27th March, 2008 Kigali, Rwanda– The Rwanda Youth Gathering opened today in a colorful ceremony presided over by Bishop George Kalisa of the Lutheran Church in Rwanda, at the Presbyterian centre Itito Isano.


Bishop Kalisa in his opening speech stressed the importance of the gathering since it brought together other youth from other countries. Bishop thanked the conveners who made it possible for the conference to be held in Rwanda. He went further to say -‘the youth are the art of the World’, and urged ELCA to hold such meeting/ conference annually noting that such conference offered opportunity for youth growth.


The head of the Lutheran Church in Rwanda recognized the presence of other youth from Catholic, Anglicans, Presbyterians and Islam who had been invited in the conference. He sighted the conference as inter-faith youth gathering geared towards finding a lasting solution to peace and reconciliation.


Youth can transform the World….

‘This conference presents an opportunity to learn, share thoughts and ideas on how to change the World by becoming peaceful…enhance forgiveness’- said the Bishop. In the opening speech Bishop reiterated the need to forgive our enemies. He urged all the youth participants to visit the Rwanda genocide museum as a constant remembrance of need for peace and co-existence among brothers and sisters.


Bishop Kalisa concluded that all humanity looks upon the youth to help in transforming the World into a better place. He added that this was only possible if -‘young people use God’s gifts to distinguish between good and evil…. And make choices for peace’.


Mr. Frank Kobukyeye- Director Peace Building and Conflict Management (NURC) presented at the youth conference the strategies used by Rwanda after the genocide to restore peace and promote national healing and unity. Frank said that ‘genocide isn’t only about approving death penalty but is based on respect for law and human rights’.


NURC Director underlined poverty as an huge hindrance to successive reconciliation. For reconciliation to succeed – ‘it (reconciliation) has to address the economic issues’, Frank concluded.


The Lutheran Church of Rwanda (LCR), in partnership with the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), is hosting a conference on youth leadership here in Kigali, Rwanda. More than 80-100 youth, including international and regional participants are streaming into Rwanda beginning today to discuss ecumenism, reconciliation, and poverty alleviation. The conference has three components: dialogue with church leaders and small group discussions; genocide memorial visit and reconciliation workshops; launching and building capacity of youth-led income generation projects.


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