In my five weeks here in Rwanda, I’ve had the opportunity to visit several churches in Kigali. Here is a brief summary of my experience of at each church:
- Charismatic Church
The first church I went to was a small charismatic church on the outskirts of Kigali. It was by far the most traditionally African service I attended, which meant the congregation danced for a majority of the service. The music was extremely upbeat. There was no sound system, only a keyboard and drums, but it was extremely loud. The pastor didn’t speak English, so the whole service was in Kinyarwanda. I didn’t understand the prayers, but someone translated the sermon. In my church back home, an average homily is about twenty minutes. This sermon was a short and simple, no more than five minutes, about Daniel and the lion’s den. I don’t think I would join this church anytime soon, but I am glad I visited because it was the most African service I participated in.
- Christian Life Assembly
If you’re an ex-pat living in Kigali, you’ve probably been to this very western church. Similar to an American Evangelical church, CLA provides contemporary worship and a variety of ministries. It is a large congregation, offering services in both English and Kinyarwanda. Although contemporary worship isn’t particularly my style, they did have an awesome sermon about servant leadership. The pastor said “If you are above service, you are below leadership,” which I think is a great mindset for anyone in a leadership position.
- Anglican Church
An Anglican church in Africa is not very different from an Anglican/Episcopal church in the states. I recognized most of the liturgy from the Book of Common Prayer. I also appreciated receiving communion for my first time in Rwanda. After the service we shared African tea, cookies, and conversation, which reminded me of coffee hour at my church in the States. There were two services: a small English service and a large Kinyarwanda service. Since I attended the English service, I met several ex-pats who came to Rwanda to serve in the Anglican church. I loved seeing how through the Anglican tradition, I participate in the same worship as Christians in Rwanda. I will definitely be back here!
- Regina Pacis Mass
This morning we attended our final church visit in Kigali, a Catholic mass at Regina Pacis church. I’ve never been to mass before, but the traditional aspects of their worship made me feel right at home. However, I don’t see myself returning to the Catholic church because as a non-Catholic, I cannot receive communion. This was definitely the most beautiful church building I’ve been to in Rwanda, with gorgeous stained glass windows and portraits of Jesus (Yezu, as they call Him in Kinyarwanda). I suppose Catholicism is a tradition that I appreciate in doses but will never fully indulge in.
Next week, we will be attending worship in Kibuye, a town halfway down Lake Kivu. We will also be enjoying some swimming and the natural beauty of the lake as well as visiting a refugee camp. Check in next week for an update!