2018 Oriental and Equator Annual Conference
Location of conference gathering: Mangobo United Methodist Church, Kisangani, Congo
Dates of conference gathering: July 5-11
Officiating bishop: Bishop Gabriel Unda Yemba
Guest speakers and memorable stories or quotes by speakers:
The bishop of the Church of Christ in Congo attended to see how proceedings of the annual conference in The United Methodist Church take place. He was pleased to welcome the national moderator of the Church of Christ in Congo, Bishop Gabriel Unda Yemba, in the area under his direction. “Here is the interconnection of churches, because (The) United Methodist Church is one of the great communities that make up the Church of Christ in Congo,” he said.
A leadership seminar was planned for 110 leaders following the annual conference. At the opening of the conference, Bishop Unda announced the training, which was to be led by the Rev. Kimba and Prosper Tunda, respectively, national and regional coordinators of the International Institute of Leadership (ILI). However, Evariste was unable to make it, so Tunda and Sylvestre Muthoma, a trainer since 2013, facilitated the training.
After giving a summary of the eight core values of a Christian leader to all of those present at the conference, the delegates asked the bishop if they all could benefit from these important teachings. Thus, from July 11-13, 230 participants benefitted from an animated training program in Lingala, which is the local language, in the local church of Mangobo.
The eight core values developed were Intimacy with God; Passion for the Harvest; Visionary Leadership; Culturally Effective Evangelism; Family Focus; Multiplication of Leaders; Stewardship; and Integrity.
The facilitator introduced the core values and then the participants read the biblical foundation of the values and gave their testimonies and experiences. At the end, each participant received a certificate of participation. The seminary was opened and closed by the bishop. Seventy training modules were distributed to the seven districts of the Oriental and Equator Annual Conference.
The annual conference had intense activities, with Harper Hill Global logistical support. Marie Claire Manafundu, took advantage of the opportunity to bring together several conference leaders to talk about advocacy and the anti-stigma campaign to aid sexual violence victims.
“Victims are our sisters, our daughters or our mom,” she said. “They are entitled as all; do not stigmatize them.
“In anticipation of the activities of the women’s center under construction in Kindu, we are already in the phase of identifying and registering victims of sexual violence in our episcopal area. I call each leader in this work from our local church and or district to identify any cases of victims of sexual violence in The United Methodist Church or outside by bringing it back to the local church or district administration to set up the caring mechanism,” she said.
The Rev. Neelley Hicks Ngandji, coordinator of Harper Hill Global, also offered a message of love to the victims.
Women pastors received training with support from the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry. Classes were taught by Manafundu (leadership); the Rev. Adolphe Onamboya (leading in a conflict setting); and the Rev. Willy Alimasi (the development of the local church).
Eight women pastors from the annual conference attended the training.
The annual conference took a stand regarding human sexuality, rejecting same-sex marriage. They backed observing the marriage between two people of opposite sex to stay in the recommendation of the Bible and recommend to The United Methodist Church the strict respect of the gender with distinction of two beings: the man and the woman.
Delegates expressed concern about The United Methodist Church’s sacred unity at the universal level and vowed to continue to pray for brothers and sisters who are in this practice, to pray for unity and to multiply the teachings with exhortation for all.
Resolutions adopted by the conference are, among others, the contribution of $1 per month per faithful for self-care, the implementation of the principle, a local church project throughout the episcopal area, and the development of the agriculture by all.
Number of people ordered: 186; ordered or received as associate members: 22; average age: 30.
Number of retired people: 2
Two alternates were elected for the special 2019 General Conference: The Rev. Okito Boniface (clergy) and Emungu Michel (laity).
Membership is at 27,822, up from the previous year. Church attendance is at 8,799, an increase of 9.7 percent. School attendance at the church is 6,324, up from the previous year.
Professions or faith reaffirmations for 2017 is 289, a 20 percent increase from 2016. Adults and young adults in small groups for 2017 is 84, up from 49 in 2016. The faithful committed on mission for 2017 is 3,426, up from 2,032 in 2016.
To strengthen the four areas of focus, the annual conference has made a commitment to:
- Capacity-building of pastors, and leadership training for clergy and laity;
- To supervise new missions in the province of Ituri, Bas-Uele;
- Ongoing construction of health centers and post at Osio Tshopo province, Ikela province of the Equator;
- Malaria control in the conference of the Eastern Provinces and Equator;
- Development of projects on the care of victims of sexual violence;
- Organization of sensitization campaigns on the prevention of diarrheal diseases and Ebola;
- Awarding scholarships to youth for study at Kindu Methodist University.
Judith Osongo Yanga, director of communications for the East Congo Conference.