The Church was founded in 1843 by Thomas Birch Freeman of the Methodist Missionary Society of London. Freeman, the son of a freed slave, also undertook pioneering missionary work in Ghana and Western Nigeria. The Church maintains its historical links with the Methodist Church of Great Britain. Administratively, the Methodist Church of Benin is organized in 15 regional Synods. It covers the whole of the territory of Benin from the southern coastline to the Niger border in the north. The Church is recognized as playing an active role in the life of the nation; it is involved in agricultural projects, in hospital and prison chaplaincy, in service to refugees; through its strong Union of Methodist Women it is directly concerned with the training of young girls and young women in rural areas, enabling them to have a basic education and to learn income-generating skills.
The Benin Methodist Church plays a leading role in the National Committee to Combat AIDS, but also, at local church level and through the women’s union, it works to promote AIDS awareness and prevention.
Ministerial training is pivotal part of the total mission of the Methodist Church through the Protestant University of West Africa (University Protestante de l’Afrique de l’Ouest -UPAO). Formerly the Institute of Protestant Theology, this centre which traditionally trains candidates for the pastoral ministry not only from Benin but also from Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Togo, Cameroon, Senegal and Gabon, acquired university status in 2004. The training of evangelists is undertaken at the Bible School jointly with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Togo. The Methodist Church is involved in the study of the traditional Religions and Islam and in dialogue with the Muslim community and other religions.
The African Methodist Episcopal Church came to Central Africa in the late 1800s and was officially established by the General Conference of 1888.
Those who played a significant role in the growth and development of the church include: Bishop Henry M. Turner, who was instrumental in accepting the Ethiopian Church into the denomination; the Rev. Hanock Phiri who was instrumental in spreading the church from Southern Africa to Central Africa; and the Rev. W. J. L. Membe who was instrumental in planning the church all over Zambia (formerly northern Rhodesia).
The various enterprises of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Central Africa include church centers and educational projects from day care to elementary and secondary schools. There was established in 1937 under the leadership of Bishop Richard R. Wright, Jr., the Wilberforce Institute of Higher Education and the R. R. Wright School of Religion. Both institutions have provided the leadership for church growth in this part of the world.
The United Methodist Church in the Democratic Republic of Congo has undergone dramatic changes in the past few years, including reverting from the country name of Zaire to the earlier name, Congo. Because of the rapid growth of Methodism in this area there are now three Episcopal areas and three bishops.
Methodist missions in the Congo were initiated by the U.S. Methodist Churches, North and South. Therefore, until 1930 there were two Methodist areas in the Congo. Then the two groups in the United States united, one Episcopal area was formed in Zaire with the first Zairian bishop elected in 1964.
After hearing stories of political tension, travel difficulties and fact that more than one half of Africa Central Conference Methodists live in the country of Congo, the 1992 United Methodist General Conference authorized the Africa Central Conference to create the new Zaire Conference.
The country is nearly one million square miles in area and residents speak at least 36 languages. Church institutions include hospitals, serving a large network of dispensaries, pastors’ schools, a theological school, a technical school, many women’s schools, primary and secondary schools. The schools are under the direction of the government but staffed by Methodist teachers in church-owned facilities. Several agricultural and industrial projects are sponsored by the church.
Three very important stages have marked THE installation of the Protestant Methodist Church in Cote d’Ivoire.
