The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: Kagame Rallies Religious Leaders

PRESIDENT Paul Kagame has urged religious leaders to continue participating in the building of the country irrespective of their spiritual beliefs.

Kagame made the call at the closing ceremony of the Pentecostal Church of Rwanda (ADEPR) leaders retreat at Petit Stade in Kigali yesterday.

The ceremony brought together over 2,500 members of ADEPR, religious leaders and several government officials. A total of 370 ADEPR members convened for one week at Nkumba, Burera District to share and discuss their challenges and forge the way forward for the church development. They also discussed matters of national importance.

The Head of State said challenges should not make Rwandans and churches weaker but stronger and more determined to work hard for a better future.

Despite differences in religious beliefs, Kagame said, they all share one country -Rwanda - whose wellbeing benefits all Rwandans irrespective of their faith, beliefs or clans.

The President advised churches to uphold the truth, value themselves, God and the country.

The Head of State commended the work done by ADEPR towards the development of the country and encouraged them to stay focused on their good work.

Kagame thanked ADPR for resolving the internal conflicts that had almost torn the church apart.

Pentecostal faithfuls in the past few months witnessed internal wrangles and an inquiry was commissioned to probe possible genocide ideologies amongst its leaders that threatened to split the church.

In the Rwandan culture, Kagame reminded them, those who betray Rwanda have a chance to repent their sins and be part of the society again.

The President warned those who base on religious differences, clans and ethnicities to discriminate people, stressing that all people belong to God and nobody had the right to discriminate others.

He observed that while there are various ways to get to God, the destination remains one.

The Head of State called on all Rwandans to leave their differences behind and focus on more constructive issues, adding that if they closely work together, the challenges Rwandans go through will come to pass as has previously been the case.

According to Pastor Jean Sibomana, Head of ADEPR, the retreat was an opportunity to reflect on their role in the development of the church and the country.

"We are committed to the development of our country, for instance we are targeting to build 296 houses specifically for the survivors of the Genocide against the Tutsi across the country," he said.

ADEPR also pledged over Rwf63 million to the Agaciro Development Fund.

The Pentecostal Church, with over one million followers across the country, started in Rwanda in 1940.

The Church has contributed to the country's development in the areas of health, education, social development and unity and reconciliation, among others.

In August, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) awarded ADEPR with the King Sejong Literacy Prize for promotion of literacy programmes in Rwanda.

According to the church officials, over the last 10 years, about 413,766 people in the country have benefited from ADEPR literacy programmes.

The Pentecostal church currently has 70 nursery schools, 160 primary schools, 45 secondary schools and 36 technical schools.

The event also attracted representatives of Pentecostal churches from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi.

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