On November 18th, KT Press published a story listing four candidates the Rwanda Anglican church had lined up from which the next Archbishop may be selected.
However, senior leaders of the church were immediately summoned to a crisis meeting because the story had seemingly pre-empted the list of candidates yet it was meant to remain a top secret until a formal announcement.
A source privy with internal dynamics of the Anglican Church told KT Press that during the crisis meeting the Bishops did not hold views about the story.
“Some were very angry with the story and wanted an investigation conducted on the leakage while others were flexible saying the church cannot keep reacting to every story because there are many media outlets that report repeatedly about the church,” the source said on condition of anonymity due to sensitivity of the matter.
The source further revealed that during this crisis meeting, it was unanimously agreed that all four candidates mentioned in the earlier story would not be part of the selection list. Instead they decided to front a new candidate Rev. Dr. Laurent Mbanda, Bishop of Shyira Diocese.
In the past months, incumbent Archbishop of Rwanda Onesphore Rwaje has been hinting on the fact that an announcement on who would replace him was imminent and could come January 2018.
“The final decision is yet to be announced but the process normally involves extensive consultation, analysis of the role and challenges the new archbishop is likely to face, every candidate has to be vetted first” the source said.
Whether our story will change the earlier arrangement and selection of the new Archbishop or not, remains to be seen when the final announcement is made.
But who is Bishop Rev. Dr. Laurent Mbanda?
His name popped up after those earlier proposed were critically assessed but were found to have shortcomings yet the KT Press story had also pre-empted the secret list.
Our source conversant with the church said that although the formal appointments process has not yet been launched, Bishop Mbanda’s name increasingly has been coming up in Church corridors of power as someone with experience and charisma to lead the Church.
Bishop Mbanda is one of the most experienced and educated bishops in the Anglican Church of Rwanda. Although he has impressed a number of bishops who participate in the selection process, Some Anglican believers say he is not popular.
Mbanda was born in Rwanda and spent most of his childhood in Burundi. He joined Compassion International in 1993, where he held a number of positions in the ministry, including Vice President of the Africa Region and Vice President of Program Development.
He also serves as Vice Chairman of the Global Board of Directors for Compassion International and he is a Board Chair for Food for the Hungry. Previously, he also served on the Board of International Justice Mission and Chaired the Board of Kigali Institute of Education in Rwanda.
He is a graduate of Kenya Highlands Bible College. Mbanda also holds two masters degrees in Arts in Missiology from Fuller Seminary’s School of World Missions and a Master of Arts in Christian Education.
How Previous Candidates Were Screened
In November Louis Muvunyi, the Bishop of Kigali Diocese was told that he was being lined up as candidate for the top job followed by Dr. Jered Kalimba, Bishop of Shyogwe Diocese, Nathan Gasatura, Bishop of Butare and Bishop Alexis Bilindabagabo of Gahini.
According to the constitution of the Anglican Church of Rwanda no bishop is allowed to serve beyond 65 years of age. It has been a tradition that candidates for the Archbishop position are mostly appointed when they are at least 60 years so that they could serve for 5years.
A thorough screening had been conducted before the list of the previous four bishops was made. But the KTPress story has apparently placed the Church in a tight spot as the House of Bishops had to review the earlier suggested list.
A source told KT Press that Bishop Muvunyi excused himself from standing citing personal reasons. Another reason he gave is that there are more senior bishops that he thought deserved this chance.
An inquiry on candidate Dr. Jered Kalimba the current Bishop of Shyogwe Diocese indicates he fits within the required age bracket since he is aged 60 years.
However, the source also said that Bishop Dr. Kalimba’s popularity ratings were very minimal despite being well educated with a PhD in theology. He also enjoys respect among other bishops but may not qualify due to private undertakings that require his regular attention which could affect his commitment to the strenuous responsibilities of the postion.
Among the candidates, the source says that it is only Bishop Alexis Bilindabagabo of Gahini who has shown interest to run for the position. He has the experience but within the church corridors of influence, his views and approach is not convergent with those of his peers and has attracted a number of criticisms.
The source also told KTPress that Bishop Bilindabagabo does not fit well within the age bracket required of candidates. He is aged 63.
Lastly, candidate Bishop Nathan Gasatura of Butare diocese is also remaining with only three years to retire which could impede his candidature.