Pre-Missionary Periods: Towards 1890: The presence of migrated African Methodists English-speaking colonies, such as Liberia, the former Gold Coast (present Ghana), Sierra Leone. Most of them traders who settled along the Atlantic coast, at Assinie, Grand-Bassam, Grand-Lahou just to mention a few. They created the first Methodist communities. Their first temple was opened towards 1895. 1914-1915: Great evangelical success of the lower coast by William Wade Harris, a lay preacher who was a Methodist Episcopalist from Liberia. He predicted the arrival of white missionaries. Missionary Periods: 1924: The arrival of the first English missionary, Rev. John Platt from Dahomey and Togo where since 1842, the London Wesleyan Society of Methodist Missions had been. The Cote d’Ivoire Colony was therefore declared overseas mission field. To Wards 1930: Cote d’Ivoire was raised into a circuit attached to the French West African District with Dahomey and Togo. 1947: Cote d’Ivoire was raised into a district attached to the British Methodist Conference. 1963: Internal autonomy – the first Ivorian chairman in the name of Rev. Samson Nandjui was installed in his duties on the Methodist Mission jubilee in Cote d’Ivoire in 1964 when The Methodist Conference of Cote d’Ivoire became autonomous from the British Methodist Conference and was renamed the Protestant Methodist Church in Cote d’Ivoire. The membership numbers about one million (adult, youth and children together) on an Ivoirian population of 13 million inhabitants. Number of local churches, 847; ministers, 76; evangelists, 28. There are 5 districts, 10 Methodist zones; 19 circuits; and sections dealing with area and sectional counseling, local church and Methodist class meetings. Five departments of the church which enlighten the spiritual, socio-economic, cultural and religious life: the Department of Enlightenment and Formation, dealing with the laymen and ministers’ formation mixed with the enlightenment of doctrine and theology, of music and liturgy; the Department of Evangelization and Communication, which deals with strategies in terms of evangelization with as support the mass-media service or communication comprising the radio, television, written press and literature; the section dealing with Islam-Christian in Africa, Cote d’Ivoire Service; the Department of Youth deals with formation and guidance of the urban youth, the student youth rural youth, labor youth; the Department of Deacons and Works cares for all the problems of the society comprising —all works of life (hospitals, prisons, the military and paramilitary, family education, student education, the world of job, thc unemployed refugees, infant problems, etc.; the Department of Development and Patrimony, deals with investments like buildings and rural areas, and with vocation works of women, the church action for women.
Social Institutions include: the Protestant Hospital of Dabou built in 1965 with a capacity of 150 beds; the Protestant Institution for Education and Formation with the Methodist schools (primary and secondary schools); the Protestant Student House situated not far from the National University, student house for all nationality and religions; the Methodist Youth Center for Activities; the Harbour Fraternity situated at Abidjan Harbour, base of the ministry of urban and industry; the John Wesley Center of Dabou welcoming center of continued formation and training of the church workers, open to all confessions and denominations; the Orphan Home of Dabou; the Welcoming Center for the Blue Cross, center for disintoxication and of re-education and social insertion of persons victimized by alcohol and drugs.
External relations: The Protestant Methodist Church of Cote d’Ivoire has a relationship with other Protestant
and Catholic Churches of Cote d’Ivoire of the West African Subregion and the whole Africa, and the world in general, but in privileged manner with the Methodist church in Britain as partner.
Short and long projects include the intensive formation of pastors at the School of Protestant Theology of PortoNovo 9 Benin) and at the faculty of protestant Theology (Cameroun) and the realization of a Superior Institute of Theology for the initial and continued training of all workers of the church.
Long before the United Methodist Church in Burundi was known under this name, it was called World Gospel Church. As early as 1835, missionaries working in Burundi came together and agreed to subdivide the field geographically as an evangelistic strategy for their ministry. Friends (Quakers) took the central region of the country while the Free Methodists extended their work from the mid southeastern part to the west. The World Gospel Mission was left with the east. It opened its field in 1938 with Kayero in Rutana province as its first mission station. By that time Rutana was still a district of Ruyigi Province. In that process the World Gospel Mission extended its activities to Buhonga, Murehe and Murore, located in eastern Burundi.
Missionaries led the church for four decades. After a long struggle for indigenous leadership, a national was elected and consecrated as Bishop of the World Gospel Church in 1980. The church switched to the Evangelical Episcopal Church, Burundi for international recognition. Two years later, the Evangelical Episcopal Church in Burundi sought to become the United Methodist Church.
