Difference between revisions of "Communauté des Eglises de Frères Mennonites au Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo"

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|Defenseless Mennonite Church and Central Conference Mennonites agree on a new joint mission program in Belgian Congo, Congo Inland Mission (CIM) (Juhnke 67). This was also the year when the first Mennonite missionaries, Lawrence and Rose Haigh, arrived in the Belgian Congo. Although not associated with formation of the Mennonite Brethren church of the Congo, they pioneered broad Mennonite missions in the country (Lapp and Snyder 52).
 
|Defenseless Mennonite Church and Central Conference Mennonites agree on a new joint mission program in Belgian Congo, Congo Inland Mission (CIM) (Juhnke 67). This was also the year when the first Mennonite missionaries, Lawrence and Rose Haigh, arrived in the Belgian Congo. Although not associated with formation of the Mennonite Brethren church of the Congo, they pioneered broad Mennonite missions in the country (Lapp and Snyder 52).
 
|-
 
|-
|valign="top"|'''1906'''
+
|valign="top"|'''1913'''
|The leaders of the BIC mission, the Angeneys leave the BIC for a different mission society. The 1906 General Conference directed the Foreign Mission Board to seek a capable leader to take charge of the mission. Meanwhile, the remaining missionaries conducted Sunday services, engaged in visitations, ministered to the sick, attempted to meet the needs of widows and conducted bible classes. The mission also expanded their ministry to education programs for women and the poor.<ref name="quest" />
+
|The first Mennonite Brethren missionaries Aaron Janzen and his wife Ernestina arrive in Belgian Congo. They are originally station at Djoko Punda, a mission post in the Kasai district (Toews and Hiebert 43).
 
|-
 
|-
|valign="top"|'''1912'''
+
|valign="top"|'''1922'''
|Missionaries return home after struggling for seven years. In the end the missionaries were unable to establish a permanent mission in India. But they did give the next generation of missionaries valuable insights into what is required for establishing a successful mission in the region.<ref name="quest" />
+
|Aaron Janzen traveled more than four hundred kilometers on foot to find a new mission post near Kikwit (“Background” 5). He is interested in starting a separate mission for the Mennonite Brethren Church. After some time in Kikandji, they decide to relocate ten kilometers to a nearby valley, Kufumba. They hope to settle in Kufumba because of its more productive land. It is here that the first Mennonite Brethren mission post is built (Lapp and Snyder 54).
 
|-
 
|-
|valign="top"|'''1913'''
+
|valign="top"|'''1926'''
|Foreign Mission Board sends over a second group of missionaries led by Henry Smith poised to conduct a mission informed by the difficulties of the past mission in Arrah.<ref name="quest" />
+
|The first convert, Luka Sengele, of Kufumba was baptized. It is then with the help of his witnessing that thirty-seven more people are baptized. This is the foundation for the African Mennonite Brethren Church (“Background” 5).
 +
|-
 +
|valign="top"|'''1930'''
 +
|With the help of Congolese consultants books of the Bible such as the Gospel of Mathew and Luke along with the Book of Acts were translated into Kikongo (Kituba). Also, a team consisting of Dijimbo Kubala, the first Congolese Mennonite Brethren teacher, Njanja Diyoyo and Ernestina Janzen continued to translate the New Testament up until Ernestina’s death in 1937. After her death, Martha Hiebert joined in translating and the New Testament was completed in 1943 (Lapp and Snyder 55).
 +
|-
 +
|valign="top"|'''1933'''
 +
|In 1933 a second independent Mennonite Brethren missions begins in Belgian Congo. Reverend H. B. Bartsch from Canada alongside his wife began a mission in the region of Dengese and Bololo. He was a product of the Bible School Movement that pushed people towards missions. They also formed the African Mission Society to support their missions involving friends back in Canada until the broader Mennonite Brethren Missions would take over (Toews and Hiebert 57-60).
 
