Mennonites strengthen relations with Congolese churches

By staff writers
February 9, 2007

Against the backdrop of a country still transitioning from civil war to an elected presidential system of rule, Christians representing two of the Democratic Republic of Congo‚Äôs Mennonite conferences, Communaut?© Evang?©lique Mennonite (CEM) and Communaut?© Mennonite au Congo (CMCO), have welcomed delegates from Mennonite Church USA in a relationships building exercise.

Mennonites are among the historic peace churches, with a global reputation for promoting reconciliation and social justice in the name of the Gospel, often in fragile and fractured situations.

Two Congolese Mennonites spent time in the United States following the Mennonite World Conference gathering in Pasadena, California, in March 2006 – while several others were denied entry visas to the USA.

“We hope that your presence among us will help us redefine what it means to be together and to help each other become better churches,” Alphonse Tshiala, a CEM pastor of a congregation in Kinshasa, told his American visitors via a translator.

While in Kinshasa, delegates split into four groups to visit different Mennonite congregations in the city. They met with local educators, students and a group of women theologians from CMCO, CEM and the Congolese Mennonite Brethren church.

The current political situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo is described by commentators as slightly ambiguous. The country is presently living between two constitutions which establish different political institutions at the various levels of all branches of government, in addition to different administrative divisions within the country.

Mennonite Church USA has given priority to developing relations with Congo as part of its commitment to global Christian mission and awareness.

Churches sent observers to the recent elections, and have been involved in practical programmes to encourage peaceful development and social cooperation.

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