In May 1984 General Conference held in Baltimore, Maryland, the Evangelical Episcopal Church in Burundi became a part of the United Methodist Church worldwide. In August 1984, Burundi Annual Conference became a part of the Africa Central Conference.
After a military coup in 1993, Bishop and Mrs. Ndoricimpa have lived in exile in Kenya, keeping in close communication with the church in Burundi by fax, telephone calls, and visitors from Burundi. The exile community in Kenya has opened a hospitality center for Burundi refugees, and Bishop Ndoricimpa has taken the lead in establishing a Burundi international peace committee. Burundi has experienced conflict between Hutu and Tutsi tribes, with more than 200,000 people reported to have been killed since 1993. While in exile, the church in Burundi has experienced growth and development, with its mission expanding into Kenya, Sudan Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda. These areas now make up the East Africa Annual Conference.
The United Methodist Church in Burundi is the second largest religious denomination there. With its multi-ethnic character both in leadership and membership, the church has demonstrated for some time that the conflict is unnecessary. Former South African President Nelson Mandela has been instrumental in negotiations for ending the civil war, and both leaders and members of the church are actively working for peace in their land.
The Conference of The Methodist Church in Ghana came into being in July, 1961. Formerly it had been an Overseas District of British Methodism. The pioneer Methodist missionary, Joseph Dunwell, landed at Cape Coast on January 1, 1835, and began work among the Mfantse-speaking peoples of the Coast, some of whom were already Christians. In the first eight years of the church’s life, 11 out of 21 missionaries who worked in the then Gold Coast died. Thomas Birch Freeman, who arrived in the Gold Coast in 1838, was the great pioneer of missionary expansion. Between 1838 and 1857 he carried Methodism from the Mfantse coast land to Badagry and Abeokuta in Niberia, and to Kumasi in the Asante hinterland in the Gold Coast. He died in Accra in 1890.
Methodist evangelization of Northern Ghana began in 1910. After a long period of conflict with the colonial government, missionary work was finally established in 1955, the late Rev. Paul Adu being the first indigenous missionary to Northern Ghana. Thirty-six years later, on November 10, 1991, the Northern Ghana District now Diocese was inaugurated at Tamale. Missionary work there includes agriculture and rural health services made possible by mobile clinic units.
Currently the connexion comprises 167 circuits in thirteen dioceses. The Methodist community continues to grow numerically. Between 1996 and the end of 1997, it increased by 30,057 bringing the total numerical strength to about 1.5m. Some of these members worship in interdenominational churches. There are 720 ministers (36 of whom are women), 3 full-time catechists, 112 lay evangelists and missionaries, 26,725 voluntary lay preachers and class leaders with pastoral responsibilities.
The church continues to be involved in educational work made up of 16 second cycle institutions (9,299 students), three mixed training colleges (1,734) and two specialist schools: Mmofraturo in Kumasi (for girls) and the school for the blind at Wa, Northern Ghana. Trinity Theological Seminary, Legon, Accra, an ecumenical seminary, continues to train ministers for Ghana Christian Council member churches.
There are two lay training centers in Kumase: the Women’s Training Center and Freeman Centre for Leadership Development. The small medical work started at the Wenchi Hospital in 1951 has expanded with the establishment of three clinics at Bamianko (Gwira), Amakom (Lake Bosomtwe), and Mo-Dega; a Nutrition Rehabilitation Center at Lawra, rural clinics in Asante, sponsored by the Kumasi Diocese Methodist Medical Association, and a Faith Healing Hospital at Ankaase in the Kumasi Diocese.
The church is actively engaged in the life of the nation. Ministers are seconded to schools, colleges, the armed forces, police, prisons, hospitals as chaplains, and to universities as lecturers/chaplains and district assemblies as members. There are a number of agricultural projects, fruitful interactions between the church and state on political issues and social problems such as HIV/AIDS, drug abuse and teenage pregnancy. There is concrete cooperation between Ghana Methodism and the other member churches of the Christian Council of Ghana.
