|Bishops meet outside U.S., greet Mozambican president
Nov. 1, 2006
Bishop Janice Riggle Huie
By Linda Green*
MAPUTO, Mozambique (UMNS) When the United Methodist Council of
Bishops opened its fall meeting Nov. 1 with a welcome service in the
city of Maputo, the event marked the first time the council has met as a
body outside the United States.
Nearly 70 episcopal leaders of the United Methodist Church came to
this sub-Saharan country to "demonstrate to the United Methodist Church
and to all the world that we are a global church," said Bishop Janice R.
Huie, president of the council. "We embody a global reality by being
Africa, she said, is a place where the church is "exploding." She
noted that it "is a place where we have a unique opportunity to
participate in kingdom-building" and to further the denomination's more
than 116-year relationship with Mozambique.
Unlike some African countries where peace is on a slippery slope,
Huie said, "Mozambique is at peace. This country has been at peace for a
good long time, and we want to nurture it, support it and make it a
The country has been at peace since 1992, following a United
Nations-negotiated peace agreement that ended a civil war. The
denomination considers Mozambique a significant area for mission through
church growth and redevelopment, education, landmine clearance, water
resource development and HIV/AIDS programs.
Bishop Joćo Somane Machado, the country's United Methodist leader, found
it difficult to express his feelings when the first members of the
council began arriving Oct. 28 for a series of meetings prior the
opening welcoming service Nov. 1.
|A UMNS photo by Linda Green
Bishop Joćo Somane Machado talks about his visit with the president of Mozambique.
"I was surprised when they chose to come to Mozambique and decided to
go outside the U.S for a meeting," he said. "It was just unbelievable.
"I feel so happy that they are in my country. To come here puts the
United Methodist Church in Mozambique at a higher level of recognition
and respect," Machado said. "The government will see that this church is
a worldwide church."
The United Methodist Church in Mozambique has 160,000 members in more
than 170 congregations across two annual conferences. It has 132
ordained pastors, 32 deacons and 278 evangelists.
The bishops are meeting in Mozambique through Nov. 6. With
offices in Washington, the council comprises 69 active bishops and 100
retired bishops. They are the clergy leaders of the 10 million-member
church in the United States, Africa, Europe and Asia.
Accompanying the bishops are spouses and other family members,
executives of churchwide boards and agencies, and members of
mission-related committees and groups that are also meeting. "We feel
humble, and we are trying to make everyone feel that it is safe here,
that they are at home and they are with brothers and sisters," Machado
Visit with the president
On Oct. 31, Huie and Machado were part of an episcopal delegation that
visited the president of Mozambique, Armando Emilio Guebuza, who has
been in office since December 2004.
|A UMNS file photo by Mike DuBose
A woman waits for medical care at the Chicuque Rural Hospital in Mozambique.
Calling the visit a privilege, Huie described the president as "a
dedicated Christian and a man who is trying to lead his country in ways
of peace and self-sufficiency." The council's visit was "a way to thank
him for the way he has worked with the United Methodist Church,"
including his support of the Chicuque Rural Hospital and other church
ministries and projects, she said. "In the same way, we are trying to be
supportive of the self-development of the people of Mozambique."
Both Huie and Machado relayed the president's interest in the
church's work with AIDS and malaria and his desire to know why the
episcopal leaders of the United Methodist Church were in Mozambique. "We
shared our historic ties to the country," Huie said.
According to Machado, the delegation was "warmly welcomed," and when
the president learned the council's meeting in Mozambique was the first
one outside the United States, "he called it a great honor to receive
for the first time the United Methodist Church, which is more than 116
years in Mozambique."
The president, he said, expressed openness to working with the church
and said eliminating poverty is one of his top priorities. Machado
added that the president's priorities surrounding poverty, health care
and education dovetail with those of the United Methodist Church. "The
president noted that they need help and support, even moral and
spiritual support. It was a wonderful meeting."
A committee on a United Methodist holistic strategy on Africa,
created by the 2004 General Conference and administered by the United
Methodist Board of Global Ministries, met Oct. 30-31. Also, a committee
working to develop models for pension systems for pastors and church
workers in the central conferences met Oct. 30.
*Green is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com
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