|West African youth explore leadership, peace building|
United Methodist youth and young adults from the church's
West Africa Central Conference take part in a workshop in leadership and
peace building in
White Plains, Liberia. UMNS photos by Phileas Jusu.
By Phileas Jusu*
Dec. 18, 2008 | WHITE PLAINS, Liberia (UMNS)
In a region of Africa that has struggled with civil conflicts, United
Methodist young people gathered to learn ways to develop as leaders and
"We want Christian-disciplined leaders," Liberian Bishop John G.
Innis said Dec. 15, as he opened a three-day training for young people
from Sierra Leone, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Senegal, Cameroon and
Innis urged his listeners to transform themselves by renewing their
minds, citing the Apostle Paul as an example, and he encouraged them to
wait for God’s appointed time for whatever they want in the church.
The Rev. Caleb Dormah leads a session during the Dec. 15-17 event.
"As young people of the United Methodist Church, you should love your
church," he said. "Do what the Lord has called you to do with all your
might and commitment. Be not disrespectful to the leadership of your
church. Instead, be in prayer for them."
About 25 youth and young adult leaders from the United Methodist West
Africa Central Conference attended the workshop at the S.T. Nagbe Youth
Retreat Center in White Plains, about 70 kilometers north of Monrovia.
The training was organized by the West Africa Central Conference
Youth Academy—an arm of the Africa Youth Network funded by the Women's
Division of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries. The event
was designed to develop programs and plan work for United Methodist
youth in the region for 2009-12; identify resources for effective youth
ministry; equip youth leaders with basic leadership skills; and provide
other skills in conflict prevention, management and peace building.
Three countries represented by annual conference youth—Liberia,
Sierra Leone and Côte d’Ivoire —have experienced civil conflicts in the
As a result, a need exists for building "a new environment and
culture to transform deficient structures and capabilities" for emerging
leaders in the region, said the Rev. Caleb Dormah, Liberian community
worker and training facilitator.
"We have taught our children the wrong ways of life for far too
long," he said. It is time to teach youth a new way of life in a new
environment, he added.
Forum for youth ministry
The Liberia training was the second for the West Africa Central
Conference Youth Academy. The first, led by the Rev. John K. Yambasu,
was in Côte d’Ivoire.
The academy serves as a "forum for redefining and creating a youth
ministry that is contextually and prophetically relevant to youth in the
21st century," said Finda Quiwa, a regional missionary for youth
leadership development, education and training with the Board of Global
Ministries. "It is also a forum for resource development and
“We want to make sure that the young women the church is producing are not useless women.”
Participants spoke about the need to generate local resources for ministry and avoid relying on foreign aid.
Maior Anthony, young women’s coordinator in Nigeria, described how
her group raised N58,000 (about US$400) after organizing a training
program attended by 300 women from 16 church districts. They were taught
how to produce local goods and foodstuffs. Some of the items produced
were sold to raise funds for the organization.
"We want to make sure that the young women the church is producing are not useless women," Anthony said.
The leadership training event in Liberia ended a day before the West
Africa Central Conference was scheduled to meet Dec. 18-22 in the
capital city to elect a new bishop for the Sierra Leone Area. A new
bishop is yet to be elected for the Nigeria Area after the Jan. 11 death
of Bishop Kefas Mavula, 40, less than a year after his election as
*Jusu is communicator for the United Methodist Sierra Leone Annual Conference.
News media contact: Tim Tanton, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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