2023 East Congo Annual Conference Report

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The 11th session of the Eastern Congo Annual Conference, led by Bishop Gabriel Yemba Unda, was held Aug. 23-29 at the local United Methodist church of the Rev. Victor Wetchi in Kibombo, a town 150 kilometers from the city of Kindu in the south of Maniema province in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Delegates and visitors were joined by Kituka Kashogi, administrator in charge of politics and administration for the Territory of Kibombo, members of the local security council and other guests from Christian and Muslim groups in the area.

Among other visitors was the Rev. Kingombe Lutala from the Bukavu Ecclesiastical District in the Kivu Annual Conference. He preached during the opening service on the theme “It is recommended to respect the house of God because it is the place of refuge,” an exhortation taken from the book of Isaiah 56:6-8.

Kathleen Griffith, team leader, Global Health / Senior Technical Advisor Global Health; Dr. Megh Jagriti, program manager, MNCH and HSS of GHU and Lory, who came to Congo on a mission to evaluate Global Health activities, joined and greeted the conference delegates.

The Conference was attended by missionary couple the Rev. Aquilas Soronaka and his wife, Cynthia Priscillia Soronaka, from the Missionary Initiative in the Central African Republic.

During the annual conference, Aquilas Soronaka was ordained an elder in The United Methodist Church by Bishop Gabriel Unda Yemba, making him the only elder in the Missionary Initiative in the Central African Republic. Cynthia Priscillia Soronaka, ordained deacon, is the first woman pastor in the church in this country. She holds a doctorate in medicine, a master’s degree in leadership and management and a licentiate in theology. The two new servants of God are also missionaries for the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.

Pastor Aquilas Soronaka is superintendent of Ecclesiastical Districts for the United Methodist Initiative in the Central African Democratic Republic. He is the third ordained pastor in Central Africa. The other two, the Revs. Lucien Dockpa and César Gazza, have left The United Methodist Church.

Well before the opening of the Eastern Congo Annual Conference, Bishop Gabriel Unda dedicated the Rev. Victor Wetchi United Methodist Church. The new church, named in memory of the region’s first pastor and able to accommodate over 1,000 worshippers, is the largest at the Eastern Congo Annual Conference.

Bishop Unda also handed out personal care kits to 200 women who recently completed a 10-month training and apprenticeship in various trades at the Mama Lynn Center. Pastors’ wives, survivors of sexual violence and destitute women learn various trades at the center. Each woman received a reintegration kit including a sewing machine, 11 pounds of wheat flour, four pounds of sugar, a gallon of vegetable oil and two pounds of caustic soda.

As part of the reintegration of these women, UMCOR has released an emergency grant of $10,000 in solidarity with the Episcopal Region of Eastern Congo to meet the needs of the 200 women who have completed this training. The emergency aid provided an additional kit for these women. The kit includes loincloths, basins, pots, spoons, underwear, towels and spoons.

The delegates reaffirmed their opposition to homosexual, same-sex and human-animal marriage. They also encouraged illiterate women to enroll at the Mama Lynn Center to learn to read, write and acquire other skills.

Three new people were ordained: One ordained permanent deacon and two ordained elder pastors, and six clergy retired.

The statistical report was positive, recording increases in all areas: 632,351 members; 621,143 participants in worship services; 587,718 participants in religious education courses; 3,113 professions or reaffirmations of faith; 813 adults and young adults in small groups and 5,385 missionary commitments.

Chadrack Tambwe Londe, News Editor and Communicator in Congo.


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