UMC Bishops Call for Optimism and Hope in 2021

UMC Bishops Call for Optimism and Hope in 2021

For Immediate Release
December 15, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  Despite the trials and tribulations of 2020 brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, bishops in The United Methodist Church are calling on United Methodists and other people of faith to be optimistic about 2021 and to trust that God will make things better in the coming year.

In the 2020 Advent letter released today, the bishops urged people of faith to continue to have love, joy, hope and peace, especially during the season of Advent, which is a time of anticipation and longing in the Christian year. 

“We bask in the hope that something new is coming and in the promise that we can face the future unafraid. As people of faith, we stand in the confidence that God, who began a good thing in us, will see it to fruition,” said the letter signed by COB President Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey on behalf of the more than 120 bishops in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas.

The letter also pointed out that apart from the pandemic, those in the United States – where more than 60 percent of United Methodists reside – had witnessed a season of discontent as the call for racial justice and an end to racism resounded loud and clear.

“We recognize that uncertainty will accompany us into 2021,” the letter said, adding: “As the Council of Bishops, we must remain on our knees in prayer, asking God to open our minds, thoughts, and hearts to discern what God would want us to do and who God would want us to be as we lead this global denomination.”

To read the letter, click here.

Bishop Warner Brown Assigned as Interim Bishop of Sierra Leone

WASHINGTON, D. C. – The Council of Bishops (COB) has assigned former president of the Council retired Bishop Warner Brown as the interim bishop for the Sierra Leone Area of The United Methodist Church following the death of Bishop John Yambasu who died on August 16.

Current COB President Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey made the announcement today after the full Council voted to approve the recommendation from the West Africa College of Bishops as per Paragraph 407 of the 2016 Book of Discipline. The West Africa Central Conference Committee on Episcopacy and the Sierra Leone Annual Conference Committee on Episcopacy were also consulted.

Bishop Brown will assume the interim responsibility of episcopal oversight for Sierra Leone Annual Conference until the election of a new bishop following the 2020 General Conference that is expected to take place in the fall of 2021.

“We continue to grieve the unexpected and tragic death of Bishop John K. Yambasu and continue to pray for the people of Sierra Leone and most especially for the Yambasu family,” Bishop Harvey said.

Bishop Harvey noted that she has been in close communication with Bishop Benjamin Boni, the president of the West Africa College, as they balance the sense of urgency to recommend an interim and at the same time provide needed space for grief for the Conference and for the family.

“During this time, we have consulted with leaders of the Sierra Leone Cabinet, Committee on Episcopacy and the West Africa Committee on Episcopacy. In addition, we have sought the wisdom of many who have knowledge of the current setting who have provided great wisdom that will be helpful during this in between time,” Bishop Harvey said.

The COVID-19 pandemic presents many challenges to the assignment namely the difficulty and impossibility of safe travel to Sierra Leone in addition to the many restrictions that are in place across the United Methodist connection.

Most of the oversight by Bishop Brown will be virtual until it is safe to travel to Sierra Leone. COB Communications Office will assist in providing connectivity by utilizing the best virtual platforms available. Several UMC boards and agencies, including United Methodist Communications, GCFA, and Global Ministries, have agreed to step in and assist.

Bishop Harvey described Bishop Brown’s collegial style and his bridge-building gift as essential for this role. “He is a coach, teacher and mentor at the core, which will make his work with the Cabinet and local leaders extremely important,” she said.

Bishop Brown served as president of the Council of Bishops from 2014 to 2016, just before he retired. Click here to read his bio.

Rev. Anthony G. Dioh, chair of the West Africa Central Conference Committee on Episcopacy, Mrs. Anne Koroma, chair of the Sierra Leone Committee on Episcopacy, and Rev. Francis Charley, dean of the Sierra Leone Conference Cabinet welcomed the assignment of Bishop Brown and offered to provide whatever support is needed during this time.


