RE: NIGERIA LEADERS SUPPORT UMC SEPARATION, REJECT “AFRICA VOICE OF UNITY”
Grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. We pray every one of you is doing well and staying safe at this unprecedented time. We are the leaders of the United Methodist Church in Nigeria, among us are General Conference delegates, Central Conference delegates, Annual Conference delegates, District leaders, local church leaders both clergy and laity. Our attention has been drawn to an impersonating article published by John Lomperis of the Institute on Religion and Democracy’s blog on March 18, 2021, claiming that Nigerian Leaders Support UMC Separation and reject Africa Voice of Unity. As Nigerian leaders, we want to debunk this false information and made it very clear to the public that the article and the statement thereof is a scam. Therefore we wish to debunk the said article and the purported statement by stating categorically as follows:
- That the meeting purported to have been held in mid-February as cited by IRD in its article published on March 18, 2021, was not a meeting of Nigerian leaders called to address Nigerian leadership’s position on Separation. Furthermore, we want to make it very clear here that, Nigeria Episcopal Area comprising of the four Annual Conference did not at any point support the separation agenda being promoted by some individuals in the Church. Neither does the United Methodist Church in Nigeria (UMCN) resolved to support the so-called “Protocol” proposal for the separation of our denomination into at least two new ones.” As delegates and leaders of the United Methodist Church in Nigeria (UMCN), we do not see the leading of the Holy Spirit through prayers and fasting in the Protocol legislations. Therefore, we refused to be part of the plan to divide the Church of God. The world does not need more new Churches but the world needs the hearts of Christians that are full of compassion, truth, justice, righteousness, and mercy as revealed by God in Micah 6:8.
- We also want the public to note that the purported names of “…over 60 district superintendents, regional lay leaders. And other conference leaders” list at the end of the so-called document entitled “Re-Statement of Church Unity from United Methodist in Africa,” was forged. The full statement can be read here. The persons on the purported list were not delegates; neither were they extended cabinet members nor annual conference delegates. Rev. Yunusa Kara whose name appeared on the purported list said “I was not part of any meeting that resolved to support separation in the United Methodist Church and I do not know where such decision to divide the United Methodist Church was taken. I am disassociating myself from such fake news.”
- As United Methodist Church in Nigeria (UMCN), we stand by the position of our Africa College of Bishops, where they resolved not to support any proposed legislation or plans that call for dividing or dissolving The United Methodist Church in their statement. We uphold the position of our current Book of Discipline that states “homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching” as stated in 304.3 of our Book of Discipline. This is where the majority of us stand as United Methodist Church in Nigeria (UMCN). We will continue to stand on our current stand as in our Book of Discipline we will maintain the name: the United Methodist Church in Nigeria (UMCN) and our logo which is the cross and the flames, a symbol of the Holy Spirit among us.
- We are aware that Bishop John Wesley Yohanna has agreed in this signed statement to join a new denomination without first consulting delegates, leaders, and members of the United Methodist Church in Nigeria (UMCN). We want to state categorically here that we do not support the bishop’s decision to join a new denomination and we will not join any new denomination in Nigeria. We want to reemphasize here that we will maintain our evangelical position on human sexuality while remaining in the United Methodist Church in Nigeria (UMCN) with our logo intact.
- We do not support the Protocol and did not at any point strike any deal with the Africa Initiative as well as any U.S –based groups, like IRD/UMAction, Good News, the Confessing Movement, and the Wesleyan Covenant Association (WCA).
- We are aware that the “Africa Voice of Unity” released its statement of Church unity. We understand that as their exclusive rights to suggest ways for Africans to look at it as we head towards the next General Conference. The African Voice of Unity Statement is geared towards the unity of our beloved denomination in Africa, it does not in any way tend to liberalize our definition of marriage or demonize anyone as being falsely shared by the Institute for Religion and Democracy (IRD/UMAction).
- On the rejoinder Statement reported by the IRD, we want to reveal here that the United Methodist Church in Nigeria (UMCN), comprising four Annual Conferences did not resolve at any point in time to endorse the protocol. The “Africa Voice of Unity” and the Africa Initiative are voices of groups from Africa, non takes precedence over the other. Like the way, in the US we have different advocacy groups, so Africa too can have as many as possible these groups who can echo the voices of Africa in our connections. The Africa Voice of Unity statement was very clear and succinct.
- The signers of the statement did not say in their statement that they are writing on behalf of Nigeria or any part of Africa. They were writing as sons and daughters of Africa, that is the reason why the statement was titled “Statement of Unity from the United Methodist Church in Africa” this is clear enough. Therefore, the rejoinder and the forgery thereof do not worth it.
- We saw open contradictions and lack of adequate knowledge of the matter on this forged Statement in number #3 which reads in part “… we in the Nigeria Episcopal Area would uphold his (Bishop Yambasu) Separation plan with an amendment to regionalization of the Book of Discipline…” How does regionalization amendment fits into the Protocol plan? We are waiting to see where and how this amendment will happen.
- We want to conclude here by stating that, as delegates, leaders, and members of the United Methodist Church in Nigeria (UMCN), we appreciate the various ministries of the United Methodist Church among our communities which range from evangelism which has ushered in tremendous church growth, Education which has provided schools for our people from primary to a tertiary institution like Africa University, Hospitals which has provided good healthcare services to our people most especially in the rural areas, and Agricultural development which has provided food for our communities. This is what it means to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. In keeping with the good work of the United Methodist Church, we want to state here clearly that we are not going to leave the United Methodist Church to any new denomination. We will maintain an evangelical position while remaining in the United Methodist Church. No amount of coercion will compel us to move to a new denomination.