Current Disciples President, Rev. Eliki BONANGA chose Palm Sunday to present an overview of the state of the “Communaute”, one of sixty plus denominations making up the unified Church of Christ in Congo. On his lenten tour of Tshuapa River “Posts” of the Disciples, Rev. BONANGA spoke to over 800 parishoners of Yalusaka, a congregation in the Post of Mondombe 600 miles from Disciples “Communaute” headquartrers in Mbandaka.
Rev. BONANGA stated there are now 23 Posts founded by Disciples in the provinces of Equateur, Bandundu, and Orientale, and the city of Kinshasa as well as missionary extensions in the cities of Kisangani, Lubumbashi , Gemena, Boma, Bikoro, and Lukolela. In a brief review of the Disciples 112 year history in Congo, he called on the parishoners to give thanks in prayer for the missionaries who died on duty in the Congo or in retirement in the USA. He then noted the transition from a missionary led to an autonomous church in the early 1960’s and the paramount importance now of local support of the church’s mission.
Relying primarily on the support of church members, Congolese Disciples have built schools, clinics and churches in significant numbers even during the turbulent years of the recent past. Under the continuing adminstration of the Church’s central office of Education are 486 primary and secondary schools with 65,000 students and 2700 plus teachers. In addition to 6 hospitals staffed by 12 Congolese doctors are pharmacies and clinics in all the Disciples Posts. While the Congolese government is committed to health and education services through payment of salaries, local labor, church offerings and user fees maintain the buildings and make up for delayed and inadequate salary payments by the state.
Tremendous growth of the Congolese Disciples is reflected in the fact that the Church consisted of 10 Posts at
independence in 1960. Another sign of progress among Congo Disciples is the Church’s relative unity after a period of dissension resulting in the split of the remote Tshuapa River Posts. A native of the Tshuapa Post of Mondombe, Rev. BONANGA appealed to the Yalusaka congregation to support the parish through their offerings, their tithes and community projects (e.g. a parish manioc field) to generate revenue. Following Rev. BONANGA, four pastors prayed for the local and world church, including Disciples partners in the U.S. and Germany, for missionaries both dead and living and for social concerns both international and national. The five hour Palm Sunday service ended at 2 pm, long after the Sunday lunch crowd has dispersed in the U.S.
NOTE: Report of the Palm Sunday service is from Nathan Weteto’s blog originating from Disciples headquarters in Mbandaka. Address is firstname.lastname@example.org He concludes the report by noting there were among the 825 persons at the worship service 57 Bibles and 14 song books. The several offerings taken up totaled around $70.