Led by United Methodist Bishop John Wesley Yohanna, leader of the Nigeria Episcopal Area, the 18th session of the Northern Nigeria Annual Conference occurred December 5-8, 2022, at the UMCN Rev. Ali Masoyi Memorial Cathedral Gwandum.
Delegates heard from Raymond Iliyasu, guest preacher. His sermon was drawn from Psalm 46:1-4, 10, elaborating the theme "Stand still and know that I am God".
Raymond quoted from the Psalm, saying there is a stream that brings joy in the presence of God. The stream, Raymond said, is in our hearts and knowing God will bring us happiness.
In conclusion, the preacher emphasized that there is a current in your life that will lead you to eternal life.
Bishop Yohanna in his episcopal message emphasized the achievements and challenges that affect the church and society. He called on all people to be agents of peace and harmony in their areas. He appealed for unity, saying there would be no progress without unity.
The Bishop thanked Almighty God, his family, the leaders of the annual conferences, mission partners, the College of Bishops, GBGM, GBCS, GBHEM, GCFA and the Council of Bishops for their unwavering support to the episcopal region of Nigeria.
The Provost of Banyam Theological Seminary (BTS), the Rev. Dr. John Pena Auta, brought messages of good will. The BTS registrar emphasized BTS' affiliation with Taraba State University and the promotion of scholarships for students.
The director of relationship ministries, legislative committees and district superintendents presented their reports.
The Annual Conference delegates unanimously resolved that homosexuality and same-sex marriage are not consistent with Christian teaching. The delegates further stated that if the practice of homosexuality is legalized within The United Methodist Church at the upcoming 2024 General Conference, the entire Northern Nigeria Annual Conference will consider joining any new emerging Methodist denomination which does not accept that practice.
The delegates also unanimously recommended that the President of the College of Bishops of West Africa urgently request a special session of the Central Conference to determine its position on homosexuality and same-sex marriage.
The conference also adopted the following resolutions:
- The Conference resolved to grant a breakaway group a three-month grace period from December 6, 2022, until the end of March 2023, with respect to the just resolutions of Grand Bassam, and to require the group pay all dues to GCFA, CONEFA, Special Sundays, orphanage grain and other levies for the entire period of time they have been away.
- The Conference further resolved that the resident bishop should continue to implement the just resolutions and reappoint the disfellowshipped clergy among them, with the Council on Ordained Ministries to report the results of its work at the next session of the Annual Conference.
- The delegates of the annual conference also decided that the salaries of pastors should be increased to N5,000 at a minimum.
- It was decided that the delivery of special offerings for the Men's Agency Special Sunday would be through their account.
- It also was decided that students at institutions of higher learning should be allowed to meet for fellowship in churches that are closer to their institutions, especially when there is a restriction on certain campuses, while associating with other fellowship groups such as the Fellowship of Christian Students (FCS) on their various campuses.
- It was decided that the submission of orphanage grains and other supports should be made no later than Jan. 15, 2023.
- It was decided that ADP should engage in agribusiness, including the sale of fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides, chick feed and livestock medicines, and that a branch of this business should be extended to the Tondolo districts, if appropriate.
- The conference in session decided that any ministry group that does not attend Christian revival programs should not be allowed to organize its own programs.
- It was further decided that all charges and districts that have not paid their evangelism contribution will now have the correct amount deducted from their annual conference registration, which may eventually lead to not providing them with Journal materials.
- It was decided that the CFA should provide a uniform cash book to all charges and districts for proper record keeping and accountability.
- The conference delegates unanimously agreed that the audit committee should deduct the exact amount realized by each church during the special Sundays and return the money to the treasury.
Seven deacons moved to the office of elder and four local pastors were ordained as deacons. Two circuits were commissioned into charge conferences: UMCN Burak and UMCN Kubureyaghe, both in Chonge District.
The Rev. Yunfa Umaru (JP), conference secretary
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