Visit to Kinshasa and Aru, Democratic Republic of the Congo


Canon Charles Raven (Relay Trust CEO) and James Stileman (recently appointed Regional Relationship Manager for DRC) joined Archbishop Ande Titre, Primate of Province de L’Eglise Anglicane Du Congo (PEAC) in a tour of Relay Trust sponsored projects in Kinshasa and the diocese of Aru, where Archbishop Ande is also resident bishop.

The Anglican Church in DRC is relatively small.  95% of the 115 million population are Christian, a third of which are Catholic but only around 500,000 are Anglicans.  This is not surprising for a country which had previously been a Belgian colony.  The majority of Anglicans are based in the east, where Ugandan evangelists crossed the border in the late 19th century and established the Anglican church.

In Kinshasa, the capital city in the west with over 14 million inhabitants, PEAC is almost invisible.  Church membership is low and it has few assets. So, the focus in recent years has been to establish a provincial staff team and provide the Primate with a residence from which he can host meetings and hold events.

We saw the residence (below) which is in the final stages of being purchased and which will undoubtedly help the Primate and his team increase the church’s visibility in the city.  We also visited PEAC’s recently acquired accommodation block which generates income to part-fund the provincial staff team of 7.  The block is soon to be refurbished making it possible to increase rental income.

The situation in Aru, in the northeast of DRC, is very different.  The diocese was established in 2005 and has grown significantly under Archbishop Ande’s leadership since then.  It currently has around 60,000 members and plans are for it to grow by at least 10,000 a year. We visited Universite Salama d’Aru and met the 80 strong Theology Department with students from almost every diocese in the province.

We also visited the Anglican run hospital, nurse training institute, dental training centre and carpentry workshop, all established by the diocese.  Indeed, All Saints, the diocesan Cathedral has recently been extended to accommodate the growing number of attendees.

Because the Relay Trust’s particular focus is supporting grassroots theological training, we spent time with Canon Emmanuel Nzua, the Provincial Mission Coordinator, to learn how Aru and other diocese in the province train catechists and evangelists.  Canon Nzua has been trying to gather all 14 diocesan mission coordinators to a meeting to discuss a provincial strategy, but the travel costs have proved prohibitive.  The Relay Trust has offered to help with this and it is hoped that a conference can be convened in May, probably in Aru, in advance of the Provincial Synod due to be held in Butembo in July.