For four days last June, the Bishops of three dioceses in the Eastern Democratic Republic met with The Anglican Mission’s Rector of the College of Consultors, Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini, and the Canon for Ecclesiastical Affairs, the Rev. Kevin Donlon, to discuss future mission partnerships.
Though diverse, the group shared vital interests. In April, The Mission received a letter from the Primate of the l’Église Anglicane du Congo stating that all three dioceses accomplish mission partnerships on a diocesan basis, not a provincial one—the same principle The Mission uses for its Concordats. On that common ground, Bishop Mugenyi William Bahemuka of the Diocese of Boga, a member of the College of Consultors and a Mission Partner, invited Archbishop Kolini; Bishop Bahati Bali-Busane of Bukavu Diocese; Bishop Zacharie Masimango Katanda of Kindu Diocese; and Canon Donlon to Gisenyi, Rwanda, to be part of a conversation furthering mission partnerships.
During that conversation, a central topic was The Apolo II Initiative, a plan established in 2013 by The Mission and the Diocese of Boga for much-needed leadership training and development in the Dioceses of Boga and Kibondo.
“One of the gifts The Mission can offer to meet this need is the training of lay and clergy leaders in a number of areas, from healing ministry to parish leadership,” explains Canon Donlon.
He and Bishop William chose the name “Apolo” to honor a 19th century Anglican evangelist named Apolo who helped evangelize East Africa. This Ugandan missionary is considered the principal pioneer of the Anglican Church in the Belgian Congo (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo).
“While seeds of faith have been sown in East Africa, both The Mission and the Diocese of Boga believe it is time to nurture and grow those seeds of faith into a strong witness,” Canon Donlon says.
The proposed Apolo II initiative encompasses a multifaceted approach for a two-week training, with a core set of topics including discipleship, prayer, healing, servant leadership and visioning. A number of Mission clergy have expressed willingness to go and be part of the training to empower people from the partner dioceses in Africa to be trained for formation and evangelism.
At the 2014 meeting of the bishops, Bishops Bahati and Masimango responded enthusiastically to the Apolo II model, agreeing to work in partnership with The Mission. They discussed the various levels of partnership and took back material to share with their Diocesan Synods.
Meeting topics also included the nature of Concordats and Mission Partners, as some misinformation about The Mission has circulated in East Africa. The bishops welcomed the clarity that Archbishop Kolini and Canon Donlon were able to offer.
Following the meeting, Canon Donlon followed up with the bishops of Congo and anticipates more developments in the dialogue will come about this fall.
“Any clergy or laity gifted to do training in the areas of spiritual formation, parish leadership or discipleship, please contact me to learn more about this mutual ministry,” he says.