Pray for Zimbabwe
The Council of Bishops and Western PA United Methodists involved in long-standing partnerships with the UMC in Zimbabwe have called for prayer in the wake of deadly election-related violence that broke out this week in Harare. At least three people were reported killed August 1. Read UM News Service report
Meanwhile, students and staff at United Methodist Africa University are safe, school officials said.
The following statement was issued for the Council of Bishops by Bishop Kenneth Carter, President of the COB, and Bishop Eben Nhiwatiwa of the Zimbabwe Area, shown above in ZEA photo with :
The Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church is joining our colleague, Bishop Eben Nhiwatiwa, the resident bishop of Zimbabwe, in a call for prayers for peace in that country. We join with international observers in their commendation of the great majority of people of Zimbabwe in their maturity amidst this historic election. We appeal also for calmness in the midst of great anxiety, and we condemn all forms of violence as the country awaits the full results of the election. We grieve the deaths of those who have participated in this democratic process. We extend our sympathy, acknowledge their pain and stand with all peace-loving Zimbabweans.
The United Methodist Church rejoices in the faithfulness of the people of Zimbabwe, where the UMC has two annual conferences, hundreds of churches, mission centers, hospitals, clinics and schools. We especially hold in our prayers the students, staff and leadership of Africa University, one of our crown jewels of Methodist education in Africa. As brothers and sisters in Christ who share in the Cross and the Flame, we call upon the name of Jesus Christ, who is our peace (Ephesians 2), and we search for the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5) in these events.
We call upon all United Methodists and other people of faith throughout the world to join in prayers that peace will prevail in Zimbabwe.
The partnership agreement between the Western PA Conference and the Zimbabwe Episcopal Area was officially signed in 2010 by Bishop Nhiwatiwa and Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton, who was then serving as episcopal leader of the Western PA Conference. The Zimbabwe Partnership
, coordinated in Western PA by Zimbabwe native Sandra Matoushaya, has built relationships with youth and adults in both areas through such things as an Immersion Program, Zim Camp, and Laity Schools.
Collaboration between United Methodists in the two areas dates back to the development of Africa University in Mutare, Zimbabwe, in the 1990s when the Conference endowed the first chair at the school in honor of Bishop Roy C. Nichols, who served in Pittsburgh from his election as the first African-American Bishop of the newly formed United Methodist Church in 1968 until 1980.
The Nyadire Connection "grew from a relationship that began in August, 2006 when Christ UMC in Bethel Park commissioned an 18-member mission team to help revitalize the once effective Nyadire UM Hospital. During their two-week stay, the team found a joyful, resilient, and capable people persevering despite difficult circumstances in their country. Besides a hospital with non-or-partially functioning equipment and empty pharmacy shelves, other needs at the mission were brought to their attention, including an orphanage in need of help," according to a story by Elsa Zollars
, who has been active with TNC.
"Upon their return to the U.S., the team sought a more permanent relationship with the mission – one based on those at Nyadire identifying their needs. The Nyadire Connection was launched and sought other churches and partnerships to help with the challenges. Fourteen programs, as well as partnerships with organizations, colleges and universities, and businesses, have evolved since 2006."