In a notable demonstration of unity, the 154 delegates of the Congo Disciples’ General Assembly last month unanimously re-elected Rev. Eliki Bonanga as Legal Representative and President of their Community. Also re-elected to a four year term of administrative leadership as Vice President was Rev. Clement Mputu Yonanga. First elected in 2003, Rev. Bonanga will have served the longest as leader of the Disciples “Communaute” on completion of his current term in 2015.
Born and raised in the historic Tshuapa River Disciples mission post of Mondombe, Rev.
Bonanga has made unity and collaboration with the Tshuapa Disciples a hallmark of his leadership. Rev. Mputu hails from eastern Bandundu province and thus represents the growth of the Disciples beyond their historic base in Equateur Province. Since gaining autonomy as a self governed church in 1964, the Disciples “Communaute” of the Church of Christ of Congo (ECC/10-CDCC) has planted churches in neighboring Congo Brazzaville as well as in the provinces of Orientale, Bandundu, Katanga and Kinshasa.
The wives of the two Disciples administrators also serve in leadership positions. Mme. Bonanga is CoChair of the Mbandaka pastors’ wives micro credit group which recently distributed $12,000 in earnings among the 20 plus members of the group. Rev. Mme. Mputu graduated last year from the School of Theology at the Protestant University of Congo and now serves the Basoko parish in Mbandaka as Associate Minister.
Another highlight of the recently completed General Assembly, according to Disciples’ Communications Director Nathan Weteto, was the vote to organize continuing education seminars for rural catechists and pastors. These seminars will be offered leaders of the far flung, remote Disciples parishes and will feature trained agronomists, veterinarians, financial administrators and community organizers as well as biblical scholars and preachers. The seminars are an outgrowth of the catechists’ training that has for many years prepared dozens of rural parish leaders for the Disciples “Communaute”.
Representing a model for diverse pastoral leadership in many areas of rural life is the recently ordained Rev. Regine Boola in the Bokungu post. One of two recently ordained women assigned to Tshuapa River posts, where the traditional patriarchal culture has always been strong, Rev. Boola is reviving a Disciples coffee plantation, inactive since the 1990’s. More on her efforts in the next posting.