WASHINGTON, D. C. – (August 17, 2020) Bishop Eben K. Nhiwatiwa, Resident Bishop of the Zimbabwe Area of The United Methodist Church, was elected today as interim president of the Africa College of Bishops. He follows Bishop John K. Yambasu, the Resident Bishop of the Sierra Leone Area who died in a road accident on Sunday.

In electronic balloting, the active bishops in Africa selected Bishop Nhiwatiwa as their new leader. He serves the Zimbabwe East and Zimbabwe West conferences in the Africa Central Conference. There are 66 active bishops in The United Methodist Church throughout the world.

Bishop Nhiwatiwa has served the church in various capacities from local, district and conference levels. He was elected a bishop of the church in August 2004. He currently serves as the Board member and Chair of the Finance Committee of the Africa University Board of Directors.

Bishop Yambasu, who was also the newly elected Chancellor of Africa University, died in an accident while he was on his way to attend a funeral service for one of his pastors.

Bishop Nhiwatiwa and other bishops in Africa will make a recommendation to the Council of Bishops on which bishop would serve ad interim as resident bishop of Sierra Leone Area.

“While remaining extraordinarily sensitive to the grief we all share there was a need to fill this role as they will soon begin their work to identify persons to fill the vacancy left by Bishop Yambasu’s death,” noted Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey, President of the Council of Bishops. “Bishop Yambasu played a critical leadership role in the church, ecumenical outreach, government and of course the broader global church. His death leaves a void of leadership particularly in Sierra Leone. The College is well aware of this and will recommend to the Council of Bishops coverage for this interim assignment.”

Africa University Board of Directors will select a new chancellor.

Endowed Scholarship Fund established in Bishop Yambasu’s name
Africa University has also announced that it has established an endowment for scholarships in memory of Bishop Yambasu.

The endowment was established with a generous gift and will ensure annual scholarship support for at least one student to matriculate at Africa University in the area of peace, leadership and governance. A named scholarship requires a minimum of $10,000.00 and a perpetual scholarship endowment has a goal of $130,000.00.

Bishop Trimble, Bishop of the Indiana Area of the United Methodist Chair and chair of the Africa University Board and Advisory Development Committees said, “The best way to honor great leaders is to help train future leaders.”

“The Bishop John K. Yambasu Endowed Scholarship Fund is an intentional and lasting tribute to a leader who served his episcopal area and the global United Methodist Church family with great compassion, wisdom and commitment,” said James H. Salley, associate vice chancellor for institutional advancement.

“Bishop Yambasu believed in scholarships and the power of education to transform lives and communities,” said Salley. “That four members of his family have graduated from Africa University is clear evidence of his confidence in the life-changing educational experience AU offers.”

Daughters Adima and Rebecca Yambasu earned a master’s degree in Peace Leadership and Governance (2014) and a bachelor’s degree in Nursing (2017) respectively, from Africa University. In June, Bishop Yambasu’s youngest daughter, Elizabeth, and foster daughter, Janet Kalma Thorley, completed master’s degrees in Public Policy and Governance. The two 2020 graduates have been sheltering in place at the AU campus in Zimbabwe since March, when countries closed their borders and imposed travel restrictions in response to the spread of COVID-19.

For more information, please call 616.340.7438 or write to audevoffice@gbhem.org. To invest in The Bishop John K. Yambasu Endowed Scholarship Fund at Africa University, visit support-africauniversity.org or mail your check made out to “Africa University” to the Africa University Development Office, P O Box 340007, Nashville, TN 37203-0007. Gifts can also be made by text to 615-258-7259 or by scanning this QR code:

The Bishop John K. Yambasu Endowed Scholarship Fund at Africa University, - INUMC

Rev. Dr. Maidstone Mulenga
Director of Communications
Council of Bishops
The United Methodist Church
100 Maryland Ave. NE # 317
Washington , D.C. 20002
(202) 748-5172 (Work)
(585)-455-5683 (Cell)

UPDATE: Yambasu’s Funeral Set for September 6 in Freetown