|Bishop Yemba re-elected in the Congo
United Methodist Bishop David Kekumba Yemba
is now a bishop for life following his Aug. 26 re-election to oversee
the church's Central Congo Area.
A UMNS photo by Ronny Perry.
By United Methodist News Service
Aug. 27, 2008
United Methodist Bishop David Kekumba Yemba has been re-elected
to oversee the church's Central Congo Area after four years of service.
With his re-election, he is now a bishop for life.
Yemba won Aug. 26 on the third ballot by the Congo Central Conference, meeting in Kananga in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The election had begun with three candidates, but one was
dropped with too few votes. The final ballot gave 119 votes to Yemba and
35 to the Rev. Richard Okoko, a pastor in the church's East Congo
“It was a great expression of joy to know the
people have confidence in what we have been doing and want to continue
as far as the Lord is helping,” Yemba said in an Aug. 27 telephone
interview with United Methodist News Service.
Yemba said the 2008 United Methodist General Conference held in
Fort Worth, Texas, last April set clear priorities for The United
Methodist Church to focus on leadership, strengthening congregations,
global health and fighting poverty.
“The people are expecting leadership from the church in terms
of how The United Methodist Church and our connectional system can help
us exchange experiences, ideas and to share resources.”
Yemba is the third United Methodist bishop elected or
re-elected in Africa this year. In July, Bishop Eben Nhiwatiwa was
re-elected to lead the denomination's Zimbabwe Area, and the Rev.
Joaquina Filipe Nhanala was elected to oversee the Mozambique Area. On
Sept. 1, Nhanala will become the first female United Methodist bishop in
One more United Methodist bishop is expected to be elected in
Africa this year. In December, balloting is scheduled to replace
retiring Bishop Joseph Humper of Sierra Leone.
The Central Congo Area, where Yemba leads the church, is one of
the church's largest episcopal areas, with four annual conferences and
two provisional annual conferences. Together, they cover 10 out of 11
provinces in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Yemba said it is a challenge to serve such a large area.
“The Congo has just gotten out of repeated wars and we need
people trained to deliver what is needed,” he said. “We need district
superintendents, lay people … all pledging to work together with the
When he was first elected in 2005, Yemba was a professor and
founding dean of the faculty of theology at United Methodist-related
Africa University in Zimbabwe. He replaced Bishop Fama Onema, who had
served the area for more than 30 years.
Since his election, Yemba has been an outspoken proponent of
changing the denomination's structure in an effort to make The United
Methodist Church less U.S.-centric and more global.
In an interview last fall with United Methodist Communications,
he said the change should come "in terms of services, in terms of
corners of the globe. I think this is a kind of a church we are dreaming
Yemba was on the staff of Africa University from 1990 until his
election. Prior to that, he was a senior lecturer and associate
professor at Zaire Protestant Seminary.
He has a bachelor of divinity degree from the Protestant School
of Theology of the Congo Free University at Kisangani and a doctorate
in systematic theology from the University of Strasbourg, France. He was
ordained an elder in the church's Central Congo Annual Conference in
Yemba and his wife, Henriette, have five children.
News media contact: Marta Aldrich, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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