|-
 
|-
|valign="top"|'''1918'''
+
|valign="top"|'''1943'''
|The mission reached a benchmark in 1918 and had established three stations in Bihar: Saharsa, Madhipura and Supaul. After five years of mission work, Saharsa and madhipura reported to have two members and four inquirers; Supaul had 16 adherents. <ref name="quest" />
+
|It was in this year that the two independent Mennonite Brethren mission efforts combined. Now the American Mennonite Brethren Mission (AMBM) assumed full responsibility for the two mission efforts. This meant that the missionaries no longer were dependent on local resources but rather were supplied by North America. This reinforced the mentality that the church was dependent on the missionaries. Although missionaries now had money to support their various projects, the Congolese lost the mindset of having to work for their own. At this time, missionaries were in charge of most positions in the church. These tasks ranged from pastoral duties to the training of Congolese to take over such responsibilities. Also since male missionaries played this larger role, most decisions in the church were made by males. Even though female missionaries greatly contributed to the foundation of the church, men were seen as in charge (Lapp and Snyder 55-61).
 
|-
 
|-
|valign="top"|'''1919'''
+
|valign="top"|'''1947'''
|Marked the beginning of the church's orphanage ministry. The missionaries began by simply caring for a motherless boy but soon formed both a boys and girls orphanage  each with their own school. The orphanages would eventually become the principle source of members for the church as it developed through the mid-century.<ref name="quest" />
+
|The government declares that it will now subsidize all Protestant Mission Schools. As a result of new subsidies, it is now financially possible for the multiplying of mission stations. Along with new possibilities of growth, CIM and AMBM start to work together on various joint projects. This lead to the foundation of a higher-level teacher school in Nyanga called Ecole de Moniteurs, and a school for missionary children in Kajiji, Ecole Belle Vue (Lapp and Snyder 64-65).
 
|-
 
|-
|valign="top"|'''1922'''
+
|valign="top"|'''1960'''
|The mission adopts a new statement of purpose to explain their shift in mission tactics. Because of the lack of response to their evangelistic efforts, the mission had already begun focusing their attention on various social ministries to address issues related to orphans, widows, education and health. To continue the mission's direct evangelical work, leadership began to hire Christian nationals to supplement the foreign missionaries.<ref name="frommissiontochurch"> Sider, Harvey R. "From Mission to Church: India." ''Brethren in Christ History & Life'' 17, (August 1, 1994): 113-144. </ref>
+
|After seventy years of colonization, Congo gains its independence (“Background” 5). During this time, the missionaries began to move their headquarters from rural countryside to urban cities in order to be able to evacuate if they need to. Along with this shift in headquarters was the passing of power to the Congolese people (Lapp and Snyder 69). In May AMBM adopted the Points of Understanding in the Future Relation of the American Brethren Church and the Association Des Eglises Des Freres Mennonite au Congo. In this document, AMBM acknowledged its joy and privilege to work alongside the Association des Églises de Frères Mennonites au Congo (AEFMC). They agreed to financially support the AEFMC and help out in many other church missions. This was with the acknowledgement that as soon as the AEFMC could manage on its own they would dissolve all responsibilities to the AEFMC (Toews and Hiebert 211-215).
 
|-
 
|-
|valign="top"|'''1924'''
+
|valign="top"|'''1963'''
|After a decade of mission work in India, Henry Smith dies of Smallpox. Leadership passes to Amos Dick who would give a lifetime of service in India. In 1935 the General Conference made Amos Dick the Bishop of the India Mission field.<ref name="quest" />
+
|A joint AEFMC/AMBM-EMC/CIM theological school is started in Kajiji. The goal was to train more highly-qualified leaders for the Mennonite Churches in the Congo. The result was that young people from all over Congo went to the school and left with the idea that the Congo Mennonite Church was a unity of the three Mennonite Churches in the Congo. It was the beginning of a spirit of cooperation between the different Mennonite groups in the Congo (Lapp and Snyder 74-75).
 
