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2010 East Africa Annual Conference

Dec. 7-9, 2010; Kigali, Rwanda

Sixteen years ago, the Republic of Rwanda had no place where people could rest their bodies in peace. Wailing and bloodshed were visible.

Children, women and men ran through, in and around looking for safety, as the rest of the world cried out to end the brutal genocide. Today, people who walk in Rwanda see a vibrant economy, well-dressed people and no trash anywhere. The country is now experiencing economic growth, and seeing improvements in infrastructure, hygiene and human value.

The United Methodist Church is planting churches and bringing emotional and spiritual healing to the people.

During this year's East Africa Annual Conference, Bishop Daniel Wandabula reported, "since 1995, the church in Rwanda has expanded to 16,032 members, in 26 churches and five districts. This is a sign of the denomination's leadership in East Africa and Africa as a whole.

Rwanda is living The United Methodist Church's mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

This year's theme was: "A new commandment I give to you, love one another as I have loved you, so you must love one another (John 13: 34)." Demonstrating love to our congregation, especially in Rwanda, enables the healing process to continue.

Rwanda, hosting its first Annual Conference since the inception of East Africa Annual (regional) Conference: comprised of delegates from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan and Uganda.

The three-day conference started Dec. 7, 2010,with a cabinet meeting chaired by Bishop Wandabula. The song, "Imana yu mwana" in Kinyarwanda, meaning "God you are our God" began the conference.

The guest preacher, the Rev. Bruce Stensvad emphasized the value of Jesus Christ's teachings, giving hope and instructions and journeying with our Lord toward excellence in ministry.

The hope of East Africa Annual Conference and its partners is for people in the five countries to enjoy God's blessings and improve their quality of life. These are the same cultural and language challenges other countries face. A goal of "learning and earning" respect is to be responsible for your own life. After being given a fish, learn how to fish.

On ordination, the Rev. Bruce restated The United Methodist Church's position and reasons for those requirements. Educating the clergy is a major concern/issue of church leaders who are actively addressing this problem. He encouraged aspiring pastors and laity to accomplish the education requirements.

People in East Africa Annual Conference countries are struggling with high levels of illiteracy. The bishop initiated a new training phase for pastors and lay leaders, to begin in 2011. The conference needs order and quality leadership in doing God's work.

Other challenges include: poverty, disease, roads, poor communication and the aftershocks of civil wars.

In 1984, The United Methodist Church was established Burundi by the late Bishop John Alfred Ndoricimpa and later spread to Uganda, Kenya, Sudan and Rwanda.

Today, there are 101,991 members in Burundi; 26,040 in Uganda; 26,784 in Kenya; 16,032 in Rwanda; and 1,878 in Sudan for a total of 172,725 members in the conference. The conference has 438 churches and 442 pastors.

Grace Nakajje
Communicator for the East Africa Annual Conference