General Conference postponement

Africa Initiative Position on United Methodist General Conference Postponement

UMVoices on April 1, 2022

UM Voices is a forum for different voices within the United Methodist Church on pressing issues of denominational and/or social concern. UM Voices contributors represent only themselves and not IRD/UMAction.

To:  The Council of Bishops

C/O Bishop Cynthia Harvey, President

      Council of Bishops

      The United Methodist Church

Dear Madame President, 

On behalf of the leadership of the UMC Africa Initiative, we bring you and members of the Council of Bishops Lenten greetings in the gracious name of Christ Jesus. The UMC Africa Initiative is an Association of leaders (clergy and laity) within the three Central Conferences of Africa. We are committed to conducting missions and leadership trainings; bi-quadrennial prayer, and leadership summits; and developing the capacity of African delegates to General Conference. Our goal, as UMC African Initiative, is to enhance African delegates’ participation and strengthen the voice of the African church within global Methodism. 

We write to express our thoughts and concerns to you and members of the Council of Bishops about recent developments within the global UMC leading up to the postponement of 2022 General Conference to 2024. 

Prior to the postponement of the 2022 GC to 2024, we pointed out that about 90% of African delegates were ready to take part in the 2022 General Conference, and that plans were underway for the remaining 10% of delegates from Africa who had not yet taken the vaccine to do so. That African delegates’ access to vaccine or visa challenges should not be used as an excuse to postpone General Conference, because we believe that the global UMC had the capacity to address delegates’ need to access vaccines and visas to enter the United States. Further, we made it emphatic that, if conditions for hosting the 2022 General Conference in the United States were not favorable, Africa was ready to serve as host. Apparently, our request was ignored. 

We want you to know how greatly disappointed we are over the postponement of 2022 General Conference. We feel let down by the Commission on General Conference as there were not sufficient efforts made by it to enable delegates to access vaccines, and to serve official invitation letters to delegates to apply for visas on time. We believe the Commission on General Conference, with the support of the Council of Bishops, and UMC’s members in the United States Congress could have appealed to American embassies across Africa to aid with visa interviews for delegates and alternate delegates to General Conference on time. But, seemingly, none of these efforts were utilized. 

However, we are still of the strongest conviction that the holding of General Conference before 2024 is possible if the Commission on General Conference and Council of Bishops are willing to exert the necessary efforts to do so, now that the COVID pandemic is rapidly ending globally. And we strongly urge the Commission on General Conference and the Council of Bishops to reconsider their decision to postpone 2022 General Conference to 2024 for the common good of the global United Methodist Church. For the longer it takes to host the General Conference, the faster the global UMC disintegrates and fractures; thereby undermining its global nature and ministries. 

Africa Initiative still stands in support of the Protocol as the best possibility for addressing our impasse. This protocol document that was crafted by 16 key leaders of our church, representing the Traditionalists, Centrists, and Progressives is properly before the General Conference. We are committed to a continued advocacy for its adoption as the surest way to ending our disagreements. We therefore urge the global UMC to kindly respect Christian Conferencing as the best expression of our being a church that seeks the mind of Christ. 

We also urge the  Council of Bishops to kindly respect the need for bishops who have reached their tenure for retirement in both Jurisdictional and Central Conferences, and those requesting for   early retirements be duly retired, and elections be held for their replacement. This is the best approach, going forward, in our effort at enhancing healthy conferences through healthy leadership. 

We look forward to your prompt and favorable response to our concerns for the common good of the UMC worldwide. Thank you. 

Kind regards.

Signed by Members of the Executive Committee, UMC Africa Initiative

Rev. Dr. Jerry P. Kulah General Coordinator, UMC Africa Initiative, Liberia Annual Conf.

