|United Methodist radio back on the air in Liberia|
Bishop John Innis delivers the first broadcast on a new radio station owned and operated by the United Methodist Church in Liberia. UMNS photos by Phileas Jusu.
By Phileas Jusu*
March 21, 2007 | MONROVIA, Liberia (UMNS)
United Methodists in Liberia have a new radio station at 98.7 FM.
The 300-watt station is located at the Liberia Annual Conference headquarters and was dedicated during a March 3 service attended by United Methodist bishops of the West Africa Annual Conferences.
"Through this radio, we will bring healing and wholeness to humankind," declared Bishop Joseph Humper of Sierra Leone. "Through this connection, others will come to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. … Through this radio, … peace, justice, love and reconciliation may be proclaimed in the Republic of Liberia, … in Africa and the global community at large."
"Let this radio be a beacon of light for the people of Liberia and West Africa," says Tafadzwa Mudambanuki (right) at the dedication service.
Like neighboring Sierra Leone, Liberia has endured a brutal civil conflict that lasted for more than a decade and left behind significant damage to much of Liberia's infrastructure and many traumatic experiences for Liberians.
"We know that Methodism will continue to speak loudly and clearly, and Liberians and others here will find a place, a solace for their souls and a community of faith for their personal intellectual development," said Ketekumeh Murray, a Liberian parliamentary representative of the district where the radio station is located.
A dream fulfilled
The station fulfills the dream of Bishop Emeritus Arthur Kulah, who recounted the history of the radio project, which began in 1987 when Bishop Robert Morgan and members of U.S. Kentucky Annual Conference raised $50,000 for a station. When civil war broke out in Liberia in 1989, however, most of the equipment was stolen and the remaining items destroyed.
"So when Bishop (John) Innis was elected, … I told him 'My brother, my son, the dreams are many, but please keep the radio station dream alive and let there be a radio station in Liberia Annual Conference,'" said Kulah.
“...The dreams are many, but please keep the radio station dream alive and let there be a radio station in Liberia Annual Conference.”
–Bishop Emeritus Arthur Kulah
Innis thanked all who helped make the dream a reality and called on Liberians to contribute to and support the radio station because "if we don't support it, no one else is going to come and work here." The bishop also credited the Rev. Konah Parker, the conference's director of communications.
The new station was funded by contributions from U.S. United Methodists through the Illinois Great Rivers Annual (regional) Conference, the Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kan., and the Rev. Dean Williams, a retired pastor in the East Ohio Annual Conference. Bible Voice Broadcasting, a radio ministry based in Canada, donated the 300-watt transmitter.
Wessa Dennis, who chairs the Liberian church's communications board, pointed to the need for a separate generator to run the radio. Currently, the station gets its power from a generator that serves the entire building, and broadcasting must stop at 5 p.m. when the generator goes off. Another challenge is the lack of funds to pay staff salaries.
Caroline Njuki, an executive with the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, said the board supports efforts to improve communications within the denomination's African Central Conferences.
United Methodist Communications is partnering with the African church on communications issues through Tafadzwa Mudambanuki and other staff members.
"A radio station is not just equipment, however; it is much more. It is the voice," said the Rev. Larry Hollon, the agency's chief executive, who spoke over the air in a recorded message. "It can be the means through which civil society works better - more informed and more committed to the dialogue that makes society function for everyone.
"In this way, it is the many voices of Liberia all giving expression for the healing and creation of a new social order."
*Jusu is director of communications for The United Methodist Church's Sierra Leone Annual Conference.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or email@example.com.
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