|Nigerian United Methodist Bishop Mavula
Bishop Kefas Kane Mavula of Nigeria records an interview
while visiting the United Methodist Board of Global
Ministries in New York in this undated file photograph.
Bishop Mavula died Jan. 11 in the Jos (Nigeria)
A UMNS file photo by Mary Beth Coudal,
A UMNS Report
Jan. 11, 2008
Methodist Bishop Kefas K. Mavula of Nigeria died Jan. 11 of an
undetermined illness, less than a year after his election as
bishop. He was 40.
Mavula died at the ECWA Evangel Hospital in Jos City,
Plateau State, Nigeria. He was taken to the hospital Jan. 8
after complaining of stomach pains and vomiting blood.
An autopsy will be performed, according to Mavula's
administrative assistant, the Rev. James Besau Vocks.
Mavula is survived by his wife, Jessica, and six sons
between the ages of 4 and 19. Funeral arrangements are to be
made during a Jan. 14 meeting with his cabinet staff.
He had just presided over the Jan. 2-6 annual conference
gathering of the Pero Provisional Conference and attended a
function at Junior Seminary, a secondary school, located a
mile from the episcopal office, according to Dauda Marafa, a
United Methodist communicator in Nigeria.
According to Vocks, Mavula took medication on Jan. 4 for a
fever and awoke Jan. 7 with a body rash and stomach pains.
After he was hospitalized in Jalingo, Nigeria, it was
determined that the bishop would receive better medical care
at Jos City, an eight-hour trip by car, but mechanical
problems with the bishop's automobile delayed his arrival and
The bishop's condition improved after being treated at the
hospital, but he died Jan. 11 after a setback.
Houston Bishop Janice Riggle Huie expressed sadness in
behalf of the Council of Bishops. "He was so full of life, the
love of the Gospel and of Jesus Christ, and was passionate
about spreading the Gospel in Nigeria," said Huie, president
of the council.
Elected bishop on March 3, 2007—his 40th
birthday—Mavula "quickly garnered the love and respect" of the
people of the United Methodist Church in Nigeria, she said.
"He had already earned a reputation for fairness, for
spiritual depth and for his deep commitment to The United
Mavula succeeded Done Peter Dabale, who died of cancer and
was elected the first United Methodist bishop of Nigeria in
1992. The church in Nigeria has more than 400,000 members.
Iowa Bishop Gregory Palmer, who presided at Mavula's
election as bishop and has had Mavula as a guest in his home,
called Mavula "a man of genuine Christian piety" who possessed
all of the tools needed for effective episcopal leadership:
"personal piety, love for the church, administrative ability
and capacity to build relationships."
After his election, one of the first things Mavula did "was
to fall to his knees in submission to God in acknowledging
that he had been called. It was so genuine and assuming. He
just exuded humility and grace," said Palmer,
president-designate of the Council of Bishops.
"We had great hopes for Bishop Mavula," said Peggy Sewell
of the episcopal services office at the United Methodist
Council on Finance and Administration. "We had a really good
relationship with him, and his death is a tremendous loss for
Ethel Johnson, a retired professor of church administration
at the Methodist Theological School in (Delaware) Ohio, had
known Mavula since her travels to Nigeria in 1985.
trained him to be an administrative assistant (to the bishop)
so that he would be equipped to do his job," she said,
offering thanks for his life. "I give praise and thanks that
he served as a bishop for 10 months because he was a man of
deep faith, had a willing spirit and an ability to reach out
to everybody. He had a kind, loving spirit."
Mavula receives a
Book of Discipline from
Bishop Ernest Lyght
during a May 2007 Council of Bishops meeting.
file photo by Linda
Bishop Felton May described Mavula as "a man of compassion,
energy and wisdom, with an exhibited and unshakable faith in
May, interim top executive with the United Methodist Board
of Global Ministries, said Mavula's "life's journey from home
to the episocpal office reflected a spirit of Christ-like
radiance. We will remember his beloved family in our prayers
and we pledge our continued spiritual and financial
Growth and training
Mavula was born March 3, 1967, in the village of Nyaja in
Taraba State, Nigeria. He became a Christian in 1976 and was
baptized June 27, 1977, by the Rev. Jonah B. Matindi.
He earned bachelor's and master's degrees in theology from
the Theological College of Northern Nigeria. He was ordained a
deacon in the Nigeria Annual Conference in 1993 and an elder
Mavula served as teacher, vice principal and principal at
Kakulu Bible Institute in Taraba State. He was principal of
Didanga Bible School from 1992 to 1995, then administrative
assistant to Bishop Dabale from 1995 to 2003. Until his
election, Mavula was principal at the UMCN (United Methodist
Church in Nigeria) Junior Seminary.
Among other responsibilities, Mavula served as a member of
the Board of Governing Council, Theological College of
Northern Nigeria, from 1993 to 1995. He also was a member of
the Africa University board of directors and chairman of the
Peace Committee of Lau, Taraba State.
*Green is a United Methodist News Service news writer based
in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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