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United Methodist Bishop J. Alfred Ndoricimpa dies in Kenya

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Bishop J. Alfred Ndoricimpa
Aug. 1, 2005

By United Methodist News Service

United Methodist Bishop J. Alfred Ndoricimpa, bishop of the denomination's East Africa Conference, died July 29 at a hospital in Nairobi, Kenya.

The death was reported by the office of the United Methodist Council of Bishops, which received word from the Rev. Lazare Bankurunaze, the bishop's assistant. Ndoricimpa had checked into the hospital three weeks earlier.

Bishop Peter Weaver, the council's president, sent a message of condolence to the bishop's wife, Sabina. The council had not received further details about Ndoricimpa's death or funeral services as of Aug. 1.

Born in 1944 in Mihama, in the Rutana Province of Burundi, Ndoricimpa first became a pastor with the World Gospel Church, a U.S.-based interdenominational group with a Wesleyan doctrine. In 1980, the church became the Evangelical Episcopal Church and he became its first bishop.

In 1982, Ndoricimpa led the negotiations for the Evangelical Episcopal Church to join the United Methodist Church, which became effective during the denomination's 1984 General Conference in Baltimore. In August 1984, the Burundi Annual Conference became a part of the United Methodist Africa Central Conference.

Ndoricimpa was forced to move to Kenya in March 1994, after the 1993 assassination of the first democratically elected president in Burundi. Since he had served as spiritual advisor to President Melchoir Ndadaye, he was warned that his life might be in danger.

The exile in Kenya was to last for six years. In a 1999 interview with Mulegwa Zihindula, writing for the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, the bishop said it had been difficult leaving his church and his people to live in another country. "I receive thousands of letters from Burundian refugees in Tanzania and elsewhere looking for assistance, but I am not able to help them," he added.

In June 2000, Ndoricimpa returned to Burundi, escorted by U.S. Bishop David Lawson and Mozambique Bishop Joao Somane Machado, and received an enthusiastic welcome from church members. His permanent return to Burundi came a few months later. By then, the conflict between Hutu and Tutsi tribes had claimed some 200,000 lives.

During his time in Kenya, the bishop continued to work with the church in Burundi and expanded mission into Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Sudan. Those areas are now part of the East Africa Conference.

Ndoricimpa repeatedly had been denied a visa to enter the United States, which prevented him from attending meetings of the Council of Bishops and other events, such as General Conference.

Ndoricimpa and his wife, Sabina Ngeza, married in 1972, and had one daughter and one son.

*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in New York.

News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or


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