From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
NEW LEADER ELECTED FOR RWANDAN CHURCH
05 May 1996 07:38:08
95057 NEW LEADER ELECTED FOR RWANDAN CHURCH
by Ecumenical News International
GENEVA--The Presbyterian Church in Rwanda (PCR) has elected a new
president, Andre Karamaga, to replace Michel Twagirayesu, who fled
Rwanda during the genocide of about one million people last year.
Karamaga, the head of the All Africa Council of Churches'
(AACC) theology and interfaith desk, has assumed the post of
president for a two-year "crisis transitional period." He was
elected Feb. 3 at a meeting of 104 PCR leaders in Kigali, the
capital of Rwanda.
Twagirayesu, a member of the central committee of the World
Council of Churches (WCC), now lives at Bukavu, Zaire.
Karamaga faces a difficult task in rebuilding the PCR, which
was decimated by the genocide and civil war. Many of its pastors
and their families were killed, hundreds of members died and
thousands are now refugees. Church buildings, schools and
hospitals were badly damaged.
The carnage in Rwanda began after the country's president was
killed in a suspicious plane crash last April 6. Pro-government
militia began to massacre opponents of the murdered president, most
of them belonging to the minority Tutsi group, but also Hutus
considered disloyal to the president and his political machine.
There have been claims that Twagirayesu was very close to the
former Hutu-dominated regime in Rwanda. However, Jose Chipenda,
AACC general secretary, told ENI: "I have not met any leader of the
calibre of Twagirayesu. He is an outstanding leader."
Karamaga, 47, a Swiss-trained theologian, is "a very sound
leader," according to Chipenda. He served as a pastor in Rwanda
and was then sent by the PCR to Switzerland to study and represent
his church in Geneva's ecumenical circles.
Many of the churches in Rwanda face a major task of rebuilding
after events of the past year.
Sam Isaac, a WCC official, said last year that the churches in
Rwanda had been discredited by aligning themselves far too closely
with the former Hutu-dominated regime. He claimed that in
conversations inside Rwanda, "the point was brought home to us that
the church itself stands tainted, not by passive indifference, but
by errors of commission as well."
Karamaga has met with Twagirayesu and discussed the situation.
"We have both agreed that our first concern is the church. When
one member of the body suffers, all members suffer," Karamaga said.
For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
phone 502-569-5504 fax 502-569-8073
E-mail PCUSA.NEWS@pcusa.org Web page: http://www.pcusa.org
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