Church in Burundi must heal hurts from past - Archbishop

Clergymen from the Anglican Church of Burundi gathered last week to consider the role of the church in building and consolidating peace in the country.

The Archbishop of Burundi the Rt Rev Bernard Ntahoturi met with other bishops of Burundi and with over one hundred pastors from all the Anglican dioceses in the country.

The meeting was part of a continued project to increase the capacity of 250 pastors and 250 lay people in a period of two years.

According to the Anglican Communion News Service (ACNS), in his opening speech the Archbishop told the attendants that they had come together as one united Church with the mission to be peacemakers so that God could be honoured in the Church and so that Burundi could experience healing and reconciliation.

The meeting featured a series of Bible studies given by Rev Canon Dr John Senyonyi, Deputy Vice Chancellor of Uganda Christian University. During the Bible studies he talked about the love of God shown at the cross as the foundation for peace and justice, along with Christian unity, truth and forgiveness.

Rev Canon Senyonyi challenged the attendants to allow the gospel to transform them so that they could be peacemakers and ambassadors of reconciliation individually and corporately, according to the Anglican Communion News Service.

During the gathering, the traditional values of the local culture were considered along with Christian values, good governance, truth and justice for reconciliation and the role of civil society in consolidating peace.

Many of Burundi's religious leaders and pastors were killed during the ethnic conflicts between Hutus and Tutsis which only ended after a ceasefire was announced in 2003.

The meeting noted that both the Church and the country had been deeply wounded by the conflicts and loss that have taken place in the country. At the meeting they spoke of the need to help traumatised lives find healing and peace and to reconcile divided communities.

The meeting spoke of the need to show love and Christian values to a generation of children and young people who had grown up in an environment of war and violence.

The Church, they said is an important player in addressing the wrongs of the past and for encouraging a sustainable peace and good governance, reports the ACNS. In addition to this they concluded that the Church should bring God's love and healing to wounded lives, uphold truth and justice and work to reconcile people.