A week ago Tuesday our friend Pastor Tshiyoyo came to our offices. He delivered an invitation for the consecration of the Lubi II parish in Tshikaji. Finally! We had been waiting for this event since we returned to Congo in early 2014. Some of you will undoubtedly remember that the church building of this parish was destroyed in August 2010 by a terrible wind storm. Here is a link which recalls that event. The church was fully rebuilt in 2013. Now it was time to consecrate this new church building. Many churches in the US played a vital role in helping with the reconstruction of this church. We thank you again!
It was a joyous occasion. Pastors and elders from different parishes in the presbytery of Nganza came to join the local parish of Lubi II. A choir from the local military academy came and sang several animated songs. The local chief was present to give thanks. Congolese Presbyterian Church (CPC) leaders spoke words of thanks to God and appreciation for the people of Tshikaji. I (Bob) spoke on behalf of other missionaries and PC(USA), remembering the tragedy of 2010 and thanking CPC leadership, our department leadership, the local pastor, the contractor and friends and churches from the US for their unswerving commitment to stand with the people of Tshikaji and to help rebuild.
The consecration was timely in another sense. Our Department of Evangelism and Church Life recently republished a book on “Liturgy.” This book assists pastors and lay leaders as they lead and facilitate worship. One section addresses how to consecrate a new church building. Pastor Tshiyoyo and other leaders of the presbytery were greatly pleased to have this resource to guide them in the day’s events. Let me describe some of the elements prescribed for consecrating a new church building. First, we marched around the new church building three times singing songs of praise and adoration. It felt as if we were the children of Israel marching around Jericho! We then gathered in front of the church building where our colleague Pastor Mboyamba offered a prayer of thanksgiving. He then cut the ribbon. A leader of the presbytery entered and sprinkled water throughout the building, a symbolic act of cleansing. Then we all processed inside and remained standing, again offering prayers of thanksgiving and petition. After singing another hymn, the liturgist then offered a prayer to consecrate the building according to this scripture from 1 Kings -
Then Solomon said,
The LORD has said that he would dwell in thick darkness.
I have built an exalted house, a place for you to dwell in forever.” (see 1 Kings 8: 12)
At the beginning of the service elements for worship were brought forward and the liturgist consecrated them by prayer. These elements included: a new communion set, baskets for offerings, a Bible and a hymnbook. The rest of the worship service was fairly typical, and Pastor Mboyamba praised the liturgist afterwards for keeping the service orderly and meaningful. The evangelist of the synod preached from 1 Kings, emphasizing that the LORD’s house is to be a place of welcome to strangers and foreigners (see 1 Kings 8: 41 – 43).
Afterwards we were broken up into groups and went to the local school to enjoy a nice meal. We commended Pastor Tshiyoyo for putting this event together. It was truly a day of rejoicing and thanksgiving. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for all that you have done!