Celebrating 100 years of mission in Eastern Congo

Translate Page

Key points :

  • United Methodist involvement started in a tiny village with a small number of faithful, said Bishop Mande Muyombo, and now Eastern Congo has more than a million members.
  • Church-related hospitals, schools, orphanages and a university enhance social outreach. 
  • During the 100-year celebration, Congo bishops honored church leaders.

Bishops, clergy and laity representing the country’s four episcopal regions of The United Methodist Church gathered recently to celebrate the first 100 years of Methodist mission in Eastern Congo.

A century ago, chiefs in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo requested missionaries to bring evangelism to the Maniema Province, Kibombo Territory and Akunchu Chiefdom on the other side of the Lomami River.

According to the Rev. Antoine Kalema Tambwe, regional historian, predecessors of The United Methodist Church responded.

Participants during the recent celebration included missionaries of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, representatives of Connexio Switzerland, and heads of chiefdoms and groups of Kibombo. The Rev. Mahamudi Ngereza Benoit was an officiant.

Bishop Mande Muyombo, North Katanga Episcopal Area, spoke on behalf of the Council of Bishops. He noted that United Methodist involvement started in a tiny village with a small number of faithful and today Eastern Congo has more than a million faithful.

Bishop Daniel Lunge, Central Congo Episcopal Area, said, “Today all the tribes are found in the church in Eastern Congo. For me, it’s a source of pride.” Much remains to be done, he added, especially in evangelization, because the field is still vast.

Bishop Guy Mande Muyombo brings greetings from the United Methodist Council of Bishops during the 100th anniversary celebration for the church. Photo by Philippe Kituka Lolonga, UM News. 
Bishop Mande Muyombo brings greetings from the United Methodist Council of Bishops during the 100th anniversary celebration for the church in Eastern Congo. Photo by Philippe Kituka Lolonga, UM News.
Maniema Province Governor Affani Idrisa Mangala and an advisor of Congo President Felix Tshisekedi Tshilombo participated in a symbolic ribbon cutting at Tunda General Hospital. The hospital was built through the financial support of Global Ministries' Global Health unit. They thanked the United Methodist community in Eastern Congo for their support of health, education and social services. 

Customary Chief Lwamba Shoko of the community of Akuchu, Maniema, Kibombo Territory, also expressed appreciation to The United Methodist Church. Because of the church, he said, children of the villages of Kibombo and Kasai earned certificates of primary studies and state diplomas. 

Thanks to the first missionaries, he added, “we have intellectuals and university executives who have studied in Methodist schools and who have occupied important functions at the level of the country and the province. It is a pride for us to have governors, doctors, engineers and pastors who have passed through the schools of The United Methodist Church in the Eastern Congo.”

More than 30 clergy and lay leaders were honored for their dedication and loyalty to the service of the church in the region, said Dr. Richard Letshu, who started his primary studies at the Tunda mission and today works with the World Health Organization.

National deputy Prosper Tunda, a descendant of the royal family who welcomed the first missionaries in Tunda, thanked the church for the medals — a sign of recognition — granted to him. 

Bishop Kasap Owan, Southern Congo Episcopal Area, gave medals to Bishop Gabriel Yemba Unda, Eastern Congo Episcopal Area, for his work in Eastern Congo. He thanked the bishop for his vision and work in the region since 2012. Unda, he said, has led differently, advising, “Let's get up and build.”

Thanking participants at the celebration, Unda urged continued peace efforts in Eastern Congo. 

“We must pray unceasingly for the restoration of peace in the Congo in general and in the eastern part in particular,” he said.

Kituka Lolonga is a communicator in the Kivu Conference.

News media contact: Julie Dwyer, news editor, [email protected] or 615-742-5469. To read more United Methodist news, subscribe to the free Daily or Weekly Digests.


Like what you're reading? Support the ministry of UM News! Your support ensures the latest denominational news, dynamic stories and informative articles will continue to connect our global community. Make a tax-deductible donation at ResourceUMC.org/GiveUMCom.

Sign up for our newsletter!

UMNEWS-SUBSCRIPTION
Evangelism
The Rev. Susan Manyange preaches for the First Street Group, an informal church gathering in Chitungwiza, Zimbabwe, a community that is home to commercial sex workers and many struggling with alcoholism and substance abuse. Manyange is pastor of the nearby Seke East United Methodist Church. Photo by Eveline Chikwanah, UM News.

Church transforms troubled community

Through outreach and a weekly worship service, leaders of Seke East United Methodist Church in Zimbabwe have helped inspire First Street residents to make changes and embrace their faith.
Social Concerns
United Methodist Bishop Gabriel Yemba Unda urges the church to help seek the restoration of peace in Eastern Congo during a “peace caravan” in Tunda, Congo. As part of its 100-year celebration, the church organized a caravan of peace to reflect on the Social Principles and encourage peace in the region. Photo By Philippe Kituka Lolonga, UM News.

United Methodists organize peace caravan in the Congo

Participants laud the church’s acceptance of all people, regardless of tribal affiliation.
Theology and Education
The United Methodist Church’s episcopal residence in Monrovia, Liberia, will be turned over to the United Methodist University’s Graduate School of Professional Studies. Photo by E Julu Swen, UM News.

Episcopal residence decommissioned for educational use in Liberia

The property will be used by the United Methodist University’s Graduate School of Professional Studies.