|Delegates divide Nigeria Area into three conferences|
Anthony G. Danburam reads a petition that proposes the Nigeria Annual
Conference be split into three conferences. A UMNS photo by Phileas
By Phileas Jusu*
Feb. 4, 2009 | MONROVIA, Liberia (UMNS)
The Nigeria Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church has
been divided into three annual conferences for better management.
Nigerian delegates to the West Africa Central Conference, meeting
Dec. 18-22 in Liberia, had filed a petition requesting that their
conference be split into three areas with one bishop.
Nigeria “is a very big country and the church was spreading to over
five states, and one Nigerian state could be more than the size of
Sierra Leone,” said Bishop Arthur Kulah, interim leader of the church’s
The size, coupled with a rough terrain, could be difficult to manage
under one annual conference, he said. Currently, the conference has
more than 600,000 members.
No opposing votes
United Methodist delegates from around West Africa approved the
petition for division with 51 votes in favor, 17 abstentions and none
The proposal to divide the Nigeria Conference was first presented to
the 2008 United Methodist General Conference, the denomination’s top
legislative body, and was referred to the West Africa Central
Conference for approval. The new Nigerian conferences will be
recognized at the 2012 General Conference.
The new annual conferences are Southern Nigeria Annual Conference
with headquarters at Jalingo; Gwaten Nigeria Annual Conference with
headquarters at Gwaten Bambur; and Pero Nigeria Annual Conference with
headquarters at Pero.
The Nigeria Area headquarters will remain in Jalingo, and conference
boundaries “shall comply strictly with the Book of Discipline of The
United Methodist Church,” the petition stated.
Common property of the conference will be shared by the bishop’s
office, in consultation with the West Africa Conference’s executive
committee. The property among the three conferences will be distributed
“in the spirit of equity, inclusion and justice,” the proposal stated.
Leaders of the Nigeria Annual Conference have been requesting that
it be divided since the 2006 death of Bishop Peter Dabale, according to
Caroline Njuki, director of the Africa Desk at the United Methodist
Board of Global Ministries.
Njuki said the division “is welcomed” because “the Nigeria Annual
Conference will move forward positively now that they have received
what they wanted for some time. The issues that they faced will be
Prior to approval for the division, delegates were concerned about
the undue influence such a status would give Nigeria in terms of its
representation at the central conference. Also, some said the
one-conference structure should be kept because the church in Nigeria
is emerging from a period of turbulence and that dividing the
conference could lead to further struggle for leadership among clergy.
The conference has seen power struggles, division and the deaths of its
last two bishops within a period of three years.
*Jusu, director of communications for The United Methodist Church's
Sierra Leone Annual Conference, traveled to the West Africa Central
Conference as a correspondent for United Methodist News Service.
News media contact: Linda Green, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com.
West African youth explore leadership, peace building
Nigerian United Methodist Bishop Mavula dies
Done Peter Dabale, church's 1st Nigeria bishop, dies
Nigeria Annual Conference
Episcopal Areas in Africa
United Methodist Board of Global Ministries