Kulah takes over as Liberia interim bishop

Retired Bishop Arthur Kulah, who was bishop in Liberia for 20 years, has been called out of retirement to serve the Liberia Episcopal Area of The United Methodist Church as its interim bishop until 2017.

Bishop John Innis, who led the conference since his election in 2000, retired as of Sept. 1. His successor will be elected by the West Africa Central Conference, which meets Dec. 13-16.

Kulah served the Liberia Conference as bishop until his retirement in 2000. His return marks the second time he has left retirement to serve as interim bishop. He served in the Nigeria Episcopal Area after the death of Bishop Kefas Kane Mavula in 2007 until Bishop John Yohanna was elected in 2012.

At the ceremony marking the turning over of power, Innis said he was leaving the church in the hands of someone who was well-seasoned in its workings.

“Bishop Kulah is no stranger to the Liberian society and the church. He will lead us peacefully through the transition,” Innis said. He praised Kulah for the cordial relationship that existed between the two of them during his 16 years as bishop to the church.

“He handed this mantle of power to me; I am now handing it over to him to ensure that we concluded the 16 years peacefully,” he said.

Innis is credited with raising the educational standard of United Methodist pastors in Liberia. During his 16-year tenure, more than 10 pastors received Doctor of Ministry degrees from various universities in the U.S., while more than 20 pastors now hold master’s degrees in various fields of studies. And the number of United Methodist schools has increased in rural areas since Innis initiated partnership with The United Methodist Church in Norway.

Innis also involved the church in corporate ventures that will provide financial income. One example is the Liberia United Methodist Empowerment Foundation, intended to fund the retirement of Liberian clergy and provide educational support for the church.

The membership of the church in Liberia increased from 170,000 to 285,000 during his tenure.

In accepting temporary leadership of the church, Kulah urged United Methodists in Liberia to stop discussing the church using social media.

“If you have any issues with the conference and its leadership, come and let us discuss them,” he said.

He also urged members to affirm each other in public and resolve their differences privately.

“We need to protect the image of UMC Liberia so that the incoming bishop will inherit a peaceful church,” he said, adding that a successful transition in December 2016 by the church will serve as an example for the 2017 national elections in Liberia. “The entire country is watching The United Methodist Church in Liberia,” Kulah said.

The Rev. George Wilson called on United Methodists throughout Liberia to lift each other up as the conference prepares for the transition to new leadership. Using the “Good Samaritan” story, Wilson challenged members to care for the church and support the leadership of the church in these critical months.

“Do not not pass on the other side, but lift up your falling brothers and sisters regardless of the differences,” Wilson said.

Swen is a communicator in Liberia. News media contact: Vicki Brown, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or [email protected].

Sign up for our newsletter!

umnews-subscriptions
Local Church
Participants observe the new rules of social distancing at the launch of The United Methodist Church’s Anti COVID-19 Campaign and Taskforce in Sinkor, Liberia, outside Monrovia. Photo by E Julu Swen, UM News.

United Methodists fight COVID-19 around the globe

Communicators for The United Methodist Church in Africa and the Philippines share what the church is doing in their regions to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Theology and Education
Students and staff practice social distancing in order to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus as they wait to enter the dining hall at Africa University in Mutare, Zimbabwe. The cafeteria has changed serving and seating arrangements, and meal times have been extended to three hours so those on campus do not all have to be served at the same time. Photo by the Africa University office of Advancement and Public Affairs.

AU shifts to online classes, some students stay on campus

The United Methodist university is practicing social distancing to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Mission and Ministry
A visitor to United Methodist Mercy Hospital in Bo, Sierra Leone, washes his hands at a wash station before entering the hospital on March 16. Amid coronavirus concerns, the use of handwashing stations, previously used during the country’s fight against Ebola, has been stepped up in public places, including hospitals, banks and schools. Photo by Phileas Jusu, UM News.

Ebola offers lessons in fighting coronavirus in Sierra Leone

United Methodist hospitals among those gearing up as coronavirus concerns grow in the West African country.