STATEMENT OF CHURCH UNITY FROM UNITED METHODISTS IN AFRICA
May the grace and peace of Jesus Christ be with you our fellow United Methodists around the world. We pray that you had a joyful Christmas celebration and extend to you a hopeful new year’s greeting. We are members of the United Methodist Church from conferences across Africa. We are clergy and laity, including our youth, serving our denomination in different capacities: delegates from the past as well as the upcoming 2021 General Conference, and leaders in our conferences, districts, and congregations. We join together seeking a successful future for our beloved church.
This statement emanates out of the passionate and deep love we have for our beloved United Methodist Church. We are very concerned about the latest developments in our denomination which range from the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, racism/tribalism, and the uncertainties of the 2021 General Conference. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is clear in instructing us to be “light” and “salt” to the world and commit to love our neighbors(Matthew 5:14-16, 22:37-39). Rooted in this scriptural mandate, we are sharing this statement of unity to fellow United Methodists in our global connection.
1. We mourn the sudden death of Bishop John K. Yambasu. His tragic death took place on August 16th, 2020 in a ghastly road accident while on his way to attend to his official duties. We send our condolences to the wife, children, and members of the Sierra Leone Annual Conference, West Africa College of Bishops, Africa College of Bishops, the Council of Bishops and the entire United Methodist Church. His death was a great loss to every one of us. Bishop Yambasu was deeply committed to the unity of the United Methodist Church in Africa and the rest of the world beyond the 2021 General Conference. Therefore, we vow to take up the legacy of Bishop Yambasu. We will make every effort to ensure that his vision of a thriving United Methodist Church in Africa is upheld, despite the uncertainties facing our denomination in 2021.
2. We applaud the tremendous efforts made by United Methodists all over the world in the fight against the Covid-19 virus. We mourn the millions who have died and pray for those who continue to suffer during this pandemic, both in body and spirit, alongside their loved ones and families. We feel and see their suffering, including many whose economic resources have been impacted by this pandemic. We have also seen clearly how this pandemic has united us as a denomination across our different theological divisions in the fight against Covid-19. We call on all United Methodists to walk toward the path of love, justice and compassion as we head to the 2021 General Conference. Our mission to a suffering world unites us.
3. We equally applaud United Methodists all over the world for standing up against racism and white supremacy. We lament the sin of racism and white supremacy, and its vicious impact in the United States of America seen in the callous murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and many others including those not report by the press. We understand the evils of racism because we experience it through ethnic tribalism and xenophobia in Africa. We, therefore, call on all United Methodists wherever they are to continue fighting systemic racism, xenophobia, and ethnic tribalism in whatever forms they present themselves. We reject white supremacy as it discriminates against people based on their skin color, nationality, and the languages they speak. These evils are incompatible with Christian teaching and should be chargeable offenses in the United Methodist Church.
4. We celebrate the fast growth of the United Methodist Church in Africa and its youth.70% of this growth is among our youth and young adults. While we celebrate, we are also worried about the future of our church in Africa and the rest of the world as we head toward the 2021 General Conference. Talks of separation harm this growth and harm our mission. Our young people should be allowed to decide their future in the United Methodist Church. We need to hear their voices. This is an urgent plea to our African leaders, and to our global connection.
5. We celebrate unity in mission and reject dissolution or separation of the United Methodist Church in Africa. We are aware that after the tumultuous 2019 General Conference, various groups and individuals in the United States have put forward plans that call for the dissolution of the United Methodist Church reflected in their petitions to the next General Conference. We do not see any evidence of prayer and the leading of the Holy Spirit in any dissolution plans that have been proposed. Our central conferences have not been part of any conversations related to these proposals. Therefore, we reject any plan that calls for the dissolution or dismemberment of the United Methodist Church. We call on African United Methodists to reject any dissolution of, or separation within, our denomination in Africa, and to affirm that beyond the next General Conference – under the power of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit – we will continue to be the United Methodist Church in Africa represented by the Cross and Flame.
6. We stand with the College of Bishops of Africa and that of the Philippines Central Conference in rejecting the dissolution of the United Methodist Church. These bishops issued separate statements published on August 31, 2019, September 9th, 2019 and October 30, 2020in which they declared firm opposition against dissolution and reaffirmed their commitment to the unity of our global church.
7. We support restructure proposals, such as the Christmas Covenant, that is rooted in equitable connectional relations and respect for contextual mission policies and practices. We support calls for a new polity in which regional bodies or conferences in Africa, Philippines and Asia, Europe, and the United States, have equitable contextual legislative authority, allowing adaptations of their respective Books of Discipline for effective mission and practice in their regional contexts, while maintaining the organic integrity and unity of our global United Methodist connection. This new polity recognizes and honors the particular gifts and graces, theological and doctrinal heritage, needs and challenges, of each region. It also upholds in prayer and mission our global solidarity committed to justice, reconciliation, and compassion.
As we prepare for the next General Conference, we call on all United Methodists to spend substantial time in prayers for the direction of the Holy Spirit. We pray for God’s blessings upon the United Methodist Church in Africa and the rest of the world.
1. Rev. Ande Emmanuel – Nigeria
2. Rev. Lloyd Nyarota - Zimbabwe
3. Rev. Dr, Eunice Iliya - Nigeria
4. Rev. Betty Kazadi – DRC
5. Mr. Amos Davidson - Nigeria
6. Mr. Jefferson Knight - Liberia
7. Priscilla Muzerengwa – Zimbabwe
8. Rev. Naftal Oliveira MasselaNaftal – Mozambique
9. Pastor Ahmed Ayuba Ahmed – Nigeria
10. Mr. Albert Otshudi Longe – DRC