Long before the United Methodist Church in Burundi was known under this name, it was called World Gospel Church. As early as 1835, missionaries working in Burundi came together and agreed to subdivide the field geographically as an evangelistic strategy for their ministry. Friends (Quakers) took the central region of the country while the Free Methodists extended their work from the mid southeastern part to the west. The World Gospel Mission was left with the east. It opened its field in 1938 with Kayero in Rutana province as its first mission station. By that time Rutana was still a district of Ruyigi Province. In that process the World Gospel Mission extended its activities to Buhonga, Murehe and Murore, located in eastern Burundi.
Missionaries led the church for four decades. After a long struggle for indigenous leadership, a national was elected and consecrated as Bishop of the World Gospel Church in 1980. The church switched to the Evangelical Episcopal Church, Burundi for international recognition. Two years later, the Evangelical Episcopal Church in Burundi sought to become the United Methodist Church.
In May 1984 General Conference held in Baltimore, Maryland, the Evangelical Episcopal Church in Burundi became a part of the United Methodist Church worldwide. In August 1984, Burundi Annual Conference became a part of the Africa Central Conference.
After a military coup in 1993, Bishop and Mrs. Ndoricimpa have lived in exile in Kenya, keeping in close communication with the church in Burundi by fax, telephone calls, and visitors from Burundi. The exile community in Kenya has opened a hospitality center for Burundi refugees, and Bishop Ndoricimpa has taken the lead in establishing a Burundi international peace committee. Burundi has experienced conflict between Hutu and Tutsi tribes, with more than 200,000 people reported to have been killed since 1993. While in exile, the church in Burundi has experienced growth and development, with its mission expanding into Kenya, Sudan Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda. These areas now make up the East Africa Annual Conference.
The United Methodist Church in Burundi is the second largest religious denomination there. With its multi-ethnic character both in leadership and membership, the church has demonstrated for some time that the conflict is unnecessary. Former South African President Nelson Mandela has been instrumental in negotiations for ending the civil war, and both leaders and members of the church are actively working for peace in their land.
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