June 22, 2005
Bishop Nkulu Ntanda Ntambo
A UMNS Report
By Tim Tanton*
Nkulu Ntanda Ntambo has been appointed to lead the United Methodist
Church in Nigeria while the area’s standing bishop is on leave of
Done Peter Dabale was placed on a six-month leave of absence May 5 by
the United Methodist Council of Bishops’ executive committee. The
church’s Nigeria Annual Conference is "conflicted," and some leadership
issues need to be worked out, according to Bishop Roy Sano, executive
secretary of the council.
decision for the leave of absence was made in consultation by the
council, the West Africa Central Conference and Dabale, said Bishop
Peter Weaver, council president and leader of the church’s New England
think Bishop Dabale recognized both for some personal reasons as well
as for the well-being of the Nigeria Conference that this was a wise
step," Weaver said.
is a bishop in full good standing on leave of absence, and the support
and prayers of the council are there with him," he added.
was approved by the council’s leadership team—Weaver, Sano and Houston
Bishop Janice Huie, president-designate—in a June 13 teleconference. He
leads the church’s North Katanga Area, in the Democratic Republic of
Congo, and will continue to lead that area in addition to the Nigeria
Ntambo was chosen in
part because the West Africa College of Bishops wanted a bishop from
outside the region who could be neutral, Sano said. "He’s a respected
member of the council. … He just had the quality of leadership that
would help the conference at this point."
Bishop Done Peter Dabale
Gregory Palmer of Iowa, whose conference has a relationship with
Nigeria, will also be helping, Sano said. "So, although Ntambo is in
charge, we will have at least two bishops reporting on the situation
there, and when they feel it is ready to transfer back the leadership,
it will happen."
Dabale’s leave doesn’t end until Nov. 5, Sano expressed hope that the
bishop can "return before then if harmony is established" in the
executive committee approved Dabale’s leave at the request of the West
Africa Central Conference Episcopacy Committee, Weaver said. The request
arose out of the West Africa Central Conference meeting in March, as
participants reflected on the work of the Nigeria Conference and its
future. Weaver said the West Africa College of Bishops was in
consultation with the episcopacy committee.
has led the Nigeria Conference since being elected bishop in 1992. The
conference has 333,244 lay and clergy members, plus 73,000 preparatory
church members, according to the denomination’s 2003 General Minutes.
emphasized that a leave of absence does not carry the implication of
any kind of wrongdoing. Bishops have taken leaves of absence for a
variety of reasons in the past, including health or the need for a time
of reflection and discernment, he said. The Book of Discipline spells out the conditions for a leave.
Dabale has made some wonderful contributions to the work of Christ in
the Nigeria Conference," Weaver said, "and the Nigeria Conference is in
turn making a great witness for Christ throughout the whole region of
*Tanton is managing editor of United Methodist News Service.
News media contact: Tim Tanton, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.