United Methodist bishop to lead Congo ecumenical organization

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Bishop Gabriel Yemba Unda has been elected moderator of the ecumenical organization Eglise du Christ au Congo, a Protestant ecumenical group of 95 denominations in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Unda, who leads the East Congo Area, was elected Aug. 15, joining the legislative committee of the association. He chaired the session that elected the group’s current leaders.

“The position is no different from being a bishop,” said Unda. “It is my duty to lead the assembly, which is a national organization covering the whole country.”

Unda’s election was an expression of confidence in the leadership ability of the United Methodist bishop to steer the ecumenical body.

Bishop Mande Muyombo of the North Katanga, Tanganyika and Tanzania Episcopal Area said Unda plays an important role as he convenes all the major meetings of the organization.

“The ECC is the largest protestant ecumenical body in the DRC, which has given its members a voice on issues of peace, human rights, development and health. Over the years, it has become a very influential organization, not only as part of civil society, but also in the religious community,” said Muyombo.

“The United Methodist Church is one of the founding members of the 48-year-old organization, but for some time, the church has not been part of the top leadership,” he said.

Eglise du Christ au Congo is a member of the All Africa Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches. 

“Bishop Unda’s elevation in the national body will give voice to the UMC position on key issues and transform the organization,” Muyombo said.

In the past, the ecumenical body has pushed for democratization of the DRC, dialogue during the years of civil strife and helped maintain peace and stability. Eglise du Christ au Congo is currently working with the country’s electoral commission in ensuring the next elections in the Congo are free and fair. 

The organization facilitates capacity building with emphasis on training leaders, youth and women.  Muyombo said the organization has received support from United Methodist Global Ministries for training, health and relief efforts.

Unda’s election was one of the joys celebrated by the Africa College of Bishops at the Learning Retreat held at Africa University Sept. 3-8.

Chikwanah is a communicator of the Zimbabwe East Annual Conference. News media contact: Vicki Brown, news editor, [email protected] or 615-742-5470.

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