Rev. Dr. Kimba K. Evariste, Coordinator, Congo Central Conference

Rev. Dr. John Pena Auta Coordinator, West Africa Central Conference

Mr. Simon Mafunda Coordinator, Africa Central Conference

Rev. Philippe Adjobe Member, Cote D’Ivoire Episcopal Area

Rev. Wilton Odongo Member, Kenya-Ethiopia Annual Conference

Dr. Julius Sarwolo Nelson Member, Liberia Episcopal Area

Rev. Forbes Matonga Member, Zimbabwe West Annual Conference

Prof. Aboua Louis Roi Nondenot Member, Cote D’Ivoire Episcopal Area

Rev. Dr. Edwin Momoh Member, Sierra Leone Episcopal Area

Chief Prosperous Tunda Member, East Congo Episcopal Area

Mr. Nicolas Sukisa Munongo Member, Central Congo Episcopal Area

Rev. Louis Loma Otshudi member, Central Congo Episcopal Area

Rev. Chipeng Kayemb Francois Member, South Congo Episcopal Area

Rev. Kenneth Kalichi Member, Zambia Annual Conference

Rev. Bartolomeu Sapalo East Angola Episcopal Area

Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Sinzohagera Member, Burundi Annual Conference

Rev. Carol Alois Ososo Busia Member, Kenya-Ethiopia Annual Conference

Kubona David Muwuya Uganda-South Sudan Annual Conference

Dr. Muriel Nelson, Delegate to General Conference, Liberia

Mr. Kasongo Mwenze Kabah, North Katanga Episcopal Area

Hon. Mrs, Virginia Baba Bambur 

  1. Comment by Dan W on April 1, 2022 at 12:56 pm

    “Enhancing healthy conferences through healthy leadership.”

    Amen, and thank you brothers and sisters!

  2. Comment by Pat on April 1, 2022 at 5:20 pm

    The postponement has nothing to do with the pandemic or difficulty in getting all together for a general conference that can be done through digital technology and the liberals know this. It is time for traditional Methodist churches to send no money for property, using all funds for local church staff, their salaries and benefits and local facility management. If the national leadership and liberal bishops can do what they want the local church can do the same. You have to play by the same rules for everyone. You can no longer hope for a peaceful split. Traditionalists are in the majority. Time to act like it, remove all liberal bishops, and those in positions of leadership who refuse to enforce the Book of Discipline guidelines. No court will say one side can do what it wants and the other cannot. If a court would rule this way, members must dry up tithes and offerings. Only way to stop the false prophets. Keep the Methodist church strong, removing all those who are no longer true John Wesley Methodists and let them look for new places to worship, ask for new monies, etc. Time to fight and it is not against Biblical scripture to fight back with the tools available to our church. If those traditionalist in positions of power refuse to do this, members are fed up and will move on. Tithes and offerings will dry up, churches will close and the former Methodist Church will no longer exist. Those in leadership positions have forgotten, it is the local members paying the tab. Most of us will not wait until 2024 to move on to a Bible preaching and Christ centered church. Leadership is the blame as local members have no real say until it is time to give in or move one.

  3. Comment by Pastor Mike on April 1, 2022 at 5:26 pm

    I doubt that these earnest brothers and sisters will be heard. Our leaders’ colonialism (racism?) is on full display for all of us to see. This is the hypocrisy of our leaders in the UMC.

  4. Comment by Anthony on April 1, 2022 at 6:03 pm

    So, the Commission on General Conference told the denomination a BIG LIE. Of course anyone that’s followed all of this over the months and years would likely have been shocked if they had not of lied. It was simply par for the course and business as usual.

    Now, the United Methodist Women did not get the memo and will be holding their global in person gathering in Orlando next month. Of course, it has been pointed out all over the place that other organizations are holding their meetings this year. ONLY the United Methodist Church is unable to do so.

    Those of us still in the UMC have become accustomed to LYING as the mode of operation. This is all part of a deep, black hole of EVIL that has stolen the souls of our liberal brethren in leadership positions — driven by human sexual perversion and money. Those two fit well together. Liberals seem to believe that they can usher sexual immorality into the church and trap enough traditionalists to pay for it. Can they pull this off?

