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September 26, 2021
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The choices before African Methodists as the Global United Methodist Church separates over homosexuality – Juicy Ecumenism

The choice before the African Methodists, just as for all African christians faced with similar challenges, is simple. Leverage on the continuity between their African culture and the christian message on the question at hand to forge a distinct voice that is uniquely theirs. Clinging to a “biblical christianity” received as a universal tradition, whether for international connectedness or guarantee for financial support, is only a weak and self-deluding alibi. It leaves their ranks vulnerable to the lobby of factions from other cultural contexts who already perfected choices that interpret the same biblical christianity to suit their own cultural preferences. Rev. Matonga’s paper leaves no doubt that this is happening in the unfolding case of the United Methodist Church.To be truly independent and outgrow being related to as a mission territory of any foreign patronizing heads who always want to call the shots, African Christianity must learn to be satisfied with structures they need and can afford relying only on the availability of true faith for God to use it for realizing God’s will for the African peoples.

The Rev. Forbes Matonga is a Pastor in the Zimbabwe West Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church and the Secretary of the denomination’s Africa Central Conference. He recently shared with us his paper, “A Church in Schism: An African Perspective on the Theological Impasse in The United Methodist Church.” Part 1, posted earlier, gave an African perspective on the nature and aftermath of the special 2019 General Conference. Then Part 2 offered a true insider’s outline of the views of African United Methodists, with far more details and nuances than are often included in American discussions about Africans. Part 3, posted below, concludes this paper with an African perspective on the future of United Methodism and on the choices facing African United Methodists.

 Rev. Matonga’s reflections draw on his extensive leadership experience in our denomination, including serving as the secretary of his annual conference (2000-2012), a member of the UMC Connectional Table (2004-2012), and a board member of the UMC’s General Board of Higher Education and Ministry. He has served as a delegate to every session of the Africa Central Conference since 2000, and was elected as a delegate to the 2004, 2016, 2019, and 2021 General Conferences.

Read the full paper following this final part titled, Africa and the United Methodist “Protocol”Juicy Ecumenism

Views from Africa

See the arguments of some African Methodists against the separation and open to a continued Global United Methodist Church: Statement of Church Unity from United Methodists in Africa.

See the arguments of the African Initiative in support of the “Protocol for Reconciliation and Grace through Separation” proposal: UMC Africa Initiative Consultative Meeting on the Future of the Global UMC.

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