2017 Southern Nigeria Annual Conference
The 35th Session of the Southern Nigeria Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church was held from Jan. 8-11 at McBride Magami United Methodist Church in Jalingo, the capital city of Taraba State. Bishop John Wesley Yohanna, the leader of the Nigeria Episcopal Area, declared the session open on Sunday, Jan. 8.
The conference session began with a historic opening worship, which witnessed a formal acceptance of the Faith Mission denomination, which has now joined The United Methodist Church. The Faith Mission Church, which has about 250 members and has United Methodist roots, was a registered denomination in Nigeria. The Faith Mission decided to join The United Methodist Church because of the impact United Methodists are making in Nigeria and all over the world. In his address while receiving representatives of the Faith Mission Church, Bishop Yohanna said, “The doors of The United Methodist Church are always open to welcome all people in the household of God.”
Yohanna added that The United Methodist Church always brag about “Open Hearts. Open Minds. Open Doors.” The bishop said that church should always open its doors to all people as they are willing to come in.
The Rev. Fasto Shehu, the overseer of Faith Mission Church, spoke during the acceptance service. “We are happy to be part of The United Methodist Church,” Shehu said. “We believe we are in the right place because Faith Mission Church has United Methodist roots. We decided as a church to join The United Methodist Church because of the clarity we see in its teaching, doctrine, administration and the way it has impacted the church and the society. We are willing to learn more about its doctrine and administration.”
Receiving the congregants on behalf of the laity, the associate lay leader of the conference, Hon. Harry Kanawa, said, “We are happy to receive you into the United Methodist Church, as the bishop said UMC doors are always open to receive all people into fellowship with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The newly elected United Methodist bishop of the Liberia Conference, Bishop Samuel Quire, also attended the annual conference session. Quire, addressing the delegates, said he is in Nigeria to visit with Bishop Yohanna with a purpose of building a deeper relationship between the Liberia Conference and the Nigeria Episcopal Area. “This is the first annual conference I have attended since I became a bishop,” Quire said. “I am happy to be part of the 35th session of the Southern Nigeria Annual Conference.”
He called on members of The United Methodist Church in Nigeria to support the leadership of Bishop Yohanna and be united in the mission of the church.
In his episcopal address, Bishop Yohanna thanked members of The United Methodist Church for the efforts they put in the last four years in the area of evangelism, leadership development, caring for the poor and comforting the sick ones. The bishop added that in the next four years, the church will continue to centered it attend in the denomination’s four areas of focus. The bishop said his leadership in the next four years would focus on evangelism, opening new places of worship, providing social service to the poor, developing innovative leaders and promoting peace and unity within the church and the community. The bishop further thanked the Women’s Division, the Men’s Division and the Youth Ministry for their active evolvement in all church programs.
The 35th session of the annual conference also saw the celebration of the new evangelism areas in the Bali and Gashaka local government areas of Taraba State. The conference sent four new evangelists to start mission work in the areas, where previously there was no church presence.
The conference also celebrated the establishment of Yugorobi Elementary School to offer affordable education to children in the Lau local government area of Taraba State. This school offers educational opportunity in an area where previously no school nearby. Now, the children can have qualitative and affordable education through the establishment of the school.
During the 35th session, the conference elected it key officials for the quadrennium. Those elected were as follows: Barrister Peter Ngai as the new conference lay leader, Sule Abasu was elected the associate lay leader, Barrister Tanko Ayuba as the conference chancellor, Julius Sylvester as the conference treasurer, the Rev. Ande I. Emmanuel re-elected as the conference secretary, and Dr. Aliyu Mbiko elected as associate conference secretary. Bishop John Wesley Yohanna appointed Honorable Driver Bitrus Jalo as the conference’s new director of connectional ministries. The conference ordained seven pastors to the office of elder and commissioned eight individuals as provisional elders.
The theme for the 35th session of the conference session was “Therefore Go” Matthew 28:19. Speaking on the theme, the speaker of the conference, the Rev. Abel Lamido, reminded the delegates that God has call us to be his ambassadors here on earth. He added that as ambassadors, we have the task of making this world a better place of living for all God’s creation. He further explained that the command to go comes from Jesus Christ, who has send us to uphold human dignity. “God through Jesus Christ has call us as peoples to go into the world as ambassadors to transform the world. We are sent to uphold human dignity by preaching and that of all God’s creation. It is our responsibilities to ensure orderliness in the world. Therefore, we have to go.”
— The Rev. Ande I. Emmanuel, conference secretary