Family and friends, Bishops and clergy, the first Vice-President representing the Government, and Christians from around the Province of the Anglican Church of Burundi and from other denominations, including the Roman Catholic Archbishop, were lead by the Most Rev. Bernard Ntahoturi in giving thanks for the life and ministry of the Most Rev. Samuel Sindamuka at the funeral service held on Thursday 29th December 2005 in Matana.
On arrival in Matana, Samuel Sindamuka's body was taken first to his home where people were able to pay their last respects, offer prayers, and express sympathy to the family. Clergy then carried the coffin towards St. Peter's Cathedral for the service and burial.
In his sermon based on John 14, v 3, the Archbishop of Rwanda, the Most Rev. Emmanuel Kolini, spoke of the brevity and impermanence of this life by contrast to the eternal home God has prepared for those who love, trust and serve Him as Samuel Sindamuka had done. Archbishop Kolini concluded by challenging the congregation that if they really wanted God's kingdom to come in Burundi people must repent. 'The place of the Father is the place where people repent, and love and forgive each other. We cannot choose who we share the Kingdom with,' he said.
Mourners gently sang hymns as Samuel Sindamuka's body was laid to rest in the grounds of St. Peter's Cathedral, where he had served as Bishop.
Samuel Sindamuka was born in Gitara in the Province of Bururi, the son of Simeon Ntakobatagize and Luisa Niyokindi. They were among the first converts, and in 1939 Samuel was baptized in Matana.
He worked as a primary school teacher in Matana and as a headteacher in Matana and Buhiga primary schools. He later became inspector of all primary schools in Matana and legal representative for church schools of the Protestant Churches Alliance, now the National Council of Churches (CNEB). In the holidays his concern to share the Gospel took him to Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya. Interspersed through his working life were periods of teacher and theological training.
Around the time of Independence, he served for four years as a member of parliament and will be remembered for the courageous contribution he made to the country at that time.
In 1957 he married Flavia Kayeye and subsequently had seven children.
Ordained in 1974, and consecrated Bishop in 1975, he became, in 1987, the Archbishop of the Francophone Province of Burundi, Rwanda, and Boga - Zaire. In 1992 he became the first Archbishop of the newly formed Province of the Episcopal Church of Burundi.
Throughout his long and fruitful ministry he maintained his central passion for evangelism. He wrote, 'We consider the work of sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ as (the Church's) central task, we coordinate and encourage this work by planning evangelistic meetings, organising seminars for Church leaders, but above all by teaching Church members about their responsibility to bear witness to their Lord and Saviour.'
He led the Church through many difficult years of conflict and civil war in the history of Burundi, and remained strongly opposed to all forms of division, whether ethnic, regional, or other, seeking instead to strengthen faith and love between people.
His vision for community development, income generating projects, promotion and education of women and youth, care of victims of AIDS, and theological education for church leaders laid the foundations for much of the work and ministry of the Anglican Church of Burundi today.
In Bujumbura a memorial book has been signed by many, including the President of Burundi, and the first Vice-President.
Messages have also been received from around the Anglican Communion. One reads,' I have some very special memories of this remarkable man. His gentleness, wisdom and humble spirituality were an inspiration to me. His trust in God and his perseverance through deep personal sadness and loss, as well as the suffering of the people of Burundi, marked him out as a great man of God.'
Others recall his friendship, his deep care and loving concern as a pastor, and his dedication as a leader. The words of the President summed the sentiments of many - 'God's servant and shepherd, rest in peace.'
Article form: EAB Press - Burundi