The Methodist Church in Kenya was planted in 1862 at Ribe. The church continued to grow and spread to other parts in the country. The church became autonomous in January 1967 and since then has engaged in evangelism and outreach. Currently the church has mission outreach in Uganda and Tanzania.
The church is divided into eight synods, namely, Singwaya, Pwani, Nairobi, Western Kenya, Nyambene, Miathene, Kaaga and Nkubu. Each synod has a bishop who presides over the synod while there is a connexional presiding bishop.
Our mission has continued to grow in scope. We are sponsors of other 200 schools, a hospital and many dispensaries. We also have agricultural training institutes, youth polytechnic, technical schools, special schools for the physically disabled and vocational schools. Our ecumenical cooperation has enabled us to have a united Theological College at Limuru. We also have Lavington United Church which is sponsored by the Methodists.
The church now has 205 ministers, 1,000 congregations with 300,000 members and a Methodist community of 800,000. We anticipate doubling our membership in the next five years. We have opened a Kenya Methodist University that will spearhead university education in our region. We have other programmes such as rural development programmes, community health, youth, women fellowship AIDs, lay training and family education. We are members of the All Africa Conference of Churches, National Council of Churches of Kenya, World Council of Churches and other fraternal bodies in the region.
The Methodist Church (now United Methodist) planted its roots in Liberia in 1822, by black immigrants from the Americas. They came to Christianize and educate the indigenous Africans and enlist them in the cause of Christ on the Continent of Africa. They sought and received missionaries in 1833. The late Rev. Melvin B. Cox was the first missionary to Liberia. In 1854, the missionaries organized the Liberia Mission Annual Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church. It remained a missionary conference until 1964, when by an action of the General Conference, autonomy was duly authorized and Central Conference status was achieved.
In December 1965, the first session of the Liberia Central Conference was held at Mount Scott United Methodist Church in Harper City, Maryland County, Liberia. At this time the Rev. Stephen Trowen Nagbe, Sr. was elected bishop, the first Liberian to be elected and consecrated in Liberia (our indigenous soil). The Rev. Dr. Bennie Dequincey Warner was the second Liberian to be elected as a bishop in 1973 following the death of Bishop Nagbe. Bishop Warner was elected at the third session of the Liberia Central Conference held at First United Methodist Church of Lower Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, Liberia, in December 1980, the Rev. Dr. Arthur F. Kulah was elected the third Liberia bishop. Bishop Kulah was elected at Miller McAllister United Methodist Church in Ganta City, Nimba County, Liberia. The election of Bishop Kulah came about because of the April 12, 1980 coup d’etat in Liberia and the departure of Bishop Bennie D. Warner who was also Vice President of the Republic of Liberia.
The Liberia Central Conference was dissolved in 1984 for the formation of The West Africa Central Conference, bringing together the Liberia Annual Conference, Sierra Leone Annual Conference, and the Muri Provisional Annual Conference. The United Methodist Church, The West Africa Central Conference brings three countries together (Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone). The history of present day Liberia dates from 1816 when the American Colonization Society, a private United States organization, was given a charter by the United States Congress to send freed blacks to the West Coast of Africa. The first settlers landed at the site of present-day Monrovia in 1822. In 1838, the settlers united to form the Commonwealth of Liberia, and on July 26, 1847, Liberia was declared an independent country, the first republic of Africa.
The Liberian Civil War in 1989-1997 caused much death, destruction of property and suffering for the Liberian people. For this reason, the church started ministries in the areas of relief, repatriation, resettlement, rehabilitation, reconstruction and reconciliation. There will be additional church ministries in the next few years.
On December 16, 2000, at the Fifth Quadriennium Session of the West Africa Central Conference, Methodist Church, held in Monrovia, at the First United Methodist Church, the Rev. Dr. John Ginka Innis was elected on the first ballot as the fourth indigenous bishop and subsequently consecrated on December 17, 2000, thereby succeeding the Rev. Dr. Arthur F. Kulah, who superintended the church for twenty (20) years. He was formally retired in 2000.
The Rev. Dr. John G. Innis intends to take off from where his predecessor ended. He has, however, placed emphasis on vigorous and holistic evangelism, dynamic spiritual growth, and sustainable economic empowerment.
The United Methodist Church in Liberia operates United Methodist schools, including a university, seven senior high schools, nine junior high schools, and twenty-one elementary schools. The church also provides subsidies for 80 other schools operated by local United Methodist congregations. The church operates a full hospital at Ganta and seven clinics. The United Methodist Church is in partnership with the Lutheran Church in
the Phebe Hospital Project in Bong County. There are agricultural training farms at Ganta, Gbarnga, Gbason-town, Whiteplans and Decoursey.
The church is a full member of the Liberia Council of Churches and the All Africa Conference of Churches. The current membership of the United Methodist Church in Liberia is approximately 150,000. There are 690 pastors assigned to 481 local churches in 19 districts. The church affects the lives of a wider community of approximately 2.5 million people.
Late in 1990, the Igreja Methodista Unida em Mocambique observed the 100th anniversary of the beginning of church work in Mozambique. The theme of the celebration was, “One Hundred years of preaching the Gospel and witnessing through words and deeds without ceasing.”
The United Methodist Church in Mozambique had its beginnings in the southern province of Inhambane in 1890. From a small group the church grew steadily in spite of (or because of) persecution by the Colonial Portuguese, Roman Catholic government. After independence in 1975, the strong Marxist government closed and made it highly undesirable to profess the Christian faith.
The works of the churches continued, sometimes clandestinely, and were allowed to reopen in 1982 when President Samora Machel invited the churches to contribute to the development of the country.
A civil war which raged in Mozambique from 1976 to 1992 brought unbelievable suffering to the Mozambican people and during those years many people fled to possibly more secure places to live as internal refugees. They took the message of salvation and new churches were started and continue growing in places where the church never before existed.
Since 1982 the government authorities for the first time in history allowed the construction of new church buildings and although Mozambique is considered the poorest country in the world, the church members contributed to the construction of places of worship worthy of praise and thanksgiving.
The first Mozambique Bishop, Rev. Escrivao A. Zunguza, was elected in 1976. He worked during a hard time for the churches in Mozambique. He was called to work as a pacifist within the church and between the churches and government. In 1988 Bishop Joao Somane Machado was elected as the third Mozambican Bishop and continues to lead this rapidly growing church.
Since the year 2000 the church exists in the whole country, divided into two conferences: North of Save Annual Conference, constituted by 6 Ecclesiastical Districts with 3,500 members, and South of Save Annual Conference with 14 Ecclesiastical Districts and 115,000 members. Church programs include: evangelization and development programs; construction of churches, pastoral housing, schools; development of transportation and communications with superintendents and pastors to minimize the problem of lack of transportation and communication caused by long distances and lack of communication facilities; a program of perceiving the moral, social and religious values in society; support of all children’s programs; support of women’s programs; to create the self-sustaining church program that will be sable to carry its mission in very responsible and productive ways.
The boundaries of Nigeria were fixed towards the end of the 19th century during the partition of Africa. Its immediate neighbors are Cameroun to the East, Chad to the Northeast, Niger to the North and Northwest and the Republic of Benin to the West. The entire South is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean.
The population is estimated at over 100 million. It is inhabited by people of various ethnic groups like Hausa, the Edo, the Ibo, the Yoruba, the Efik, Ibibio, the Kanuri and many others. The peoples’ religion is either Christianity, Islam or traditional religions.
Christianity, as it now exists in Nigeria, was established with the arrival of Thomas Birch Freeman in the country. On September 24, 1842, Thomas Birch Freeman, a Wesley Methodist Church Missionary, with two devoted helpers, William DeGraft and Mrs. DeGraft, landed in Badagry. They had come to Nigeria in response to the request for missionaries by the liberated people who had returned to Abeokuta from Sierra Leone and another request by James Ferguson, an ex-slave who had settled in Badagry. From the mission stations established in Badagry and Abeokuta, the Methodist Church spread to various parts of the country West of the River Niger and part of the North.
