Publishing teams in Africa are providing hymnals, liturgy, curriculum and other educational materials that are helping United Methodists spread the gospel.
“Before we started, pastors were constrained because the preaching materials were not readily available — they had to search so much before accessing one. With the publishing team, the pastors are now comfortable because liturgical calendars are now available everywhere,” said the Rev. Rogerio Bartolomeu of the East Angola Conference.
Discipleship Resources International sponsors United Methodist publishing teams in Africa. Those teams met May 1-5 in Johannesburg, South Africa, to share strategy, plan and learn.
Bartolomeu said the materials have united the preaching plans of pastors in the conference. His team has produced a liturgical calendar and a holiday Bible for children that includes guidelines for children on holidays.
The team also publishes a newsletter for children who are on school holidays that
keeps the children in touch with school, Bible lessons and a lot more, he said.
“Normally, when kids are on holidays, the tendency is that they forget everything. So, the essence of the newsletter is to keep them abreast with their bible lessons, hygiene, general knowledge and a lot more,” he said.
The Rev. Cleivy Rivalta, a missionary from East Angola who works with the team, said Sunday school curriculum for the children, youth and young adults has been published.
“We are preparing theological literature. Apart from publishing, we are engaging the children in how to draw; how to paint; and so much more. There is progress now in the attitude of the children — they now have acquired the skills of drawing and love reading the Bible and they know so much about Bible stories. Besides, churches are now influencing their communities because United Methodists are asking the publishing team to support them with the materials we publish,” Rivalta said.
The teams publish United Methodist literature needed in their respective episcopal areas and sell those materials at reduced costs to congregations, church leaders and United Methodist organizations and institutions. Discipleship Resources International covers publication costs.
“There is benefit in bringing the various publishing teams together because we do not only share experiences, we also create the opportunity for publishing teams to learn from other teams elsewhere,” said Robin Pippin, director of Contextual Resource Development and Distribution for Discipleship Resources International.
The teams meet each year to share stories of the impact their work is having and to learn new skills to improve on publication. Teams from Sierra Leone, Liberia, Angola, Mozambique, South Africa, Malawi, Tanzania and Zambia were represented at the 2018 meeting.
The Zambia publishing team is just over a year old, but it already has published catechism materials that are equipping pastors and the lay people, especially those who teach Sunday school, the Rev. Laishi Bwalya said.
“It teaches them about the church doctrines; the discipline of the church and more,” he said.
Future publications will be focused on the young people of the church.
“We are preparing the youth manual, which will tell them how to serve; how they can know and have the fear of the Lord as young people. We are also thinking of equipping the women and the men in the church. We will do special publications that will equip them with all the resources they need so that they know the church; they know God and they will serve him better,” Bwalya said.
The Rev. Eurico Gustavo of north Mozambique has worked for the publishing team since 2013.
Before the publishing team existed, many United Methodists did not understand the meaning of Pentecost, he said.
“We had to produce some articles on Pentecost and Thanksgiving. Many United Methodists now fully understand what Pentecost means. So, the people appreciate our publications because our publications give them more knowledge,” Gustavo said.
The team is also reproducing United Methodist hymnals and sending them to remote congregations where hymnals are in short supply. The team works with district superintendents so that they receive copies and pay minimal fees for them.
“When we visit them, we observe that they can now sing songs that they did not know how to sing properly before because they now have United Methodist hymnals in Portuguese and their local language, Xitsua,” he said.
The Tanzanian team has published four books. The latest book on successful marriage has been in high demand even beyond the annual conference.
“You know nowadays there are many challenges in marriages and many families are facing conflict challenges; family issues; there is high level of divorce. By publishing these resources, we help the society to sense the love of God and harmony in society,” Pastor Upendo Malaki, chairman of the Tanzanian publishing team, said. Malaki was invited to a popular local TV station to talk about marriage after the management read the book.
The Malawi publishing team is the oldest DRI-sponsored project. Team leader Noel Kumwenda said the publications of catechism materials and other United Methodist literature have been extremely helpful since most of the pastors in Malawi come from other denominations.
In addition to other resources, the team has produced pastor survey cards that pastors can use to assess their members to know whether they are growing.
“It is a kind of checklist for the pastor, which will inform him on membership, visitations, how much time do they have with a member. ‘Do I have time with all my members? Have I achieved that with all my members? Have I trained?’ The survey cards can answer such questions,” Kumwenda said.
In Sierra Leone, the publishing team has started publishing the conference’s first quarterly newsletter. The newsletter gives news reports on conference activities across the country. A recent edition reported on the role of The United Methodist Church in the historic 2017 landslide and flooding in Freetown.
Jusu is director of communications for The United Methodist Church in Sierra Leone. News media contact: Vicki Brown at (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To read more United Methodist news, subscribe to the free Daily or Weekly Digests.