THEME: “SPIRITUAL MATURITY” Hebrews 5: 11- 6 : 1- 2(NIV)
THE 5th SESSION OF BURUNDI ANNUAL CONFERENCE
VENUE: ECOLE PARAMEDICALE DE GITEGA, GITEGA PROVINCE.
JULY 20th – 23rd 2022
OFFICIATING RESIDENT BISHOP: Daniel WANDABULA.
Bishop Daniel Wandabula, resident bishop.
The Rt. Rev. Hon. Dr. Emmanuel SINZOHAGERA, the Legal Representative.
The Rev. Lazare BANKURUNAZE , Bishops Assistant and the deputy legal representative.
The Rev. Ladislas NIYIRAGIRA, Conference Secretary.
The 2022 and 5th Burundi Annual Conference session held at Ecole Paramedicale de Gitega in GITEGA province from July 20-23, was preceded by the cabinet meeting chaired by resident Bishop Daniel WANDABULA of East Africa Episcopal Area of the United Methodist Church. The leaders of the church attended were also Speaker of the Senate and Legal Representative of the United Methodist Church, Burundi Annual Conference, the Rt. Hon. Rev. Dr. Emmanuel SINZOHAGERA, the deputy legal representive Rev. Lazare BANKURUNAZE and all thirteen district superintendents.
The resident Bishop Daniel WANDABULA opened the 5th session by a word of prayer and a sermon was given by the Rt. Hon. Rev. Dr. Emmanuel SINZOHAGERA, the legal representative of the United Methodist Church, Burundi Annual Conference. The reverend insisted on the theme “SPIRITUAL MATURITY” from Hebrews 5: 11- 6: 1-2 (Niv). He gave different advice and wanted the church in Burundi to grow spiritually and not be bound by false spirits. There were also special offerings to support orphan students at the Burundi Annual Conference.
Day two was opened with prayer by resident bishop. The delegates were divided into two groups of laity and clergy to facilitate the consultation. The laity were with the Rt. Hon. Rev. Dr. Emmanuel SINZOHAGERA, the Speaker of the Senate of Burundi and the legal representative and the main subject was “the role of laity in the church”. On the other side, the clergy were with resident bishop Daniel WANDABULA assisted by deputy legal representative Rev. Lazare BANKURUNAZE and chairperson of Board of Ministerial committee Rev. Claude NTAKARUTIMANA.
During the plenary session the host superintendent Rev. Lazare BANKURUNAZE gave a warm welcome to all delegates and the legal representative the Rt. Honorable Rev. Dr. Emmanuel SINZOHAGERA gave recognition of guests present and officially welcomed the resident bishop Bishop Daniel Wandabula of East Africa Episcopal Area in Burundi
BISHOP’S WELCOME REMARKS AND SITUATION OF THE CHURCH.
He said that it gave him a great honor every time he comes to Burundi for Episcopal duties and in particular to attend meetings and conferences like annual conference session. He took that opportunity to welcome all delegates to the 5th session of Burundi Annual Conference. He thanked the conference organizing committee headed by the legal representative, the Bishop’s assistant and the conference secretary who tirelessly made it possible to hold 2022 Annual Conference on time and in such short time after September, 2021 Burundi Annual Conference session. He thanked the great leadership and teamwork which have exhibited in the leadership of Burundi Annual Conference. “For a long time since you assumed leadership at the helm of the United Methodist Church in Burundi, I have not heard any major struggles or conflict in the church like it was before”. He said.
The resident bishop said that it was a sign of maturity, good leadership and integrity that Burundi leaders have exhibited together with all the leaders of the Annual conference. The recent visitation of His Excellence the president of the Republic of Burundi was a define sign that the conference was moving on to both physical and Spiritual maturity in the UMC.
The bishop said that the selection of this year’s theme “SPIRITUAL MATURITY FROM HEBREWS 5: 11 AND HEBREWS 6: 1-2” was very spot on and timely. “We can only deal with our fears and timidity when we become mature spiritually, socially and physically”. He added.
