Bishop Nominee: Jean Baptiste Ntagengwa


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Letter of Introduction, Essays, Resumé:  Read Jean Baptiste Ntagengwa's complete materials here.

The Rev. Canon Jean Baptiste Ntagengwa The Rev. Canon Jean Baptiste Ntagengwa, Th.D.

Dear people of God, members of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts:

I am pleased to introduce myself to you as a candidate for your seventeenth bishop diocesan.

I was born and raised Presbyterian until 1992 when I was received into the Eglise Episcopale au Rwanda. However, I was connected to and served in the Eglise Episcopale au Rwanda since I was in secondary school. Even when I was working in the secular world, during my free time I was involved in the ministry of the Eglise Episcopale au Rwanda as choir member, outreach volunteer, etc. I got married in August 1993 and my wife and I went to Kenya for a short intensive English course in January of 1994 with the aid of the Eglise Episcopale. This opportunity saved our lives big time because a few days before going back to Rwanda, the presidential aircraft was shot down which triggered the genocide that started on April 6th. From that time on, we became refugees, first in Kenya, then in a refugee camp in Zaïre. I was ordained Transition Deacon when I was in that Refugee Camp in September of 1995.

In September of 1995, my wife, our first born, and I left the camp and went to Kenya for formal theological education. I continued to serve God and God’s people in Kenya while I was also going to school. In Kenya, I got ordained into the priesthood in January of 1997. After my graduation from St. Paul’s United Theological College (currently St. Paul’s University), Limuru, I was blessed to be awarded a full scholarship by Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge, Massachusetts. I left Kenya in September of 1999 to come to Harvard Divinity School. 

When I got here, this diocese welcomed and supported me in many ways. I came to fall in love with this diocese, the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts. This love was fully displayed last year when my wife, Christine, got diagnosed with gallbladder cancer in December 2022. When our diocesan community was informed about this, everyone came in support. Prayers were organized around the diocese. When ultimately, she left us, the entire community of this diocese came to her funeral despite it being one of the coldest days in February of 2023.That touched my heart, and I will never forget it.

According to our Book of Common Prayer, the bishop is “to act in Christ’s name for the reconciliation of the world and the building up of the church; and to ordain others to continue Christ’s ministry.” A bishop stands in the apostolic succession, maintaining continuity in the present with the ministry of the Apostles. According to your profile, this diocese hopes to be “the Hands and Feet of Jesus'' and to speak the truth. Those have been and are my goals as well. I feel called to act in Christ’s name in furthering reconciliation here in Massachusetts and beyond.

From both my experiences, and my more than two decades of living and serving in this diocese, I believe that I am equipped to be the bishop you are looking for. I bring an exclusive combination of relational, pastoral, strategic, organizational, and collaborative skills to the apostolic succession ministry. Specifically, this role would be well served by my experience as a long-term parish priest, transition minister and Canon for Immigration and Multicultural Ministries in this diocese. As your Transition Minister, I coordinated the clergy transition process for congregations within our diocese and in this process, I worked with search consultants, search committees, discernment committees, and vestries of more than 100 congregations during their search and transition processes. I was a pastor who listened to people who were in transition and made things happen. My personality as both a relationship builder and a creative leader as demonstrated throughout my ministry and as a collaborator across gender, age, country-of-origin, and racial differences were useful during this time and will be useful to this position of bishop if you give me that chance.

As the Canon for Immigration and Multicultural Ministries, I support the development of ministries in congregations with communities of color and immigrants. I work in collaboration with the regional canons and other diocesan staff and local leaders to facilitate our response to wider immigration concerns. I also organize educational and liturgical events across the diocese on different immigration and multicultural topics and issues as we lift up many cultures and languages that are present in the pews of our diocese. This is made possible by my skills as a pastor, colleague, good administrator, visionary and as a staunch believer in the priesthood of all believers. These skills will continue to be in my toolkit should I be honored to become your bishop.

As a parish priest (both stipendiary and non-stipendiary), I oversaw the spiritual life and day-to-day activities of the parish, especially when I was a Priest-in-Charge. I preached, celebrated Eucharist, did pastoral care, baptisms, funerals, etc. I initiated structural, administrative, and leadership changes. I know how it feels to lead parishes with old buildings and deferred maintenance, especially when one is part time. I know how a well-structured stewardship is important in congregations that don’t have many resources and how to collaborate with others in order to be able to do the work that God has called us to do. I know how to run stewardship campaigns as I did in my parish ministry.

Dear people of God, I know that this diocese has some challenges and I welcome the opportunity to help us overcome them. I also appreciate all those organizations, partnerships and other mission initiatives and ministries that are springing up here. I would look forward to leading this diocese as we “soar on wings like eagles” (Isaiah 40:31) together and take those ministries to a higher level. I can work with those with physical, mental, and spiritual challenges, as well as young and old alike. I am particularly aware of the weariness that some of our congregations feel when it comes to financial matters and lay leadership burnout. I know how many of our clergy members are tired due to the pandemic and the demands of part-time parish ministry. I also know that there is an increased demand for deacons and the need to better align their ministry within the current state of the church. I am committed to taking the lead as we address all these matters that are current in the state of our church. I find joy in pastoring all types of people and walking with them on their journeys of faith. I look forward to discerning with you how we might minister together in this diocese seeking justice for all, taking care of God’s creation, and sharing God’s love with the world as your bishop. Thank you.

Yours fraternally in the Lord,
Jean Baptiste Ntagengwa

Letter of Introduction, Essays, Resumé:  Read Jean Baptiste Ntagengwa's complete materials here.

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