Proud Africa University graduates celebrate role at General Conference

For a few hours Thursday night (April 24) Africa University was transported to two rooms at the Marriot Hotel in Tampa, Fla., where graduates, students and friends of the United Methodist institution in Zimbabwe, Africa, gathered for a “drop in.”

It was the most joyous room anywhere near the 2012 United Methodist General Conference.

Jim Salley, director of the university’s development office, put out the word for AU grads to get together and the room was overflowing.

It was easy to find them, the traveling Africa University choir was in its element singing and dancing at the front of the room. It will be performing for the General Conference during the second week of the assembly’s meeting.
Emotions ran high as former Africa University professors—now United Methodist bishops—pointed to former students with pride saying, “He is a district superintendent. She is working on a doctorate degree in the U.S. He is a successful businessman.”

If someone wants to be a bishop in The United Methodist Church, Salley joked, first teach at Africa University. Bishop David Kekumba, Central Congo, and Bishop Eben K. Nhiwatiwa, Zimbabwe, both taught in the faculty of theology before being elected as bishops.

“The first students were courageous,” Nhiwatiwa said. “They arrived in buses and we weren’t ready. We took them on a tour and said ‘Here is where the library will be, here is where the classrooms will be.’”

One of those first students shouted, “Now we know” as the room exploded in laughter.

Africa University graduates are delegates, translators, marshals, pages and monitors at the 2012 worldwide assembly.

“I don’t know how they would have general conference without Africa University students,” Salley quipped.

This year the university will celebrate its 20th year. In 1988, General Conference approved the Africa Initiative, which provided $10 million in apportionment funding that quadrennium with the expectation that an additional $10 million would be raised through the World Service Special Gifts.

Africa University has been apportioned the same amount each quadrennium since its start and will ask for the same amount at the 2012 General Conference. That apportionment amounts to 29 cents per member per year.

Sign up for our newsletter!

umnews-subscriptions
General Conference
Bishop Warner H. Brown preaches at the opening worship for the United Methodist 2016 General Conference in Portland, Ore. File photo by Maile Bradfield, UM News.

Ask The UMC: How are General Conference delegates chosen?

Every four years, delegates gather from all over the world to make decisions on behalf of the denomination. Learn more about these members of the church's highest legislative body.
General Conference
On Jan. 3, a 16-member group of United Methodist leaders offered a proposal that would preserve The United Methodist Church while allowing traditionalist-minded congregations to form a new denomination. UM News will host a panel discussion on the Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation proposal at 9:30 a.m. EST on Jan. 13. Graphic by Laurens Glass, UM News.

Video archive: UM News interviews protocol developers

Leaders who helped develop a separation plan for The United Methodist Church answered questions about their proposal during a live event Jan. 13.
General Church
Delegates pause for prayer at the 2019 special General Conference in St. Louis. A group of 2020 General Conference delegates and other church leaders from Africa, Europe and the Philippines is proposing a new form of unity. File photo by Kathleen Barry, UM News.

Delegates offer proposal for church unity

United Methodist leaders from Africa, Europe and the Philippines are offering a “Christmas Covenant” and inviting others to sign on.