Bishop Daniel Wandabula expressed condolences to all those who had lost their loved. He reminded the delegates the work and service of late Mama Minani and her husband Rev. Joel Minani remained in UMC , Burundi and took care of the Administration of the church and property during the time of insurgency when Bishop Alfred NDORICIMPA was forced to exile.
CONFERENCE THEME OF THE YEAR:
The resident bishop said that the mature believers should try to build on the foundation in order to lead others to maturity too. Insisted that maturity does not come on its own naturally, Christians have to work on it in order to become spiritually mature. He reminded the delegates that spiritual maturity come not from numerical age but from practice of fruits of Spirit such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control as well as the gifts of the spirit like prophecy, wisdom , knowledge , understanding, faith, speaking in tongues , interpretation of tongues, healing , miraculous signs and discernment. He called upon all the UMC in Burundi Annual Conference to strive towards maturity in Christ Jesus.
Bishop Daniel WANDABULA also talked about the situation of the church where he thanked once gain the church leadership and church development committee for the great planning and construction of modern church buildings in the various parishes as well as the other programs related to agriculture and animal rearing and compassion ministry. « A good example is a recent visitation l made at the promises of NYABUGOGO parish where the church and the local community have succeeded in building a good secondary school that is going to be opened soon this year. The church has also been able to build the UMC GITEGA GUEST HOUSE, Bishop Alfred Jean NDORICIMPA hospital, churches and other buildings just to mention the few ». He said
Bishop also briefed about the general situation of the church worldwide and took that opportunity to inform the delegates that between 26 and 30 September, 2022 there will be a meeting prepared by the GBGM which will take place in America and four delegates from Burundi Annual Conference will attend the event. The Bishop concluded by calling upon all church members to continue in service of Jesus Christ and the UMC.
Thereafter the conference secretary submitted daily proceedings which were approved by the delegates. In a three day session business, four reports from different boards were submitted by their chairpersons and among them were Board on ordained ministries , Board of pensions , Board of Health , Committee on Education, Board of trustees, Committee on Finance and Administration , committee on statistics and conference secretary and all reports were approved after some recommendations from the delegates.
However, after the report of Board of pensions which were submitted by conference benefit Officer Madame Marie Therese NIJIMBERE, it was observed that more than 40 pastors could not regularly contribute their parts and thus be in danger of losing their membership. The legal Representative , the Rt. Hon. Rev. Dr. Emmanuel SINZOHAGERA when discovered the existence of the problem, he voluntarily agreed to pay them half of their debts and asked them to have already paid those debts within three months.
2024 GENERAL CONFERENCE DELEGATES REPLACEMENT.
Six elders in the church were appointed during the last Executive Committee intended to consult and listen to Rev. Jean NTAHOTURI and Zephirin NDIKUMANA who were already under disciplinary monitoring due to disobedience committed during the special session in April 2021. Unfortunately, they could not show up even though they had received the invitation. After discussing the behavior of these two people and observed their perversion of Christianity, the session voted to keep them under disciplinary supervision.
It is in this respect , the plenary session used the principle of clergy and laity alternative to fulfil the gap of insubordinate members of the 2024 General Conference by removing Reverend Jean NTAHOTURI and be replaced by Reverend Jeremie NIYONKURU while Zephirin NDIKUMANA was replaced by Madame Pacis Alarine IRAMBONA .
BURUNDI ANNUAL CONFERENCE’S REQUEST TO THE JUDICIAL COUNCIL :
It was an interactive session where delegates had the opportunity to ask questions to the bishop about the ongoing issues in the church globally.
