[Anglican Communion News Service] Though church growth in Congo Brazzaville has been relatively slow over the past few years, the area now has 4 parishes, 11 sub-parishes, 7 priests, 1 deacon, 13 evangelists and a total of more than 1000 Anglicans.
The Anglican Church was first introduced in Congo Brazzaville in 1997 by the Ven. Raymond Banzouzi who was sent by the Diocese of Kinshasa in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo to “establish the church in that part of the world and spread the gospel to the west of the country and beyond.”
With a total area of about 342, 000 square kilometers, the Republic of Congo would prove to be hard to penetrate especially in the southern parts where Anglicanism had not even been heard off. But through their determination and resilience, the men sent by the Diocese of Kinshasa, one of the nine dioceses of the Anglican Province of Congo, were able to sow the first seeds of Anglicanism in the area.
The men built on the vision of an ardent evangelist from Uganda who introduced the Anglican Church in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Canon Apolo Kivebulaya, that the Anglican Church “reaches all parts of the country from east to west and beyond the country.”
Currently, Congo Brazzaville is under the leadership of the Diocese of Kinshasa and last December its Diocesan Committee, under the presidency of Archbishop Isingoma Kawa, appointed the Rt. Rev. Molanga Botola as missionary bishop to Congo Brazzaville with the main mission of “preparing a new diocese of Congo Brazzaville.”
Botola emphasizes: “It is for this reason that the church here has put evangelization as a top priority. In fact it is the priority of priorities. The department of evangelisation organizes massive campaigns of evangelisation throughout all the parishes. Earlier this year we had a huge evangelisation campaign for deliverance in Kintele village situated about 45 kilometers from Brazzaville-City.”
He added, “The results were positive because many people decided to come to Jesus Christ that day. Our vision is to create a community of engaged Christians to follow and to serve Jesus Christ.”
The Church in Congo Brazzaville has the challenge of inadequate land on which to build more churches as well as start new developmental projects to benefit the community. “We also have the priority of purchasing plots for the church throughout the country for projects,” he said. “We want to have a self-reliant community with the objective of fighting against poverty among our people.”
Any new undertaking requires trained personnel to carry out various tasks. Therefore, the Church in Congo Brazzaville is also concentrating on training clergy and lay people through various seminars and workshops.
“Currently, we have conducted training on the preaching of the Gospel organized by Langham Preaching,” said the missionary bishop. “At the end of 2013, we held a seminar on the leadership in the church, which is in line with our mission of contributing to the growth of the church here so that it can one day become a diocese.”
For a relatively young church such as the one in Congo Brazzaville, the contribution of youth to its growth is important. The church there has a specific department to deal with youth and Sunday school children.
“Our plan is to make steadfast the faith of young people and children in spiritual engagement in order to contribute to the challenge of the salvation of souls in Jesus Christ,” said Botola. “Young people also need to be active and self-reliant so we have activities in such as conferences on HIV/AIDS and also participation in choir activities.”
Despite the many challenges that the church has faced in this region, it has continued to grow from strength to strength and it’s worth noting the contributions and support from various Anglican agencies around the world including the Anglican Communion Office and the Mothers’ Union.