A high-level delegation from Global Ministries and the leadership of the Côte d’Ivoire Episcopal Area met in Abidjan in late January to formalize the transition of the Cameroon and Senegal mission initiatives to districts of the Côte d’Ivoire Episcopal Area. Resident Bishop Benjamin Boni of Côte d’Ivoire hosted the delegation, headed by Roland Fernandes, Chief Operating Officer and General Treasurer of Global Ministries.
From Global Ministries’ headquarters in Atlanta, general secretary Thomas Kemper explained the significance of this moment, saying “The recognition of the United Methodist communities of Cameroon and Senegal as districts of The United Methodist Church of Côte d’Ivoire bears witness to the value of mission collaboration between Global Ministries and annual conferences. Our churches in both Cameroon and Senegal began as mission initiatives of Global Ministries and are now fully incorporated into our United Methodist system of districts and conferences.”
The two days of discussions centered on the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding, which formalizes the transition of Cameroon and Senegal to the leadership of the Cote d’Ivoire Episcopal Area. The MOU outlines the partnership of Global Ministries and the Côte d’Ivoire Episcopal Area as they build capacity and expand the mission field for the gospel in these new areas.
“We have a duty, as Christians, to support the establishment of new areas in which the gospel can be shared. This was the charge given us by Jesus Christ. We also have a mandate, as a connectional church, to be involved in the establishment of the church in new territories,” Bishop Boni stated. Fernandes noted “It was deeply moving to take part in the occasion of the signing of the agreement for the United Methodist mission churches in Cameroon and Senegal to be transitioned into districts of the well-established church in Cote d'Ivoire. I was excited by the strong commitment of Ivoirian United Methodists to engage in evangelism and church growth and by the warm gesture extended toward Cameroon and Senegal. This historic and creative alliance provides a secure organizational base to United Methodists in the two new districts and will bring new opportunities for mission and service in a significant area of West Africa. There was joy on all faces as we signed the MOU laying out the responsibilities of Global Ministries and the conference in this transitional period.”
The MOU spans a period from 2020 through 2023. During this period, the Côte d’Ivoire Episcopal Area will provide structured guidance to support the growth of The United Methodist Church in Cameroon and Senegal. The general treasurer committed the mission agency to ongoing financial and technical support throughout this period.
“This MOU represents a critical moment of collaboration between Côte d’Ivoire and Global Ministries toward, hopefully, their full establishment as annual conferences,” Bishop Boni explained. Kemper lauded the efforts and leadership of Bishop Boni through the transitory process of both mission initiatives. “This effort has been expedited in large part with the help of Bishop Boni and the Board of Ordained Ministry of the Cote d’Ivoire Annual Conference. Global Ministries is deeply appreciative of the opportunity to work with United Methodist leaders in all three countries in bringing about a sustainable church presence in the region.”
The Senegal Mission Initiative was started in 1995 and Cameroon in 2002.
Nyamah E. Dunbar is staff liaison for Global Ministries in the West Africa region. Isaac Broune of United Methodist News Service in Côte d’Ivoire contributed to this report.
Read more on the transition in this UM News piece
from August 2019.