In 1893, the Revs. Fairley and Ben Showell, missionaries of the Primitive Methodist Church, arrived in Archibong Town from Fernando Po, an Island off the southern coast of Nigeria. From Archibong Town, the Methodist Church spread to various parts of the country, east of the River Niger and crossed to parts of the North. The church west of the River Niger and part of the North was known as the Western Nigeria District and east of the Niger and another part of the North was known as the Eastern Nigeria District. Both existed independently of each other until 1962 when they constituted the Conference of Methodist Church Nigeria. The conference is composed of seven districts – Lagos, Ibadan, Ilesa, Umuahia, Port-Harcourt, Calabar and the North. The church has continued to spread into new areas, established an Outreach/Evangelism Department and appointed a Director of Evangelism.
An Episcopal system adopted in 1976 was not fully accepted by all sections of the church until the two sides came together and resolved to end the disagreement. The two sides fashioned a new constitution which was ratified on May 24, 1990. The system is still Episcopal but the points which caused discontent were amended to be acceptable to both sides.
Methodist Church Nigeria now has 36 dioceses in contrast to its 7 districts in 1962. In addition to its concern for the spiritual life of the people in Nigeria, it also takes part in the social and economic welfare of the people. All its secular schools, like those of other denominations, have been taken over by the government. However, new schools are being established in addition to paying greater attention to Sunday Schools and chaplaincy services in public schools and other establishments. The decision to establish a Methodist University was taken recently. The church runs centers for the lepers at Uzuakoli and the mentally ill at Emudo Itumbauzo in Abia State, to mention a few. It also runs a model farm at Kaiama in Niger State.
Methodist Church Nigeria is headed by the Prelate, who is the head of the church and who presides over conference, the overall governing body of the church, which meets every two years to deliberate and take decision on all issues affecting the life of the church.
Presbyters with assistance of other ministers, administer the circuits and local congregations.
The Nigeria Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, separated into two halves by the River Benue, is located in the Northeastern part of Nigeria. It attained Conference status in 1992 and has its own resident bishop. The headquarters is in Jalingo, capital of the new Tabara State of Nigeria.
The first foundation for mission in Muri was laid in September, 1906, when the Reverend Dr. C. W. Guinter of the Evangelical church, a forerunner of the Evangelical United Brethren (EUB) traveled up the Benue River to Ibi near Wukari. Guinter had come from the United States with four other missionaries to work for Jesus Christ in the Sudan – a region extending across Northern Africa, south of the Sahara.
In 1946, the Evangelical church became part of the newly merged Evangelical United Brethren (EUB). Mean while, the British Methodists were having trouble in staffing and financing their mission work in Nigeria while still recovering from World War II. So in 1947, the British missions on the southern side of the Benue River were merged with those of the EUB on the northern side.
From 1923 until 1954, the EUB Church in Nigeria had been run by the Missionary Council. In 1954, it became the Muri Regional Church Council. The foreign missionaries were brought under the same Church Council as the indigenous Nigerians.
In 1954, the first indigenous leaders were elected. After pastoral training, the first ordinations of Nigerians took place in 1958 and 1964. Four district churches were also created in 1964, two on each side of the river. Today there are 15 districts and 180 charges.
At the United Methodist General Conference it was resolved that the Evangelical United Brethren Church in Nigeria would become part of the West African Central Conference as “Muri Provisional Annual Conference.”
Bishop Arthur F. Kulah of the Liberia Annual Conference was appointed as Itinerant Bishop to Nigeria from 1984 to 1988. In 1989, he was replaced by Bishop Thomas S. Bangura of the Sierra Leone Annual Conference. Finally, in May 1992, Nigeria became a full Annual Conference, and on August 14, Dr. Done Peter Dabale was elected as its first Resident Bishop.
