Kiskiminetas Presbytery was one of eight presbyteries in the Synod of the Trinity to receive an Abundance Grant in 2017. Abundance Grants were created in celebration of the Synod’s 300th birthday to recognize and honor the region’s continuing participation in world mission. Presbyteries were invited to apply for a matching grant of $3,000 toward a world mission project or partnership of their choice.
Kiskiminetas Presbytery is in partnership with Gitarama Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in Rwanda. Recently, the Gitarama Presbytery restructured, adding many more congregations, causing Kiskiminetas to look for ways to increase its communication and support those additional congregations as well as the existing relationships forged during the past 10 years.
One way of doing that was to employ a translator in Rwanda for church-to-church emails to help congregations get to know one another better through emails and a Gitarama newsletter with pictures that is distributed to all the churches in the Kiskiminetas Presbytery. A second focus was on finding additional water sources for the community and drilling wells.
“Here in the Kiskiminetas Presbytery, we are continuing to serve together in a partnership with the Gitarama Presbytery in Rwanda,” said the Rev. Emily Koehler, the chair of the Kiskiminetas Presbytery Mission Team. “We are working together on water wells. Our partners have helped to identify a couple more locations that will undergo a testing process and hopefully become sites for wells.
“Grant money has also helped to pay for a person in Rwanda to work as a communications officer for churches in our presbytery and churches in the Gitarama presbytery. We are grateful to have received this financial support for our ministries in partnership!”
In the 10 years since the formation of the partnership between the Kiskiminetas and Gitarama presbyteries, cross-cultural influences have been woven into weekly worship experiences. When in churches in the Kiskiminetas Presbytery, one might find gifts and pictures that represent the connections that have been made across the miles. Kiskiminetas churches have also financially supported Rwandan churches’ evangelism efforts through community support like health insurance, education, cows, beans, mattresses and more.
A couple dozen people have traveled from Pennsylvania to Rwanda and had life-changing and life-giving experiences. Some of the results include healing from a recent grief, healing from an experience of domestic abuse, greatly increased hope for reconciliation and forgiveness, and a church reaching out again in love after a particularly rough period of hurt and turmoil within the church. In Rwanda, there are buildings and local mission outreach that have come from this partnership.