US pastor Rick Warren hopes to expand his ministry to East Africa after years spent in Rwanda

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The American evangelical pastor Rick Warren says he hopes to expand his ministry to East Africa.

Warren, who visited Rwanda this past week, told The Associated Press that the church can play a role in building strong institutions in Africa.

The conservative pastor addressed a big rally in the Rwandan capital of Kigali on Sunday during thanksgiving celebrations marking 20 years since the genocide in which more than 800,000 people were killed.

Warren's California-based Saddleback Church has been working in Rwanda since 2004 after Rwandan President Paul Kagame read Warren's best-selling book "The Purpose Driven Life." Since then more than 1,200 members of the church have come to Rwanda as missionaries.

Warren said an Africa-wide gathering of pastors and church leaders is set to happen next year.