Some of the questions that came up were why the USA Jurisdictions have been granted the permission by the Judicial Council to replace the retired bishops and their request was answered favorably and the reason why the same declaratory decision is not applicable to Africa Central conferences. Delegates came back to the 2016 General Conference decision of adding five more bishops in Africa. And according to the works of the Standing Committee that was put in place, Burundi Annual Conference was among the five annual conferences recommended for becoming an episcopal area. And according to paragraph 2610.2(j), delegates to the annual conference has the right to ask for a declaratory decision from the Judicial Council on the matters and also to send a request to ask if the General Conference is postponed once again in 2024, the Burundi annual conference can be granted an episcopal area. Giving answers to these questions, the bishop set up a commission to go and draft the petition to be sent to the Judicial Council.
The commission set by the bishop moved a motion on the floor of the Annual Conference session which was addressed to judicial commission on clarification of the questions asked to the bishop. That through this 5th session Burundi Annual Conference requests a declaratory decision from the Judicial Council under ¶ 2610.2j to answer the following questions:
- Does Judicial Council Decision 1446, which stipulates January 1, 2023, as the retirement date for “bishops whose sixty-eighth birthday has been reached on or before July 1, 2020,” apply to the central conferences?
- Under ¶ 408.1b and Judicial Council Decision 1446, given that General Conference did not meet in 2020 and has been postponed until 2024, must a bishop who reached the sixty-eighth birthday on or before the date upon which the central conference would have been held in 2020-21 be retired before 2024?
- Must the central conference colleges of bishops schedule a central conference meeting in 2022 in order to replace those bishops retiring under this provision?
- Pursuant to question 3 above, should General Conference 2024 be postponed again, must Burundi be given the go ahead to become an Episcopal Area and elected a Bishop as was passed at General Conference 2016 under the five new Bishop for Africa question?
The petition was presented by Dr Pacis-Alarine IRAMBONA and after that, the 660 delegates endorsed it by 99.7% of the 5th session of the Burundi Annual Conference.
CHURCH STATISTICS IN BRIEF:
Commissioned: 305 pastors were commissioned in different parishes; 22 laypeople were commissioned in different departments; and 11 district superintendents.
Number of people retired: 15 pastors. There were no laypeople retired this year.
Membership stands at 258727 in 2022, up from 256216 the previous year.
Number of Sunday school classes stands at 5000 in 2022, up from 481 the previous year.
Thé ordained pastors stands at 150 down from 245in 2021.
There are 11 district superintendents, down from 13 in previous year.
The resident Bishop Daniel WANDABULA after appointment and disciplinary questions, he closed the session by prayer.
- Following the report of the Conference secretary, the delegates approved that the church members in illegal marriage and polygamy will no longer have responsibilities in the church.
- The delegates voteda declaratory decision to be sent to the Judicial Council to ask if the general conference is postponed once again in 2024, the Burundi annual conference can be granted an episcopal area.
- The Ministry of Christian Education was given by the conference a task of implementation a teaching booklet that will serve a guide in all schools of our Church.
- The members of the Annual Conference decided that the pastor should receive a monthly salary not less than 100.000 BIF from the parish treasure where he is appointed.
- All delegates agreed that each church member has to contribute to the Annual Conference as follows:
- Farmers: 2 000 BIF
- State officials: 5 000 BIF
- Business men: 10,000 BIF
- Pastors: 10,000 BIF
- The delegates approved that The Annual Conference should always give apportionments at the level of Central Conference and has to hire an administration and management staff to do financial follow up
- It is recommended to the Ngozi and Kinyinya districts to start their projects of building Health Facilities
- The Conference approved the district of Cibitoke to be annexed to Bujumbura District and the district of Muyinga to be annexed to Cankuzo District. Then, the Burundi Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church has only 11districts which are:
- The District of Bujumbura
- The District of Cankuzo
- The District of Giharo
- The District of Gisuru
- The District of Gitega
- The District of Kayero
- The District of Kinyinya
- The District of Makamba
- The District of Murehe
- The District of Ngozi
- The District of Ruyigi Centre
- Those are new parish recognized:
In Bujumbura District: Gisarwa
In Giharo District:
In Kinyinya District:
In Murehe District: