|United Methodists elect bishop for Sierra Leone|
Newly elected Bishop John Yambasu receives hugs and
greetings from delegates to the 7th session of the West Africa Central
A UMNS photo by Phileas Jusu.
By Phileas Jusu*
Dec. 22, 2008 | MONROVIA, Liberia (UMNS)
The Rev. John K. Yambasu, 52, has been elected bishop of The United
Methodist Church in Sierra Leone by delegates of the denomination’s West
Africa Central Conference.
During the Dec. 20 election in Monrovia, Yambasu was elected on the
first ballot, garnering 45 of the 68 votes cast, or 66 percent of the
votes. The two other candidates, the Rev. Anthony J. Braima and the Rev.
Alfred A.N. Karimu, polled 18 and 5 votes, respectively.
Bishop John K. Yambasu
Yambasu, a regional missionary with the United Methodist Board of
Global Ministries, will succeed Bishop Joseph C. Humper on Jan. 1.
Humper is retiring on Dec. 31 after 16 years of service.
The West Africa Central Conference has four annual conferences –
Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia, each with up to 20
delegates. At this year’s meeting, Côte de Ivoire was represented by 11
delegates and Nigeria by 17, while Sierra Leone and Liberia had 20
Bishop Rosemarie Wenner of the Germany Annual Conference, who
presided over the election, declared Yambasu the new bishop amid cheers
and ululations from supporters.
“When I get back to Sierra Leone, the first thing I want to do is to
engage in the peace-building process,” Yambasu told the gathering.
“First of all, I want to begin building a new relationship with my
bishop, whom I am succeeding, and then the two of us will work together
to make sure that the whole church is reconciled.”
Tension before election
Yambasu’s comments referred to tension that had arisen between him
and his supporters and the outgoing bishop, and to disagreements over
procedures for electing delegates from the Sierra Leone Annual
Conference. Delegates were not elected until a Sept. 25 conference call
in Freetown, led by Bishop Felton May.
Before the election, interim Bishop Arthur Kulah of the Nigeria
Annual Conference asked all three candidates to pledge to work with and
support whoever among them won. He prayed for them, asking God to
strengthen them in victory or defeat. He told them that it did not mean
that those who would not be elected were being rejected to serve God but
that “in the end, there will be one who will be elected.” He asked the
candidate who would win to know that the other two were not his enemies
After announcing the result, Wenner thanked Humper for his leadership, both in Sierra Leone and the church at large.
Ministry to youth
Until his election, Yambasu was a regional missionary for sub-Saharan
Africa for the Board of Global Ministries, with support from the
Women’s Division. His assignment included youth leadership development,
education and training, with a particular focus on providing ministry to
young people affected by war.
Since August, he had been working in New York -- where the Women’s
Division and Board of Global Ministries is based -- on building a
network in the denomination’s African conferences related to ministries
with children, including issues of child safety.
"The Women's Division has been blessed by the service of John Yambasu as
a regional missionary, as have the women children and youth on whose
behalf he has served,” said Harriett Olson, the division’s top
executive. “We pray for him now as he takes on new responsibilities and
offers leadership that continues to bless the church--both in Sierra
Leone and around the world."
German Bishop Rosemarie Wenner congratulates Bishop John K. Yambasu after his episcopal election.
Born in Bo in southern Sierra Leone, Yambasu received his primary and
secondary education at United Methodist mission schools. He was
ordained a United Methodist deacon in 1987 and an elder in 1990. He has
served as an associate pastor at Trinity United Methodist Church in
Moyamba; acting pastor and circuit minister at Musselman United
Methodist Church in Freetown; and acting pastor at Mayenkineh United
Methodist Church in Freetown.
He taught in many schools in Sierra Leone, including the
denomination’s Harford School for Girls in Moyamba, southern Sierra
Leone, where he was senior teacher and school chaplain from 1982 to
1990. He also was the Sierra Leone Conference’s director for Christian
Education and Youth Ministries from 1992 to 1998. He was founder of the
Child Rescue Centre in Sierra Leone and served as its executive director
from 1999 to 2000, when he became a regional missionary.
Yambasu holds a master of theology degree from Candler School of
Theology, Emory Uiversity in Atlanta, and a bachelor’s degree in
agriculture from Njala University College in Sierra Leone.
He and his wife, Millicent, have five children – Rebecca, Adima, John, Emmanuel and Elizabeth.
*Jusu is communicator for the United Methodist Sierra Leone Annual Conference.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or email@example.com.
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