This week Archbishop Beach traveled to Rwanda to preach, teach, share in worship and fellowship with the clergy of the province, and bring greetings from North America.
The Most Rev. Onesphore Rwaje, Archbishop and Primate of Rwanda, welcomed 500 priests and bishops from around his province for their annual clergy conference December 4-8, 2017. The conference was hosted in the Dioceses of Shyogwe by The Rt. Rev. Jered Kalimba, who has been the bishop of the diocese for over 20 years. Bishop Kalimba’s entrepreneurial leadership has brought about a variety of projects and initiatives, from youth ministries to water projects, which have built up the communities in his diocese.
The Rt. Rev. Alfred Olwa, the new bishop of the diocese of Lango in Uganda was invited as a special guest to give the plenary addresses on the conference theme, “Growing Together in Communion.” Archbishop Beach led the times of Bible teaching and preached at the opening Communion Service.
Taking I Corinthians 12:21-31 as his text, Archbishop Beach encouraged the gathering to honor each of its members, and for each to work in their unique gifting. “As followers of Jesus we have all been baptized into the same body, Christ’s body. As Paul tells us, ‘We are all individual members of him. We belong to Christ and to one another.’”
Bishop Olwa spoke powerfully of the central importance of the lordship of Jesus Christ for growth. Using the example of the tangerine tree he said, “If you grow in communion in Jesus Christ you will first grow tall. As you mature and bearing fruit your branches will become heavy, bend down low, and be relevant for your people.”
The Anglican Church of Rwanda, which has eleven dioceses and an estimated 800,000 members, is somewhat unique in its reliance on lay catechists to spread the Gospel. In many dioceses the parish priest overseas both a centrally located congregation, and a cohort of up to 50 lay catechists who lead outlying congregations.
The Anglican Church of Rwanda has played a special role in the founding of the Anglican Church in North America, providing spiritual leadership for some of our members before its founding, and then joining the rest of Gafcon in calling for the formation of the province. Archbishop Beach expressed his appreciation for our brothers and sisters in Rwanda, “You stood by us in our time of need, we will always be grateful for you, and it is a joy to partner with you in ministry.” Archbishop Rwaje presented Archbishop Beach a hand-made wooden Ciborium symbolic of our provinces being in full communion with one another.