Bujumbura Christian University
Three years ago Bishop Eraste, bishop of Bujumbura, decided to use the old cathedral as a university. This is a refreshingly ancient and modern vision. There is a beautiful new cathedral dedicated to The Holy Trinity in the same grounds, open for public use all day long. The old cathedral lent itself, with some adaptation, to becoming Bujumbura Christian University.
There are currently 41 students studying for the ordained ministry, the first cohort. The university has plans to open up new faculties including Communication, Hotel, Tourism and Environment studies ‘the better to equip people for Christian ministry for the benefit of the Church and for all in the community.’ (BCU Mission Statement).
The Province of Burundi has a masterplan to reconfigure the network of theological colleges and Bible schools across the country to enable the University to prepare people for service and leadership as catechists and clergy across the Church and the society.
Yesterday morning (Thursday), Paddy and I began the process of getting to know the students and gaining their trust. After introducing ourselves, we began by hearing the range of voices from across the dioceses. They began by sharing their anxieties for society and for Church and we shared some of ours for society and Church in Ireland.
Paddy gave a comprehensive overview lecture on missiology and this sparked lively discussion about the God of mission having a Church and the Church having a God of mission. There was a most interesting discussion of the inter-relation of evangelisation, missiology and ecclesiology.
The students gave a particularly powerful account of how the Church of Burundi is already a place of missional celebration. This presentation included many of the things that we witnessed when we visited Makamba and Matana Dioceses.
The Five Marks of Mission
I explained how the Diocese of Dublin and Glendalough has spearheaded The Five Marks through a diocese-wide discipleship programme entitled Come&C - how it had simplified the language of The Five Marks to: Tell, Teach, Tend, Transform, Treasure.
We finished our first day by underscoring the centrality of the Trinitarian God in every expression of mission and the pivotal importance of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in the same understanding. This led into a fascinating preliminary discussion of the relationship of Christianity with Other World Faiths.
Liturgical resources and interfaith explorations
On Friday, we decided to build on the work of Thursday in encouraging and enabling the students to develop from their own strengths and spirituality a template of liturgical resources around The Five Marks. This template includes for each Mark: relevant readings from The Old Testament, the Epistles, the Gospels together with focal points of intercession and music. These resources would be applicable to a celebration of Holy Communion, to Morning Prayer or to freer worship forms (akin to a Service of The Word) across the Church of Burundi.
At numerous points in our discussions on Thursday, aspects of Inter Faith encounter and the dilaogue of life came to the surface. We concluded the time of teaching and learning by setting out the three established positions on Inter Faith encounter and by facilitating a broad-ranging discussion of some key questions about the emergence of Islam in Burundi.
At the end of our six sessions of teaching and learning, we returned to the anxieties the students had expressed right at the beginning and reviewed them in the light of our honest and open interchanges over the two days.
Archbishop Michael Jackson and Revd Paddy McGlinchey are participating in a CMSI Partner Visit to Burundi with our Mission Director, Jenny Smyth.
You can read their other blog posts here.