|New Bishop Conveys Hope for East Africa|
By Mary Beth Coudal
New York, New York, August 14, 2006--“I come with a lot of humbleness and challenges,” said Bishop Daniel Wandabula, the newest and youngest episcopal leader of The United Methodist Church, who was elected to head the vast East Africa Annual Conference last May.
The bishop paid his first visit to the General Board of Global Ministries the second week of August. With him were his wife, Betty, who works closely with him, and a conference team made up of a medical doctor, an educator, and a personal assistant.
The bishop and his ministry team have long-term goals that address such issues as reconciliation, peace, and national healing; conditions that will assist with the church growth Bishop Wandabula anticipates. The church is also planning to respond to the needs of the many refugees, widows, and orphans left in desperate poverty by the wars.
Achieving unity within the conference is a challenge because of the many national states it covers. Bishop Wandabula is seeking to provide nurturing leadership and a board of ordained ministry in each of the five countries. He would like to see a United Methodist office in each.
The United Methodist Church currently has two missionaries, Abraham and Elmira Sellu, in the East African Conference. They are based in Kenya and are natives of Sierra Leone. Mr. Sellu accompanied the bishop, as did David Muwaya, a personal assistant to Bishop Wandabula.
Since he was elected three months ago, the bishop and his team have mapped out a detailed ministry plan and strategy for the next ten years. The major goal is “to build a strong vibrant church in the conference that is self-sustaining and supportive of its people.” Specific areas of work include education, evangelism and church growth, agriculture, disaster management, microfinance, skills training for youth, health, and communications.
Overcrowding in hospitals and lack of medical transport are also acute problems. Dr. Ikoona said the church is looking for an ambulance. Pregnant women in distress and the very sick must often be transported to hospitals by bicycle. The 10-year plan calls for clean water, waste management, HIV/AIDS prevention programs, health services, and vaccination campaigns.
Education and Communications
Bishop Wandabula is deeply committed to the use of libraries, radio, and internet access as avenues of education and evangelism. He is working with United Methodist Communications in developing radio capacity. The Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference has endorsed support for a United Methodist communications center in Uganda that can serve as a model for other countries in the East Africa Annual Conference.
“As we start this new work, we take partnerships seriously,” said the bishop. "We would like to encourage Volunteers in Mission and visitation to the region.”
While in the US, the bishop will visit Iowa, Nebraska, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. He will have a chance to see classmates from his years of theological study at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois. He received two degrees from the seminary in the late 1990s.
Date posted: Aug 14, 2006