Feb. 15, 2005
|A UMNS photo by Peter Williams, WCC
The Rev. David K. Yemba, shown in a 2004 photo, is the new United Methodist bishop of the Central Congo Area.
By Andra Stevens*
Zimbabwe (UMNS) — The Rev. David Kekumba Yemba, professor and founding
dean of the faculty of theology at Africa University, has been elected
bishop of the Central Congo Area.
He will succeed Bishop Fama Onema, who served the area for more than 30 years.
said he was gratified by the confidence the church has placed in him.
"You think of the responsibilities the church is putting on your
shoulders," he told United Methodist News Service in a telephone
interview. "It is a great responsibility."
Feb. 12 election, which was part of the United Methodist Africa Central
Conference, took place in Kamina in Katanga Province. Yemba was elected
on the third ballot in a field of 11 candidates and consecrated Feb.
is taking over the leadership of one of the denomination’s largest
episcopal areas, comprising 10 of the 11 provinces of the Democratic
Republic of Congo. The church has 844,634 members in the Congo.
said he "has been with Africa University since the planning stages. In
fact, my family was the first to move to Africa University in 1991."
have prayed for this for a long time, and God has answered our
prayers," said the Rev. Laisha Bwalya, a Congolese student at Africa
University and a United Methodist pastor. "I’m very happy that Professor
Yemba is now a bishop."
is the second staff member in less than a year to be elected bishop.
The Rev. Eben K. Nhiwatiwa was elected bishop in August 2004 and
assigned to the Zimbabwe Area.
very good news; all my church is rejoicing for this election," said the
Rev. Otshudi Ndjekembo, a second-year divinity student and pastor from
the conference where Yemba will serve. Ndjekembo described Yemba as
"very intelligent and an excellent administrator" who will bring people
conference where he is going is really a divided conference, and
Professor Yemba has got quite a challenge ahead, but with his qualities
and experience, we are sure he will break down that division," said the
Rev. Banze Kyabuntu waKiluba, a pastor from the church’s North Katanga
Area, which also serves part of the Congo.
joined the staff of Africa University in August 1990 and guided the
theology school from its inception. He stepped down in December but
continued teaching systematic theology, doing research and writing.
Colleagues point to his patience, love for people and approachability as
qualities that will help the church in the Democratic Republic of
when things are difficult, he has a way of handling those things, and
you really need this quality when you are a bishop, so that you will be
able to sort out some difficult issues," said the Rev. John Kurewa,
founding vice chancellor of the university and currently E. Stanley
Jones professor of evangelism. He has worked with Yemba for more than 15
internationally respected scholar and theologian, Yemba is moderator of
the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches. He has
a bachelor of divinity degree from the Protestant School of Theology of
the Congo Free University at Kisangani and a doctorate in systematic
theology from the University of Strasbourg, France.
He was ordained an elder in the church’s Central Congo Annual Conference in 1970.
joining Africa University, he served as senior lecturer and associate
professor at Zaire Protestant Seminary. In 1987-88, he was a visiting
professor at Andover Newton Theological School, teaching Christianity
with an African Face and African Theology.
Yemba and his wife, Henriette, have five children.
*Stevens is director of information and public affairs at Africa University
News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com.