Statement from the Episcopal Church of Burundi
The Episcopal Church of Burundi wishes to express appreciation for the Windsor Report, and to congratulate the Lambeth Commission that produced it. It is an interesting, coherent, and sensitive report that challenges the Communion to dialogue constructively as a way forward.
The Episcopal Church of Burundi remains totally committed to the Anglican Communion and will continue to endeavour to “keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4 v 3). We should always be mindful of the Gospel imperative to maintain unity and communion that is rooted in truth and love.
We are called to be a “holy, catholic and apostolic” church and to affirm the authority of Scripture and the traditional teachings of the Church. Though we recognise the principle of unity in diversity, Scripture should remain our guide in all matters of ethics and decision making. We affirm the autonomous status of each Province. However, decisions taken by individual Provinces should not impair the unity that we enjoy within the Communion. As has become apparent, we ignore Biblical teaching, the Apostolic Faith, and Church practice at our peril, and compromise the cohesion of our communion.
We regret the unilateral decisions that have proved so divisive and have polarised Christians and threatened the future of the Anglican Communion. These decisions have also threatened relationships with other denominations, and the mission and witness of the Church in a world that is already confused in areas of sexuality, morality and theology.
All through the debate on human sexuality the Episcopal Church of Burundi has prayerfully encouraged unity, understanding and dialogue within the household of God. As human beings we are all vulnerable to sin. As Christians we are called to exercise the love of Christ in all our relationships and to pray with love that the Spirit of God will change the sinner who repents. We acknowledge the importance of care and compassion for all members of the Church and the need for a pastoral response to the many within the Church who struggle with issues relating to sexuality, especially those who feel isolated, and fear rejection and loneliness.
The recent African Anglican Bishops' Conference in Nigeria rightly emphasised that there are many issues currently concerning the Church, and especially the Church in Africa. As those called to mission in the world, we need to show a willingness to join together in the work of the Kingdom. We should encourage one another to share the resources that God has entrusted to us, whether they are human, material or financial, for the benefit of all.
Finally, we heed the call to seek reconciliation and healing, and to find ways to walk together in a way that honours the name of Christ whom we seek to serve.
Issued: Bujumbura 3 November 2004
The Most Revd. Samuel NDAYISENGA
Archbishop of Burundi