda (EPR), has called on us to walk with them as they rebuild after of the genocide of 1994. The church lost many pastors and other leaders during this time.
Rwanda Partner Churches and Organizations
Eglise Presbytérienne au Rwanda (EPR)
The Presbyterian Church of Rwanda emerged from German and Belgian roots, dating back to 1904. In 1919 the Belgian Missionary Society took over the German mission stations in Rwanda. In 1956 the three mission centers were organized into a synod but still operated under the Belgian Missionary Society. In 1959 the church leaders wrote a constitution and declared themselves to be an independent church. In 1967 they took the name The Presbyterian Church of Rwanda — Eglise Presbytérienne au Rwanda (EPR). Having begun with only three parishes (not presbyteries), by 1985 the EPR had 47 parishes and 120,000 members.
Christian Council of Rwanda
African women hold second Tumekutana conference
The Tumekutana conference in 2007 in Kenya was a first of its kind event at which women from diverse African cultures discussed common issues and how they how they empower each other as Christian women to improve their lives and the lives of the women they were leading. Tumekutana 2011, held last October in Rwanda, was a similar event, with speakers and activities focused on strengthening the capacity of women to address violence in their cultures and their countries while allowing them to share about their own situations and be heard by sisters from around Africa. Fifty-three women from 18 African nations and the United States participated, including women from troubled areas such as Congo, Kenya, Madagascar and South Sudan. “Women as Agents of Peace, Healing and Reconciliation” was the theme ofthe four-day event. "Worship in local churches, as well as during the meeting time, was powerful," reports Caryl Weinberg, a part of the African Steering Team. "They engaged around the idea of Tumekutana ['We have come together'] in a deep way. Violence impacts women in so many parts of their lives. Whether at home, in their community, at the national level and even in the church, women are victims of violence. Yet, through healing, they can 'transform their suffering rather than transfer it,' as one speaker pointed out."
The women wrote a conference Testament, which says in part: "We commit ourselves:
• To actively pursue opportunities for trainings and mentoring on conflict transformation and trauma healing in order to transform rather than transfer the pain of violence to others.
• To play our roles as teachers, mothers, aunties and grandparents in teaching children and the youth on sexuality, self-esteem and life skills in order to prepare them for responsible adulthood upholding Christian values."
One major difference in this gathering, Caryl points out, was that it was organized and facilitated primarily by the African Steering Team elected at the 2007 meeting. As well, she says, women raised much of the funding needed for the conference. The women have elected a team to take the leadership of Tumekutana until 2014, when by God's grace a third gathering will be held. "In the meantime many of these ladies will 'take Tumekutana home,' challenged, encouraged, empowered to, like Christ, be agents for the peace, healing and reconciliation that we all seek."
Rwanda Mission Network
• For more information contact Rev. David Koehler or Bob Hansen
The Rwanda Mission Network is among more than 40 networks that connect Presbyterians who share a common mission interest. Most participants are involved in mission partnerships through congregations, presbyteries or synods. Network members come together to coordinate efforts, share best practices and develop strategies.