|-
 
|-
|valign="top"|'''1939'''
+
|valign="top"|'''1964'''
|The church in India celebrated its Silver Jubilee with 151 baptisms of new converts; the Christian community now numbered around 200. The church recognized that it had been growing slowly. Likely the biggest contributing factor was the fact that evangelism had always struggled to make inroads into the Hindu community. The caste system had always been a hurtle for the likely convert. Essentially, in caste system conversion makes one equivalent to an outcast among their people. Which explains why the most converts prior to the mid-century the most converts were form lower castes whose members would likely loose less by conversion. But thankfully, the church's 25th anniversary would be seen in retrospect as a turning point for the mission and the growth of the church.<ref name="quest" />
+
|The Kwilu rebellion broke out started by Pierre Mulele, a former minister in the cabinet of the first Prime Minister of the Congo, Patrice Lumumba (Lapp and Snyder 75). The Jeunesse, French word meaning “youth”, consisted of gangs of men that were dissatisfied with how the independence failed to meet their demands. Although their attacks were aimed at predominately government centers, mission stations were also hit because of their close link to the government. That January the Congo Inland Mission station of Kandala was burned to the ground (Martens 86-88). Even though the rebels were eventually pushed back the local Mennonite Brethren churches that were dependent on aid from North America were left stranded and forced to become independent when missionaries fled for their safety. However, many missionaries fled over to Angola which led to a new mission emphasis in Angola (“Background” 5).
 
|-
 
|-
|valign="top"|'''1945'''
+
|valign="top"|'''1966'''
|The widely successful mission to the Santals begins. The Santals were a tribal group moving into the Bihar region. They were notably less bound to the Hindu caste system and were thus more responsive to evangelism. In fact, when BIC missionary Charles Engle originally contacted them he discovered that some of the Santals were already baptized Christians. Because of the Santals response to evangelism, a new mission, Banmankhi, was established within access of the Santal villages. This outreach to the Santal villages largely accounts for the fourfold increase of the Indian church in the decades following the Silver Jubilee.<ref name="quest" /> Among the Santals, several nationals rose up as talented leaders. Benjamin Marandi, an excellent church planter, began a church by himself that would swell to well over 1000 members before his active days of ministry were done.<ref name="frommissiontochurch" />
+
|The first post rebellion conference is held at Gungu. Nine churches send forty-two delegates to the gathering. In light of the past two years of devastation within the church as a result of the rebellion and extreme poverty. Members of the conference rejoice in their fellowship (Toews and Hiebert 150).
 
|-
 
|-
|valign="top"|'''1954'''
+
|valign="top"|'''1971'''
|The first three India nationals are ordained by the church.<ref name="frommissiontochurch" />
+
|New government leadership changed the countries name to Republic of Zaire (“CIA”).  With new government, on June 9 the government of Zaire officially acknowledged the Communauté des Églises de Frères Mennonites au Zaire (CEFMZ) replacing the Association des Églises de Frères Mennonites au Congo (AEFMC)as national entity with the following officers serving on the Executive Committee of the president: Arnold Prieb, president; Djimbo Kubala, vice-president; Mukoso Matthieu, secretary; Dijojo Ngango, legal representative; Hartmut Schroeder, assistant secretary. The executive committee is made of five Zairians and two missionaries. Then on August 7, in a conference held at Kafumba, the AMBM no longer operated separate CEFMZ. The headquarters for the CEFMZ was also built in Kikwit soon after (Toews and Hiebert 164-165).
 
|-
 
|-
|valign="top"|'''1955'''
+
|valign="top"|'''1980'''
|The first constitution for the Brethren in Christ Church in India was written. Within the document, there was noted cooperation between the foreign missionaries and the native church leaders. Both would serve on the church's executive committee. Unfortunately the constitution was never registered as an official document. Subsequently, the document was only ever loosely followed.<ref name="frommissiontochurch" /> Among several new changes  the constitution provided for a church chairmanship to be rotated among four regional superintendents.<ref name="quest" /> An interesting factor to note is that the first church Chairman was a missionary and not a national.<ref name="frommissiontochurch" />
+
|Pakisa Tshimika, a graduate with a master’s degree in public health returned to Kajiji becoming the first non-missionary and university graduate to be in charge of a 150-bed hospital that serves more than 80,000 people. Following Tshimika, Denis Matshifi became the first non-missionary physician in the CEFMZ medical field. Another first was the development of the Department of Health and Development (DESADEC) which provides care in many aspects of health and development (Lapp and Snyder 87).
 
