Manasseh Gahima is the new bishop of Gahini Anglican Diocese, following his enthronement on Sunday to replace long serving Bishop Alexis Bilindabagabo.
Bilindabagabo had led the diocese since its creation 22 years ago.
Gahima, 49, was consecrated bishop on May 28, 2017 in Kayonza District and has since been serving as Bilindabagabo’s assistant.
He took over the reigns at the historically renowned diocese on Sunday in a ceremony attended by national leaders, including cabinet ministers, senators and heads of different parastatals, among others.
The event, which was presided over by Archbishop Laurent Mbanda, attracted thousands of Christians including senior leaders of the Anglican community in Rwanda, and clerics from East African countries, Australia, and USA, among others.
“Now that we have turned a new chapter, we expect renewed effort to continue advancing the diocese under new leadership,” Mbanda said, congratulating Bilindabagabo, whose shoes he said would be difficult to fill.
The new bishop hugs Senator Tito Rutaremara. / Jean de Dieu Nsabimana
He, however, urged the new prelate to make use of his experience serving in the same diocese, saying that the congregation and, generally, the people in the jurisdiction of the diocese looked up to him.
“We are not required to be completely the same as the ones we replace,” Mbanda said, adding that everyone has their style of leadership but the result is what counts.
At a personal level, he said he knows the new bishop as a person who delivers.
“Be strong and courageous, count on God to lead your way, remember that God already promised that He is with you,” he said, making reference to biblical story of Joshua, who was replacing Moses, on the role of leading Israelis back to the Promised Land.
He said Gahima should use the values of Joshua such as bravery, integrity, and following God’s guidance to get His flock to the Promised Land.
Gahima kneels before Archbishop Laurent Mbanda before receiving the crosier at Gahini Diocese yesterday. Jean de Dieu Nsabimana
In his speech, Gahima said that he is always humbled whenever called upon to serve the Lord.
“I always take time to reflect if really I act as a servant of God and every time I reflect, it sort of renews my commitment and determination to deliver for the people I am entrusted to lead on behalf of God,” he said.
The incoming bishop announced that he will maintain a programme dubbed “Tubashake”, established by his predecessor, as an outreach programme where the clergy go to the community instead of the members of community coming to them.
Bilindabagabo, reading a declaration that he officially handed the chair of the diocese. / Jean de Dieu Nsabimana
Gahima also promised to sustain efforts to champion development in the region, saying that spiritual growth should go in tandem with general development of families, community and the nation at large.
“We will encourage our Christians to participate in different government programmes like Umuganda, Umugoroba w’Ababyeyi and mediators’ committees (Abunzi) to promote Rwandan values and national development,” he said.
The Minister for Local Government, Prof. Anastase Shyaka, appreciated the continued partnership between religious organisations and government in the development of the population.
Local Government Minister, Prof. Anastase Shyaka. / Jean de Dieu Nsabimana
He particularly thanked the Anglican Church for their role in the development of sectors like education and health.
“We appreciate that in these 25 years after the Genocide against the Tutsi, the Anglican Church has been a dependable partner in rebuilding and transforming our country.
“On behalf of President Paul Kagame, I want to commend Bishop Bilindabagabo for successfully discharging his responsibilities in the last 22 years as leader of Gahini Diocese,” he said.
Who is Gahima?
Manasseh Gahima was born on December 19, 1970. He is married to Rose Gahima with whom they have eight children.
From 1995 to 1997, he was the deputy headmaster in charge of Anglophone studies at Lycée de Kigali.
In 1997, he became bourgmestre of former Karangazi Commune, which is part of today’s Nyagatare District, and from 2004 to 2005, he became the bourgmestre of former Gabiro Commune.
Subsequently, Gahima dedicated himself to Anglican Church. He now has a doctorate in theological studies.
About the Diocese
One of the 11 dioceses of the Anglican Church in Rwanda, Gahini Diocese sits on Gahini hill and has 59 parishes and 280 sub-parishes.
It serves an estimated 100,000 Christians in the districts of Nyagatare, Gatsibo and Kayonza in Eastern Province.
It is in Gahini, that in 1926, Reverend Halord Guillebaud baptised the first converts in Rwanda and started translating Christian literature in Kinyarwanda.
Gahini hill was declared a Regional Revival Heritage Centre in February 2017. The centre is undergoing redevelopment.
The Rwanda Anglican Mission movement established its first station at Gahini in 1925 and grew through the revivals of the 1930s and 1940s, spreading across the globe.