Liberian United Methodists launch commercial building project

In early December, The United Methodist Church in Liberia, through the Liberia United Methodist Empowerment Foundation (LUMEF), broke ground for construction of a three-story commercial building.

The $2 million project, with anticipated completion in two years, is the first capital investment by The United Methodist Church of Liberia in two decades. When Bishop John G. Innis launched a project in 2001 to ease the church’s financial burdens, LUMEF was expected to raise $10 million during Innis’ episcopacy. With just a year until Innis' retirement, however, the foundation has only raised about $325,000 U.S. to date. Through the commercial building, Liberian United Methodists hope to make the dream a reality.

Speaking to hundreds of United Methodists who gathered for the groundbreaking ceremony, Innis said, “Because of my love for this church, I want to make sure it can sustain itself when I am long gone.” He indicated that the commercial building would help enhance the sustainability and viability of the church’s various ministries and services to the nation. He called on all United Methodists to demonstrate their love for the church by contributing to the project.

“Every [United] Methodist should have love for the church and support the ministries by doing good continuously,” he noted.

Innis said the project would help to double the church’s efforts to serve the Liberian people, especially those in need. He expressed hope that the church would be in a better position to fund regular and theological education. “For too long,” Innis said, “The United Methodist Church of Liberia has been depending on support from overseas. This is one way we can stop or lower our expectation for outside help.”

The United Methodist Church of Liberia operates on an annual budget of $1.5 million. Two-thirds of that amount comes from overseas, especially the United States. Income from the rental services of the building would help to fund much of what the general United Methodist Church through the U.S. currently pays.

The commercial building, which will have parking for about 80 vehicles, will feature stores, non-governmental organization offices and several conference halls to rent. The annual conference will not use any part of this building for its offices. If, for any reason, any of the church agencies want a space in the building, they will have to pay rent.

Moni Captan, LUMEF board chair, called on every Liberian United Methodist to make a long-term contribution toward the growth of the church. “We will generate income,” Captan said, “so that we can have something to turn to during the upcoming years.”

Captan encouraged members to promote God’s word by making sure this project is completed so that funds generated from it will sustain and the care for Christ’s children.

E Julu Swen, based in Monrovia, leads the UMC Liberia Publishing Team.

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