|-
 
|-
|valign="top"|'''1967'''
+
|valign="top"|'''1984'''
|A foreign missionary continued to sit as church chairman until 1967 when Chairman Harvey Sider indicated that he would not be available to continue being church chairman. Form this point onward the church chairman has been an Indian national.<ref name="frommissiontochurch" /> The first nationals to hold the office were Hem K. Paul, Surendra N. Roy, Patros Hembrom and Sohan Lal Bara.<ref name="quest" /> Following this movement towards integrating nationals into church leadership, the ordained leadership joined the mission/church executive committee. This was the first real opportunity for nationals to become a real part of the decision making process. Naturally this slowed the process down considerably, but it also furthered the development of trust, mutuality and holistic decision making.<ref name="frommissiontochurch" />
+
|Kadi Hayalume becomes the first CEFMZ woman to graduate with a theology degree (Lapp and Snyder 85).
 
|-
 
|-
|valign="top"|'''1972'''
+
|valign="top"|'''1987'''
|As nationals continued to take over the institutions of the church, it became increasingly important to have a constitution that was registered with the sate government. In 1972 a revised constitution was finally approved and registered in the state capital of Patna. Besides allowing the church to be recognized as a authentic Indian institution, the registered status, allowed for the church to receive funds directly from North America rather than through the mission. The document remains to be the basis for policy decisions in the Brethren in Christ Church in India.<ref name="frommissiontochurch" />
+
|CEFMZ alongside representatives of the other Congo Mennonite Churches participated in sessions of Mennonite World Conference held in Filadelphia Paraguay. At the gathering they issue a joint statement conveying their eagerness to create an organization in Zaire promoting the Anabaptist-Mennonite vision of the church and society. It would also act as a coordinator for activities such as mutual aid and fraternal gatherings in order to increase the unifying ties of Congolese Mennonites. This idea was further reinforced by an inter-Mennonite seminar focused on peace organized by Rev. Mukanza Ilunga at the Mondeko Center in Kinshasa in October. As a result, on December 11, the National Inter-Mennonite Committee was officially formed (Lapp and Snyder 89-90).
 
|-
 
|-
|valign="top"|'''1974'''
+
|valign="top"|'''1996'''
|With the church officially registered, the Mission transferred ownership of all lands and holdings over to the national BIC church of India. And in 1974 the BIC Mission in India was officially terminated. This was the moment when the BIC in India became fully autonomous.<ref name="quest" />
+
|The Superior Theological Institue of Kinshasa (ISTK) transformed into the Christian University of Kinshasa (UCKin or Universite Chretienne de Kinsasa) (Lapp and Snyder 92).
 
|-
 
|-
 
|valign="top"|'''1997'''
 