In 1989, the church established its theological seminary at Banyam to prepare students for ministerial work and degree programs at other theological seminaries. The Kakulu Bible Institute in Zing and the Didango Bible School met our demands of evangelists.
An evangelical program in our Church is at work establishing new churches and directing annual workshops and courses for the clergy and evangelists.
The church sponsors programs in agriculture, rural health, rural development, women’s work, youth and aviation. We have been able to work harmoniously both at home and abroad for the success of church growth and development in Nigeria.
The work of Methodism in North Africa was started in 1908 by missionaries from the USA. Before Algeria became independent in 1962, there were no restrictions on church work in this country. Open evangelization was allowed. The Methodist Church owned church buildings, children’s homes and clinics. At that time, the Church in Northern Africa was organized as an annual conference, to which local pastors, lay preachers, and evangelists belonged. Then the country dissolved its ties to France. This was a historic juncture that had serious – and for many, painful – consequences. Many local Christians left the country, believing that there was no place for a Christian Church in an independent Algeria. Finally, eight years later, events followed which were to define the next period: half of the Methodist missionaries were deported, children’s homes and boarding schools were forced to close, and Church property was taken over by the state.
In 1972, the Methodist Church fused with most of the other Protestant denominations to form the Protestant Church of Algeria, and Methodist work in Northern Africa was reorganized as a district of the annual conference of Switzerland/France. This work also includes the cooperation of various churches in Tunis, Tunisia, with its emphasis on social services (delivering food, clothing and medicines), on assistance for immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa, and on the organization of ecumenical worship services and university Bible groups.
Today, the Christian Church is a tiny minority in Algeria, where Islam is now the state religion. Fairly recently, it was possible to run a congregation in an organized manner, in spite of state-ordered limitations (prohibition of public evangelization, prohibition of all activities not directly related to church work, prohibition of all services to Moslem children, youth and students). The political and religious developments of the past few years have not exactly made Methodist work any easier in this country.
However, there are worship services, Bible studies, weddings and baptisms. In Algiers and Oran, especially, these take place through ecumenical cooperation. More and more people are expressing their interest in the Christian faith. Through the social services supported by the UMC in Switzerland, a sewing school for deaf women in Constantine is run, which means that some young women are receiving a chance for a better future.
The training of local staff is a major priority of Church life today, because although leaders in the Methodist congregations in Algeria continue to maintain existing relations, they also hope to increase the level of local responsibility.
Structurally, the Protestant Church of Algeria is now constituted as a federation of Protestant congregations, in which Methodist personalities continue to carry out important leadership functions. However, this has no effect on the cooperation in personnel and financial matters between the Methodist congregations in Algeria and the Annual Conference in of Switzerland/France.
The Methodist Church Sierra Leone had its roots in the group of freed slaves who arrived in Sierra Leone in 1792. Some Wesleyan Methodists had been in Email with Dr. Coke, founder of missions, a younger contemporary of John Wesley, whilst they were in Nova Scotia.
This group started to organize themselves into a church but had to appeal for help from Dr. Coke in Britian. This resulted in sending the first Wesleyan Methodist missionary in 1811, the Rev. George Warren.
Work continued in Freetown, the capital town, and its environs, but also spread to the interior by the end of the century. This had continued until now and the concentration of the work is mainly around the capital, and the southern and eastern parts of the country.
The church is divided into three synods, each with several circuits. Membership of the church was 38,758 up to 1998. Since then, the continuing rebel war has made certain areas of the country completely inaccessible. We have, therefore, not been able to assemble more accurate statistics for our membership. The total numbers takes into consideration the people in Guinea. Total ministerial strength is 86 (including 16 probationers). The program of the church includes education, health and community development.
There are 70 primary schools and 12 secondary schools. Many of the pupils have been members of the church and have subsequently made worthwhile contributions to the life and work of the church. The number of people affected by the work of the Methodist Church is 2.1 million. The number of people benefited by the work of the Methodist Church in Sierra Leone is about one and a half million.
