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Almeida Penicela, Mozambique's second bishop, dies at 74

5/16/2003 News media contact: Linda Green · (615) 742-5470 · Nashville, Tenn

By United Methodist News Service

United Methodist Bishop Almeida Penicela, 74, the second bishop of the United Methodist Church in Mozambique, died May 11, after a long illness.

Penicela was elected bishop by the Africa Central Conference in 1976. Before he could be consecrated, he was injured in an automobile accident and hospitalized in Africa and Switzerland for many months, leaving him a paraplegic. He was consecrated in 1977 and took over administrative duties for the church's Mozambique Area.

His health forced him to retire from active duty in 1988 but not before signing the first formal "covenant document" between the denomination and Mozambique. That agreement was signed with the Missouri annual conferences during the 1988 General Conference in St. Louis.

The former Missouri East Conference had a relationship with Mozambique going back to the late 1980s. Bishop Ann B. Sherer became directly involved with Mozambique during the mid-'90s. She made the country the focus of an area initiative and sought covenant churches for every pastor in Mozambique. This was accomplished at the 1999 sessions of the former Missouri East and West annual conferences. The Missouri congregations - now part of the consolidated Missouri Annual Conference - have provided resources and support in many ways since then.

Other annual conferences have also developed relationships with the Mozambique church over the years.

Despite his illness, Penicela continued contributing to the United Methodist Church. He was a noted linguist and an authority on several Mozambican languages, and he translated many works from English to Portuguese for use by the church in Mozambique and other parts of Africa. He also translated the denomination's Book of Discipline and the Bible into the local language of the people who live around the Chicuque Mission, a United Methodist-related ministry in his country. The bishop had lived near Chicuque since the accident, and the mission's hospital had assisted in his care.

"What struck me most when I visited in Bishop Penicela's home was his ongoing commitment to ministry," Sherer said. "Though he was limited to his hospital bed or wheelchair, he never stopped trying to serve the church and used his gifts where he was."

Calling Penicela an "inspiring man," Sherer said that "he remained hopeful, cheerful and committed to the church," despite all he'd been through. She would leave his home "encouraged in my own ministry, as would other visitors from around the world who came to share with him."

A native of Maxixe, Inhambane, Mozambique, Penicela became an ordained member of the Mozambique Annual Conference in 1968.

The bishop's wife, Angelina Joaquim Garrine Penicela, died five years ago. They were married in 1957. Four children survive them.

The funeral service was held May 13 at Chicuque, drawing more than 3,000 people. A memorial service will be held May 17. Burial will be at the Chicuque Mission Cemetery.

Messages of caring may be sent through Maria Helena Feluane, secretary to current Bishop Joao Somane Machado, at

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