|Church pursues radio to reach across Côte d’Ivoire|
By Tim Tanton*
July 24, 2009 | ABIDJAN, Côte d’Ivoire (UMNS)
can teach the population to live in peace," says Robert Beugré Mambé,
who is planning Côte d'Ivoire's national election. UMNS photos by Mike
When United Methodists begin broadcasting by radio in December, they
will be employing a powerful new channel for informing and educating
people in this West African country.
“Radio can help with many things,” says Robert Beugré Mambé, a United
Methodist and the official in charge of planning the country’s national
elections. “First of all, it can help people to live in peace, to love
God. … People who love God will also love their neighbors.”
Those words are not said lightly in a country trying to emerge from a
period of instability and civil war. Mambé sees radio’s potential in
helping the country move forward, teaching people about citizenship and
abiding within social norms. It can also inform them during the voting
process and encourage a fair, free and peaceful election, he says.
“Radio for The United Methodist Church would be an excellent, desirable, essential and necessary initiative,” he says.
The church’s Côte d’Ivoire Conference will launch its own community radio station by the end of the year, with help from United Methodist Communications, the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry and the denomination’s Texas Annual (regional) Conference.
The station, EMU-CI – the letters are an abbreviation for The United
Methodist Church- Côte d’Ivoire – received its FM frequency license
this month. The station will be at 101.6 on Ivoirian radios.
The Ivoirian church currently has 30 minutes of airtime every Sunday to
preach the gospel on state-run radio and television, says Côte d’Ivoire
Bishop Benjamin Boni. “We need to go beyond that. … That’s why we are
grateful that UMCom and other partners are joining us to see how we can
set up a community radio (station) in this country.”
The Rev. Larry Hollon, who leads United Methodist Communications, has a
personal interest in developing community radio. “As a journalist I
realized many years ago, it was not enough to merely tell stories and
passively move on to the next,” he says. He wanted to be more than an
observer and to “address the underlying causes of so much suffering.”
Providing a lifeline
“Community radio can be a lifeline of information,” he says. It can
provide a voice for people who otherwise are not heard, and it can
convey information about health, economics, parenting, citizenship and
It is the “most efficient, effective and economical way to reach people
with important information,” he says. “It’s particularly valuable in
rural areas and among urban populations who are underserved or ignored
because they don’t represent viable markets for commercial
United Methodist Church currently has 30 minutes of air time every
Sunday to preach the gospel on state-run radio and television, says
Bishop Benjamin Boni.
Hollon has seen how community radio has supported women’s groups in
Kenya, brought people together across geographical distance in rural
areas of Latin America, and provided information to people in their own
language in Uganda and parts of Asia.
Jean Yoou of Abidjan, a former Côte d’Ivoire Conference lay leader,
sees radio as a powerful tool for evangelization. He notes that a
station would enable the church to reach people at any time with news
about the church.
Gen. Philippe Mangou, a United Methodist and leader of Côte d’Ivoire’s
military, is responsible for helping bring stability to the country. He
affirms the church’s plans for community radio.
“Communication goes beyond the borders,” he says. Through radio, the
church can reach many people. “With all that Côte d’Ivoire went
through, people need to listen to the word of God.”
United Methodist Communications has committed $155,000 to getting the
station up and running and funded for its first year. The Texas Annual
Conference is committing $50,000 and the Côte d’Ivoire Conference is
providing $20,000. The partnership is seeking additional funding for
years two through five.
The station will be behind Jubilee United Methodist Church in Abidjan
and will cost about $200,000 a year to operate. It will serve the
Abidjan area, and organizers are still waiting for the license, which
will specify the area to be served. The format, including hours of
operation, will depend on the final budget.
For the long term, the organizers are seeking partners who will help
the station financially, working to keep overhead costs down and to
find sources of revenue, and seeking grants to underwrite specific
Hollon notes that community radio is “about the community, not about radio.” It is about people and their stories, he says.
“When we help people to tell their own stories we are partnering with
them in empowerment and in personal and community development,” he
says. “That’s why supporting community radio is so urgent and so
Information on the community radio initiative is available here. Giving information can be found by going here and clicking on the “Donate Now” link under Community Radio Initiative.
*Tanton is director of the Media Group at United Methodist Communications.
News media contact: Tim Tanton, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com.
Bishop Benjamin Boni: “We would like to have our own radio and TV (stations).”
Gen. Philippe Mangou: “Through the radio, we can reach many people.”
United Methodist Radio in Cote d’Ivoire
Scenes of Côte d'Ivoire
Covering a Family
Congregations step out in faith, despite financial straits
Church fights poverty with jam project, financing
United Methodist leads Côte d’Ivoire’s election effort
Faith helps Ivoirian general endure suffering, challenges
Bishop Boni calls families, church, to prayer
Bishops bring Côte d’Ivoire, Texas together
A brief history of Methodism in Côte d’Ivoire
United Methodists confront Côte d’Ivoire’s pressing problems
Cote d’Ivoire denomination joins United Methodist Church
Boni becomes first United Methodist bishop of Cote d’Ivoire
Economic empowerment as Christian mission
Cote d’Ivoire: Poverty getting worse – study
Eglise Methodiste Unie Cote d’Ivoire
Foundation for United Methodist Communications
United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry
Texas Annual Conference
Timeline: Ivory Coast
Country profile: Ivory Coast
Cote d’Ivoire (U.S. Department of State)
La Clef Sarepta
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