UMC Sierra Leone urged to practice authentic Christianity
The Resident Bishop of the UMC Sierra Leone Episcopal Area, Rev. Dr. John Yambasu challenged United Methodists in Sierra Leone to practice authentic Christianity based on scriptural faithfulness if they want to be positive change agents in Sierra Leone. Addressing members of the conference during the 136th Annual Session Bishop Yambasu said if the United Methodist Church is to be the church that will propel the nation forward, it needs to return to scripture as the moral compass and authority that guides its faith. “Our denomination is in the process of becoming a sleeping giant,” the bishop lamented.
In his twenty-five page Episcopal address, Bishop Yambasu acknowledged that his congregations on several occasions have urged him to maintain the unity of the church, focus on evangelism and church growth, and engage in more innovative and life changing ministries. He also indicated that others have asked him to engage in intentional leadership development and aggressive fund raising both at home and abroad. In acknowledgment, the Bishop said without financial resources, there is no way we can achieve these laudable dreams and if we are united, we can do far much more than we are currently doing.
The UMC Sierra Leone Bishop indicated that in many of his congregations, there is a daily sense of tension between parishioners and between parishioners and pastors. “Our congregations have become too arid for the fruits of the spirits to survive and manifest themselves,” he further lamented. Bishop Yambsu said what we are experiencing is hate, destructive gossip of our own very church mates and friends, quarrels, enmity, unforgiving spirits and divisions.
As part of the Episcopal Address, the UMC Sierra Leone Bishop called on his District Superintendents and pastors to organize well planned and coordinated Bible study as an integral component of the ministry of the congregations under their care. “We need to return to Scripture as the main authority that guides our life in the church and teach our people the truths embedded in Scripture or we spiritually perish as a denomination,” the bishop affirmed. He said a vibrant and transforming Christ centered ministry where the Bible takes central stage is contagious and powerful. “Let’s become a Bible teaching and Bible believing church and we soon see the tremendous spiritual and physical transformations that will take place in this church and Sierra Leone as a whole,” he added.
The Resident Bishop said the United Methodist University (UMU) has occupied the central stage of
our “Vision 2020” since its endorsement by Conference in 2010, the bishop said. “The UMC Sierra Leone UMU will formally open with the School of Theology, Gender and Human Rights Studies in October 2016 at the refurbished Leicester Peak Mission facility,” he declared. Bishop Yambasu named access to internet, e-library and e-readers and electronic interactions between students and faculty as part of the things students will enjoy once they are enrolled in the school. Meanwhile the Sierra Leone Annual Conference has awarded scholarships to over twenty students who will be studying theology at the new UMU in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
Reporting and photography by Julu Swen