World Anglican leaders are expected to meet in Rwanda during Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), a movement which describes itself as “a global family of authentic Anglicans standing together to retain and restore the Bible to the heart of the Anglican Communion.” It is associated with some 85 million Christians in the worldwide Anglican Communion spread across 40 regional churches, known as Provinces. The New Times’ Alice Kagina had a chat with Most Rev. Dr. Laurent Mbanda, Archbishop and Primate of Anglican Church of Rwanda, on the preparedness of the conference and the work of the Anglican church in serving Rwandans. Below are the excerpts. You have been in office for more than 5 years, following an extension, how has been your experience throughout all these years at the helm of the Anglican church? After several years working in non-profit organizations in different countries, I came back to Rwanda working with Compassion as Africa Vice President. It was in 2010 that I was approached to consider serving the church full-time and I became a bishop of Shyira Diocese. I eventually became an Archbishop and June of this year will mark five years serving in that position. Those years were exciting, challenging, and rewarding but also involved personal growth. I thought that what I had learnt in my previous employment would serve me as an Archbishop but I had to de-learn and learn new approaches by trusting God more because of the size and demands of these responsibilities. In my Archbishop charge, I took on five pillars of evangelism and discipleship, equipping leadership, early childhood development, financial literacy and accountability, and sustainability. So with many ongoing projects, the House of Bishops met and decided to extend my term to 2026 so that I can finish what I started. The Anglican church is involved in many projects in the country. What results have they yielded? We established East African Christian College in 2021 in Masaka Sector, and today we have 800 students and as a result of our evangelism and discipleship program, we are seeing more people coming to church, for instance, when I joined Gasabo Diocese, we had 2,900 members and we have increased to over 6000 members. That is the same for many dioceses across the country. Today, the Anglican church of Rwanda celebrates more than 600 ECDs and we have also introduced a tool for financial management for accountability purposes in our dioceses. For sustainability, we have developed income-generating projects for the church including commercial buildings and apartments in Kibagabaga and Remera to finance our different programs and other projects as well. All our dioceses are concerned with sustainability and are doing something about it. Where does the Anglican church stand in terms of educating clergymen with theology degrees following the govt measure to close some churches because of lack of certification in the recent past? When we built the university, the idea was to intervene in that sense. First of all, we require that all Anglican pastors have to finish high schools and theological education in order to be ordained, unfortunately, many who were serving didn’t have that theological education. Now that we have the university, we are offering degrees in theology and biblical studies, as well as post-graduate diplomas. We are setting up at all levels to train our clergy to meet the government’s standards and this is open for other churches as well. Rwanda will host GAFCON, tell us more about the meeting? The Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) is a movement geared towards keeping the Bible at the center of church and ministry, and proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ to the world. It started in 2008 and takes place every five years. The whole idea is to provide a platform for confessing Anglicans to fellowship and inspire each other, to be challenged to retain and restore the Bible to the heart of the Anglican Communion. Our conference is themed “To whom shall we go” because there are all kinds of teachings all around us and we say, “we will go to Jesus” because he reconciles us with God. “We will go to the church” for the fellowship of believers, and finally “we will go to the world” and take the gospel of Jesus to people. We will host 1,400 registered participants from 55 countries and it is exciting for the church of Rwanda that we are also contributing to the MICE (Meeting, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions). What role does the church have to play in the development of the country? I think the church is the moral compass of society. It has an opportunity to serve in building a whole person, be it spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, and socioeconomic wellbeing. The question is how do we preach the gospel from a transformational approach. As a church of Rwanda we need to be part of the transformation that is happening. We need to be holistic in our ministry approach and delivery. There shouldn’t be stunted children in this country when we have the mothers’ union in the Anglican church, when we have women and men that attend to the needs of their children. The church needs to get into home-grown solutions to pull people from this vicious cycle of poverty. I believe it is all about the change of mindsets and the scripture speaks to it beautifully in 2 Corinthians 5:17.