Over the past eight months the Wesleyan Covenant Association has made ministry grants totaling $205,687 to 11 projects in Africa and Russia. The grants were disbursed from the association’s Central Conference Ministry Fund, a fund established in the aftermath of the 2019 special General Conference. Some U.S. annual conferences and local churches withdrew support for some ministries due to disagreements over The United Methodist Church’s adoption of the Traditional Plan. Seeded by a $100,000 WCA grant, the fund has attracted an additional $235,000 in gifts from WCA members and friends to date. Additional grants totaling at least $100,000 will be made in November 2020.
Grants have been made to ministries in Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Liberia, Russia, and Zimbabwe, and have funded a wide variety of projects, including theological education, construction of churches, schools, and health clinics, provision for clean water, and revitalization of hospitals.
Descriptions and highlights of the projects funded are as follows:
East Angola Annual Conference – “To Whom Shall We Go?” — $18,180
Over 500 persons have been worshiping without shelter from sun, rain, and dust at Ritondo Nova Galileia UMC because of the church’s inability to complete construction of its sanctuary according to Rev. B. D. Sapalo, the church’s pastor. The grant will enable the church to complete work on the roof, electrical system, the installation of windows and doors, and plastering the walls. The project’s completion will protect the congregation from the elements while they worship, and provide for the pastor to have an office for the first time. Rev. Sapalo anticipates growth in attendance, evangelistic outreach, and passion for the Lord’s work as a result of the completion of this work.
East Congo Episcopal Area – Congo Multi-purpose Center for Methodist Women — $14,600
The center is located in rugged terrain that makes it difficult for it to access water, hampering its mission to serve women and others in the area. Working with a foundation and the national rural hydraulics program, the center will use the grant to provide consistent access to water enabling it to expand its programming. “Christian leadership with Methodist youth, women and men will be strengthened through the availability of potable water at the center to support their spiritual activities,” said Chief Prosper Tunda, chair of the Health Board of the East Congo Annual Conference and leader of its delegation to the next General Conference, as he celebrated plans for the project’s completion.
East Congo Episcopal Area – Relief for Retired Pastors and Surviving Spouses — $17,307
The East Congo Episcopal Area began construction of a facility to provide care for retired pastors and surviving spouses in October 2016. Construction continued until the special General Conference in 2019 when work was suspended. The grant will enable completion of construction. Rev. Francois Wembo Lushima declared, “Completion of this project will give hope to retired pastors and their surviving spouses to live their lives well in the hands of the church.”
Eurasia Episcopal Area – Moscow Theological Seminary — $25,000
Support for scholarships were withdrawn following the 2019 special General Conference. This grant provides resources for the restoration of some of the scholarships for theological education.
Kenya-Ethiopia Annual Conference — United Methodist Busia Women Organization — $13,800
Prior to the 2019 special General Conference, $10,000 had been committed by a United Methodist entity to facilitate the digging of a borehole and the installation of additional equipment to pump water so trucks could distribute it to nearby needy villages. The project’s completion has been delayed for over a year. “Water is life,” said Hendrica Ouma Alois, the project leader. “The health of both animals and human beings is wanting. Rain water is unreliable in western Kenya. Completion of this project will save lives. We are filled with joy and are more confident in our love of God.” The Busia Women are investing $10,000 of their own resources in this project as well.
Kenya-Ethiopia Annual Conference – Naivasha District Water Program — $10,000
District Superintendent Paul Matheri shares that due to the high fluoride levels in the water of his region, people are subject to serious bone defects and dental discoloration. The Naivasha District Water Program will ensure that the community and particularly its children have access to clean, safe, and affordable drinking water. The funds granted will permit the installation of packaging systems and automation that will control supplies. “This grant will improve health, prevent the spread of infectious disease, and share the love of Christ with the community reminding them that Jesus is the water of life,” said Rev. Matheri. The Naivasha District is investing $3,710 of their resources in this project.
Liberia Annual Conference – The United Methodist University — $25,000
The United Methodist University of Liberia is involved in a program to relocate its campus and expand its offerings. Pledges to underwrite this program were withdrawn after the 2019 special General Conference. This grant restores some of the money withdrawn enabling progress in completing the program to continue.
South Congo-Zambia Episcopal Area – Mwandji School Project — $25,000
The project calls for the construction and outfitting of a school in the Mwandji region. The WCA grant will provide resources for the materials required for the construction and outfitting of the school. Labor for the project is being supplied by the local community.
South Congo-Zambia Episcopal Area – Mwandji Health Center — $25,000
The project calls for the construction and outfitting of a health center in the Mwandji region. The local community has raised $12,500 for its completion. The WCA grant will provide the resources necessary to finish this project enabling the provision of needed health care for the community and college located in Mwandji.
Zimbabwe East and West Annual Conferences – Hospital Revitalization Consultancy — $15,000
The health board of these conferences has been engaged in renovation and upgrading health centers at Dindi Rural Health Center and the Old Mutare Mission Hospital. These projects are to be done under the direction of a certified consultant. The WCA grant will enable the health board to fulfill its commitments ensuring the integrity of the church in the community.
Zimbabwe West Annual Conference – Nyadire Water and Sanitation Project — $16,800
The Nyadire Mission needed to deepen its well to ensure continued access to water for drinking, cooking, and sanitation. Half of the necessary funds to complete the project had been raised from the tithes of persons in the community. The balance of the funding was committed from a U.S. annual conference that withdrew its commitment following the 2019 special General Conference. The water supply serves more than 5,000 persons with the majority being children and youth. Completion of the project will enable Nyadire Mission to continue to reach children, youth and adults throughout the region with education, health care, and spiritual development. The WCA grant permits this project to be completed as originally planned.
“We are deeply touched by the generosity of churches and individuals connected to the WCA in meeting these needs,” said the Rev. Keith Boyette, president of the WCA. “The grant recipients and WCA are very thankful these important projects can go forward as planned.”
The WCA continues to receive contributions to its Central Conference Ministry Fund. Donors to the fund should indicate their gifts are designated for the Central Conference Ministry Fund. Applications for the next grant cycle must be filed with the WCA by November 15, 2020. The application may be accessed here.