More than 120 evangelism leaders from 20 African countries and 18 Wesleyan Methodist family churches under the World Methodist Council attended the landmark Africa Continental Summit Dec. 1-8 at United Methodist-related Africa University.
The summit was organized by the World Methodist Evangelism Institute of the World Methodist Council.
The Rev. Eddie Fox, the council's director of World Methodist Evangelism, noted that the African summit follows a series of summits in the Americas, Asia, the Philippines and England.
"As the World Methodist Evangelism Council, we have been engaged in this vision of doing our part so that the world may know who Jesus Christ is. We had a series of summits around the world beginning a few years ago in the Americas," Fox said.
"We were in South America, Central America, North America and Havana, Cuba. That was followed by summits in Asia and the Philippines. We also held another summit at Cliff College in England, which was for Europe. Almost every Methodist Church in Europe was represented.
"We dreamed about this summit in Africa, the 'continent of light' - a summit for all Wesleyan evangelism leaders in Africa. And I am glad that it came out in a wonderful way," Fox said.
"We say Africa is the continent of light because the Christian faith is growing faster in Africa than any other continent in the world. It is also true that Africa has entered into the orbit of Christian faith with the majority of the people on the continent believing in Christ Jesus as their Lord and Savior," he said.
Focus on Wesley's words
"This summit like all our other summits focuses on the words of Wesley, who experienced the movement of the Holy Spirit in his heart. We are, however, clear as Methodists that we do not worship Wesley, but worship and follow Jesus in the company of Wesleyans," Fox said.
"Mr. Wesley, not long before his death, wrote and said he did not fear that the people called Methodists shall ever cease to exist, not in Europe, America or anywhere else in the world.
"He said he only feared that they (Methodists) will exist as a dead sect," Fox said.
He, however, continued that this would undoubtedly be the case unless Methodists hold firm to the doctrine, discipline and the spirit with which they first set out.
Winston Worrell, the director of the World Methodist Evangelism Institute, said he was delighted that they had their landmark African summit during a time when Africa University is celebrating its 20th anniversary.
"This university as a Methodist- and Christian-related institution has already begun to have significant impact across the continent," he said. "As we travel around the continent to hold seminars like this one, we are meeting several graduates from this institution who are making significant contributions as pastors and leaders. …"
"It is also significant that Africa University as a Christian institution therefore provides the opportunity for people to come not only to learn the Christian faith but also to be impacted by the true morals and standards of Christians who serve God diligently.
"No doubt, our stay here has been very blessed, and the Holy Spirit has been among us at this campus," Worrell said.
"As a Methodist-related institution, we are proud to host this significant event, the first summit of its kind to be hosted on African soil for Wesleyan Methodist evangelists," said the university's vice-chancellor, Fanuel Tagwira.
'Invest in Africa's future'
"Our mandate as a pan-Africa institution is to 'Invest in Africa's future.' So, it brings us so much joy when we host such landmark events, which call for unity among African Methodists in the Wesleyan family," Tagwira said. "Africa needs unity of purpose in all spheres of life to develop. I thank the World Methodist Evangelism Institute for organizing this workshop."
The World Methodist Evangelism Institute is a ministry that brings together the churches under the Wesleyan Methodist family. Its primary mandate is around the tasks of mission and evangelism and spreading the good news of Christ Jesus over the world.
The Wesleyan Methodist movement is in 138 countries with more than 80 million followers.
The chair of the World Methodist Evangelism Institute, United Methodist Bishop B. Michael Watson, said it was very important that Africa's Methodist leadership step forward in the Christian movement going on around the world.
He said the summit would provide more clarity and energy to carry out the vision of Wesleyan Methodists and create a sense of unity.
"The 'people called Methodists,' followers of Jesus Christ, in the company of the Wesleys are one family with one mission - that the world may know Jesus Christ," Watson said.
*Dapira is a member of the information office staff of Africa University.
News media contact: Tim Tanton, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or [email protected].