Nixon Memorial Hospital in Segbwema, about 230 miles outside Freetown, dealt with a total of about 65,000 patients in 1995, nearly 4,000 of which were admissions. The hospital also acts as a clinic centre for primary health care programme serving the Njaluahun Chiefdom. While we wait to reopen Nixon we have opened two new health centres in Freetown and Kenema.
The work in the East and South was seriously hampered due to a rebel war and escalation of violence since 1991. Too many have been killed. We are thankful to God that the violence is now generally ebbing.
Two regional offices have been opened to serve displaced people in Bo (Southern Region) and Kennema (Eastern Region).
We call on the world community to pray for us as we are challenged first to find peace and then to rebuild our broken communities, churches, manses and schools.
The United Methodist Church in Sierra Leone started as United Brethren in Christ in 1855. It merged with the Evangelicals in 1946 and became the Evangelical United Brethren Church. In 1968 it merged with The Methodist Church becoming The United Methodist Church. During this time, all presiding bishops were from the USA.
In 1973 the church assumed autonomy with the first indigenous resident bishop, the late Dr. Benjamin A. Carew, followed in 1979 by Bishop Thomas S. Bangura. Membership includes 94,500, with 6,200 probationary members and 12,200 constituent members. Potential for growth in all the churches is greater now than ever. In spite of the ravages of war during the last ten years, there is great spiritual reawakening.
The United Methodist Church in Sierra Leone is not only concerned with the spiritual needs of the people but also their physical and socio-economic needs. It operates 213 primary (elementary) and 20 secondary (high) schools. It runs 11 maternity and health centres throughout the country and one eye hospital with a full medical coordinator and two medical doctors. Three agricultural and community developments have been revitalized at Manjama (Bo District) Pa Lokko (Western District) and Yonibana (Northern District).
Service organizations for women, men, youth and young adults are active, and a strong children’s ministry. The women’s organization has three training centers: Betty Carew, Kono Musu and Urban Center.
The United Methodist Church is one of the cooperating churches running the Ecumenical Theological College and Church Training Center in Freetown for the training of leadership for the churches and community.
Bishop Thomas S. Bangura retired in 1992 and was succeeded by Bishop Joseph C. Humper, the third indigenous bishop.
The West African Methodist Church came into being in 1844 as a result of differences concerning the administrative procedures in The Methodist Church in Sierra Leone at the time, differences which sought to rid the church of the vestiges of color prejudices and the erroneous notions concerning the liability of peoples of African origin to participate fully in the affairs of the church. Formation of this independent church and its continued role and success in spreading the gospel among peoples of African decent in Sierra Leone was a significant milestone in the establishment of many African churches in the West African sub-region.
The church is administered by the general superintendent who is elected from among the most senior clergymen, and assistant general superintendent elected from among the lay elders and an elected executive.
An early attempt at reunification with The Methodist Church in Sierra Leone failed to materialize and the second schism took place in 1935. The West African Methodist Church has continued as an independent body. Nonetheless, an extremely cordial relationship exists between the two churches as they cooperate in many areas of Christian witness. The two churches use the same hymn book and liturgy. The doctrinal tenets of the West African Methodist Church are essentially those of Methodist churches worldwide.
The West African Methodist Church has by the grace of God, from entirely local resources, established 19 churches and 3 preaching places in Freetown, the capital, and surrounding rural areas. It also operates in the Moyamba District, 120 miles from Freetown, which is served by tow churches and two preaching places.
Membership of the church now stands at nearly 4,000 including some 1,200 juvenile members. The clerical strength is made up of 11 ministers in full connexion and six ministers on probation and trainees, and nearly 90 trained lay preachers who voluntarily support the clergy.
The church is proprietor of two secondary schools and six primary schools, one of the primary schools being in the Moyamba District where the church also supports development work in the farming community.