2019 Burundi Annual Conference

The theme was “I Will Build my Church.” The theme was based on Mathew 16: 18.

Officiating bishop:  Bishop Daniel Wandabula.

Guest speakers:

  • The Rev. Gary R. Henderson, chief relationship officer – Global Partnership United Methodist Communication, U.S.
  • Th Rev. W. Thomas Odongo , Kenya and Ethiopia Annual Conference, Kenya.

Church officials:

  • Bishop Daniel Wandabula, resident bishop.
  • The Rev. John Ntahoturi, legal representative.
  • The Rev. Emmanuel Sinzohagera, deputy legal representative.
  • The Rev. Lazare Bankurunaze, bishop’s assistant.

Conference welcome message:

The conference welcome came from Bishop Daniel Wandabula, resident bishop of the East Africa Episcopal Area, to delegates and guests of the Burundi Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. He announced the theme annual conference as I Will build my Church” from Mathew 16:18 which says “I also tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” The resident bishop said that the theme will help awaken us towards freshness in our spiritual life and to march out in the power of the Holy Spirit to possess the world with the values and principles of the kingdom of God. He was also grateful to the almighty God to serve Burundi Annual Conference as the bishop at such a time as this and to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. He was convinced that as the church continues to work together they will make more disciples of Jesus Christ and grow more vital congregations, continue to transform lives, communities and the world. 

Opening worship:

The Rev. Gary R. Henderson, chief relationship officer from Global Partnership United Methodist Communications, U.S., preached the opening worship service.

Henderson reminded us that God has given each one of us a seed and that everything we need is in the seed. 

“The seeds I wanted to plant were so small and you couldn't even see them,” Henderson said. “I dug and planted two or three seeds in each hole, then I sprinkled water, then I went. I don't know on your side when you plant something like this how much you wait. I waited a week. Nothing, not a single plant was grown. I waited the second week. I didn't see anything. In the third week I started to see the ground break apart. After seeing so I started to believe something I didn't believe before, because I had been waiting for three weeks, and it seemed that it took a long time. Underground something was happening. At that moment I was going to endure, At first I saw the foliage popping up in the distance. Sometimes the sun and the strong winds made my plants weak. When the rain and the breeze got worse I worried about my flowers, but apparently the flowers I planted were strong. I didn't understand. For a short time I noticed my plants were doing well. When I planted these flowers I didn't know how tall they were. They were taller and taller. Now when I go out, I don't look at the plants by bending but looking up because the plants are as tall as two or three meters. Of course another thing happened. Every plant that brought forth so many flowers, this reminds me of what a living God can do using the seeds that he planted in us. Peter had no building skills to build a church, but Jesus saw something in him. Now all in here in the church there are people and Jesus sees something in you. But when I go back to my flowers garden, I go back and remember what happened to Simon Peter, I know that those flowers came from something that I don't feel good about, but seeing how beautiful they are now, I'm reminded of things, all that God needs, whatever it takes to be or become abundant, the seed is needed. All that is needed is in the seed. The seed of faith is in you. We have the seed sown in us because of the mercy of the almighty.”

Henderson told members of Burundi church that Jesus sees something more unusual in the Burundi church. The thing I want to tell this meeting is that God sees something very important in you. Here Henderson was referring to the great thing Jesus did for Simon Peter and so does for Burundi church. This message directly reflected the life of the current church in Burundi and delegates’ hearts were filled with joy and happiness.

2020 delegates to General Conference.

 A total of 560 Burundi Annual Conference members participated in voting for the General Conference delegation (two clergy and two laity) and alternates (two clergy and two). To smooth the election procedures clergy and laity were split to carry out the voting.

The 2020 General Conference clergy delegates:

The Rev. Ntahoturi Jean the Rev. Bankurunaze Lazare.

The 2020 General Conference lay delegates:

 Ndikumana Zephirin and Habonimana Silas.

Clergy alternates: The Rev. Niyonkuru Jeremie and the Rev. Hatungimana Josepgh.

Laity alternates: Irambona Pacis Alarine  and Ndimurwanko Edith.

It was also agreed that the same delegates and alternatives elected shall be automatically delegates of 2020 in Central Conference to be held in August in Mozambique.  

Communication equipment handed over to church leaders:

It was a great honor for the department of communication to receive equipment given by the Rev, Gary R. Henderson, chief relationship officer from Global Partnerships, United Methodist Communications. The new equipment consists of two set of computers, one bag of T-shirts, USB drive, external hard disc and one photocopy machine. 

A guest speaker: The Rev. Thomas Odongo from Kenya and Ethiopia Annual Conference presented a talk about a pastor in his parish, annual conference and in the world. He told them to continue to carry the cross of Jesus in their conference. Among the counseling given was to ask pastors to abstain from alcohol.

Other top speakers: Nshimirimana Georges and Ndikumana Zephirin. These two lay leaders argued to their counterpart to strengthen the church unity already in good progress and be ready to face 2019 by supporting different church activities and that it is more blessed to give than to receive. 

Resident Bishop opening message: The resident bishop reminded the delegates about this year’s theme: “I Will Build my Church.” “We see in this scripture that Jesus is changing Peter’s name from Simon to Peter, which means a piece of lock, on that piece of lock which is a part of a bigger mass of a lock and that bigger mass of a lock is Jesus Christ. So if you wonder how the church in Burundi managed to survive these terrible years, it is because of Christ’s church. The church belongs to God and God has blessed Burundi.”

The legal representative, annual conference strategic plan priorities:

“Truly, I tell you, last year our theme was “One in Christ,” and I can see clearly a foundation of last year’s theme entrusted to the whole church. This year our theme is “I Will Build my Church.” The legal representative requested all church members to be committed and involved in the ministry of the church by calling the church to fully confess faith in Jesus Christ, become disciples and to observe all that Jesus Christ wants. The legal representative also gave the areas of focus this year:

-Evangelization, church growth and discipleship.

-Community and infrastructure development.

-Training opportunities for pastors including leadership development for church officers.

- Church building.

-To finish unfished church infrastructure.

- Stewardship education, etc.

Number of people ordained, commissioned or received into associate membership:

Total ordained clergy: No pastors were ordained during the session.

Commissioned: 497 pastors were commissioned in different parishes; 22 laypeople were commissioned in different departments; and 13 district superintendents.

Number of people retired: After special worship service by the Rev. Roger for retiring pastors, 113 were declared as beneficiaries of pension programs and 69 pastors were officially presented by conference benefit officer, Nijimbere Marie for retirement. 

Resident bishop and legal representative conjointly spoke for appreciation after many years of full-time service to the church.  Sixty-nine pastors, up from 66 the previous year. There were no laypeople retired this year.

Membership stands at 256,219 in 2019, up from 222,176 the previous year. 

Worship attendance stands at 154,966 weekly in 2019, up from 105,474 in 2018.

Number of Sunday school classes stands at 358 in 2019, up from 250 the previous year. 

There were 3,524 professions or reaffirmations of faith in 2019, up from 344 previous years.

Pepi Mbabaye, conference coordinator of communication for the Burundi Conference

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