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Service at Matana diocese
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Helicopter departure from Matana
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Arriving at the MU Literacy Circle at Gatumba
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Archbishop of Canterbury Pays Historic Visit to Burundi
EAB PRESS 050726-1
July 26, 2005

Visit To Burundi of the Most Rev. and Rt. Hon. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Mrs Jane Williams – 16-20 July 2005

[EAB Press - Burundi] The lively and colourful reception at the airport marked the start of four days of activities, meetings, press conferences, and receptions in honour of Dr. Rowan William’s visit to Burundi. It also marked the first visit of an Archbishop of Canterbury to the Province of the Anglican Church of Burundi.

In his sermon at the enthronement of Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi as the third Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Burundi, the Archbishop of Canterbury challenged the Church to be those supported by Christ alone who are called to bear up the needs, burdens, and suffering of the world to their Father. He said, “May God grant that everyone will see Christ in the depths of your hearts and know that there is hope for the world.” He encouraged the congregation of several thousand to help the nation to be transformed and led towards God's peace and justice.

There was an opportunity for the Archbishop of Canterbury to visit some of the most ravaged parts of the capital and to catch a glimpse of the devastation caused by the long years of war. He met with university students at the University of Burundi and challenged them to understand the role of a university not solely as a place of professional training but as a place that functions at a spiritual level, imparting some of the deepest values, affirming relationships, and encouraging an enlarged vision of the world.

Mrs. Jane Williams met members of Mothers’ Union and visited a literacy circle and a hospital. She spoke of the role of women as peace builders and reconcilers and affirmed that the MU projects were playing a vital part in the process of peace-making. She said, “The Gospel asks you to put away feelings of fear, anger, and revenge, and replace them with the strong virtues of kindness, love, and care for each other.”

A visit to the diocese of Matana, provided a different perspective on life in Burundi and the work of the Church through Church schools, medical care, and theological and Bible training. During an act of worship a large congregation was encouraged to live in the light of the hope of the Gospel. Dr. Williams spoke of the work of the Holy Spirit driving away fear and replacing it with freedom that enables people to face one another, see others as they really are, and offer to others love and forgiveness. He challenged the Church to work together for peace and prosperity as Burundi moves forward into a new future.

The arrival of a UN helicopter to take the official party back to Bujumbura will long be remembered by thousands of children who gathered to watch.

Receptions were hosted by the government, the British Ambassador from Kigali, Rwanda, the Apostolic Nuncio, and His Excellency, Domitien Ndayizeye, President of the Republic.

The Archbishop also met with the Archbishop and Bishops of the Anglican Church of Burundi in order to hear their concerns and hopes for the Province as a whole and for their individual dioceses and ministries.

A highly professional, varied, and exciting cultural evening brought the official programme to a close. As the beat of drums stilled and the whirling of the agasimbo dancers ceased, and the departing flight disappeared from view, it was time to reflect on what had proved to be a successful and historic visit.