Delegates Reinvest and Affirm Hope in Africa University
by Linda Green*
Africa University is a uniting, connectional dream come true. That's the message delegates to the denomination's legislative assembly received during a report from its nearly 16-year-old Pan-African institution.
In a report about the church-related school in Mutare, Zimbabwe, associate vice chancellor of institutional development James Salley said the 2008 General Conference's theme of "A Future With Hope" directly parallels the school's mission of educating future leaders for Africa in a Christian environment.
Africa University "is bringing about a continental and global change in the name of Jesus Christ," Salley said.
The report, introduced by Salley, included the Africa University Choir, the school's chancellor, interim vice chancellor, an alumnus and a DVD about how some of the university's 2,500 graduates are making an impact in 28 countries on the continent.
The Rev. Betty Nasau Kazadi, a 2005 graduate of the university's faculty of theology, wears three hats: She is the director of conference communications for the North Katanga Annual (regional) Conference in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, an associate pastor in Kamina-Center, and assistant manager of the microfinance program UMCOR NGO in Kamina.
"I am all of these things and more because of the exceptional training I received from the professors and staff at Africa University," she said.
The training provided by Africa University is evident at the 2008 General Conference. Twenty-four graduates are providing leadership at the conference - nine are delegates and 15 are providing translating services to the General Conference delegates.
"When we analyze the leadership these young people are providing, we think this is an excellent return on the investment you have made in supporting Africa University," Salley said. "Your investment is paying off in significant ways," Salley said.
"Africa will be saved"
On April 28, the General Conference affirmed its investment in Africa University and made it a priority by voting to allocate $20 million over a four-year period - $10 million in apportionments and $10 million to be raised through the World Service Special Gifts - to continue developing the school and its programs.
"Thank you, General Conference, for your continued support," said Fanuel Tagwira, the university's interim vice chancellor. "Your contributions are helping make a difference on the African continent. The fire shall continue to burn, and it shall never be put out."
"If you believe, and I believe, and we together pray, the Holy Spirit will come down and Africa will be saved," Salley said, introducing the choir. The choir sang that not only would Africa be saved, but so would America and The United Methodist Church.
"Your investment is secure"
Delegates were told that while Zimbabwe has an inflation rate of 200,000 percent - the highest in the world - the university, with a few challenges, continues to operate and fulfill its mission of educating its 1,400 students from 24 African countries.
"The political situation has not affected the university. Your investment is secure," Tagwira said. "Both government and opposition politicians have great admiration for what Africa University has achieved. We remain open and following our normal calendar. We thank God for his divine favor," he said.
Earlier in the conference, delegates voted to increase theological education on the continent and to make the country of Malawi a missionary conference.
Congolese Bishop Nkulu Ntanda Ntambo, chancellor of Africa University and chairman of its board of directors, thanked the General Conference for its support of funding education on the continent but cautioned that the effort "should not be at the expense of Africa University."
Ntambo assured the conference that "Africa University does not take away anything from The United Methodist Church or Africa. It only adds to the growth and strength of the entire church."
The $20 million approved by the delegates is not final until the churchwide Council on Finance and Administration and the Connectional Table present a quadrennial budget to the 2008 General Conference for approval.
*Linda Green is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, TN
Date posted: Apr 30, 2008