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Province of the Anglican Church of Rwanda

Province of the
Anglican Church of Rwanda
Primate Onesphore Rwaje
Headquarters Kigali, Rwanda
Territory Rwanda
Members c. 1,000,000
Website Official website

The Province of the Anglican Church of Rwanda is a province of the Anglican Communion, covering 11 dioceses in Rwanda. The primate of the province is Archbishop Onesphore Rwaje, consecrated on January 23, 2011.

Official names

The Province of the Anglican Church of Rwanda is also known by its French name, Province de L'Eglise Anglicane au Rwanda. The former name of the province, Province de L'Eglise Episcopal au Rwanda, was changed by action of an extraordinary meeting of the Provincial Synod at St. Étienne, Biryogo, on November 29, 2007.[1]


The Province of the Anglican Church of Rwanda traces its roots to two missionary doctors of the British Church Missionary Society, Arthur Stanely Smith and Leonard Sharp, coming from Kabale, in Uganda, which began a mission movement in the Eastern area of Gisaka, in Rwanda, from 1914 to 1916. They would reach Rukira in 1922. Rev. Geoffrey Holmes, a captain from the British Army, would start an Anglican mission in Gahini, in 1925. In 1926, Rev. Harold Guillebaud baptised the first converts at Gahini. He also would translate Christian books into kinyarwanda. In the following years, other Anglican missions where created, like the one started by Geoffrey Holmes in Kigeme, in 1931.

Only after the independence of Rwanda from Belgium, in 1962, the Anglican Church of Rwanda was created, in 1965, under the Province of Rwanda, Burundi and Boga Zaire. The first Diocese was initiated in 1966, having the Rt. Rev. Adony Sebununguri as the first Bishop of Rwanda. The name of Anglican Church of Rwanda (Église Anglicane au Rwanda) was adopted on 18 October 1979, still at the Province of Rwanda, Burundi and Boga Zaire.

On 7 June 1992, the Province of the Episcopal Church of Rwanda in the Anglican Communion was formed, consisting of seven dioceses, Kigali, Butare, Shyira, Byumba, Cyangugu, Kigeme and Shyogwe with the first Archbishop being the Most Rev. Augustin Nshamihigo. In 1998, he was succeeded by Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini, who would be in office until 2011.

The 1994 genocide and war left the Church and the nation in ruins. Since peace has returned, the Church has embarked on a program of spiritual healing for thousands of traumatised people. Kigali Anglican Theological College (KATC) was started in February 2006 as a response to the training needs of the Anglican Church of Rwanda in post Genocide Rwanda and is staffed by pastors from several home dioceses, local staff, one CMS Britain Mission Partner and a number of visiting lecturers from partners from the UK and the USA. The college states that it strives to provide quality Christian training to the next generation of Christian leaders for Rwanda and, in turn, to assist in the development of the whole country. The School of Theology was the first to open in the custom-built buildings situated in an area of new development not far from Kigali. A Language School was opened in 2006 to meet the language needs of Francophone students who had to study in English. In 2008, there were around 40 students studying in both the School of Theology and the Language School.


Today, there are over one million Anglicans out of an estimated population of 12 million (2013),[2] making it one of the largest Christian denominations in Rwanda.


The polity of the Province of the Anglican Church of Rwanda is Episcopal church governance, which is the same as the other Anglican churches. The church maintains a system of geographical parishes organized into 11 dioceses, each one headed by a bishop.

The dioceses are currently:

  • Butare
  • Byumba
  • Cyangugu
  • Gahini
  • Gasabo
  • Kibungo
  • Kigali
  • Kigeme
  • Kivu
  • Shyira
  • Shyogwe

Archbishop of Rwanda

The Archbishop of Rwanda is both Metropolitan and Primate. Holders of the office have been:

Worship and liturgy

The Province of the Anglican Church of Rwanda embraces three orders of ministry: deacon, priest, and bishop. A local variant of the Book of Common Prayer is used.

Doctrine and practice

The center of the Church teaching is the life and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The basic teachings of the church, or catechism, includes:

The threefold sources of authority in Anglicanism are scripture, tradition, and reason. These three sources uphold and critique each other in a dynamic way. This balance of scripture, tradition and reason is traced to the work of Richard Hooker, a sixteenth-century apologist. In Hooker's model, scripture is the primary means of arriving at doctrine and things stated plainly in scripture are accepted as true. Issues that are ambiguous are determined by tradition, which is checked by reason.[3]

Ecumenical relations

Unlike many other Anglican churches, the Anglican Church of Rwanda is not a member of the ecumenical World Council of Churches.[4]

Anglican realignment

The Anglican Church of Rwanda is a member of the Global South (Anglican) and the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, and has been involved in the Anglican realignment movement. Their opposition to departures from the orthodox Anglican faith taken in North America, lead them to start a missionary organization, the Anglican Mission in the Americas, in the United States and Canada, and to support the creation of the Anglican Church in North America, of which the Anglican Mission in the Americas was a founding member, in June 2009. The AMiA changed its status to ministry partner in 2010, which it was until December 2011, when it disaffiliated from the Anglican Church of Rwanda. Archbishop Onesphore Rwaje and Archbishop Robert Duncan of the Anglican Church in North America issued a Joint Communiqué on April 28, 2012, to address the future of the AMiA. Meanwhile, the House of the Bishops of Rwanda decided the establishment of the Missionary District in North America (PEARUSA) to pursue the same work in the United States, while it was given the AMiA members three alternatives: to join the PEARUSA, to join another Anglican jurisdiction through letters dimissory or remain in the AMiA. It was established the deadline of August 31, 2012, for the clergy and the congregations of the AMiA to decide their future.[5] In April 29, 2012, Archbishop Henri Isingoma expressed his official approval for the temporary admission of the AMiA at the Anglican Church of Congo until his future was clarified.[6]

Archbishop Onesphore Rwaje attended GAFCON II, that took place in Nairobi, Kenya, from 21 to 26 October 2013.[7]


Further reading

  • Anglicanism, Neill, Stephen. Harmondsworth, 1965.

External links