By Mark Michael

The Rt. Rev. Dr. Georges Titre Ande, a theology professor and senior bishop of the Province de L’Eglise Anglicane Du Congo was elected as the church’s fifth archbishop and primate by its General Synod, which met from 2 to 9 July. Ande, who has served for 15 years as Bishop of Aru in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s northeastern corner, will succeed Archbishop Masimango Zacharie Katanda when he is installed in January 2022.

“In a country marked by violence, unstable economic conditions and severe poverty, my election as the next Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Congo came as a ‘surprising dream,’” Ande told Anglican News Service.

“However, I understand that the ultimate purpose of our lives is to bring glory to God and to participate in God’s mission to the world. In this sense, the call of God for me to take such high responsibility implies faithfulness, accountability to God and care for the people of God. Therefore, as always, I must focus on proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom set within a very holistic understanding of mission.”

Ande earned a doctorate from Birmingham University in the United Kingdom, and was principal of the Anglican Theological College at Bunia in the Congo before his consecration to the episcopate. He is the author of Leadership and Authority: Bula Matari and Life-Community Ecclesiology in Congo (2010), an important survey of Congolese church history, which argues for a humbler, communally focused model of ordained leadership. He has continued to teach at the provincial theological college, which is now the University Anglicane Apolo Kivebulaya in Butembo, and he served a term on the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith, and Order, the Anglican Communion’s most important doctrinal and ecumenical decision-making body.

The Province de L’Eglise Anglicane Du Congo, which is also called the Anglican Church of the Congo, has thirteen dioceses and one missionary area, and has been an independent province since 1992, when it was created, along with the neighboring provinces of Rwanda and Burundi. It is concentrated in the Swahili-speaking region along the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s eastern border, though it also has a diocese based in Kinshasa, that national capital, which includes parishes in the neighboring Republic of the Congo.

Anglican mission work in the region was begun by Apolo Kivebulaya, a Ugandan priest who set up congregations among the Batwa people of the Ituri Forest, commonly known as the pygmies, beginning in 1896. Ande’s current Diocese of Aru is based in the Ituri Forest’s largest town, the center for the region.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s eastern region has been plagued by instability and violence in recent years. Various rebel factions from Burundi and Rwanda have set up bases in its dense forests, while bandits affiliated with the Allied Defensive Force, an Islamist militant group based in Western Uganda, have launched a series of attacks on church leaders and institutions. In February 2020, the Ven. Ngulongo Batsemire, archdeacon of the Diocese of Kivu-Nord, which is just south of Ande’s diocese, was killed by ADF rebels in February 2020 when he refused to convert to Islam. The same group claimed responsibility for a raid on the Anglican Mission Hospital in Boga in August 2019. Goma, the region’s largest city, also suffered a devastating volcanic eruption in May.

The Anglican Church of the Congo has been involved in the Anglican realignment movement. It has sent delegates to the major GAFCON conferences and expressed support for the Anglican Church in North America. The current Congolese primate, Archbishop Katanda, is a member of the GAFCON Primates’ Council.

However, like the neighboring Anglican Church of Burundi (and unlike neighboring Rwanda and Uganda) the church has also participated actively in the Canterbury-based Instruments of Communion, and Archbishop Katanda was elected in 2020 as an alternate member of the Anglican Communion’s Steering Committee.

Archbishop-elect Ande asked that his fellow Anglicans pray for ““God’s mercy and blessing for effective ‘transformational – servant – leadership’ actions in a country marked by violence and severe poverty where life is becoming more meaningless,” as well as for his consecration service in January 2022, the fight against Covid-1, and for “Congo to be transformed by the power of Christ’s resurrection.”