Dear Friends of Mission,
By the mercy of Almighty God we communicate with you from distant Congo-Brazzaville, the country that is bisected by the equator and wetted by the waves of the Atlantic Ocean, where the newly established Holy Metropolitan of Brazzaville and Gabon is headquartered, in order to express the sincere gratitude of the local Church and our littleness to all of you, the honorable brothers, for your valuable practical assistance through the well-known Orthodox Missionary Fraternity to the laborious missionary work that is carried out in this corner of the African land.
We never forget that the foundation, statutory principle and purpose of Mission always remain the Lord’s Commandment-legacy: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.»(Matt. 28: 19-20). This meeting with our Savior and Redeemer Lord, which is not symbolic but real, takes place in the Holy Chalice, in the Thanksgiving gathering. Consequently, through the Divine Liturgy all of us, the heavenly Orthodox faithful, become without exception partakers of the Life of Christ, while by receiving His Body and Blood we are inextricably united among us, members of the One, Holy, Undivided, Catholic Orthodox Church.
The predominant place for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist was and still is/has always been the church; the church, which is at the same time heaven, while it sanctifies and unites people under a common faith. This miracle occurred in Nkayi, the fourth-largest city in Congo-Brazzaville, where the Church of the Holy Transfiguration of the Saviour and St. Cosmas of Aetolia is located, which was completed just a few days ago. And this miracle was achieved thanks to your generous heart, which through our Fraternity offered the money required for its completion.
The aforementioned church building had remained unfinished since 2010 for lack of funding. It was founded in 2007 by the late blessed Metropolitan Ignatius (Madenlides) of Pentapolis. Work began on Monday, June 3, 2019 and lasted three months. Given the distance of Nkayi from Pointe-Noire (about 250 km) which raises prices in goods in the town where the erected church is located, the most expensive building materials, such as floor tiles, glue for their installation, wall-painting supplies, electrical stuff, were purchased from Pointe Noire to save money. 5,000 bricks, sand, gravel and cement were purchased locally.
On Sunday, June 9, 2019, we celebrated the Divine Liturgy in blessings of the construction work that was just beginning. The gratitude and joy of the parishioners was indescribable, since they would have their own beauteous church , to which we have also added a bell tower which was not planned, as well as men’s and women’s toilet facilities and a parish priest’s office. This joy culminated on September 29, 2019, the day on which the sacred inauguration service took place.
The Orthodox Mission needs the creation of churches, since the number of the Congolese who discover Orthodoxy «which has grace and power» – as they say when they first appear before us – is growing, so they need houses of prayer to worship true God, be taught the immaculate Orthodox faith and become candles of light themselves for their fellow countrymen.
In Congo-Brazzaville, with struggle and pain, with prayer and patience, with effort and labor, churches were made to glorify the name of the Triune God and convey the message of the Resurrection to this beautiful people. The Lord blessed us to establish seven parish communities with corresponding churches, three of which were unfinished for lack of resources, upon our establishment in the country (February 2013) as the First Shepherd of the neophyte local church of Brazzaville, while in the north the faithful, most of whom belong to the most ancient tribe of Pygmies, gathered in a rented house to pray.
But «the Lord God of hosts is alive»! (3 Kings 17: 1)! During the past six years (2013-2019), the Impfondo Church of St. John the Forerunner was erected from the ground up and was inaugurated on February 5, 2017), while two more magnificent church buildings have been completed and inaugurated in Pointe Noire, one dedicated to St. Photini (May 6, 2018) and another to St. Demetrius. The latter is the beauteous Cathedral, which was inaugurated on February 17, 2019 by His Beatitude Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa Theodore II).
According to the words of our Lord and Savior, the purpose of the Church is man’s sanctification. Consequently, no one can claim to have been saved by Christ, to have lived his personal resurrection, while turning his back on those whom the God-man Jesus called His brothers, namely the least. Beloved brothers in Christ, help to complete and build more churches in Congo-Brazzaville and Gabon, to hear more orthodox bells ring in Africa, the continent of the future, disperse the darkness of demons, and let the Light of Christ shine “before men, so that they may see your good works, and glorify your father who is in heaven. Amen!
† Panteleimon of Brazzaville& Gabon