Training in the Quaker Way at Rwanda Friends Theological College

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On 10 February 2016, Minga Claggett-Borne and Jonathan Vogel-Borne, a New England Yearly Meeting Quaker couple traveling in ministry, offered a one-day training in the Quaker Way. Twenty Friends Church Rwanda pastors and leaders attended. Jonathan and Minga are ministering among—and being ministered to by—Rwandan Friends as long-term volunteers with Friends Peace Teams’ African Great Lakes Initiate (AGLI). In addition, Minga is leading trainings and encouraging local leadership, especially Quaker youth, in using the peace-building programs Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) and Help Increase the Peace Project (HIPP).  Jonathan is assisting Rwandan Friends to design and develop websites showcasing the ministry of Friends Church Rwanda. They are spending the month of February 2016 in Musanze in north western Rwanda and are working closely with the local Friends churches and groups, including the Rwandan Friends Theological College and the Healing and Rebuilding Our Communities (HROC) project.

The Training at FTC was strong and remarkable for the quality sharing. Participants were willing to share hardships in their churches, such as loss of the youth, poverty and lack of money to construct floors, the need of drums or keyboards. Most pastors have not been paid for months. They also prayed that Friends in local churches would show more commitment joining activities during the week. Pastors longed for Friends with a deeper faith, Friends to incorporate into their daily lives the teachings of the Bible.

We started and ended with choruses. A large drum was used for a strong rhythm. The hymns are haunting, yearning to join with God, celebrating this God of peace. As Jonathan and Minga explained the history of the Early Friends, Rwandans were grabbed by the picture projected on the wall, “The Presence in the Midst” with the Spirit of Jesus hovered over the silent assembly. “Who is the preacher in your church?” Jonathan asked. Is it a human, or is it Christ? In our Quaker tradition we listen to Christ’s presence instructing us how to change our lives. Leaders were also impressed by the persecution that the early Friends endured. For every Quaker imprisoned in the 1650s, five more people rose up the next day to carry the cross. When adult Quakers were arrested for worshipping as Friends, the older children would continue to worship even without their parents.

One older man testified how he used to be a traditional medicine man, then a Pentecostal man, and now a Friend’s pastor. For the last 20minutes we sang. This man led us in dancing, making a joyful noise for the Lord’s peaceable reign on earth.

The agenda for the day-long training was as follows:

One-day Training in the Quaker Way
10 February 2016, Musanze, Rwanda, 9am – 4:00pm

  • Prayer, singing, worship
  • Welcome and overview of the day (Minga)
  • Introductions in pairs (Jonathan)
    • Answer the questions. What is one important witness of your church? What is one of your church’s current challenges.
  • Report from pairs (Minga)
    • What is one response that stood out as you listened to your partner’s answers to these questions?
  • Principles of early Friends
    • Timeline, Jeremiah 23:29 (God’s word is a fire and a hammer) (Jonathan)
    • Personal Inward Conviction: “One even Christ Jesus who can speak to thy condition” Acts 9:1–9 (Jonathan)
    • The Present and Coming Reign of Christ, “Jesus Christ is come is come to teach his people himself” Jeremiah 31:31–34 (the law written on your hearts); John 4:21–24 (woman at the well). (Jonathan)
    • Continuing Revelation, Margaret Fell, 2 Corinthians 3:6 (Minga)
    • The Living Word of God, Robert Barclay, John 1:1–3, 14 (Jonathan)
    • Evangelism, Mary Fisher, Matthew 28:19–20 (Minga)
  • Tea Break (10:30am)
  • Small Groups: Each group responds to one principle and then reports back.
  • Characteristics of Ministers and of Elders, Brainstorm, Mark 6b–7 (Minga)
  • Exercise: Holding Each Other in Prayer (Jonathan)
  • Lunch (1–2pm)
  • Testimonies (Jonathan)
    • One central testimony is to testify to the love of God
    • “SPICES” = Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality, Stewardship
  • Exercise: Circulating through topic stations (Minga)
    • Simplicity
    • Peace
    • Integrity (transparency)
    • Equality
    • Report back one highlight
  • Exercise: Listener, Elder, Speaker. Each takes turn in each role. The speaker answers the question, “What is one challenge you are facing in the church”
  • Silent waiting worship prayer for each other and the Friends Church in Rwanda
  • Prayer to close

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