Church members in Liberia afflicted with the Ebola virus

Two United Methodist pastors and about 18 church members have died and others are have been quarantined because of concerns about the Ebola virus. The deaths are suspected to be Ebola, but have not been medically confirmed.

The Rev. Karyidia Paul Gartor, the Kakata-Farmington River superintendent, said about 18 church members have died of what is believed to be Ebola. Gartor said those deaths included Cooper Daryue and his household of eight, who were members of St. Matthew United Methodist Church.

 “As a district, we lost two of our pastors – the Rev. Annie Lincoln and the Rev. Peter Tarr, and the Men President of St. Matthew UMC under similar circumstances,” Gartor said.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization’s most recent update says more than 2,200 people in West Africa have died of in the worst outbreak of the disease in history. Those cases in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea are suspected, confirmed or probable. Of those, 1,137 were in Liberia, which has had 2,081 suspected, confirmed or probable cases. Cases have also been reported in Senegal, Nigeria, and Democratic Republic of Congo.

Sierra Leone, which has recorded 524 deaths, has proposed a three-day lockdown from Sept. 19-21 during which time everyone is expected to stay indoors while teams of health and community workers go door-to-door to find Ebola patients, according to published news reports. One medical charity expressed concern that the lockdown will erode trust, according to the BBC.

Full Ebola Coverage

Read full coverage of church's response to the Ebola outbreak at www.umc.org/ebola.

In addition to deaths, several families who are members of The United Methodist Church of Liberia in Monrovia and elsewhere have been quarantined for fear of having the Ebola virus. In Monrovia, 12 people quarantined in one house were mostly members of the Mount Sinai United Methodist Church, according to Esther Gargar, a member of the church and an employee of the Liberia Annual (regional) Conference. Gargar, who is among the quarantined, said the families decided to quarantine themselves after her brother’s son, 26-year-old Abraham Gargar died of the virus on Sept. 3 at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital Ebola center.

“Since his death, we decided to quarantine ourselves and the community leadership insisted that we do so,” Gargar said.

The 26-year-old contracted the virus while caring for his aunt in the Logan Town community prior to her death from Ebola. His father, David Gargar, is now suspected of having the virus and is quarantined as well. David Gargar said he has not been tested by any health team since he and the rest of the Gargar family decided to institute the self-quarantined measure which was endorsed by the community leaders.

“We have been assisted by Mount Sinai with food and medicine, but we still need to be tested to know our status,” David Gargar said.

When contacted, the Rev. Charles Langama, pastor of Mount Sinai, said two other families were also quarantined. “The local church has provided food and medicine for all three family heads that are all part of our church,” Langama said.

The Gargar family is also being assisted by other United Methodists, including the departments of Human Rights Monitor and Community Services of the Liberia Annual (regional) Conference.

The Rev. George Wilson, director of Connectional Ministries for the conference, said that while Esther Gargar is in quarantine, she will receive her salary as well as about $200 U.S.

Swen is a communicator in Liberia.

News media contact: Vicki Brown, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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