(UMCom) Bishops of The United Methodist Church will celebrate the rapid growth of the church in Africa when they meet in Mozambique Nov. 1-6.
Nearly 80 bishops from the United States, Europe, Africa, and the Philippines, including Bishop Hope Morgan Ward of Mississippi, are expected to attend the meeting. It will be the first time United Methodist bishops will meet as a group outside the territorial United States.
“By our very presence here, we are embodying the global nature of The United Methodist Church,” said Bishop Janice Riggle Huie of Houston, president of the Council of Bishops.
Most recent estimates show there are more than 2.2 million United Methodists meeting in 6,000 places of worship across Africa. Worldwide, there are an estimated 11 million United Methodists, with nearly 8 million in the United States.
“Africa is at the forefront of ministry. We can learn much from our brothers and sisters in Africa,” Huie said. “In the midst of chaos, violence, disease and heart-wrenching conditions, the cry of the people is ‘Lord, I want to be a Christian.’
“In many areas, the church provides the only access to health care. In many communities, our United Methodist schools are training Africa’s future teachers, business entrepreneurs and governmental leaders,” Huie said.
Bishop João Somane Machado of Mozambique is hosting the meeting. He is the leader of more than 46,000 United Methodists in Mozambique. The council’s headquarters for the meeting will be Avenida Hotel in Maputo, Mozambique’s capital.
In addition to their planned business sessions, the bishops are scheduled to visit and worship in churches in the country, participate in an off-site event celebrating the cultures of the country, and learn first-hand of the denomination’s missions in Mozambique.
Preaching, worship, and bible study during the meeting will be led by African bishops.
The United Methodist Church has a long history of service in Africa. Missionaries first began work in Africa during the 1830s. Now, there are United Methodist ministries, including schools, universities, clinics, and hospitals, in at least 14 African countries. Worldwide, there are United Methodist ministries in 120 countries, according to the church’s global mission agency.
One of the church’s universities, Africa University in Zimbabwe, has become a leader in preparing teachers, agricultural experts, economists and governmental leaders.
The newly elected president of Liberia, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, is an active United Methodist.
African countries with United Methodist congregations are Angola, Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Uganda, Mozambique, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Cote D’Ivoire.