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Done Peter Dabale, church's 1st Nigeria bishop, dies

 

Bishops Done Peter Dabale (left) and Janice Riggle Huie pray during
opening worship at the 2004 General Conference in Pittsburgh. 
A UMNS file photo by Mike DuBose.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aug. 28, 2006 | HOUSTON (UMNS)

 

Bishop Done Peter Dabale 

The first United Methodist bishop of Nigeria, Done Peter Dabale, died Aug. 26 at the Methodist Hospital. He was 57.

Bishop Dabale was admitted to the hospital Aug. 14 and was diagnosed with liver cancer, said Bishop Janice Riggle Huie in an Aug. 27 statement announcing the news. Huie is president of the denomination's Council of Bishops and leader of the church's Houston Area.

Dabale had flown from Nigeria to Houston for diagnosis and treatment. Once in Houston, his condition deteriorated rapidly and unexpectedly, Huie said. He died from complications related to the disease.

"Peter Dabale was a pioneer in the United Methodist Church in Nigeria," Huie said. "Under his leadership, United Methodist churches worked to help people of all faiths in a country that has been torn by conflict.

"The church in Nigeria has shown tremendous growth. Before he was elected bishop, there were about 10,000 United Methodists in Nigeria. Now there are more than 400,000 members of the church there."

 

Bishop Gregory Palmer  

Bishop Gregory Vaughn Palmer of the Iowa Area, who worked closely with Bishop Dabale for a number of years, called the Nigerian bishop "an intensely focused person who led the growth of the church in Nigeria. The church in Nigeria has a fullness of life that reflects his intensity. The people of Nigeria live the gospel, not only through proclaiming the word, but in meeting human needs by operating clinics and schools for all people."

"Bishop Done Peter Dabale was one of a generation of bishops who put their hearts and souls into building up the United Methodist Church in Africa," said the Rev. R. Randy Day, top staff executive of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries. "He often found himself in challenging, even hostile, political and social environments in Nigeria, yet his energy and determination remained strong. The bishop was a man of vigorous faith and action. We are in prayer for his family and the church in Nigeria."

Dabale had been scheduled to take early retirement in 2007. He was elected the first United Methodist bishop of Nigeria in 1992 after serving as general superintendent of United Methodists in the West African nation. He was ordained by Bishop Akila Todi.

He was born April 26, 1949, in Nyabalang-Yotti, of the Jereng District of Adamawa State, Nigeria. He was married to Kerike Christiana Dabale and had 11 children: Rebecca, Dearsley, Lulah, Maran, Kaka, Wehnam, Dony, Yoknyam, S. Danjuma, Omega and Sadique. His daughter, Yoknyam "Love" Dabale, a student at Duke Divinity School, Durham, N.C., was with him when he died.

Coming from a village and a family where young people did not attend school, Dabale's career was varied. He worked as a nurse, held administrative and teaching positions in the field of agriculture, and held pastoral, teaching, administrative, and episcopal positions in the church.

He earned numerous degrees and certifications. His higher education began at the Government Agriculture School in Yola, where he received a certificate in general agriculture. He also received a certificate of nursing from the Nursing School at Numan, where he was a nurse and ward assistant at Numan General Hospital. In 1980, he traveled to Barneveld College in the Netherlands, where he earned an international diploma in animal husbandry. He earned a diploma in theology from the Theological College at Bukuru-Jos. In 1987, he received a D.D. in theology from the Gbarnga School of Theology in Liberia.

Dabale also studied agriculture and theology at the University of Alabama. He was the officer-in-charge at the Experimental Farm Centre Numan. He taught at a government school in Zing, at Banyam Bible College and at the Kakulu Bible Institute, where he also served as principal. All are in Nigeria.

He served as superintendent of the Muri East District (Evangelical United Brethren), and he did pastoral work in Zing and Yonko, Muri East, all in Nigeria.

He was the author of books on organic farming, animal production and agricultural development. He also authored a book on faith and technology.

Dabale was a delegate to the 1992 General Conference in Louisville, Ky., and was serving as general superintendent of the United Methodist Church, Nigeria, when he was elected to the episcopacy by the West Africa Central Conference on Aug. 14, 1992.

He was a member of the board of governors of the Theological College of Northern Nigeria; chairperson of the Christian Association of Nigeria, in Taraba State; a member of the Taraba State Peace Committee; a member of the Advisory Committee for War Against Indiscipline and Corruption, Taraba State; and a member of the Northern Nigeria Elders Forum (Christian).

Funeral arrangements are pending in Nigeria. Cards and expressions of care may be sent to the family of Bishop Dabale c/o the Texas Annual Conference Episcopal Office, 5215 Main St., Houston, TX 77002. The Texas Conference will forward all expressions to the family.

News media contact: Stephen Drachler or Tim Tanton, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5400 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

2002 Audio Interview with Bishop Done Peter Dabale

"It is not easy in Africa."

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Resources

Council of Bishops

Global Connections: Nigeria