|African bishops glad to not travel to the U.S. for meeting
Nov. 10, 2006
Bishop Kainda Katembo
By Linda Green*
(UMNS) — United Methodist bishops across Africa were elated that the
denomination's Council of Bishops decided to conduct its first meeting
outside the United States.
Seventy bishops met in
Mozambique Nov. 1-6 for the council's semiannual meeting. Bishop Kainda
Katembo, Southern Congo, spoke for his colleagues when he said, "I think
all the African bishops are more than happy to have it here."
The meeting in Africa
was "close, we were at home and did not have to travel a long distance,"
Katembo said. "Bishops of the United States had to experience what we
go through instead."
He added being in
Africa afforded the bishops the opportunity to see some of the continent
and to get to know United Methodists in Africa who comprise the three
central conferences on the continent, the 21 annual conferences and the
four provisional conferences.
With offices in Washington, the council comprises 69 active bishops and
100 retired bishops; they are the clergy leaders of the nearly 10
million-member church in the United States, Africa, Europe and Asia.
Bishop Emerito P. Nacpil
Bishop Emerto Nacpil
was an active bishop for 20 years in the Philippines before retiring six
years ago. He has attended all but four council meeting since he
He said that meeting
outside the United States not only expressed the global nature of the
church, but also allowed the council "to express solidarity with a
Central Conference within an African country in a developing world."
Nacpil said he hoped that "resources of our faith and our witness" will make a difference in the life of the church in Africa.
Bishop Daniel Wandabula of the East Africa Area is a relatively new
bishop in the council. He called the council's meeting in Mozambique
both a "miracle and a golden opportunity" because it shows the global
aspect of the denomination "and gives brothers and sisters from the
United States and other parts of the world a chance to see how the
church in Africa is doing."
Bishop Daniel Wandabula
For Bishop Joseph
Humper of the Sierra Leone Annual Conference, the reversal of travel for
the bishops "is history in the making." He said that the bishops coming
to Africa instead of African bishops going to the United States "is the
concept of a global church coming to reality."
African Methodist Episcopal Bishop Sarah Davis, the presiding prelate of the 18th
Episcopal District, which includes Mozambique, Lesotho, Botswana and
Swaziland, learned of the United Methodist bishops' Nov. 1-6 meeting in
her territory and flew in to join and support them.
During a Nov. 5
cultural gala that also included a surprise birthday celebration for
California-Pacific Bishop Beverly Shamana, Davis greeted her colleagues
and friends of Methodism. "I am delighted to be with you. I am honored
to be a part of the history that you have made," she said.
She called the
council's Mozambique meeting "wonderfully historical and divinely
exciting." The United Methodist Church, she said, "stepped out to
demonstrate what it means to be a connectional church."
On Nov. 6, the bishops sent a message to the government of the
Democratic Republic of Congo congratulating them on the country's recent
|A UMNS photo by the Linda Green
African Methodist Episcopal Bishop Sarah Davis (center right), accepts a token from United Methodist Bishop Janice R. Huie.
"On this glorious
occasion," the bishops of the United Methodist church "would like to
take this opportunity to congratulate President Joseph Kabila Kabanga
and the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo for this historic
The message, signed by
council president Janice R. Huie, said the bishops hope that election
results will be accepted by the candidates and by the people for the
best interest of the African nation. The bishops also expressed their
prayers for both the government and the Congolese people and conveyed
the denomination's support "in this new era that is dawning" for the
"We further pray for the peace, unity and prosperity for your great country," the message concluded.
During a press
conference with Mozambican media, Huie said the bishops were "inspired
by the people of Mozambique" by listening to their stories and
participating in worship. "We have tried to make decisions on behalf of
Mozambique as well as the rest of Africa," she added.
*Green is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com.
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