Sunday worship and meeting Bishop Johnwesley Yohanna


Kathryn Witte, ABC, RCC

2/9/2014

We had a good night's sleep at the bishop's guest house. We gathered at 8 a.m. for breakfast and then were off to a 9 a.m. worship. We celebrated the Sabbath at the Taraba State government-sponsored church. The pastor announced that all faiths are welcome.

The three-hour service included spirited music from all sectors of the congregations — youth, women's group and young adults — the clergy-led songs being particularly engaging. Four pastors took part in the worship. A retired minister provided some of the most energetic dancing.

The unexpected surprise was the inclusion of a wedding ceremony in the middle of the worship service. The pastor called it a "western" service where the vows would be "snappy" which should be interpreted "short." Most traditional Nigerian weddings are on Saturday and are quite lengthy.

We were treated as honored guests and sat along-side the clergy in the front of the sanctuary. Dottie was invited to speak on behalf of the Nigeria Partnership. Her message provided a little history along with an acknowledgment that many in the congregation have contributed to the orphanage. The Rev. Jim Miller offered a greeting from the Great Plains Conference and also recognized the congregation's support.

As we met following the service, Benji asked the lead pastors to arrange a meeting with the acting governor of Taraba State. One of the orphanage's strategies is to continue the goodwill and support of the Taraba State government.

After the worship we paid a visit to the window of a legislator who has been supportive of the orphanage. We paid respects to the widow for her loss. We also thanked her for their support of the orphanage. There will be a presentation next Saturday at the orphanage where she will be one of 16 honorees being recognized for contributions to the success of the students and the orphanage.

We returned to the guest house for lunch and a bit of rest. In late afternoon, Mrs. Thomas, a woman of Jalingo who has cooked for us and other mission groups in the past, came by to visit.

Sunday night we met with Bishop Johnwesley Yohanna to be briefed on recent disputes within the Nigerian conferences and to reflect on the work of the orphanage. We spent more than an hour in conversation with the bishop and with the Rev. Eddy Yaku who oversees district superintendents in the Central Nigeria Conference.

The bishop provided much context for the happenings within Nigerian United Methodist Church. There is to be a Nigerian Federal Court ruling on Tuesday on the legitimacy of Bishop Yohanna to hold his office. All signs are for a ruling in his favor as the policy of the United Methodist church oversees the process by which bishop's are named.

Once the bishop returned to his home, Benji joined us to inventory the many items brought to Nigeria (44 UMCOR school kits without paper, 144 toothbrushes, etc.).

Our meetings and conversations ran until 9 p.m. when the group finally fell weary and went to bed. Our afternoons have included some time to rest in the heat of the day (90+), but we still tire after long, busy days.



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