The Illawarra Presbytery commissioned Gedeon Tito Rutabura and Justin Ndengeye Bugegeri as Pastors in the UCA Wollongong Mission on Sunday, 30 January 2021.
Mindful of COVID safety, the number of attendees who attended in person was limited to 100 and a further 20 people from around the world joined via Zoom. The service was led by Rev Geoff Flynn, senior Minister at Wollongong Mission and deputy chairperson of the Presbytery. He charged each pastor to be good shepherds of Christ’s flock. While the congregation had to forego its usual energetic singing and dancing, the junior choir lifted the spirits of the congregation with songs of praise in English and Kirundi.
Gedeon and Justin approached Wollongong Mission in 2018 about the possibility of conducting a Wesleyan service of worship in their mother tongue for Banyamulenge families who, having fled persecution in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), were seeking to rebuild their lives. The congregation rapidly grew to incorporate new 10 families. Eager to learn about the ethos of the UCA, Gedeon and Justin completed the “Living our Values” and “Ethical Foundations in Ministry” and embraced the invitation to be commissioned as Pastors in the Afternoon service.
Prior to arriving in Australia with his family in 2018, Gedeon completed a Diploma in Law and a Diploma in Biblical Studies in Bujumbura, Burundi. He served as Youth Pastor in the Free Methodist Church of the Congo in a circuit of five congregations and 2000 members in Bujumbura.
Forced to flee his home in the DRC in 1998 to live in Uvira, Justin served as an Elder and Choir leader in Burundi. Moving to Kenya he was ordained as an Evangelist in the Breakthrough International Ministry. He and his family arrived in Australia in 2014.
In his response during the service, Gedeon thanked God for enabling him to do God’s will. Justin said, “I believe this is God’s plan”. Both thanked Rev Geoff Flynn for his mentorship.