|valign="top"|'''1997'''
|The 13th Mennonite World Conference general assembly was held in Calcutta, India. Many members of Bharatiya Khristiya Mandali were in attendance. This was an eye opening moment for the BIC church in India since many of them had been previously unaware of such gatherings. Beyond revealing the broader Anabaptist community, it was also a moment to strengthen their faith as Anabaptist Christians.<ref name="devadason" />
+
|President Mobutu is forced out of Zaire and the country decides to change its name to the Democratic Republic of Congo (“CIA”). This results in the CEFMZ becoming the CEFMC better known as the Communauté des Ëglises de Frères Mennonites au Congo (“Background” 5). Replacing him was Mzee Laurent Desire Kabila which signified the time when violence and recruiting child-soldiers into fighting began to take root (Lapp and Snyder 92).
 +
|-
 +
|valign="top"|'''2001'''
 +
|Sixteen Mennonite women theologians gathered in Kinshasa to discuss issues relation to Congolese Mennonite women theologians (Lapp and Snyder 85).
 +
|-
 +
|valign="top"|'''2003'''
 +
|In August Mama Kadi Tshinyama was ordained by the CEFMC. She was acknowledged for her contribution in the fields of spiritual formation, economic development, and theology. Since then, three more women theologians have ben ordained in the Congo and even more are scheduled to come (Redekop).  
 +
|-
 +
|valign="top"|'''2006'''
 +
|New Constitution for the DRC is adopted with a commitment for free election in June. (Witness – summer 2006)
 +
|-
 +
|valign="top"|'''2007'''
 +
|From November twenty-second to the twenty-fifth the world’s second largest concentration gathered in Kinshasa. The meeting was made up of fifty Congolese representing each of the three Mennonite denominations in Congo – the Congo Mennonite Brethren Church, Congo Evangelical Mennonite Church and Congo Mennonite Church. It was the first National Forum of the Congo Forum for Conversation, set up by Mennonite World Conference to promote conversation among Congolese Mennonites about the future of their churches and to think about new models for relationships with the global Anabaptist community. The diverse group was a rarity in the Congo which was made up of as many women as men, participants both you and old, and lay people of the church alongside church leaders (Lind).
 
|}
 
|}
  
 
[[Category:Democratic Republic of the Congo Sources]]
 
[[Category:Democratic Republic of the Congo Sources]]

Revision as of 23:23, 25 April 2011

History

Origins

Early Congolese mission attempt

An emphasis on African missions began January 24, 1912 when two American Mennonite groups-the Central Conference of Mennonites and the Defenseless Mennonite church-decided to create a common mission field for Belgian Congo. The new committee went by the official name Congo Inland Mission (CIM) (Juhnke 67). The first Mennonite missionaries, Lawrence and Rose Haigh, came to the Congo when still under Belgian rule in 1911. Aided by American Presbyterians and a Congolese evangelist, Mutombo, they established two mission posts, Kalamba Mukenge and Djoko Punda. Successful missions were marked by the training of their first Congolese teacher, Isaac Luabu, in 1915 and then the baptisms of seventeen people at Djoko in 1918 (Lapp and Snyder 52-54).

Founding of the Mennonite Church of the Congo

In 1912 Aaron A. Janzen and his wife Ernesta left for the Kasai district of Belgian Congo with the support of foreign missions within the Mennonite Brethren Conference. They too served on the Congo Inland Mission field starting in 1913 but soon Aaron A. Janzen left CIM in 1920 to start a strictly Mennonite Brethren mission post in Kikandji (Janzen and Hamm). After a realizing the poor location of Kikandji on a hill, they relocated the mission station ten kilometers to Kufumba which promised for more productive land (Lapp and Snyder 54). By 1926, they baptized their first convert, Luka Sengele, which led to thirty-seven others who were baptized. This laid the foundation for the Mennonite Church of the Congo (Toews and Hiebert 50).


