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Rwandans remember genocide but forgive


Peacebuilding, reconciliation and servant leadership form the heart of pastoral ministry

October 24, 2017

At the end of the Rwandan genocide in 1994, 16 Presbyterian pastors had been killed, many had been wounded and some had fled the country. The churches that remained were empty.

Mission co-worker Kay Day with Elisee Musemakweli. (Photo by Kathy Melvin)

The president of the Presbyterian Church of Rwanda called his colleague Elisee Musemakweli to return from Belgium, where he was finishing his PhD. Together, with the help of German and Dutch partners, they restarted a two-year theological training course, with emphasis on peacebuilding and reconciliation.  

Musemakweli recalls a question one of the first students asked him: “You’re going to teach theology, but we know that before the genocide, theology was taught in this school. We know many ministers have been involved in the genocide. Now, what kind of theology are you going to teach us?”  

Musemakweli used that question to train pastors in biblical principles of servant leadership, reconciliation and peacebuilding. That question helped shape the training now offered at the Protestant University of Rwanda (PUR).  

That initial training equipped 36 pastors to face the challenges of restoring the church. Seven of those trained in that special program are now leaders of the Presbyterian Church of Rwanda, including the president, vice president and five presbytery presidents. The ecumenical program included Anglicans, Methodists, Lutherans, Baptists and Pentecostals. Many of their leaders have been trained in this theology, too.  

Musemakweli left full-time teaching to lead the Presbyterian Church for 12 years as president and is now back as chancellor of PUR, continuing to shape the future of the church for servant leadership, reconciliation and peacebuilding.

Rev. Mary Catherine “Kay” Day, Mission Co-Worker, Rwanda

Today’s Focus:  Rwandan Genocide

Let us join in prayer for:

PC(USA) Mission Co-Workers

Kay Day, Rwanda
Nancy Collins, Rwanda

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Alejandra “Alex” Sherman, PMA
Natalie Shilstut, OGA

Let us pray:

God of peace and unity, fill us with your Spirit, so that we may be agents of peace and unity for all those with whom we come in contact. May we and they experience fully the peace of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Daily Readings

Morning Psalms 54; 146
First Reading Lamentations 1:1-5(6-9)10-12
Or alternate First Reading Jeremiah 40:7-41:3
Second Reading 1 Corinthians 15:41-50
Gospel Reading Matthew 11:25-30
Evening Psalms 28; 99

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