UPDATE: The Western PA contingent of youth, leaders and Zimbabwe Immersion Program participants returned home on Thursday, Aug. 21.
A contingent of about 30 United Methodists from Western PA joined up to 50,000 others for the three-day Ebenezer revival in Harare, Zimbabwe, from August This year the Zimbabwe Episcopal Area (ZEA) celebrates 117 years of Methodist ministry in the southern Africa nation and the Ebenezer event in the National Sports Stadium drew 15,000 the first day and built to 50,000 by Saturday, according to reports on the UMCZEA.org website.
The Western Pennsylvania group included 15 youth and their leaders; six Zimbabwe Immersion Program participants who have been in Zimbabwe since early in July; the Revs. William B. Meekins, assistant to Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton; Greg Cox, director of connectional ministries; Stephanie Gottschalk, Volunteers in Mission coordinator; Chris Kindle, director of discipleship; Zimbabwe Partnership coordinator Sandra Matoushaya; Butler District Superintendent Joel S. Garrett, who heads the Partnership committee; and Indiana District Superintendent Jim Pond.
The youth arrived in Harare on August 6, spent some time with Zimbabwean families learning the culture. They were welcomed by Bishop Eben K. Nhiwatiwa at the ZEA Head Office, visited ministry sites, helped with construction of a church, attended Sunday worship, and toured part of the country.
Zimbabwe Immersion participants joined the Ebenezer youth teams at Victoria Falls, then both groups travelled south to visit and fellowship with Hwange United Methodist Church, a congregation with a membership of 150, including about 60 youth. See photo album
“As the teams have traveled around the country, the theme of Ebenezer has been revealed in many places and they have set milestones as the Lord has brought them this far,” Matoushaya said in a Facebook post.
The Zimbabwe Immersion Program participants have been living with host families for several weeks, experiencing the culture and ministry practices that have led to rapid church growth and building relationships. Theparticipants include James Sabo of Greenock UMC, a retired postal worker; Michael Beightley, a member of Faith Community UMC in Rochester; Karen Burns, a part-time local pastor serving at Highland Grove and Whitaker UMCs; Rev. Corben Russell, pastor of the New Covenant Charge; Rev. Dennis Lawton, pastor of Linesville and Harmonsville UMCs; and Rev. Kelley Schanely, pastor of Mt. Zion UMC in DuBois. See Immersion Team Photos
The youth contingent includes: Jonathan Beranek of First UMC in Greensburg, Natalia Berkey of St. Paul’s UMC, Regan Check of Janes UMC; Lily Formosa and Emilie Hughes of Ingomar UMC; Caleb Geisler of Fairall UMC, John Kolacz of New Ireland Charge, Abigail Larimore of Old Zion UMC, Grant Shoffstall of Grace UMC in Somerset, Trent Somes of Community UMC in Harrison City; Tiffany Stewart of Fenelton UMC, Denise Nicole Stone of Greenstone UMC, Caleb Swineford of Bakerstown UMC, Sydney Widdersheim of Christ Community UMC in Butler and Julie Wilson of First UMC in St. Marys.
Read about Ebenezer on Zimbabwe Episcopal Area website
Learn more about Zimbabwe Partnership