meeting an archbishop

monday morning, i had breakfast in destin, florida, with archbishop kolini of rwanda (anglican). in many ways, he was what i expected; which is to mean: he had a presence about him that was dignified, compelling, humble and deeply wise. it was an honor to meet with him and share stories and talk about youth ministry training in rwanda, congo and uganda.

kolina grew up in all three countries, living as a refugee in one after war in another. he started a school as a volunteer living in a refugee camp. he was a priest in uganda during the adi amin years. and, when it became clear that the anglican archbishop of rwanda (who proceeded him) was one of the architects of the genocide 10 years ago, and trust in the church was at an all-time low, he was asked to step into that role. hearing stories like this from the source, in first person, and being able to ask questions, is certainly a privilege.

i had this chance thanks to chris zoephel, the head of youth ministries for amia, the group of anglican churches in the u.s. who also roll up under kolini’s leadership. after kolini being clear that he wants us to come over and provide some youth ministry training, i asked an awkward question: how can you bring youth workers together? how can we make sure something we would do would really be for youth workers, and not just be a large rally for teenagers and young people of all ages? (i asked this question because, in my experience, youth ministry training events in 2nd and 3rd world countries often become large youth events, and it’s difficult to actually focus on youth ministry training.) i was surprised and thrilled to hear that all the anglican churches in these countries have a youth officer appointed, and it would be quite simple (so to speak) to gather a couple thousand actual youth workers. i also asked about extending the possibility beyond the anglican church, and he spoke passionately about inviting all christian churches, and his relationship with the leaders of other denoms that would enable this.

it will be interesting to see where all of this goes.

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3 thoughts on “meeting an archbishop”

  1. I’m very glad to hear that the meeting between you and Archbishop Kolini went well. I am a youth minister at a newly formed AMIA church in Central Florida(Mount Dora), and I’ve heard amazing stories about him and the work that he has done.
    It’s also kind of neat to know that you know Chris Zoephel, I have yet to have the chance to speak with him but since he’s head of YAMIA I guess he’s technically my boss. :-P
    I’ll have to ask Chris when I meet him if there is a chance any AMIA youth ministers could volunteer in this endeavor, if it’s at all possible I would LOVE to be a part of it.

  2. I have worked in Rwanda for the past 10 years and know Archbishop Kolini very well. It is very exciting to get involved with mission and I have taken hundreds of young people on mission trips. As a professional Christian development worker I would urge everyone who wants to work overseas to read widely on sustainable development before they get involved. I see many teams who cause much well intentioned harm and while I applaud anyone who decides to get involved let’s do mission as is proposed here by empowering local people and not creating dependency. Everyone going on Mission should read Christianity Rediscovered by Vincent Donovan.

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