Bishop re-elected as head of Sierra Leone Council of Churches

United Methodist Bishop John Yambasu will continue to lead the ecumenical Council of Churches in Sierra Leone for the next three years.

The bishop was elected for a second term as president of the council on Sept. 28, receiving 100 percent of the 62 votes cast by delegates at the seventh Triennial General Assembly in northern Sierra Leone.

“I think our election was just a referendum and a testament that we delivered what we promised,” Yambasu said after the votes were counted.

The Council of Churches is a communion of 24 Protestant churches in Sierra Leone and eight affiliate churches and organizations. The council has played a significant role in advocacy, peace mediation, disaster relief and election monitoring in recent years.

“We promise you by the grace of God, we will do what God has empowered us to do,” Yambasu said.

The bishop said the council’s advocacy team, led by the Rev. Henry Samuels, did a great job during the Ebola outbreak in 2014 and after landslides and flooding in 2017.  

“As our society changes, the church must also adapt its programs to adequately respond to the changing trends in society,” he said.

He said the Council of Churches in Sierra Leone must be able to muster all the strength, resources, political will, courage and resolve to be at the head of that change, adding that the council needs to put aside all denominational and political differences and speak truth to power while proactively engaging society in fighting danger.

He recalled the role the Council of Churches played in this year’s multi-tier elections, providing training for church leaders in election monitoring and leading anti-violence campaigns.

“When we realized that a possible danger … was imminent, we joined forces with other Christian organizations and non-governmental organizations and took to the streets … moving from one city to another, addressing issues of peace and non-violence across the nation.

“We thank God that the elections ended peacefully and Sierra Leoneans are now enjoying relative calm and peace,” Yambasu said.

He said the Council of Churches remains committed to its involvement in addressing social ills and being the mouthpiece for the underprivileged and downtrodden in the country.

“In particular, we will remain fully engaged in anti-tribal advocacy and education. We shall achieve this goal through civic education programs, including training and empowerment, leadership development and advocacy initiatives,” he said.

Yambasu also recounted successes his administration achieved during his first term, including restructuring the Council of Churches office; paying end-of-service benefits to workers; improving on finances and financial reporting; and reviewing the constitution.

“Aware that we were coming from a very challenging economic background, you gave us the mandate to re-vision the council and develop positive strategies that will once again reinstate council and position it as a relevant and transformative Christian organization, not only in Sierra Leone but in Africa as a whole,” Yambasu said.

He emphasized that the church visitations his administration started in his first term will continue. The visits are meant to galvanize unity and provide an opportunity to educate the membership on the role of the council.

“We will also work toward the possibility of having a viable youth program” within the Council of Churches in Sierra Leone, he said.

Yambasu thanked his colleagues, many of whom also won a second term, “for a job well done.” About 80 percent of the former executive team was elected for a new term, including conference treasurer Elfreda Braima-Fawundu, a fellow United Methodist.

Speaking during the assembly, the Rev. Istifanus B. Bahago of the Christian Reformed Church promoted closer unity among Christians in Sierra Leone, emphasizing that the names denominations assign themselves are for humanity, not for Christ. He said the simple instruction of the great commission was to go and make disciples for Jesus Christ.

“The history of Christianity in Sierra Leone is more than 200 years (old),” he said. “But over the years, Christianity has become a minority in Sierra Leone. It is because Christians were busy dividing and fighting among themselves. To overcome the power of darkness that we call the world, we as Christians must work together.”

Jusu is director of communications for The United Methodist Church in Sierra Leone.

News media contact: Vicki Brown at (615) 742-5470 or [email protected]. To read more United Methodist news, subscribe to the free Daily or Weekly Digests

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