Translate Page

TWK Churches Celebrate, Grow Partnerships with AU

Bishop William McAlilly.
Bishop William McAlilly.
Untitled Document

Engagement with Africa University remains a missional priority for congregations as they envision a future together in the new Tennessee-Western Kentucky (TWK) Conference.

As the members and leaders move with vision and purpose towards the official launch of the new TWK conference in January 2022, they’re celebrating their global impact through Africa University.

“I give thanks for the good work of Africa University and pray that as we walk into the future Tennessee-Western Kentucky Annual Conference that we can continue to maintain our support for the shaping of Africa into tomorrow,” said Bishop William “Bill” McAlilly.

The new conference brings together the Memphis and Tennessee Conferences, home to congregations that share strong, longstanding partnerships with Africa University.

Franklin First United Methodist Church, located in the Harpeth River District in Middle Tennessee, provides scholarships for two Africa University students each year.

Franklin First UMC’s Usahwira partnership with the university began in 2009. Translated into English, Usahwira—a word from the Shona language of Zimbabwe—means ‘beautiful friendship’. It has been an inspiring and life-transforming friendship as, over the past 12 years, Franklin First has prayed for, encouraged, and helped six Africa University students to complete their college education.

Fairfield Glade United Methodist Church, located in Crossville—part of the Caney Fork River District of East Tennessee—provides an annual scholarship.

Fairfield Glade UMC now plans to add up to three new $1000 scholarship grants for graduate students specializing in either theology or agriculture at Africa University.

About 160 miles west in Clarksville, Tennessee, there’s a similar effort underway at Madison Street United Methodist Church, where Aleeta and Floyd Christian are longstanding members.

As retired faculty members of Austin Peay State University (APSU), Aleeta and Floyd Christian are passionate about higher education. They are equally passionate about making connections that change lives and transform communities.

At Austin Peay State University in the 1990s, Dr. Aleeta Christian created and supervised a Japanese exchange with Kansai Gaidai University, Osaka.  Then she learned how broadening exchange is for college students. 

Connecting with leadership of African colleagues from Cameroon and Nigeria in mathematics, mathematics history, and computer science at APSU has been an enriching experience for Floyd.  

On their visit to Africa University in 2019, the Christians were impressed with the campus, the serious, warm, forward-looking students, and immediately thought that a student exchange program would be an exceptionally terrific benefit to the students at Austin Peay and Africa University. 

With the blessing of Madison Street UMC’s senior pastor, Rev. Harriet Bryan, the Christians shared a video presentation on their Africa University experience with the congregation in October 2020. This year, the church’s World Communion Sunday message (October 3) focused on strengthening the connection and featured a speaker from Africa University.

“Our dream is not only to provide scholarship assistance to a student at Africa University but also to establish a partnership that will allow for greater cross-cultural awareness so that we may learn from each other,” said Rev. Bryan. 

excerpt from a story by Andra M. Stevens, Director, Communications, Africa University Development Office

A World Service Special Gift is a designated financial contribution made by an individual, local church, organization, district or annual conference to a project authorized as such by the Connectional Table. Current World Service Special Gifts projects include the Africa University Endowment Fund, the Leonard Perryman Communications Scholarship for Ethnic Minority Students, the Methodist Global Education Fund, the National Anti-Gambling Project and the Lay Missionary Planting Network.