Embracing Regionalization Over Disaffiliation: Safeguarding the Legacy of The United Methodist Church in Africa

In recent times, The United Methodist Church finds itself at a crossroads, facing
a critical decision that could shape its future trajectory significantly. The proposal
of disaffiliation has surfaced, threatening to disintegrate the UMC in Africa and
erase the rich history and heritage that our forefathers have diligently preserved
over generations. However, amidst this uncertainty, there exists a viable
alternative – regionalization – that promises to uphold the unity and continuity of
the church while honoring its legacy.

The United Methodist Church stands as a testament to the enduring faith and
resilience of its members in Africa and world-wide, who have upheld the
teachings and traditions of the church with unwavering dedication. Throughout
the centuries, African United Methodists have played a pivotal role in shaping the
identity and mission of the church on the continent, fostering a sense of
community and shared purpose among its members.

The richness of the United Methodist Church in Africa is not measured in gold
or silver, but in the unwavering faith of its members, the resilience of its
communities, and the love that binds us together. From the bustling streets of
Monrovia to the remote villages of Zimbabwe, the message of hope and
salvation preached by the church has touched the lives of millions.
When whispers began to circulate about disaffiliation from the United
Methodist Church, some voices from across the ocean are suggesting that
Africans should break away from the global denomination. But the leaders and
members of the church in Africa stand firm, our faith unshaken. We do not
need anyone to tell us how to practice our faith. The Holy Bible remains
supreme in our hearts and our minds. We will not waver in our devotion to the
teachings of Jesus Christ.

The prospect of disaffiliation poses a significant threat to the cohesion and
stability of the UMC in Africa. By severing ties with the global denomination,
African United Methodists risk isolating themselves from a broader network of
support and resources, potentially leading to fragmentation and discord within
the church. Moreover, disaffiliation could result in the loss of vital connections
with sister churches worldwide, hindering opportunities for collaboration and
mutual growth.

Furthermore, the dissolution of the UMC in Africa through disaffiliation would
represent a profound loss of heritage and history for the church. The legacy of
our forefathers, who labored tirelessly to establish and nurture The United
Methodist Church in Africa, would be jeopardized, leaving future generations
disconnected from their roots and traditions. The wealth of knowledge and
experience accumulated over centuries would be at risk of being forgotten and
diluted if the church were to splinter and disperse.

In contrast, regionalization offers a path forward that preserves the unity and
continuity of The United Methodist Church in Africa and elsewhere while
honoring its heritage and legacy. By aligning with neighboring regions and
forming a cohesive network within the global denomination, African United
Methodists can maintain their connection to the broader church body while
fostering a sense of solidarity and shared purpose.

Regionalization provides a framework for collaboration and shared decision-
making, enabling African United Methodists to retain autonomy and agency
within the church while benefiting from the resources and support of the global
denomination. By embracing regionalization, the UMC in Africa can ensure its
continued existence and relevance in an ever-changing world, upholding the
values and principles that have guided the church for generations.
We are United Methodists in Africa, and we will remain faithful until the day our
Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ returns.

In conclusion, The United Methodist Church stands at a pivotal moment in its
history, faced with a choice that will shape its future for years to come. By
rejecting disaffiliation and embracing regionalization, African United Methodists
can safeguard the legacy and heritage of the church while promoting unity and
continuity within the global denomination. Let us honor the sacrifices of our
forefathers and preserve the rich tapestry of history that defines The United
Methodist Church, ensuring its enduring presence and relevance for generations
to come.

Written by: Jefferson Boye Knight, Director, Human Rights Monitor, Peace With
Justice Program of the Liberia Annual Conference, The United Methodist Church.
He is also a delegate to the 2024 General Conference.