Led by Bishop Daniel Onashuyaka Lunge, the 79th session of the Central Congo Annual Conference convened Aug. 17-22 at Romo United Methodist Church in Tshumbe, Congo.
Joining delegates and visitors were the administrator of Lubefu Territory, the Nganda chief of sector, the Wimbe Ward chief, a bishop’s representative from the Catholic Diocese of Tshumbe and other guests from Christian groups in the region.
Dr. Colon Wembonyama preached from Ezra 1:2-5 and Nehemiah 2:2-5, 17:20, focusing on construction. He and his wife, Rose, are volunteer missionaries from Sweden. He urged delegates and United Methodists around the world to return for the rebuilding of Jerusalem as recorded in Scripture. The Wembonyamas contributed $2,000 U.S. to finance the construction of the residence of the Tsumbe District superintendent.
During the opening ceremony, provincial government representative Michel Kipopa thanked United Methodists for their role in socioeconomic development.
“This is evidenced,” he said, “through the construction and rehabilitation of hospitals, health centers and schools that allow the population to benefit from quality health care and our children to study in the best conditions.”
François Lumumba, son of Patrice Emery Lumumba, national hero and father of the independence of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said he was happy to see the church’s work.
“I am 75 years old,” he said. “This is the first time I have come to Sankuru, the land of my ancestors, but I realize that The United Methodist Church in Central Congo plays a great role in the development of the province dear to Patrice Emery Lumumba, my father. I encourage you.”
Lunge inaugurated four local churches built by faithful Methodists in their home villages. They include:
• Ofuku Vele, built in the village bearing the same name, by the Rev. Marie Akenda, Kinshasa; • Ongongo, built in the village bearing the same name, by Marc Mukote, a faithful United Methodist living in Kinshasa; • Djalo, built under the initiative of annual conference members who gave following a resolution during the 2017 annual conference; and • Otohe, built by missionary Dr. Colon Wembonyama.
• Ofuku Vele, built in the village bearing the same name, by the Rev. Marie Akenda, Kinshasa;
• Ongongo, built in the village bearing the same name, by Marc Mukote, a faithful United Methodist living in Kinshasa;
• Djalo, built under the initiative of annual conference members who gave following a resolution during the 2017 annual conference; and
• Otohe, built by missionary Dr. Colon Wembonyama.
The COVID-19 pandemic was paramount throughout the annual conference sessions, and barrier measures were strictly observed. Hand-washing devices were placed at the entrances, temperatures were taken before participants entered the conference room, and masks were distributed daily to all delegates. The health department set up a mobile clinic. Delegates urged all United Methodists at the annual conference to respect the measures taken by authorities at the country level to combat COVID-19 and other diseases.
The conference decided to build a local church each year in a district to be chosen by the delegates. More than $10,000 U.S. was mobilized immediately, and the conference allocated these funds to construction of a local church in the territory of Lusambu, Sankuru Province.
Delegates voted to uphold the resolutions of the Special Central Conference held in December 2018 in Kolwezi, Lualaba Province. These resolutions provide that once elected, the bishop remains for life, and endorse the use of a single United Methodist Book of Discipline for the Congo Central Conference.
The conference maintained the list of delegates elected to the 2020 General Conference, except those under disciplinary action who have been replaced by their alternates.
The elected delegates include three clergy: Michel Membele Lokaso, Dimonga Vange André and Jean Losango Biheno. Lay delegates are Paul-ami Djundu Koy, Sébastien Kitengye Sokoni and Jacques Umembudi Akasa. Following disciplinary action, delegate John Omalokoho was replaced by first alternate Sokoni.
While no new clergy were ordained or commissioned, one was granted associate membership. Twenty-two clergy retired. The statistical report was positive, recording increases in all areas: membership, 44,155; worship attendance, 10,623; church attendance, 22,345; professions or reaffirmations of faith, 10,700; and missionary involvement, 73.
— François Omanyondo, communicator, Central Congo Annual Conference
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