COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE CLOSING OF THE FIRST GENERAL CONFERENCE OF THE AFRICA METHODIST COUNCIL, HOSTED BY THE METHODIST CHURCH IN KENYA AND HELD AT THE METHODIST CONFERENCE CENTRE, LAVINGTON GREEN, NAIROBI, FROM 13-18 MARCH 2019
PREAMBLE: The Africa Methodist Council met for the first time in Nairobi, Kenya and comprised of delegates from all the Wesleyan strands in Central, East, South and West Africa.
The conference gathered under the shadow of the Ethiopian Airline crash in which 157 lives were lost; the floods, destruction and loss of life in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe; the schoolchildren who died when yet another building in Nigeria collapsed and the terror attack on two mosques in New Zealand that claimed 50 lives. The Conference expressed its condolences to all affected families. We meet at a time when several of the countries on the continent are going through political transition as in Algeria and the DRC.
The Conference was ably walked through a timeline depicting the sowing of the seed of the possibility of an Africa Methodist Council at the World Methodist Conference in Nairobi in 1986 to its realisation in Nairobi Kenya 2019. We have indeed come full circle. The Conference reminded all delegates to the conference that Wesleyans have a part to play in the process of eradicating poverty; promoting reconciliation, resolving ethnic and religious conflicts and for continued advocacy to support – among other things-debt cancellation, increased humanitarian and development aid, removal of trade barriers which discourage African exports, as well as discouraging the militarization of the continent. Conference was further challenged to be wholly Wesleyan and act out our faith for the transformation of Africa.
The daily devotions challenged us to see the beauty and potential of Africa and in our lament of all that is amiss garner the strength to change her trajectory.
Wesleyans are indeed well-positioned and equipped to shape the future of Africa. Conference arrived at the following responses in line with its theme: Wesleyans Shaping the Future of Africa.
1. The Conference affirmed Scripture as the supreme authority and that the Great Commission made clear that our core-business is evangelism and making disciples, who have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and live out their faith.
2. The Council believes, as Wesleyans, the continued need to combine evangelism with personal and social holiness. This is to love God and our neighbour; which requires a service-centred ministry in social action in order to reform the world, continent, nation, Church and individual believer through the transformation of mind, heart and spirit.
3. As salt and light in the world the Conference encouraged the Church to maintain its prophetic voice and speak into areas of political, economic, social, moral and environmental injustice as issues integral to our faith in Jesus Christ. In this way the Church will remain relevant. Wherever possible the Church should cooperate with regional bodies including SADC, ECOWAS and the African Union in relationship to the NEPAD instrument and other UN & Sub-Regional endorsed programmes and agenda in achieving compatible goals. The Conference received the Secretary General of the All Africa Council of Churches Rev Dr Fido Mwombeki who commended the founding of the AMC and urged its participation in other ecumenical bodies. He shared the strategies that were exercising the AACC. Misleading theologies and contemporary heresies would be confronted by a Pan Africa Youth Campaign under the theme Africa, Our Home, Our Future. Migration, Modern Slavery, and Human Trafficking were issues to be addressed. It would also focus on population growth so that it was aligned more with economic growth to tackle poverty and unemployment.
4. The Conference was heartened by the attempts of member Churches in Zimbabwe and Zambia to lend support to the process of national dialogue and political reconciliation in a neutral, even-handed and non-partisan manner, counselling, advising and warning both Government and opposition, to bring the reconciliation that only Christ may bring. It appreciated too the continuing work being carried out by the Church in Cote D’Ivoire.
5. The Conference commended the work of the Church in the fields of Health, Education, Community Development and Social Justice and encouraged that these missional social ministries be intensified to meet the growing needs of surrounding communities as a Church without walls. Information Technology is an area too which could be used to greater effect for more a more connected church and for Church growth.
6. The Conference acknowledged the need for youth to be more fully involved at all levels in the Church and that a much greater proportion of resources needs to be invested towards reviving and renewing youth and young people’s ministries.
7. The Conference expressed concern over the lack of gender equity in the Church, where women’s gifting’s especially, is greatly underutilised in the development of the Church and applauded the increased capacity-building measures being availed to them for both clerical and lay leadership.
8. The Conference lamented the on-going realities of gender-based violence, rape, child abuse, human trafficking and the dangerous migration of young people seeking greater economic opportunities elsewhere. It denounced the present unjust economic system that irreparably damages creation, furthers climate change, increases suffering and is supported by a callous political industrial and military elite.
9. While Conference noted the challenge posed by the growing strength and influence of Islam, it was confident in the message contained in the Gospel to meet it and any other faith. Conference also fully supported the continuing constructive interfaith dialogues taking place through bodies such as Nigerian Religious Inter Faith Action Association and Nigeria Inter Religious Council (NIREC) in Nigeria.
10. The Conference thanked the Methodist Church in Kenya for their generous hospitality in hosting the 1st Council Meeting and the Interim Coordinating Secretariat for their efforts to ensure the First Meeting of the AMC became a reality. Appreciation too was accorded to the Speakers, Devotion Leaders, Moderators and Interpreters. Lastly but not least to the Heads of the Council’s Member Churches and their delegates for their attendance and participation. Special thanks were given to the Interim Chairperson Archbishop Kehinde Stephen for keeping the flame burning and hope alive for many years.
11. The Conference ratified the constitution of the AMC and endorsed by acclamation the election of the Chairman
The president of Africa Methodist Council
• The Presiding Bishop Rev. Joseph Ntombura, Methodist Church in Kenya.
The four Vice-Presidents elected were
• His Eminence Rev Dr Kponjesu Amos Hounsa – Presiding Bishop of the Protestant Church of Benin,
• Most Rev Dr Paul Boafo Presiding Bishop, Methodist Church Ghana,
• Bishop Joaquino Nanhala, Presiding Bishop of the United Methodist Church in Southern Africa
• Rev Samuel Kanyinamura, President of the Free Methodist Church in Rwanda.
General Secretary AMC
• Very Rev Opeyemi Awe from Nigeria
• Rev Kinsou T.L. Jose, Justice Development Peace and Reconciliation; Ms Bongie Moyo-Bango, Communications; Rev Nicholas Nteere, Mission and Evangelism; Very Rev Prof Johnson Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu, Wesleyan Studies and Leadership Development and Very Rev Anthony Kwamena Cobbah, Honorary Treasurer.
Conference agreed that the Secretariat be located in Ghana and it set the annual subscription rates for the different Churches according to the number of dioceses/Synods
The conference closed with a service of Holy Communion
Now as adjured by our father John Wesley let us depart in Gods power to
“Do all the good we can; By all the means we can; In all the ways we can,
In all the places we can; At all the times we can; To all the people we can;
As long as ever we can.
Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.