  5. Comment by Donald on April 2, 2022 at 9:02 am

    Somehow I don’t think their souls were “stolen” at this point in the on-going decline of the leadership within the Seven Sisters. As though they were once Innocents or Naifs. I truly believe they were infested rather early in their development with the seed of evil, most likely their genetic profiles would reveal a heritage from Cain, Ahab, Jezebel or Delialah.

  6. Comment by Marta Shafer on April 2, 2022 at 10:48 am

    The Methodist Church I am a member of voted March 31st to disaffiliate from the United Methodist Conference. We are becoming an independent church which preaches scriptural truths. We are the first church in Iowa to do so. The District Superintendent stated he believes 50% of Iowa Methodist churches are considering leaving. We were the only ones to meet the deadlines for this year.

  7. Comment by Rev. Dr. John M. Crowe on April 2, 2022 at 11:35 am

    Great idea which they are likely not going to do for many unsound reason, but possibly some fear that the majority would be so large in an Afican meeting that somehow it would end up kicking the liberals out like the Lutherans did with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America which is the liberal part.

  8. Comment by td on April 2, 2022 at 6:59 pm

    It’s the same old story over and over again. Of course the African delegates could have come- it’s nice to see that they are officially on record saying exactly that.

    THE PROBLEM in the UMC is NOT THEOLOGICAL. THE PROBLEM IS THE INSTITUTION ITSELF. There may be no deep state in the federal government, but there certainly is deep state in the UMC hierarchy, boards, agencies, councils, etc.

    And supporters of the protocol must realize that this postponement is a beach in the very protocol itself. There is no going back to the protocol. The UMC has an institution that only follows its own rules if those rules are approved and endorsed by its boards, presidents, commissioners, and bishops.

    Traditionalists will each have to decide whether to stay and eventually try to clear house in the institution so that its boards, agencies, and bishops actually follow the rules OR whether to find another church home.

    The UMC claims to be “democratic”, but in reality it operates as a bureaucratic dictatorship. GC conference can pass whatever they want, but in the end the bureaucracy is currently not accountable to GC.

  9. Comment by MC Maxwell on April 3, 2022 at 6:06 pm

    What was the actual date of this letter? Could I get a PDF of the actual letter?

    I believe that since every other international protestant denomination held their General Conference or General Assembly in 2021 or is having theirs in 2022, obviously United Methodist are more susceptible to Covid-19 than all other denominations, right?

  10. Comment by Jeffrey Walton on April 4, 2022 at 10:15 am

    Hello Mr. Maxwell, yes, I’ll directly send to you what we received (which is the same as what was posted here).

  11. Comment by Jeff Kelley on April 6, 2022 at 11:33 am

    Let’s step back and look at this whole picture. The United Methodist Church has spent decades (successfully) recruiting African congregations to join the UMC. The UMC has over the years supported and encouraged those congregations to participate in Church governance and worldwide conferences. When those recruitment efforts finally achieved a level of success to the point where the representatives from the African conferences consisted of enough members to successfully out-vote the liberal American contingent at the Special Session of the General Conference in 2019, what did the UMC do?

    They reneged on the promises made prior to the Special Session and assembled 16 Bishops to essentially overthrow the democratic vote and impose the policies favored by the losing side…with only 1 African representative attending the Protocols meeting. And those who won the vote at the Special Session…largely conservative African congregations that do not agree with the imposed policies of those who lost the vote at the Special Session…must now leave the UMC, rather than vise versa, which would have been the case had the democratic vote taken at the Special Session of the General Conference of 2019 been followed through on.

    The largely white, American, liberal contingent of the UMC basically changed the rules, took their football, and went home because they lost the vote.

    If these very same liberal congregations were to view this from the outside looking at any other organization, they would be shouting “white privilege” and “systemic racism” from the rooftops.

    It would sure appear the liberal wing of the UMC live in glass houses full of stones to throw, but nary a mirror in sight.

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