Jan. 23-27, in Freetown, Sierra Leone
At the 139th session of the Sierra Leone Annual Conference, United Methodists celebrated the 10th episcopal anniversary of Bishop John K. Yambasu, resident bishop of the Sierra Leone Annual Conference. He was elected in 2008 and installed in 2009 at King Memorial United Methodist Church at Goderich Street.
The conference commenced Jan. 23 with a march led by United Methodist school bands from UMC House in central Freetown to King Memorial United Methodist Church where the session was hosted.
Many partners and friends of the Sierra Leone Annual Conference from Liberia, Nigeria, Cote d’lvoire, the United States, Germany and Norway attended the celebrations.
Bishop Yambasu was the officiating bishop of the conference, while Bishop Julius C. Trimble of the Indiana Conference assisted.
Thomas Kemper, top executive of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, spoke on the theme “Celebrating the Vision, Embracing the Future” during his keynote speech.
In his remarks, he stated that Yambasu, during his 10 years of leadership, has succeeded in unifying, reconciling and reviving The United Methodist Church. He noted that the bishop has built ecumenical collaborations, shared his vision with the connection and stood up for the human rights of others.
From Colossians 3:12-17, Kemper said that United Methodists are one family, and he encouraged delegates at the conference to be unified in mission and clothe themselves with the act of love, humanity and forgiveness for others.
During his episcopal message, Bishop Yambasu highlighted his achievements over the past 10 years and looked at the challenges the future poses to the denomination as well as the Sierra Leone Annual Conference.
At his installation in 2009, Yambasu shared a 10-year vision. One pillar was the establishment of United Methodist University in Sierra Leone. That dream was realized in 2018, when the first faculty of United Methodist University — the Bishop Wenner School of Theology — was launched. Other notable achievements that were highlighted include:
- Improved infrastructure, including building or rehabilitating health facilities, schools and churches across the country.
- A robust and sustainable pension plan for clergy.
- Expansion of the denomination into new districts across the country.
- Recovery of land and buildings that were at risk of being taken over by defrauders.
- Infrastructure improvements at Kissy General Hospital and Lowell and Ruth Gess Eye Hospital, and transformation of Rotifunk Hospital into a functional facility with an excellent surgical suite. Mercy Hospital in Bo also now has a surgical wing.
- Providing scholarships for needy children and salaries for seven recently established United Methodist schools that are not government assisted.
- In September 2019, The United Methodist Church in Sierra Leone will establish one of the most comprehensive entrepreneurial training centers in Taiama: The Taiama Enterprise Academy. The facility is under construction.
With such achievements, the bishop said, the Sierra Leone Annual Conference deserves to celebrate and thank God for leadership, empowerment, partnership, love, protection, mercy and grace.
Bishop Yambasu also launched a new vision code: Vision 2030. Key among the priorities in Vision 2030 are:
- Promoting abundant health for all, especially children and women, and expanding health-promotive measures.
- Promoting primary, secondary and tertiary education with a specific focus on Christian and moral values, academic performance, rehabilitation and strengthening of schools, rather than constructing new ones, and expanding the curriculum at the Bishop Wenner School of Theology.
Communitydevelopment, economic sustainability and agricultural investment with the aim to improve the livelihood and economic status of communities through the rehabilitation of schools, building of toilet facilities, providing clean water, and creating agriculture and microfinance opportunities.
Evangelism, discipleship and church growth.
Sustaining the payment of pastors’ salaries and pensions by mobilizing resources locally and internationally.
Four people were ordained as elders in full connection, while five people were commissioned ministers and five women were ordained into diaconal ministry as deaconesses.
Four clergy and 18 head teachers retired.
Membership stands at 285,000.
The conference ended with a thanksgiving service on Jan. 27
— Keziah Kargbo, director of Church and Society for the Sierra Leone Conference.