Timeline

1912 Defenseless Mennonite Church and Central Conference Mennonites agree on a new joint mission program in Belgian Congo, Congo Inland Mission (CIM) (Juhnke 67). This was also the year when the first Mennonite missionaries, Lawrence and Rose Haigh, arrived in the Belgian Congo. Although not associated with formation of the Mennonite Brethren church of the Congo, they pioneered broad Mennonite missions in the country (Lapp and Snyder 52).
1913 The first Mennonite Brethren missionaries Aaron Janzen and his wife Ernestina arrive in Belgian Congo. They are originally station at Djoko Punda, a mission post in the Kasai district (Toews and Hiebert 43).
1922 Aaron Janzen traveled more than four hundred kilometers on foot to find a new mission post near Kikwit (“Background” 5). He is interested in starting a separate mission for the Mennonite Brethren Church. After some time in Kikandji, they decide to relocate ten kilometers to a nearby valley, Kufumba. They hope to settle in Kufumba because of its more productive land. It is here that the first Mennonite Brethren mission post is built (Lapp and Snyder 54).
1926 The first convert, Luka Sengele, of Kufumba was baptized. It is then with the help of his witnessing that thirty-seven more people are baptized. This is the foundation for the African Mennonite Brethren Church (“Background” 5).
1930 With the help of Congolese consultants books of the Bible such as the Gospel of Mathew and Luke along with the Book of Acts were translated into Kikongo (Kituba). Also, a team consisting of Dijimbo Kubala, the first Congolese Mennonite Brethren teacher, Njanja Diyoyo and Ernestina Janzen continued to translate the New Testament up until Ernestina’s death in 1937. After her death, Martha Hiebert joined in translating and the New Testament was completed in 1943 (Lapp and Snyder 55).
1933 In 1933 a second independent Mennonite Brethren missions begins in Belgian Congo. Reverend H. B. Bartsch from Canada alongside his wife began a mission in the region of Dengese and Bololo. He was a product of the Bible School Movement that pushed people towards missions. They also formed the African Mission Society to support their missions involving friends back in Canada until the broader Mennonite Brethren Missions would take over (Toews and Hiebert 57-60).
1943 It was in this year that the two independent Mennonite Brethren mission efforts combined. Now the American Mennonite Brethren Mission (AMBM) assumed full responsibility for the two mission efforts. This meant that the missionaries no longer were dependent on local resources but rather were supplied by North America. This reinforced the mentality that the church was dependent on the missionaries. Although missionaries now had money to support their various projects, the Congolese lost the mindset of having to work for their own. At this time, missionaries were in charge of most positions in the church. These tasks ranged from pastoral duties to the training of Congolese to take over such responsibilities. Also since male missionaries played this larger role, most decisions in the church were made by males. Even though female missionaries greatly contributed to the foundation of the church, men were seen as in charge (Lapp and Snyder 55-61).
1947 The government declares that it will now subsidize all Protestant Mission Schools. As a result of new subsidies, it is now financially possible for the multiplying of mission stations. Along with new possibilities of growth, CIM and AMBM start to work together on various joint projects. This lead to the foundation of a higher-level teacher school in Nyanga called Ecole de Moniteurs, and a school for missionary children in Kajiji, Ecole Belle Vue (Lapp and Snyder 64-65).
1960 After seventy years of colonization, Congo gains its independence (“Background” 5). During this time, the missionaries began to move their headquarters from rural countryside to urban cities in order to be able to evacuate if they need to. Along with this shift in headquarters was the passing of power to the Congolese people (Lapp and Snyder 69). In May AMBM adopted the Points of Understanding in the Future Relation of the American Brethren Church and the Association Des Eglises Des Freres Mennonite au Congo. In this document, AMBM acknowledged its joy and privilege to work alongside the Association des Églises de Frères Mennonites au Congo (AEFMC). They agreed to financially support the AEFMC and help out in many other church missions. This was with the acknowledgement that as soon as the AEFMC could manage on its own they would dissolve all responsibilities to the AEFMC (Toews and Hiebert 211-215).
1963 A joint AEFMC/AMBM-EMC/CIM theological school is started in Kajiji. The goal was to train more highly-qualified leaders for the Mennonite Churches in the Congo. The result was that young people from all over Congo went to the school and left with the idea that the Congo Mennonite Church was a unity of the three Mennonite Churches in the Congo. It was the beginning of a spirit of cooperation between the different Mennonite groups in the Congo (Lapp and Snyder 74-75).
