EAST CONGO ANNUAL CONFERENCE REPORTS 2016
Click for the Report from Day 2. (See below for day 1.)
Annual Conference Sessions in the East Congo Episcopal Area (report of July 3, 2016)
Alfred N. Zigbuo, a missisonary sent by the General Board of Global Minisitres of The United Methodist Church from the Liberia Annual Conference to the East Congo Area, reports from this year’s Annual Conferences — three in total.
With grateful hearts and thankfulness, we bring you greetings from the first day of the annual sessions marking the joyous celebration of East Congo Episcopal Area's 4 years of intense ministry.
Four years ago, the Lord called each of us, including you, our wonderful friends, to embark along this ministry journey together. The journey has been a wonderful one. Indeed, we can look back and see that the Lord has been faithful to us. Today, we bless God for an episcopacy, which embodies 3 annual conferences, about 282 rehabilitated and new local churches, over 300,000 members, scores of functional health centers and clinics, and a number of primary and secondary schools which are providing mind-transforming Christian-based education to hundreds of children across the episcopacy, among many great things the Lord is doing.
The celebration of this milestone began today, July 3rd 2016 with a powerful opening worship service which pulled together hundreds of United Methodists to express gratitude to the Lord for His faithfulness.
Speaking from the Text Judges 4:1-9, under the Theme: "Working Together for the Glory of God", the Papa Bishop, the Rev Gabriel UNDA Yemba thanked the church for diligence and committed ministry over the last 4 years. The Papa Bishop further informed the church that the work of God shouldn't be about individual leaders, less we miss the mark. Rather, the work of God should be about God. Adding, the "Baba Askofu" (the Papa Bishop) exclaimed, "when we work for the glorification of God, we will want to do new and mighty things always — we will want to expand the work of God wherever we are called to serve". In conclusion, the Bishop encouraged the church to continue to make God the object of our work. For, when God becomes the object of our work, we will accept to go wherever the Lord calls us and work the work that bears more fruits. The service ended with great expression of excitement and joy in the faces of the attendees. To God be the glory!
We want to thank you, our friends and partners for your wonderful support along this shared journey. Please continue to pray for us and the remaining sessions of our annual conferences. We do hope to provide you with more updates in the coming days, by the grace of God.
Please let me know if you would wish to continue to receive this email or not. We remain humble, and it's a great joy to be in service with you.
God bless you.
— sent by Alfred N. Zigbuo, UMC missionary from Liberia to Congo
If you missed the opportuinty to greet Bishop Gabriel Unda in person duing his stay in Claremont while itinerating in Southern California, several pages at the Global Ministries website may satisfy your curiosity. Start with this one and click throuh to others.
The United Methodist Mission in Eastern Congo umcmission.org. (Search for East Congo.)
Or check out this video on the East Congo Episcopal Area .
“East Congo and The United Methodist Church”
Bishop Gabriel Unda Yemba (Kindu, DR Congo) spoke at Pilgrim Place
accompanied by the Rev. Bill Lovell (Nashville, TN)
Eastern Congo is one of the more conflict-ridden and troubled places in the world today. The only roads are mostly dirt paths and mostly unnavigable. The region has been devastated by civil war and the aftermath war atrocities. Most have heard the name of Goma in Kivu Province with its 200,000 refugees. The region is rich in mineral deposits, drawing extractive colonial exploiters.
The United Methodist Church has focused attention not only on helping bring peace and healing from violence, but also on the elimination of malaria. Travel over any distance within the Episcopal Area must be by air in small planes provided by private institutions. The United Methodist Church provides bicycles for pastors, motorbikes for superintendents, and hopes to have a plane available in the future to transport its bishop to the far corners of his conference, which also includes Central African Republic.
Bishop Gabriel Yemba Unda was elected at age 61 in 2012 by the Congo Central Conference to head the new East Congo Episcopal Area of The United Methodist Church, formed by action of the 2012 General Conference. The Area includes over 700 churches spread over half the surface area of the Congo as well as the Mission Conference in the Central African Republic. Bishop Unda anticipates being elected a second time — for life — this year. DR Congo is as large as the U.S. east of the Mississippi or slightly larger than the combined areas of Spain, France, Germany, Sweden, and Norway. The Bishop has been itinerating through churches in the California-Pacific Annual Conference since May 22 following General Conference, and will return to Congo June 16 after preaching to the the 2016 Cal-Pac Conference, meeting in Redlands.
Gabriel Unda, whose mother died when he was 8 months old, was raised by missionaries and his extended family. Ordained in 1971, he has served as a pastor and a chaplain of United Methodist schools, sometimes facing the threat of violence to do his ministry. He lost his wife, Omba Charlotte Unda, on Feb. 1, 2007, to malaria.He also lost a 30-year-old daughter to malaria two years later.
The Rev. Bill Lovell, retired pastor of the Tennessee Conference, grew up in East Congo, child of missionaries, and speaks Bishop Unda’s native tongue, Otetele, as well as French (and English), and will translate for him as necessary.