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Steps Under Way to Strengthen Aviation Ministries in Congo

by Elliott Wright

 
Considering the future of aviation ministry, left to right, Steve Quigg, missionary and aviation ministry coordinator; Rukang Cihikomb, missionary aviator; Thomas Kemper, general secretary, General Board of Global Ministries, Gaston Ntambo, missionary aviator; Daniel Gabler, missionary aviator; Bishop Bruce R. Ough of West Ohio, and Jacques Umembudi, missionary aviator.
Considering the future of aviation ministry, left to right, Steve Quigg, missionary and aviation ministry coordinator; Rukang Cihikomb, missionary aviator; Thomas Kemper, general secretary, General Board of Global Ministries, Gaston Ntambo, missionary aviator; Daniel Gabler, missionary aviator; Bishop Bruce R. Ough of West Ohio, and Jacques Umembudi, missionary aviator.
Image by: John Henderson
Source: GBGM Mission News
Jacques Umembudi
Akasa, a United Methodist missionary pilot for
Wings of Caring Aviation, a program of The United
Methodist Church in the Democratic Republic of
the Congo, is welcomed to the village of Minga by
children who ran to the airstrip to greet his plane.
Jacques Umembudi Akasa, a United Methodist missionary pilot for Wings of Caring Aviation, a program of The United Methodist Church in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is welcomed to the village of Minga by children who ran to the airstrip to greet his plane.
Image by: Paul Jeffrey
Source: New World Outlook

New York, NY, May 25, 2011--Steps are under way to strengthen and coordinate the United Methodist Church's aviation ministries in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). One goal is the purchase of a larger aircraft to replace one of the small planes now in service.

General directions for the United Methodist Aviation Ministry were worked out on May 23 in a meeting in Columbus, Ohio, attended by three Congolese missionary pilots and leaders of the General Board of Global Ministries and the West Ohio Annual (regional) Conference.

West Ohio is raising the remaining million needed to buy a $1.6 million Cessna Caravan plane; $600,000 in donations or commitments is on hand. Sports figure Chris Spielman, a football analyst for ESPN, is heading up the campaign as honorary chairman.

"Air transportation is essential to mission in the DRC, where distances are great and roads are few," said Thomas Kemper, chief executive of Global Ministries, the worldwide United Methodist mission agency. "The planes carry medical supplies as well as critically ill patients; ferry missionaries, volunteers, and church leaders, and deliver Bibles and other resources required for church development across the country. Our emphasis will remain on mission service."

The DRC has three episcopal areas, each of which currently has an aviation ministry related to Global Ministries. The three missionary pilots collaborate closely, but the Columbus meeting looked at ways to tighten collaboration in aircraft maintenance, staffing, and administration--moves approved by bishops in the three areas.

The new plane would replace a small Cessna assigned to the North Katanga Episcopal Area but would be available for special use in other regions. It will triple the hauling capacity of older aircraft.

The campaign in West Ohio will last through June 2012. Donors may make pledges lasting beyond that time frame. While the church in the DRC is quite poor, United Methodists of North Katanga are expected to contribute $25,000 toward the $1.6 million.

Bishop Bruce R. Ough, the episcopal leader of West Ohio, sees the purchase of the Caravan as a measure of hope for often poor, widely scattered United Methodists in the DRC. "Hope to these desperately poor people comes in the form of a small airplane and a pilot," he said. "God has given the people of the West Ohio Conference a vision to raise $1.6 million to replace the aging Cessna 210 with a Caravan, a larger, more fuel-efficient aircraft."

The three Congolese pilots and their areas are Gaston Ntambo (Wings of the Morning, North Katanga), Jacques Umembudi (Wings of Caring, Central Congo), and Rukang Chikomb (Wings of the Morning, South Congo). Steve Quigg, the missionary aviator, coordinator of the Global Ministries' Aviation Resource Department, also took part in the Columbus talks, as did Daniel Gabler, another missionary aviator working in South Africa.

One benefit of the campaign to buy the Caravan is the visibility it will give to the importance of aviation ministry in a country where The United Methodist Church is growing and playing an increasingly large role in addressing issues such as health and poverty.

Likely new measures coming out of the Columbus talks include:

  • A central maintenance system, located in Lubumbashi, where the hanger is best suited for that use, with the likelihood of a full-time missionary mechanic to work with the pilots.
  • A new part-time position as executive director for United Methodist Aviation.
  • Employment of a new aviation supply pilot, based in Katanga, but available to serve all of the annual (regional) conferences in the DRC.
  • An oversight panel for the DRC aviation ministries.
  • Simplified ways to support this work through The Advance, the church's designated giving channel.

In addition to Bishop Ough, Thomas Kemper, and the missionary aviators, other participants in the May 23 meeting included Gail Coulson, Global Ministries' mission executive for the DRC; George Howard, a Global Ministries' director from West Ohio; the Rev. Bob Knell, a retired Ohio pastor with a background in aviation ministry; Lyn Savidge, volunteer administrator for the West Ohio Wings of the Morning Campaign Team; and Deanna Stickley-Miner, director of connectional mission and justice for West Ohio.

Additional information on the United Methodist Aviation Ministries is online at UMAviationMinistries.org.

Your local church may choose to enter into a multi-year Covenant Relationship with Rukang Chikomb, Daniel Gabler, Gaston Nkulu Ntambo, Jeanne Kabove Ntambo, Gail Quigg, Stephen Paul Quigg, Poto Valentine Shutsha, Jacques Akasa Umembudi,  or other United Methodist missionaries, for ongoing support of their work. For further information, please contact:

The Advance
General Board of Global Ministries
475 Riverside Dr, #350
New York, NY 10115
Phone: 212-870-3718
Fax: 212-870-3775

Email:
covenant@gbgm-umc.org

Web: advancinghope.org

You can make gifts to support the mission work of Rukang Chikomb, Daniel Gabler, Gaston Nkulu Ntambo, Jeanne Kabove Ntambo, Gail Quigg, Stephen Paul Quigg, Poto Valentine Shutsha, Jacques Akasa Umembudi, by making a donation through The Advance. The Advance is an accountable, designated giving arm of The United Methodist Church that ensures 100% of each gift reaches its intended mission or ministry.

Make a secure gift online: Visit Global Ministries Online Giving

Checks may be written to 'Advance GCFA' and placed in collection plates at United Methodist churches, or mailed directly to:

Advance GCFA,
P.O. Box 9068, GPO,
New York, NY 10087-9068.

Credit card donations may be made by calling
(888) 252-6174.

Please note on your check the name and The Advance Number of the missionary you are supporting:

Rukang Chikomb, Advance Number: 14959Z
>> Biography
Daniel Gabler, Advance Number: 12939Z
>> Biography
Gaston Nkulu Ntambo, Advance Number: 14177z
>> Biography
Jeanne Kabove Ntambo, Advance Number: 14176z
>> Biography
Gail Quigg, Advance Number: 07995Z
>> Biography
Stephen Paul Quigg, Advance Number: 07994Z
>> Biography
Poto Valentine Shutsha, Advance Number: 14163Z
>> Biography
Jacques Akasa Umembudi, Advance Number: 14020Z
>> Biography


 
 
 

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Date posted: May 26, 2011