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2016 East Africa Conference

 

The historic 26th session of the East Africa Conference, held Aug. 24-27 at Nangina Catholic Pastoral Centre, Samia sub-county, in Busia, Kenya, dissolved one conference and created two new conferences, plus one provisional conference.

The theme for the conference was from Mathew 28: 19-20, “Therefore go and make disciples of Jesus Christ.” Bishop Daniel Wandabula presided.

As result of the 2016 conference, the East Africa Episcopal Area of The United Methodist Church is now composed of four annual conferences: Burundi, Uganda/South Sudan, Kenya/Ethiopia and Rwanda provisional conference.

“This 26th session marks the final conference where we shall be meeting together as East Africa Annual Conference,” said Wandabula. The move will bring an end to the stress of traveling long distances and will increase representation to the global church, he added.

“When we talk about the Great Commission, implicitly we are talking about the reason and purpose of the Church,” Wandabula said in his episcopal address.

“The East Africa Episcopal Area has been faithful to this great commission despite the many challenges we have experienced in the last five years. Because of God’s faithfulness and our obedience to the Gospel, East Africa and Burundi annual conferences have grown in membership and spiritual maturity. We now have four annual conferences.”

“There are many reasons for which the church is said to exist,” he said. “The church exists for worship; for justice; and a few others. But the main reason for the church is mission. We are a people redeemed by God and called by God to join God’s mission in God’s world. Alleluia!”

“Whatever we do, we must not treat the Great Commission like it’s the Great Suggestion.”   

Guest speakers:

  • Professor Esther Mombo, ACK Tradition, presented the educational speech “The Power of Education in Developing Women for Ministry.” Mombo has served St. Paul’s University for 15 years.
  • Dorcus Chebet Juma, from the reformed church of East Africa, holds a Ph.D. in Old Testament studies from Stellenbosch University-South Africa and wrote her dissertation on Encountering the Female Voice in the Song of Songs.

Memorable quotes from the speakers:

Chebet

“Reconstructing your image and identity; ‘I am created in the image and likeliness of God,’ it’s what you say from the inside out that counts.”

“Transform your pains into the passion to succeed because when the power to transform your image comes from the inside — out, it’s so powerful that nothing can stop it.”

“I am a child of God and I can do it.”

Mombo

“Go and tell, 2 Timothy 2:13-15; women were commissioned by Jesus Christ to go and tell the gospel; it’s time for East Africa Episcopal Area to reclaim and tell the good news the way you were told to do.”

“Women have been denied chance to theological studies and it has become hard for them to go and tell the good news like their male counterparts. Serving becomes hard if women are left out because they make the biggest percentages of the congregations in church.”

“The Christian foundation was led by women from their houses in terms of religious activities in ministry.”

Other speakers:

Bishop Yvette Flunder, presiding bishop of the Global Fellowship of Affirming Ministries in California; Bishop Joseph Tolton and the Rev. Bruce Stensvad, the Mission interpreter for the East Africa Episcopal Area, were also speakers at the conference.

The commissioning and ordination service was held Aug. 26, using 2 Corinthians 2:14: “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ.”

The service included the commissioning of one deacon, 15 elders in full connection and 12 provisional elders.

One elder was received from the Anglican Church to The United Methodist Church. The Rev. Moses Dhikange served in the Anglican Church for 10 years and another 10 years with the British Methodist Church in Uganda.

Memorial service and Holy Communion:

The Rev. Marc Baliyanga, dean of Rwanda, led the memorial service and Holy Communion. The reading was taken from John 2:1-4 and Mathew 15: 21-28. The money collected during the memorial service was sent to help with the late Bishop Alfred Ndoricimpa’s son who was recently married in Nairobi, Kenya.

Prior to the last annual conference in Kigali, Rwanda, three new districts were created: Kijiabe and Bungoma in Kenya; Luwero in Uganda; and Kamuli and Jinja in Uganda.

Four district superintendent were appointed: the Rev. Elie Bayingana Kibungo in Rwanda; the Rev. Ddamulira Christopher to Luwero in Uganda; and the Rev. Ferdinand David Egessa Bungoma and the Rev. Paul Mbugua to Kijiabe in Kenya.

Bringing the number of districts to nine in Uganda; 14 in Kenya, 10 in Burundi, five in Rwanda, one in South Sudan, and one in Ethiopia.

Resolutions adopted by the conference:

A resolution was adopted that dissolved the East Africa Annual Conference and affirmed the Annual and Provisional Annual Conferences as established by the Africa Central Conference and the General Conference:

  1. Kenya/Ethiopia Annual Conference, created in 2016 by the Africa Central Conference in Luanda, Angola
  2. Uganda/South Sudan Annual Conference, created in 2016 by the Africa Central Conference in Luanda, Angola
  3. Rwanda Provisional Annual Conference, created in 2016 by the General Conference in Portland, Oregon.
  4. Burundi Annual Conference, created in 2012 by the General Conference in Tampa, Florida

In other action:

  • Each conference formed a Committee on Finance and Administration.
  • Each conference read its budget proposal.
  • Each annual conference elected its conference secretaries and statisticians.
  • Upheld the Africa Central Conference resolution recommended in Angola that East Africa Episcopal Area become an independent central conference based on the expansion and creation of the new annual conferences in the region. 
  • Burundi should become an independent Episcopal Area based on its boundary come 2020 General Conference. This was based on the fact that Burundi had been the mother of the East Africa Episcopal Area. 
  • Urged pastors to give women more opportunities to attend theological education as they make up the largest percentages in the churches and they stay most with the young people hence investing in the women’s ministry will help the church grow.
  • Several committees were formed to oversee the smooth works of the church, including the committee on the general board of pension and health benefits. A committee on general commission and finance and administration also was formed for each annual conference, with each selecting three members to manage and represent them. Each conference then read their budget for the year 2017 with the help of the conference treasurer.
  • It also was resolved that the church in Africa will not support same-sex marriages, because it’s against their cultural traditions and the Bible.

Statistics of the (former) East Africa Conference:

Membership in the East Africa Annual Conference stands at 50,333.

The average worship attendance for 2015 was 22,144.

Church school attendance for 2015 was 1,130.

The number of professions or reaffirmations of faith for 2015 was 1,588.

The number of adults and young adults in small groups for 2015 was 10,537.

The 2017 annual conferences will be held in each country as follows:

  • Uganda/South Sudan Annual Conference at Humble United Methodist School, Aug. 24
  • Kenya/Ethiopia Annual Conference, Nov. 29-Dec. 2 at Trinity UMC in Naivasha District
  • Burundi Annual Conference will be held in Burundi, date and venue to be announced
  • Rwanda provisional annual conference, Aug. 2-5, Kigali, Rwanda.

--Namulinda Asha, East Africa Episcopal Area, director of communication and Wilton T.A. Odongo, Nangina-Busia, Kenya (UMNS).

Refer to www.eaeaumc.org for more information on the new appointments and for full coverage of the 2016 annual conference at Nangina, Busia, Kenya.