Home > Our World > News > News Archives by Date > News Archive 2007 > March 2007 > News - March 2007 Archives
Texas, Cote d’Ivoire conferences join hands


About 14,000 worshippers crowd the Palais de Sports in Abidjan to close the Cote d'Ivoire Annual Conference meeting. UMNS photos by Eleanor Colvin. 









By Eleanor L. Colvin*

March 29, 2007 | ABIDJAN, Cote D'Ivoire (UMNS) 


Ivoirian United Methodists arrive for worship early and line up outside the stadium. Many were turned away due
to the large crowd.

The Cote d'Ivoire Annual Conference is joining with the Texas Annual Conference in a history-making partnership that further bridges the work and ministry of The United Methodist Church in the United States and Africa.

Bishop Benjamin Boni of Cote d'Ivoire and Bishop Janice Riggle Huie of the Texas region announced the alliance March 25 during a four-hour worship service in Abidjan. The service culminated the West African nation's second annual conference meeting that began March 20.

"In this annual conference today, we are making history," Huie told the crowd. "This relationship is the first partner relationship of the Texas Annual Conference with a conference in Africa. It is the first partner relationship of Cote d'Ivoire with a conference in the United States.

“...We are confident that the Holy Spirit will work mighty deeds in Texas and Cote d'Ivoire.”–Bishop Janice Riggle Huie

"We look forward to praying for one another, learning from one another, helping one another and joining together to work for a better world. … As a result of this trip, we are confident that the Holy Spirit will work mighty deeds in Texas and Cote d'Ivoire."

About 14,000 worshipers filled the Palais de Sports for the worship service. They began arriving almost two hours before the event, and many ultimately were turned away when the stadium reached capacity. 

Mutually beneficial partnership

The partnership, which also will engage the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries and international entities such as the United Nations Foundation, initially will focus on:

  • Supporting the denomination's Nothing But Nets campaign to prevent malaria;
  • Establishing community radio stations;
  • Strengthening the theological institute in Cote d'Ivoire;
  • Assisting the Methodist Hospital in Dabou;
  • Providing school lunches for Ivoirian students.

Participants in the conference meeting frequently noted the Texas-Cote d'Ivoire partnership will be a mutually beneficial relationship and is designed to capitalize on the strengths of both conferences. 


United Methodist Bishop Benjamin Boni speaks during a worship service closing the annual conference meeting
in West Africa.

Praising the Ivoirians for their evangelistic success, Huie said United Methodists in the Texas Conference have much to learn from the church in Cote d'Ivoire, where membership is growing despite war and poverty.

More than 642,000 United Methodists are in the southern region, while the count of the northern region is not well documented due to political unrest that split the country in 2002. Estimates have ranged as high as 1 million members for the entire nation, but the official church estimate is about 700,000.

Huie said she looks forward to learning strategies from Cote d'Ivoire regarding evangelism and new church starts that can be implemented in East Texas.

"Bishop Boni has a powerful vision for both evangelization and for improving the lives of all people," she said.

The United Methodist Church of Cote d'Ivoire also has an exceptional body of lay members, Huie said. Only 121 pastors serve the 720 churches in Cote d'Ivoire, which is served by more than 2,000 unpaid lay (local) pastors.

Methodists in Cote d'Ivoire were welcomed into membership in The United Methodist Church by the 2004 General Conference, the denomination's top legislative body. When the church's Judicial Council meets in April, it will review technical questions related to the 2004 action and the conference's current status.

One church

The partnership reflects the connectional strength of the church, the bishops said. 


Ivoirian worshippers offer songs of praise during the four-hour worship service.

"Our partnership also celebrates that the UMC is a global church," Huie said. "We celebrate that although the UMC is made up of different nations, languages, cultures, styles of worship, ways of dress, we are still one body - the body of Christ.

"No annual conference or country is alone. We are all connected in Christ."

Boni spoke on the global nature of the church at a conference luncheon on March 24 in the seaside city of Grand Bassam, which recognized guests and honored the elders of the church in Cote d'Ivoire.

"We are gathered here around the sea - the same sea we have in England, the same sea we have in Ghana, the same sea we have in the United States, the same sea we have in Senegal," said Boni. "This is to mark the uniqueness - the universality of the church. We are several nations, several continents around Jesus Christ."

*Colvin is the director of communications for the Texas Annual Conference.

News media contact: Marta Aldrich, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

Related Articles

Cote d'Ivoire denomination joins United Methodist Church

Cote d'Ivoire church not fully admitted, says Judicial Council

Church in Cote d'Ivoire Responds to Hurricane Katrina Disaster

United Methodist high court to meet in Philippines


Profile of Cote d'Ivoire

Texas Annual Conference

African Episcopal areas

Ask Now

This will not reach a local church, district or conference office. InfoServ* staff will answer your question, or direct it to someone who can provide information and/or resources.


*InfoServ ( about ) is a ministry of United Methodist Communications located in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. 1-800-251-8140

Not receiving a reply?
Your Spam Blocker might not recognize our email address. Add this address to your list of approved senders.

Would you like to ask any questions about this story?ASK US NOW

Original text