United Methodists in Nigeria focus on future

The United Methodist Church in Nigeria held a roundtable in Lagos, Nigeria, last month to develop a strategic plan for the future of the church.

Organized by the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, the three-day roundtable included more than 50 participants from the four annual conferences in Nigeria, as well as partners from the Iowa and Great Plains conferences and members of United Methodist general boards and agencies.

The roundtable meeting gave The United Methodist Church in Nigeria the opportunity to develop a clear mission statement and strategic plan for the next six years when the church will celebrate its centenary.

“This roundtable has helped our church to be more focused in mission, pushing us to put our faith into action,” said Ahmed A. Ahmed, a young adult who participated in the event.

The six-year plan includes providing micro-finance loans to women who run small businesses; strengthening health services; enhancing education and leadership development by upgrading Bayam Theological Seminary to a university; establishing a task force committee to promote reconciliation between the tribal faction of the church; enhancing evangelism and discipleship and empowering local congregations through agricultural training and initiatives. 

During opening worship, Nigeria Area Bishop John Wesley Yohanna traced the history of The United Methodist Church in Nigeria back to 1923, when the first Christian missionaries with Methodist ties arrived in Bambur, Karim Lamido. Since then, the denomination has grown substantially, with a large presence in the Northeastern part of Nigeria, as well as nine other states.

Yohanna said the March 6-8 roundtable discussion was urgent due to Nigeria’s economic struggles and population boom.

More than 70 percent of the country’s United Methodists live in the Northeastern area, the poorest and least developed region in terms of infrastructural development and education.

Yohanna said establishing a university in the region is a necessity to support the growing young membership, most of whom cannot afford current higher education options.

A global commodity slump has plunged Nigeria into its worst economic crisis in two decades and pushed youth unemployment through the roof. According to the National Bureau for Statistics, more than 45 percent of the country’s 69 million youth are either unemployed or underemployed. The bureau estimates that Nigeria’s population has surpassed 193 million, exceeding earlier predictions. 

“The need for the global bodies of The United Methodist Church to partner with (the church) in Nigeria is now more necessary than ever,” Yohanna said. “The current religio-political and socio-economic situation in Nigeria must serve as a clarion call for The United Methodist Church in Nigeria and its international partners to come up with supports, programs and campaigns aimed at improving the conditions of United Methodists and other people in Nigeria.”

Speaking at the end of the roundtable, the Rev. Abel Lamido, superintendent of the Southern Nigeria Annual Conference, spoke on behalf of the conferences.

“The roundtable made the African concepts of ‘ubuntu’ more practical as it makes us decide where we want to all go and becoming a church that God wants us to be.”

In closing, Doris Jenis, leader of United Methodist Women for the Northern Nigeria Annual Conference, thanked the organizers and participants and prayed that, “God will bless the strategic plan to yield more fruit for the transformation of the world.” 

The Rev. Ande I. Emmanuel is conference secretary of the Southern Nigeria Annual Conference.

News media contact: Vicki Brown, news editor, [email protected] or 615-742-5470.

Sign up for our newsletter!

umnews-subscriptions
Local Church
Oretha Goyanvator receives a certificate during training led by United Methodist Women in Monrovia, Liberia. As part of the new Village Saving Scheme program, participants learned to make soap, detergent and sanitary pads to help them earn and save money during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo by E Julu Swen, UM News.

Empowering women in Liberia amid COVID-19

UMW project teaches women to make soaps and sanitary pads to generate income and provide needed products in rural villages.
Global Health
Angela Macherechedze, sister-in-charge of the family and child health unit at United Methodist Old Mutare Mission Hospital in Zimbabwe, holds baby Prince Anotidaishe, the first child for 18-year-old Samantha Sibanda, who traveled more than 160 miles to give birth at the church hospital. Photo by Kudzai Chingwe, UM News.

Missions’ doctors, nurses serve despite struggles

More patients turn to United Methodist hospitals, as Zimbabwe’s health sector remains paralyzed by labor strikes and a lack of supplies amid COVID-19.
General Church
John Yambasu Jr. (left) and other mourners carry the casket bearing the remains of Sierra Leone Bishop John K. Yambasu, who was laid to rest Sept. 6 after a service of Remembrance and Rites of Passage in Freetown. The bishop died in a car accident on Aug. 16. Photo by Phileas Jusu, UM News.

Driver arrested in crash that killed bishop

The driver of the SUV that crashed into and killed Sierra Leone Area Bishop John K. Yambasu has been charged with seven counts, including speeding.