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Leaning into Visions that Transform Individuals and Communities – Part Three

A Letter from Paula Cooper, serving as regional liaison for East Central Africa

Summer 2023

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Pentecost Season greetings, dear family and friends,

My previous newsletters focused on the visions of two of our international church partners in Zambia and the vision of one of our partners in Kenya to reflect on how they may relate to the passage that PC(USA) is learning about and living into from Matthew 25:31-46. In this newsletter, I continue to celebrate this relationship by introducing you to the vision and work of the Presbyterian Church of Rwanda (EPR, for the French name “Église Presbyteriénne au Rwanda”).

As you may recall, we learned that our international church partners’ “patterns of Christian praxis in Church and Society” are validated in the ministries they govern to cultivate and nurture the spiritual growth and transformation of their members and the communities surrounding their churches.

Without further ado, let’s learn more about our partner in Rwanda, EPR.

The Presbyterian Church in Rwanda (EPR)

The Presbyterian Church in Rwanda is a Christian community resulting from the Protestant Reform. It was a missionary extension of the Bethel Mission in Germany. It was established in 1907 by German missionaries in Zinga (Eastern Province) and Kirinda (Western Province), its first missionary stations.

The EPR ceased to be a missionary church in 1959 at the time of the race towards independence of Rwanda. It is directed by the General Synod at the national level, Synods of the Presbyteries, the executive committee, and the parish councils as organs at the base.

Vision
Given the different challenges of the EPR’s scope of action to be met and the burdens that weigh on its work, the stakeholders in this work have refined the vision of the EPR as follows:
“A mature, united, witnessing and transforming church.”

Mission
The EPR has the mission or reason for being specified by its actors in this order:

  • Evangelize by proclaiming the love and salvation offered by God in Jesus Christ,
  • Contribute to the promotion of the integral and integrated well-being of human beings through testimonial social works
  • Change men and women making them agents of change in society.

Values
The values ​​of the EPR are virtues lived by the men and women who are its stakeholders. They were chosen and adopted to regulate the way of life and how to do it within the EPR.These values ​​stand out in the plot below with their meanings in the eyes of the members of the EPR.

  • Solidarity: Bonds of fraternity, mutual aid, compassion, and consolation are experienced in times of prosperity and hardship (1 Cor 15:1).
  • Dignity: Christians watch over respect for themselves and others, work for the honor of Christ, and have a respectable life based on discipline, education, and warnings that come from the Lord (Eph 6:4).
  • Love: Feeling of attachment to neighbors, Jesus Christ, and God manifested by acts of charity and consideration for others.
  • Humility: simplicity and modesty, reverence and submission in leadership exercised in fairness, justice, and self-denial (1 Pet 5:1-2).
  • Fidelity: The members of the EPR remain constantly attached to faith in Jesus Christ, to their church, and to their commitment.
  • The truth: The facts, judgments, opinions, and points of view are purely objective and tinged with sincerity, and honesty based on the fear of God.

Our Motto
The watchwords that the actors of the EPR accept as motto are:
“Word-Faith-Action”. This motto is sung in the form of a slogan and is reflected in all the acts that are taken in the name of the EPR. The “word” means that the members of the EPR are attached to the Holy teachings contained in the Bible and understood as a source of inspiration (1 Tim 4:13). “Faith” means total and fervent belief or adherence to the Eternal God, to the teachings of Jesus Christ and unshakable hope in the promises of eternal life. “Action” is the material expression of word and faith. Works that testify of Jesus Christ are the foundation of the Gospel. The faithful are called to behave as practitioners of the Word (James 1:22-23).

Our Philosophy

These are the guiding principles and doctrinal opinions on which the existence and action of the ERP are based. This philosophy is built on the Scriptures as follows:

    • God’s salvation is offered through his Son Jesus Christ by his word and grace through faith (John 3:16).
    • Abundant life for all (John 10:10).
    • Ecumenism and the Unity of Believers in Jesus Christ.
    • The universal priesthood and the missionary order (Matthew 28:19-20).
    • The Holy Spirit works in the Church (Acts 1:8).
    • Peace with all (Rom 12:18).
    • Presbyterianism advocates freedom and equality for all.

We thank God for the ongoing work of the EPR as it continues to cultivate and nurture the spiritual growth of its members.

In the next newsletter will we learn how our partners in Malawi are leaning into their visions.

Please continue to keep us in your prayers. We are blessed by your kind-heartedness and support.

Shalom,

Paula

May we surrender to the Holy Spirit living within us during this Pentecost Season and beyond so that we may lean into the purpose and plan that God desires to manifest within us!


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