Learning and Teaching in Welcoming Burundi – Archbishop Michael Jackson, CMSI’s Jenny Smyth and the Revd Dr Paddy McGlinchey Reflect on Their Visit
Archbishop Michael Jackson, CMSI’s Mission Director, Jenny Smyth and former CMSI Trustee, Revd Dr Paddy McGlinchey (Church of Ireland Theological Institute) have just returned from a 12 day visit to Burundi. After visiting a Christian Aid project in Makamba, they joined CMSI partners in the Diocese of Matana.
A number of Church of Ireland parishes support theological education in Matana as an expression of their partnership links through CMSI. The team met some of the student pastors, brought greetings and shared encouragements.
They also spent time at Bujumbura Christian University where Archbishop Jackson and Dr McGlinchey led sessions on the Anglican Communion’s Five Marks of Mission. During this time, Jenny Smyth visited Gitega Diocese CMSI’s other global partner in Burundi.
Both Gitega and Matana Dioceses have seen the appointment of new bishops in the last year. Both Bishop Seth (Matana) and Bishop Aimee–Joseph (Gitega) are well known to CMSI supporters, having visited Ireland previously.
Throughout their visit the team members produced blog posts outlining their activities.
In the first of their reports Dr McGlinchey reflects on their first few days in Burundi:
Warm Welcomes, Weddings and the World Cup
July 17, 2018
By Dr Paddy McGlinchey
Archbishop Michael, Jenny and myself arrived safely at Bujumbura International Airport on Friday (13th) and stayed overnight at a hotel which supports the work of Scripture Union.
Our programme properly began the next morning when the Archbishop Martin’s Secretary, Revd Feliebien, drove us to Makamba. The three–hour plus journey gave us the opportunity for fellowship and also to hear about the country from someone who had a balanced and informed perspective. We learnt that the East Africa Revival continued for 15 years and still leaves its mark on the country. Also, to our relief, we discovered that the instability of Burundi was somewhat over–dramatised by the media. Indeed, as we drove through the countryside we could see that things were relaxed and that there was no obvious atmosphere of tension.
After being delivered to our hotel in Makamba, we were collected by the Diocesan Secretary and Development officer and taken to the wedding celebration of the Archbishop’s brother! I’m learning that on mission trips one can never predict what will happen next. Here we were warmly welcomed by the Archbishop and his wife and joined in the festivities. It was an opportunity to sample the culture and meet a number of local folk.
Archbishop inspired by unity at Burundi maize project
July 18, 2018
In a blog update from Burundi, Archbishop Jackson said he was inspired by a visit to a community maize project in the rural highlands of Burundi.
Matana Diocese supports a Church–based agricultural co–operative in the village of Vitezi. It sees Anglicans, Roman Catholics and Pentecostals working together as one family, using parish land to grow and process maize. The Archbishop wrote:
“The communities were clear about their differences from one another. They were also clear that whatever might separate their community, they will fight it. I could only hear a voice in the direction of parochial and community life in Ireland in this utterance of determination.”
On Sunday morning, the team brought greetings and participated in a Eucharist service in Makamba Cathedral. Archbishop Michael also preached, with Archbishop Martin interpreting. His message was well received and he was even congratulated on his Burundian–length sermon.
After visiting diocesan projects in Makamba on Monday, the team travelled to Matana Diocese – a global partner of CMSI – where they have been hosted by Bishop Seth Ndayirukiye, learning more about the diocese and visiting the maize projects
Speaking about the first part of the visit, Archbishop Michael said:
“Jenny, Paddy and I have had a most interesting and inspiring introduction to Burundi. At every point we have found the Church to be lively and joyful and the people inspiring in their faith and witness.”
Jenny Smyth contributed the third blog post:
Sharing spadework and vision in Matana
By Jenny Smyth
We spent Tuesday evening in a lovely time of fellowship with the diocesan staff over a meal in Bishop Seth’s house. Mama Yvette had provided a wonderful spread. I (Jenny) was particularly interested as the bishop’s house was formerly known as Doctor’s house, constructed for Dr Leonard Sharpe in the late 1930s, when medical work began in Matana.
Wednesday morning was spent looking around the church hill. The sound of digging and singing drew us to the site of the new cathedral building. About 50 people were labouring away on the construction. Led by Bishop Seth, Dr Paddy and Archbishop Michael joined in wielding hoes to shift earth – much to the amusement of those present!
Each weekday a different parish is responsible for providing labour. Progress is slow but visible and the sense of communal commitment to constructing the new cathedral is inspiring. As we dandered round the hill, Bishop Seth shared some of his vision for the diocese – so much potential, so much to be done – real wisdom is needed in the planning and prioritising of energy and resources.
Two days of teaching in Bujumbura
Archbishop Jackson and Dr McGlinchey spent two days of the visit teaching in Bujumbura Christian University. Here Archbishop Jackson describes the background to the university, meeting the students and their teaching on missiology and the Five Marks of Mission including Dublin & Glendalough’s Come&C programme.
By Archbishop Michael Jackson
Bujumbura Christian University
Three years ago Bishop Eraste, bishop of Bujumbura, decided to use the old cathedral as a university. This is a refreshingly ancient and modern vision. There is a beautiful new cathedral dedicated to The Holy Trinity in the same grounds, open for public use all day long. The old cathedral lent itself, with some adaptation, to becoming Bujumbura Christian University.
There are currently 41 students studying for the ordained ministry, the first cohort. The university has plans to open up new faculties including Communication, Hotel, Tourism and Environment studies ‘the better to equip people for Christian ministry for the benefit of the Church and for all in the community.’ (BCU Mission Statement).
The Province of Burundi has a masterplan to reconfigure the network of theological colleges and Bible schools across the country to enable the University to prepare people for service and leadership as catechists and clergy across the Church and the society.
New life and hope in Bujumbura
By Archbishop Michael Jackson
Early on Saturday morning, Dr McGlinchey and I went to Gaseyni Parish in the northern suburbs of Bujumbura. This had been a thriving parish with progressive educational facilities catering for construction and carpentry, livestock and general agriculture, until the whole campus was destroyed in the hostilities of 1996.
There now is a new project for the parish, although not on the original land which has been taken by the Government to form part of the Presidential Palace. The new venture will involve the razing to the ground of the parish church which, against all the odds, is still in regular use. A new road and a river are now part of the landscape. These open up fresh possibilities of a different and an enhanced development for the parish on land owned by the church just across the river.
The plans include the resuscitation of the building and agriculture programmes; the continuation of the primary school and the development of a clinic to include nutritional advice. There is also the possibility of a fish farm with the availability of water from the river and scope for its purification.