THE Archbishop of Canterbury said on Saturday that he was “overwhelmed” by the growth of the Anglican diocese of Gahini, in Rwanda, which he compared with a declining Church of England. Archbishop Welby visited several East African countries, last week.
The village of Gahini is at the centre of one of nine dioceses of the Anglican Church of Rwanda, and one of four Rwandan sites on which the Church Missionary Society (CMS) established hospitals and schools in the 1920s. Its mission was renewed in 1936, and triggered the spread of Anglicanism — known as the East African revival — to Uganda, the DRC, Burundi, and Kenya, and through Australia.
Archbishop Welby visited the Fellowship House, a grass-thatched church where the Holy Spirit is believed to have manifested the revival, and where he was charged with laying the foundation stone of the East African Revival Heritage Centre.
“As the revival was a foundation for life in Christ, this will be the foundation for a building that brings people to Christ,” he said, on unveiling the stone. “Holy Spirit of God come upon all people who come here, that they may find life and holiness and truth.”
A new cathedral, the Covenant House, an office block, and a “Wall of Miracles” are under construction to complete the Centre, which is to become a place of pilgrimage. “I am overwhelmed”, Archbishop Welby said on Saturday, “because there is so much development happening here. It is the development of the spirit [in the cathedral], of the body and of the mind [in the hospital, rehabilitation centre, and school]: it is the development of the whole human being.
“[Gahini] is the most beautiful place, and it rests on top of the hill where the East African Revival began, and which was the development of the Church. It means it is a place which showed the reality of God in the life of the Anglican Church. . . It was a place of inspiration and of illumination of the spirit. It will be a place of pilgrimage more than tourism.”
Preaching at the Rwanda University Youth Convention in Kigali, the Archbishop said: “The East African Revival spread not only through East Africa, but into the whole of the Anglican Communion; and many of our bishops, including myself, found that we were brought to Christ and inspired by the outflow of the East African Revival. So thank you.”
The diocese of Gahini has more than 60 parishes and 280 sub-parishes with more than 100,000 members. Archbishop Welby also asked the community to pray for Christians in the UK, and for the Church of England as it faces decline, the Rwandan newspaper The New Times reported.