En route to the Interfaith Summit on Africa set for July 19-21 in Washington, Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi of the Anglican Church of Burundi visited the Episcopal Church Center in New York City on July 13 and spoke of the challenges before his church.
Ntahoturi said that although his vision for the church has not changed in his first year as Archbishop, there has been a "delay in putting it into action" due largely to economic factors.
He identified the main challenges before Burundi as:
- Peace building – healing, reconciliation and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
- Poverty – generalized economic disadvantages after 13 years of war.
- HIV/AIDS – a health, social and economic problem.
- Integration – resettlement of military, and ex-refugees, and the shortage of land and employment.
Ntahoturi expressed gratitude to the Episcopal Church for the assistance Burundi is receiving from Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) to fight the spread of Malaria and HIV/AIDS and the part Peace and Justice Ministries played in the building of the peace center in the capital city of Bujumbura.
Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold welcomed the Archbishop to the Church Center. Griswold and Ntahoturi -- who are both Primates of two of the 38 member Provinces of the Anglican Communion -- also met in New York with the Episcopal Church's Presiding Bishop-elect, Katharine Jefferts Schori.
Dialogue about challenges
Sponsored by Church World Service, the summit will bring Christian, Muslim, Hindu and Jewish leaders from Africa together with "Africa-vested" American faith leaders, U.S. advocacy organizations, think- tank analysts, and congressional policy makers focused on foreign policy to dialogue about the continent’s major challenges.
"The issues that will be addressed are mission, peace building, water, Women and HIV/AIDS," said Ntahoturi. "All of these things, I think, have been put together to address the issue of poverty elimination because we have seen that one of the causes of war is poverty."
The Summit on Africa has gained support from members of Congress and will deal with key African issues including small arms trafficking; malaria and HIV/AIDS; durable solutions for the continent's thousands of displaced people; sustainable economic development; interfaith alliances; and the impact of faith voices in government policymaking.
"This will be an opportunity for me to network with other denominations and also the government because I feel the U.S., government should really give more to the poverty elimination program," he said