The Rev. Binwa Alimasi depends a lot on word of mouth to communicate with his congregation in the village of Makabola, Congo. Thanks to training provided by the Kivu Annual Conference, he recently gained a new communications tool: email.
He is excited about this new way of receiving and sharing information.
“I am able to send my reports to my own email account and start receiving news from The United Methodist Church every day,” Alimasi said.
Capacity building in information and communications technology, said the Rev. Kombi Ramazani, connectional ministries director for the conference, “is a challenge we have to face.”
Bishop Gabriel Yemba Unda, Eastern Congo Episcopal Area, agrees.
“For the mission of the church,” he said, “ICT is important. We can transform the world if everyone takes ownership of ICT. We can hear the Word of God online, once the person is connected to the internet. I encourage all pastors to take ownership of this initiative.”
Ramazani worked with the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry to provide technology workshops for 35 Kivu pastors and 15 laity.
The Rev. Godelive Wakubenga of the Swahiliphone United Methodist Church in Uvira said the training would “allow the pastors of Kivu to … be up-to-date with the information happening on the world scale in The United Methodist Church.
“As a pastor,” he added, “it is important to be aware of the information disseminated globally” so pastors can “give good information to the faithful.”
“The pastors,” said trainer Jacques Useni, “are the first communicators.”
Representing the National Radio Television in Congo, he focused on defining a target audience, creating communications strategies, developing a budget and evaluating results. He urged participants always to “ask what, how, when, where and to whom to communicate, especially during Sunday sermons and (in) mass evangelism campaigns.”
Kazidi Albert, a university professor, highlighted the advantages and disadvantages of social media and advised participants to use common sense in communicating via Facebook, Twitter and other social networks.
Ramazani said the training would continue in the conference’s four districts. Through a virtual library, pastors will have an opportunity to stay current, especially on theological issues. Students and teachers at the Kindu Methodist University already are using the virtual library.
Next on the agenda is extending the training opportunity to other conferences in the Eastern Congo Episcopal Area.
Kituka Lolonga is a communicator in the Kivu Annual Conference.
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