UMC Liberia holds prayer revival for leadership transition

In response to a pastoral letter issued by interim Bishop Arthur F. Kulah in September, the Liberia Annual Conference has launched a series of prayer revivals intended to return The United Methodist Church in Liberia to its Wesleyan roots.

According to the Rev. Matthew Williams, UMC Liberia's director of evangelism, the revival offers a way to help the entire church seek the face of God during challenging times in the country.

He indicated that Kulah’s call to bring The United Methodist Church in Liberia prayerfully before God suggests that certain things are not going right in the church.

“Some aspect of our spiritual life as a church is missing,” Williams said. 

Kulah, who was bishop in Liberia for 20 years, was called out of retirement to serve the Liberia Episcopal Area as its interim bishop until 2017. Bishop John Innis, who led the conference since 2000, retired Sept. 1. His successor will be elected by the West Africa Central Conference, which meets Dec. 13-16.

Though individual local churches often conduct prayer revivals, Williams said this call to prayer is the first by The United Methodist Church in Liberia since 2003, when a prayer revival was held at the national soccer stadium.

Asked why the decision was made to take such a prayer action, he said prayer is needed as the church deals with its transitional situation, especially in leadership. He said the church needs to pray for renewal and the restoration to its evangelistic roots in the Liberian society.

“We have lost our integrity in recent times and people are now questioning our moral stance on some issues as a church,” Williams said. 

He noted that prayers for leadership are crucial in the Liberian church and that the prayer revival will seek to address that.

Kulah said that he finds prayer to be the best way to deal with challenges in the church.

“When I took over the church as bishop, we were in the same situation, and the only way was to take our difficult situation to God in prayer.”

He said uniting the people of the church is part of his pastoral duty.

“That is the reason why The United Methodist Church, through the Council of Bishops, keeps sending me to trouble spots. Though challenging, calming the storm is a rewarding experience for me in my pastoral ministry,” he said.

The first in the series of three regional revivals was held at First United Methodist Church in Monrovia. The theme was “Prayer for Renewal of The United Methodist Church,” with the text taken from Isaiah 43:18-19.

Though not in their official capacity as episcopal candidates, the Revs. Samuel Quire and David Tokpah participated in the first revival.

In his pastoral letter, Kulah called on Liberian United Methodists to pray fervently for a smooth transition. He further declared November as the Month of Reconciliation, noting that Reconciliation Sunday would take place Nov. 27. He suggested worship services focus on reconciliation, peace and unity.

He also strongly encouraged pulpit exchange among pastors across the conference.

“All district superintendents, pastors, church leaders and members of local churches are therefore called upon to faithfully observe this period,” the letter stated.

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

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