MUTARE, ZIMBABWE – Bishops in Africa have vowed that The United Methodist Church will continue in Africa even after the 2020 General Conference.
Therefore, the bishops have resolved not to support any proposed legislations or plans that call for dividing or dissolving The United Methodist Church.
“We do not support any legislation that calls for the dissolution of The United Methodist Church. We uphold our values as a connectional and worldwide church committed to ‘Making disciples of Jesus Christ, for the transformation of the world’,” the bishops said in a rehash of a statement made in 2018.
The Africa College of Bishops issued the statement on September 6, 2019 at the annual College of Bishops retreat held at Africa University campus in Mutare, Zimbabwe, under the theme, Rethinking the African Church: A Call to Reclaim Our African Identity in Light of Changing Realities in The Global United Methodist Denomination.
During the retreat, the bishops held discussions with several groups of people who are proposing new plans for the future of the denomination.
The bishops said they were concerned that dozens of conversations on the future of the UMC are taking place in the United States without Central Conference representatives or African representatives.
The African bishops noted that they have made two public statements to the general Church in September 2015 and September 2018, in which they are agreed as follows:
- That as an African Church, we do not accept nor support the practice of homosexuality because it is incompatible with the teachings of scripture.
- That we do not accept any plan that calls for the dissolution of the church and by default, the closure of General Agencies.
- That even if the United Methodist Church splits, Africa will continue to be a United Methodist Church.
- That we will continue to be an evangelical, missional and Bible-focused church that is both global and connectional.
The African bishops said they will not let talks or plans for a split in the denomination determine their identity.
“We cannot allow a split in the global church to split up the African church again. We cannot allow a split in the church to further reduce us to second class citizens in a church that only needs us when they want our votes. We have been second class for too long. We believe that as Africans, we have the right of self-determination and we have the right to speak for ourselves and determine who we want to be,“ the statement said.
“As we go to General Conference 2020, we call on the entire denomination to exercise restraint and work towards an approach to the human sexuality debate in ways that are humane and respectful.”
During the meeting, the bishops called on the church to continue fighting such evils as racism, xenophobia attacks in South Africa, terrorism such as that by Boko Haram and to join efforts to address issues of poverty and disease such as malaria and the Ebola epidemic in parts of Africa.
Bishop John K. Yambasu
President, Africa College of Bishops