- The United Methodist Church recently established a new mission in the Republic of Congo in Central Africa.
- The new church of about 150 members was planted in Brazzaville, the country's capital, located on the Congo River across from Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
- Central Congo Episcopal Area Bishop Daniel Lunge stressed the need to train more people to expand the church's presence. “The harvest is great, but the workers are few,” he said.
As an initial step in establishing a United Methodist mission field in the Republic of Congo, John Wesley United Methodist Church was planted recently in Brazzaville, the country’s capital.
Brazzaville is located on the Congo River, across from Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In February, United Methodist Bishop Daniel Lunge of the Central Congo Episcopal Area embarked on a three-day mission journey to Brazzaville. He was accompanied by a delegation of 22 lay leaders and clergy.
According to Aberi Luzenze, West Congo Conference lay leader, the Brazzaville United Methodist Mission will begin with John Wesley United Methodist Church, a congregation of about 150 members. Although the first efforts to plant the church in Brazzaville date back to 2012, it was in 2020 that efforts were relaunched to get there, he said.
The Central Congo Episcopal Area includes the Central Congo, Kasai and West Congo annual conferences.
The newly established mission will expand into Brazzaville and neighboring Gabon, a country along the Atlantic coast of Central Africa. Another United Methodist mission, established in the Central African Republic, is under the supervision of Bishop Gabriel Unda, Eastern Congo Episcopal Area.
Lunge recalled that during his tenure as secretary to retired Bishop David Yemba in the Central Congo bishop’s office, he contacted a family in Brazzaville about starting a church there. The Central Congo Annual Conference authorized the church start in 2012. However, the bishop’s office eventually lost contact with the family.
Quoting one of his former professors, Lunge said, “We don't create the church, but the church is born when people come together to pray and study the Bible.”
During the three-day visit to Brazzaville, each person had a specific mission in terms of training and briefing new clergy and lay leaders, according to Pierre Omadjela, a member of the delegation and a field project manager for United Methodist Communications.
Luzenze spoke to the new congregation about United Methodism and shared how to conduct lay activities in a local church.
Placide Ndjekambodi met with the youth.
“We told them about the Youth for Christ organization and how this agency is structured,” said Ndjekambodi. “We gave them all the details possible to enable the new church to develop the youth ministry.”
Members of United Methodist Men mentored the fathers.
“We went back to certain rules of The United Methodist Church regarding the men's agency,” Omadjela said, “so that the new members would not forget to develop this very important ministry.”
The launch of the new church involved government representatives and clergy from other Protestant churches. Lunge stressed the need to train more people to expand the church's presence. Quoting Luke 10:2, he said, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few.”
The Rev. Christian Ntondele, a graduate of the Protestant University of Central Africa in Cameroon, will supervise John Wesley United Methodist Church. An ordained minister in another Protestant denomination, he learned about the Methodist church in Cameroon while studying for his Master of Theology degree.
“I saw the need to contribute to the development of the church,” Ntondele said. “When I finished my training [in 2016], I returned to Congo.” He brought with him the Book of Discipline and other tools to allow him to begin the initiative in 2018.
“We started our meetings at Rev. Ntondele's house,” said Louelendo Teddy, the Brazzaville Methodist Mission lay leader, who joined The United Methodist Church in 2019.
In February 2020, Ntondele met with Lunge in Kinshasa to discuss the next steps in establishing the first church in this Central African country. “The meeting,” Ntondele said, “opened a bigger way for me that led to the inauguration of the church on Feb. 19, 2023. I thank God for this successful journey.”
Ntondele will work with seven probationary clergy members.
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“We thank Bishop Lunge for his desire to see the Methodist mission in Brazzaville become a district, an annual conference and why not an episcopal region?” Teddy said. “We will fight to get there one day. We take care of ourselves, but any help will be welcomed for the rapid growth of the church in Brazzaville.”
Meeting with the new clergy and laity of John Wesley United Methodist Church, Lunge encouraged deep evangelization that will win new souls and open cells that may become local churches.
By the end of 2024, Ntondele said, “We want to open three cells that, in time, will become local churches so that we are a circuit. In the meantime, we want to develop the local John Wesley Church. We have an evangelism program to reach several other families.”
Describing the mission as “an emergency,” Luzenze urged all members of his conference to support the Methodist Mission of Brazzaville. If we do our work well, the church of Brazzaville will also extend to Gabon.”
Bienvenu Mukondi, who chairs the ordained ministry council of the West Congo Annual Conference, said the recognition of Ntondele as a United Methodist pastor and of seven probationary members was, for him, the greatest achievement of this missionary journey.
“We have applied the provision of Article 226, Paragraphs 1 and 2, which recognize the ordination received in other Protestant sister churches,” he said. “I hope that the seven probationary members will serve in prayer cells that will become local churches, and that will be the growth of the church in Brazzaville.”
The Rev. Suzane Okako, mission coordinator in the West Congo Conference, expressed joy in seeing a dream come true for God’s glory.
“I am very happy,” she said, “because the Lord has answered our prayer.”
Okito is director of communications for the Central Congo Episcopal Area. Pierre Omadjela contributed to this article.
News media contact: Julie Dwyer at [email protected]. To read more United Methodist news, subscribe to the free Daily or Weekly Digests.
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