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United Methodist missionaries return to Liberia

11/21/2003 News media contact: Linda Bloom · (646) 369-3759 · New York

This story is part of a weeklong Close Up series on how the United Methodist Church is helping Liberia recover from war. Photographs, video reports and other features are available.

By Elliott Wright*

NEW YORK (UMNS) - United Methodist missionaries evacuated from war-torn Liberia in June are returning to the West African country.

The process is expected to be complete in early December, according to the Rev. R. Randy Day, chief executive of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.

Bishop John Innis of Monrovia said he was "so thankful because the return of the missionaries is a sign of hope for the people of Liberia." Innis leads the country's 168,300 United Methodists.

Fourteen expatriates in United Methodist mission service, mostly from other African nations, were evacuated from Liberia as civil war spread in the early summer. They took up posts in adjoining countries, such as Sierra Leone, Ghana and Guinea, many working with refugees or medical mission programs.

Henry R.N. Jusu, the area financial executive, was the first missionary to return to Monrovia in early November. He reported that people were able to move freely in the capital city but that many were seeking assistance and that mission facilities needed extensive cleaning.

Relief specialists with the United Methodist Committee on Relief also have returned to Liberia. On Nov. 10, relief agency workers near Monrovia began distributing a railcar's worth of health kits, layettes and used clothing. The shipment - assembled by volunteers at the agency's Sager-Brown Depot in Louisiana - responded to a call for basic necessities.

The agency is cooperating with the United Nations World Food Program to distribute food to displaced persons camps in the capital region. In a third project, workers are cleaning latrines in refugee camps.

Innis expressed the deep appreciation of United Methodists in Liberia for the prayers of the global church during the military conflict and for the material assistance through the United Methodist Committee on Relief.

"The relief efforts of UMCOR are very redemptive," said the bishop, who was in the United States for a meeting of the denomination's Council of Bishops and planned to return to Monrovia on Nov. 30.

Missionaries in Liberia can be supported through the Advance for missionaries outside the United States (No. 00779Z) or directly through the board's Covenant Relationship Program. Congregations or individuals wanting to support particular missionaries may contact the mission support office at

Gifts to the Liberian Emergency funds should be made to UMCOR Advance No. 150300 and sent to 475 Riverside Drive, Room 330, New York, NY 10115. Credit-card donations may be made by calling (800)554-8583.

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*Wright is the information officer for the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.

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