The Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Rev Justin Welby, is expected in the country to officiate at the inauguration of a modern cathedral at Gahini Diocese headquarters, in the Eastern Province, due Saturday.
The new modern cathedral, which includes a touristic spiritual heritage centre, will boost the prominence of the already celebrated diocese—traditionally known as the “birthplace of Anglican Church in Great Lakes region.”
According to a statement from the Secretariat of the Province of the Anglican church of Rwanda, Archbishop Welby’s official visit to Rwanda will run from February 18 to 21.
Rev. Manasseh Gahima, the diocesan secretary, told The New Times yesterday that the Archbishop of Canterbury will land at Kigali International Airport on Saturday and head to Gahini, where he is expected to lay a foundation stone at the East African Revival Heritage Centre at Gahini historical hill.
“In his last visit to Rwanda, the Archbishop of Canterbury was asked by the Archbishop of Rwanda to come back. We have since been waiting on him. For us in Gahini, it is very significant, because it is coinciding with the launch of the new cathedral and different infrastructure in Gahini and, of course, that big programme of spiritual tourism. We want to use this occasion for him to be the first to see those sites and inaugurate them – setting the ball rolling for other tourists,” Gahima said.
Gahini is considered as origin of Pentecostal movement in the region, and has produced missionaries that moved to many parts of the world.
Rwanda Anglican Mission movement established its first station at Gahini hill in 1925 and grew through the revival of the 1930s and 1940s, spreading across the globe.
Church history has it that the Holy Spirit manifested on the hill of Gahini in 1936, and the historical spiritual movement started then spreading through Uganda, DR Congo, Burundi, Kenya through to Australia.
“We have sites that are historical in terms of the powers of the Holy Spirit. We are glad that the Archbishop of Canterbury is coming at such a particular time when we have big programmes coming up,” Gahima added.
Archbishop Welby has been to Rwanda on two occasions in the recent past since he assumed office, but en route to other countries, according to Gahima.
He said this time round he will be on official visit and will stay for four days—taking part in several events, including joining Rwandan Christians for Sunday worship service at Kibagabaga Parish.”
Archbishop Welby will also visit Kigali Anglican Theological College where he is expected to speak to the administration, staff and students.
Gahima noted that many people “from all over the world” have been visiting Gahini in the recent past, especially in the month of June when the church organises annual spiritual conventions.
“Developing this site into a tourism destination is to allow people learn about the historical facts about this place and see for themselves some of the sites they have only read about in history books,” Gahima added.
A fully furnished Gahini Cathedral construction and other structures around it are budgeted to cost Rwf2 billion.
The New Times understands that the cathedral has a seating capacity of at least 2,000 people.
About Spiritual Heritage Centre
The East African Revival Heritage Centre is located on Gahini hill, which is the first established Mission Center of the Anglican Church of Rwanda.
The centre has several sites of great importance in the life and history of the East African Revival.
The sites include the Wall of Miracles, the Fellowship House on which the foundation stone will be laid, the Covenant House, the new cathedral under construction, and the office block.