1964 The Kwilu rebellion broke out started by Pierre Mulele, a former minister in the cabinet of the first Prime Minister of the Congo, Patrice Lumumba (Lapp and Snyder 75). The Jeunesse, French word meaning “youth”, consisted of gangs of men that were dissatisfied with how the independence failed to meet their demands. Although their attacks were aimed at predominately government centers, mission stations were also hit because of their close link to the government. That January the Congo Inland Mission station of Kandala was burned to the ground (Martens 86-88). Even though the rebels were eventually pushed back the local Mennonite Brethren churches that were dependent on aid from North America were left stranded and forced to become independent when missionaries fled for their safety. However, many missionaries fled over to Angola which led to a new mission emphasis in Angola (“Background” 5).
1966 The first post rebellion conference is held at Gungu. Nine churches send forty-two delegates to the gathering. In light of the past two years of devastation within the church as a result of the rebellion and extreme poverty. Members of the conference rejoice in their fellowship (Toews and Hiebert 150).
1971 New government leadership changed the countries name to Republic of Zaire (“CIA”). With new government, on June 9 the government of Zaire officially acknowledged the Communauté des Églises de Frères Mennonites au Zaire (CEFMZ) replacing the Association des Églises de Frères Mennonites au Congo (AEFMC)as national entity with the following officers serving on the Executive Committee of the president: Arnold Prieb, president; Djimbo Kubala, vice-president; Mukoso Matthieu, secretary; Dijojo Ngango, legal representative; Hartmut Schroeder, assistant secretary. The executive committee is made of five Zairians and two missionaries. Then on August 7, in a conference held at Kafumba, the AMBM no longer operated separate CEFMZ. The headquarters for the CEFMZ was also built in Kikwit soon after (Toews and Hiebert 164-165).
1980 Pakisa Tshimika, a graduate with a master’s degree in public health returned to Kajiji becoming the first non-missionary and university graduate to be in charge of a 150-bed hospital that serves more than 80,000 people. Following Tshimika, Denis Matshifi became the first non-missionary physician in the CEFMZ medical field. Another first was the development of the Department of Health and Development (DESADEC) which provides care in many aspects of health and development (Lapp and Snyder 87).
1984 Kadi Hayalume becomes the first CEFMZ woman to graduate with a theology degree (Lapp and Snyder 85).
1987 CEFMZ alongside representatives of the other Congo Mennonite Churches participated in sessions of Mennonite World Conference held in Filadelphia Paraguay. At the gathering they issue a joint statement conveying their eagerness to create an organization in Zaire promoting the Anabaptist-Mennonite vision of the church and society. It would also act as a coordinator for activities such as mutual aid and fraternal gatherings in order to increase the unifying ties of Congolese Mennonites. This idea was further reinforced by an inter-Mennonite seminar focused on peace organized by Rev. Mukanza Ilunga at the Mondeko Center in Kinshasa in October. As a result, on December 11, the National Inter-Mennonite Committee was officially formed (Lapp and Snyder 89-90).
1996 The Superior Theological Institue of Kinshasa (ISTK) transformed into the Christian University of Kinshasa (UCKin or Universite Chretienne de Kinsasa) (Lapp and Snyder 92).
1997 President Mobutu is forced out of Zaire and the country decides to change its name to the Democratic Republic of Congo (“CIA”). This results in the CEFMZ becoming the CEFMC better known as the Communauté des Ëglises de Frères Mennonites au Congo (“Background” 5). Replacing him was Mzee Laurent Desire Kabila which signified the time when violence and recruiting child-soldiers into fighting began to take root (Lapp and Snyder 92).
2001 Sixteen Mennonite women theologians gathered in Kinshasa to discuss issues relation to Congolese Mennonite women theologians (Lapp and Snyder 85).
2003 In August Mama Kadi Tshinyama was ordained by the CEFMC. She was acknowledged for her contribution in the fields of spiritual formation, economic development, and theology. Since then, three more women theologians have ben ordained in the Congo and even more are scheduled to come (Redekop).
2006 New Constitution for the DRC is adopted with a commitment for free election in June. (Witness – summer 2006)
2007 From November twenty-second to the twenty-fifth the world’s second largest concentration gathered in Kinshasa. The meeting was made up of fifty Congolese representing each of the three Mennonite denominations in Congo – the Congo Mennonite Brethren Church, Congo Evangelical Mennonite Church and Congo Mennonite Church. It was the first National Forum of the Congo Forum for Conversation, set up by Mennonite World Conference to promote conversation among Congolese Mennonites about the future of their churches and to think about new models for relationships with the global Anabaptist community. The diverse group was a rarity in the Congo which was made up of as many women as men, participants both you and old, and lay people of the church alongside church leaders (Lind).