Media Contact: Rev. Dr. Maidstone Mulenga
Director of Communications – Council of Bishops
The United Methodist Church

Bishop John Yambasu of Sierra Leone dies in road accident; he was also chancellor of Africa University

Bishop John Yambasu of Sierra Leone dies in road accident; he was also chancellor of Africa University

bishop yambasu

Photo by Paul Jeffrey/UMNS 

Bishop John K. Yambasu, the Resident Bishop of the Sierra Leone Area of The United Methodist Church, died in a road accident this morning (August 16, 2020) just outside Freetown in Sierra Leone.

He was on his way to attend a funeral service for Rev. Edward Kamara in Yonibana in the north of the country, according to Phileas Jusu, the director of communications for Sierra Leone Annual Conference.

“Our hearts are broken, and we’re devastated by this sudden departure of Bishop Yambasu. This is a great blow to the people called United Methodists! It is our hope and prayers that God will comfort the family in particular and The United Methodist family at large! May his soul rest in perfect peace,” said Bishop Samuel Quire of the Liberia Episcopal Area.

Bishop Yambasu was instrumental in bringing together a diverse group of representatives from United Methodist advocacy groups with contrasting views and bishops from around the world to collaborate on a proposed agreement for the separation of The United Methodist Church.

The agreement, the Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation, was achieved on December 17, 2019, and announced early this year and will be considered at the next General Conference of the church set for 2021.

Bishop Yambasu was also president of the Africa College of Bishops of The United Methodist Church.

Born in southern Sierra Leone, Bishop Yambasu studied at United Methodist mission schools. He was ordained a deacon in 1987 and an elder in 1990. He served churches in Moyamba and Freetown until he began to focus on Christian education and youth ministry.

A graduate of Candler School of Theology in Atlanta, Bishop Yambasu taught in many schools, including the denomination’s Harford School for Girls in Moyamba. He also was the Sierra Leone Conference’s director for Christian education and youth ministries and founded the Child Rescue Centre in Sierra Leone, serving as its executive director until he became a regional missionary in 2000.

He was elected a bishop of The United Methodist Church in 2008 and installed in 2009.

Bishop Yambasu is survived by his wife, Millicent, and their five children — Rebecca, Adima, John, Emmanuel and Elizabeth.

Media Contact:
Rev. Dr. Maidstone Mulenga
Director of Communications – Council of Bishops
(202) 748-5172

UMC Bishops Call for Optimism and Hope in 2021

UMC Bishops call for justice in wake of Ahmaud Arbery’s death

WASHINGTON, D. C. –  The Bishops of The United Methodist Church are calling for justice and the eradication of racism and white supremacy in the aftermath of the killing of an unarmed Black man, Ahmaud Arbery, in Brunswick, Georgia.

In a statement released today and signed by Council of Bishops President Cynthia Fierro Harvey, the leaders of the church joined the General Commission on Religion and Race and the General Board of Church and Society in condemning this senseless killing and racism and white supremacy in every form.

“Racism is real and it must no longer exist in our communities. The recent outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the disparities in our system that have been fed by racism in cities across America,” the statement reads.

Noting that the list of innocent Black lives who have been killed grows each day, the bishops said it was time for “The United Methodist Church to take a stand and to join our prayers and our actions and denounce our complicity. It is time for us to reclaim The United Methodist Social Principles that name racism as sin and states that it is antithetical to the gospel itself.”



Bishop Mueller Assigned to United Methodist Men Agency for 2020-2024 Quadrennium

During their recent gathering at Lake Junaluska, North Carolina, the Council of Bishops announced assignments of bishops to board and agencies of The United Methodist Church for the 2020 – 2024 quadrennium.

Bishop Gary Mueller has been assigned to the board of the United Methodist Men, one of the 13 agencies of The United Methodist Church. Bishop Mueller will serve in the role along with Bishop Kasap Owen and Bishop Leonard Fairley.

According to a Council of Bishops’ press release, “UMC agencies provide resources and services that equip local congregations and provide a connection for ministry throughout the world. The agencies also provide essential services and ministries beyond the scope of individual local congregations and annual conferences.”

In his role, Bishop Mueller will share oversight on the board of UMM along with the agency’s board of directors, comprised of bothy laity and clergy, elected by jursidictions and central conferences.

More information on bishop’s assignments to boards and agencies can be found by reading the press release sent by the Council of Bishops.