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.