The Evangelical Church of Central Africa (ECCA) celebrated the 25th anniversary of ministry in Burundi on 28th of September 2014.

The commemoration of this anniversary was held in Bujumbura, Burundi, in the Gethsemane Center, located at 10 km south of the Capital City.  All church’s Pastors and hundreds of members were joined by a great number of local and foreign guests. Among the local invitees there were a number of denominational and organizational leaders as well as government official. The President of the Republic of Burundi was represented by the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Dr. Joseph Butore. There were also two delegations that came out of the country. There was a delegation from Kenya made by the Right Rev. David Riitho Gathanju, the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA) and Mr. Sapphiah Mburu from the same church. The latter was among the pioneers who helped the ECCA begin in early 1990s. The other foreign delegation came from the USA. It was made of two gentlemen and two ladies, Rev. Ted Groves and with his colleague Mr. Samuel Mitrofan from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and on the other hand, there were Rev. Jane Pauw and her sister Ann Kapteyn from Seattle, Washington.

The ceremonies started with a 200-meter walk dubbed ‘March for Jesus’ led by the ECCA Moderator of the General Assembly and pastors while the present church members followed suit. Church members went to take seats and the pastors came later in a graceful procession led by the Moderators of the ECCA and the PCEA while Burundian traditional drummers were playing with impressive skills. After the procession, the assembly sang the national anthem and the ECCA hymn.

The singing of the national anthem and the ECCA hymn was followed by the first series of speeches. The first speaker was Mr. Prosper Ndabishuriye, the first Secretary General of the ECCA and one of the key persons who largely worked towards the inception of the Evangelical Church of Central Africa. His speech and the one which followed – by Rev. André Nzaniye, the first Moderator of the ECCA – mainly explained how and why the ECCA was born and both speakers acknowledged the people (some of them have already passed away) who took part in that endeavor. They were hailed as heroes of faith who built the body of Christ. The major speech was delivered by the current Moderator of the ECCA General Assembly, Rev. Sylvestre Hakizimana. His speech mainly pointed out the major milestones the ECCA passed through, the main accomplishments that the church was able achieve, its struggles, as well as its future plans. At the end of the speech, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the ECCA honored the persons (some are already deceased) who contributed significantly toward the beginning and the growth of the church. Those individuals were into categories.

First, there were those whose names were publicly announced during the celebration. Those are namely: Rev. Etienne Ntamasabiro, Rev. Japhet Nditoreye, Rev. Amon Sindaruhuka, Pastor Thomas Ntunguka, Rev. Jean Mudagi and his wife Francine Mukayisire, Mr. Jacques Magorwa, Mr. Manasseh Ntahomvukiye (deceased), Mr. Dieudonne Manirakiza, Mr. John Gahungu Bokelo (deceased), Mr. Venant Ndimurirwo (deceased), Mr. Benny (deceased), and Mr. Fabien Ndorimana (deceased).

Secondly, there came those who were honored by a certificate of appreciation for their astounding work in the ECCA. Those are Rev. André Nzaniye, Rev. Tharcisse, Mpawenayo, Rev. Sylvestre Hakizimana, Rev. Jean Ntahombaye, Mr. Prosper Ndabishuriye,  Rev. Epitas Baranyikwa, Rev. Emmanuel Muhitira, Mrs. Marie Nzaniye, Mrs. Marie Ndabishuriye, Mrs. Anne Kalenga (Mama Neema). Also publicly, recognized were foreign organizations partnering with the ECCA. They are namely the Evangelical Mission for Africa (EMA), Stichting DUFASHANYE (Netherlands), and the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA).

The keynote message was then given by Rev. David Riitho Gathanju, the Moderator of the PCEA from Kenya. His message was built on Genesis 12:1 – 9 and Romans 13:11 – 14. He mentioned that for the past 25 years the ECCA was laying its foundations. But as of now, it is time to start building on the laid foundation. This will imply that the leaders have to face the future by not glorying in what was achieved in the past 25 years.  Just as Abraham was told by God to embark on a journey of faith, the real journey has started for the ECCA, he added. Therefore, as he added, it is time to walk as those who walk during the day not like those who walk at night. This message was widely acclaimed.

The second set of messages was opened by Dr. Joseph Butore, the Minister of Higher Education also the envoy of the President of the Republic of Burundi on that day. He congratulated the ECCA for the achievements after 25 years and saluted the ECCA for how it is well organized and how it conducts its affairs. The following speakers were Rev. Leopold Banzubaze and Bishop Pie Ntahoturi, all representing invited local church leaders. Finally, the platform was given to foreign invited guests. They were namely Mr. Sapphiah Mburu, Rev. Ted Groves and Rev. Jane Pauw. All those speakers congratulated the ECCA leadership for the far the church has gone. The celebration was closed by the Moderator’s final prayer and a copious lunch offered to all the invited guests and all the participants in the ceremony.