By Woody Woodrick
When candidates for ordination step forward tonight, one will be in an uncommon category.
Kalaba Chali will receive a courtesy ordination for the South Congo-Zambia Annual Conference in Africa.
Chali is a student a Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. He has completed requirements for ordination in his home conference, but returning was not practical, so he asked the Mississippi Conference for assistance.
“When I was at Africa University, I met folks from Mississippi,” he said.
“When the issue came up, I looked at which conference might be willing to help out. I talked to my friends from Mississippi and they were open to it."
Those friends contacted Bishop Hope Morgan Ward. Ward met Bishop Kainda Katembo at a Council of Bishops meeting in November, and they discussed the courtesy ordination.
Over they months, they kept in touch. Chali said he received an e-mail indicating the courtesy ordination had been approved, but got the hard-copy of the letter just three weeks ago.
The Rev. Sheila Cumbest, coordinator for Ministerial Services for the Mississippi Conference, said courtesy ordinations are rare.
She said she could not remember one in Mississippi. However, the conference is involved in two such ordinations this year. Gerald Liu, a member of the Mississippi Conference, will receive a courtesy ordination in the United Kingdom. Liu is a Clinton native and student at Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta.
Chali has been taking in the 18th session of the Mississippi Annual Conference and visiting friends. He delivered the sermon at the June 11 morning worship service at Broadmeadow UMC in Jackson.
Chali plans to earn his masters in theology in 2007. He said he would like to remain in the United States long enough to obtain his doctorate.