Owan elected as bishop in Congo

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The Rev. Kasap Owan, president of the Katanga Methodist University in Mulungushi, has been elected a United Methodist bishop by delegates at the Congo Central Conference meeting.

Owan, 62, was elected March 18 during the quadrennial meeting in Kamina. On the third ballot, he received 238 of 286 votes cast.

“In the 1980s, one old man prophesied that a bishop would come from our village in Mwaji,” Owan said. “Today, that prophecy has come true.”

Owan was the third bishop elected by 292 delegates voting at the Congo Central Conference, and he was assigned to the lead the South Congo Episcopal Area, which also includes parts of Zambia.  

Three Congolese bishops were retiring: Bishop Kainda Katembo, South Congo; Bishop Nkulu Ntanda Ntambo, North Katanga, and Bishop David Yemba, Central Congo.

An academic, Owan was born into a Christian family. His grandfather, Chief Kasap Owan, started the first church in Mwaji. “My grandfather encouraged me to study and become a pastor,” the new bishop said. “He was the traditional leader but was unable to read or write.”

Owan obtained a teaching diploma and taught at a United Methodist school in Kapanga from 1970 to 1972.  He attended Mulungushi Theological College and graduated in 1978, after which he was appointed a pastor at Kapanga, where he had previously been a teacher.

He has a master’s degree in theology and a doctorate. Owan, who was widowed three years ago, has a daughter and three sons.

“I intend to improve evangelism, education and agriculture in my episcopal area. We also need to establish an English school in Kolwezi and provide scholarships for women and youth. I am concerned that we do not have many women who study up to doctorate level,” he said.

Owan said he would encourage pastors to study other fields, such as medicine, and intends to establish a scholarship to train doctors.

“The episcopal area should have a big university,” he added. “Many people want to study in United Methodist institutions, but we do not have such a facility.”

South Congo is vast and includes the Zambia Annual Conference. The new bishop said the episcopal area needed to acquire a bigger airplane as the current plane can only transport six people.

A consecration service for the three new bishops was held March 19 at Wakadilo Conference Centre, Kamina.

There are seven central conferences in The United Methodist Church — Africa, Central and Southern Europe, Congo, Germany, Northern Europe and Eurasia, Philippines and West Africa.

Northern Europe and Eurasia Central conference re-elected Bishop Christian Alsted last October, the Philippines Central Conference re-elected its three bishops in December and West Africa elected a new bishop for Liberia in December.  

Germany elected Bishop Harald Rückert this week, There were no episcopal elections in the Africa Central Conference or Central and Southern Europe.

Chikwanah is a communicator of the Zimbabwe East Annual Conference.

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

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Dr. David W. Scott. Photo © Hector Amador.

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