Sunday December 11th was a day to be celebrated as almost forty men and women were ordained for service in the Shyira Diocese of the Anglican Church. A number were Deacons, and about a dozen were ‘priested’. Most of these work other jobs, often more than one, in order to support their work as pastors. And most have already been leading congregations as lay leaders–a common situation that there are not enough ordained pastors to go around as new churches are continually planted.
In addition to the congregation of the cathedral, the crowd of several thousand included family and friends of the ordinands, and representatives of their churches. It was an amazing time of energy, of worship, of challenge by Bishop Alex (from the Gahini diocese) and of making promises. The six-hour service was all in Kinyarwanda (I had a few explanations from Bishop-elect Sam as he sat next to me, but for the most part I just went with the flow). Knowing the liturgy helps a lot, at least in terms of following what is happening, in general.
I was asked to present the candidates, along with the two other Canons of the Cathedral, and also to arrange the ordinands’ stoles on them as they came forward. Many wore home-made vestments, and there was a great sense of honour and commitment among those who were making vows as deacons and priests in the church. Their ordained ministry will be demanding, as it is everywhere, and most of them will not receive a salary, or at least very little.
A pastor is an important leader in the community in Rwanda, right up there with teachers. They are treated with respect and dignity, and much is expected in return. To be a part of initiating their ministry is a privilege I will hold in my memory, and in my prayers, for a long time. To be there meant Redeemer Church was also there, and our partnership was officially celebrated during the service. That’s a gift that God has provided, and as we continue to nurture it we are blessed in ways we can’t fully comprehend.