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Women pray during a worship service on Christian unity in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo. The Church of Christ in Congo, an ecumenical Christian organization that includes United Methodists, sponsored the women’s event. Photo by Philippe Kituka Lolonga, UMNS.

Photo by Philippe Kituka Lolonga, UMNS

Women pray during a worship service on Christian unity in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo. The Church of Christ in Congo, an ecumenical Christian organization that includes United Methodists, sponsored the women’s event.

Group preaches Christian unity to Congolese women

 

By Philippe Kituka Lolonga
April 18, 2018 | BUKAVU, Democratic Republic of Congo (UMNS)

The Church of Christ in Congo, an ecumenical Christian organization that includes United Methodists, is taking its message of Christian unity to women, raising awareness in communities often divided by tribal, ethnic or religious conflicts.

United Methodist Bishop Gabriel Yemba Unda of the East Congo Area was elected the national moderator of the Church of Christ in Congo in 2017. The United Methodist Board of Global Ministries is a founding member of the organization.

The Church of Christ in Congo brings together more than 60 Congolese Protestant denominations with the goal of uniting all communities into one body and ensuring the peace of Christ between the many tribes and families present in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In 2013, Unda initiated efforts to train religious leaders in the Kivu area on peaceful cohabitation. The United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race provided financial support for the program, which resulted in frank dialogue between tribes, including Bembe and Munyamurenge, Shi and Rega people.

Now, the Women’s Department of the Church of Christ in the Congo is taking that same message to Christian women in these communities.

The Rev. Judith Wabisa Kandolo, president of the Women’s Department in South Kivu, said it’s important to go to each community to sensitize women on Christian unity.

“It’s time for all these women to recognize each other in Jesus Christ,” she said.

Bibishe Mbilizi Bonane, a president of United Methodist Women in Bukavu, speaks to women about Christian unity at an awareness event in March in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo. Photo by Philippe Kituka Lolonga, UMNS.

 

During a meeting last month, Bibishe Mbilizi Bonane, a president of United Methodist Women in Bukavu, urged all women of the Church of Christ in Congo to be role models for Christian unity.

The Rev. Esther Furaha, pastor of Ibanda United Methodist Church in Bukavu and a moderator of the Church of Christ in Congo in South Kivu, also was present at the meeting.

“I encourage much more this awareness on the Christian unity of women of the Church of Christ in Congo … Whenever there is a meeting of these kinds, I will not miss, because I am also a woman and I have to be very involved in this awareness.”

Through events like these, women will begin to break down barriers and interact with the other tribes and families, said Rubin Balolebwami of the Church Assemblies of God in Bukavu, who was invited by the women to speak at the unity event.

“The church is not a place reserved solely for a single tribe or race,” he said.

Joséphine Muruta, president of Women of the Church Assemblies of God, read John 14:20-21 at the meeting. “Women must obey the commandments of God while loving their neighbor as we love ourselves and that is evident in unity,” she said.

The Rev. Dumas Balaganire, Uvira District superintendent, expressed his concern about some of the member communities of the Church of Christ in Congo in his district who do not want to unite with other communities because they don’t have the same doctrine.

He encourages these workshops on unity and asks female leaders to continue with this awareness throughout the region.

Unda asks all of the communities of the Church of Christ in Congo “to leave everything that differentiates us and to take into account only that which unites us. It will contribute much more to the Christian unity in our environment.”

Kituka Lolonga is a communicator in the Kivu Conference. News media contact: Vicki Brown at (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org. To read more United Methodist news, subscribe to the free Daily or Weekly Digests.