Holy Trinity Old Strathcona hosted a coffee morning on Wednesday, July 26, creating an opportunity for clergy from Edmonton Diocese to meet with Bishop Sixbert of Buyé Diocese and his wife, Clotilde, who is the President of the Mothers’ Union there.
Bishop Jane recounted the development of the partnership between Buyé and Edmonton. Many dioceses throughout the worldwide Anglican Communion are partnered through the Companion Links program. Some have signed on to a fixed term of cooperation. Bishops Jane and Sixbert, however, have felt from their first meeting at the Lambeth Conference that a friendship doesn’t come with a built-in end date, and so this relationship has been forged as an open-ended journey. There have been several visits back and forth since then, providing each group with opportunities to learn from the other.
Bishop Sixbert described the life of the clergy in his diocese. Pastors there have a house to live in, but are not paid. Their wives plant food and perhaps raise some livestock to sustain the family. Buyé Diocese is working to get each clergy family a cow, which is a valuable asset, both for milk and for fertilizer.
In answer to a question about the role of lay readers in Buyé, Bishop Sixbert said, “We could not run the church without them.” Lay readers in Buyé help with church services and with teaching, and may also be responsible for cleaning the church.
The primary prayer request from Buyé is for peace and reconciliation; “that the Holy Spirit will soften hearts and that people will learn to understand each other.” Burundi suffered a brutal civil war from 1993 to 2006 and unrest continues to flare up over various issues.
Edmonton parishes are asked to pray for parishes in Buyé to be strong and continue in their work to bring people together and to share the Gospel of Christ; and also for Bishop Sixbert’s health and for safety in travel. When he and Clotilde return to Burundi, it will be the time of year when many churches hold confirmation services and the roads to those churches are usually dusty, gravel roads.
The coffee morning also provided an opportunity to share a little information about some of the Buyé parishes that are ‘twinned’ with Edmonton parishes. Bishop Sixbert is very encouraged that his parishes and clergy are prayed for by name each week, even if the pronunciation of names is tricky! He pointed out that this difficulty goes both ways, as he had a little trouble pronouncing “Wainwright.”
The list of twinned parishes is on the Diocese of Edmonton website along with information about how these “twin” relationships are meant to work. Email contact information for Buyé parishes may be available. Contact the Synod Office.