A Kansas pastor is contributing to the future of the United Methodist Church in Africa as part of a task force.
The Rev. Amy Lippoldt, pastor of Basehor United Methodist Church, is secretary of the Comprehensive Africa Task Force, which met from Aug. 31 to Sept. 2 in Harare, Zimbabwe, to consider last year’s General Conference directive to increase the number of bishops on the continent from 13 to 18.
“It was a great experience, but a hard conversation,” Lippoldt said. “For me personally it’s wonderful to be connected to colleagues in Africa and learn so much more about their successes and their challenges. But there are lots of political issues and obstacles that they’re facing that there’s no easy way through it.”
Lippoldt, whose role on the task force continues through the quadrennium, said she was prepared for heated discussion among the group’s members.
“I had been told enough from more experienced people that there was going to be no easy solution,” she said.
“People were civil, but there were definitely disagreements,” Lippoldt continued. “Africa’s been granted five new bishops, and what they really need are 15 or 20. We were trying to figure out whose turn it was to get more resources and how those can best be deployed for the mission of going forward.”
There were 45 participants in the meeting, including the 10-member task force that includes Lippoldt, as well as active bishops.
She is scheduled to return to Africa twice next year for meetings of the task force.
There wasn’t much time to be a tourist, Lippoldt said, but one day in the schedule did include a revival during which West Ohio Bishop Gregory Palmer gave the sermon.
“African hospitality is amazing. They treated us like honored guests,” she said. “It was wonderful to see the church in action in Zimbabwe, and know it wasn’t just a map that we were thinking about, but churches and people who need resources so they can grow.”
Read more about the task force’s actions.
Contact David Burke, communications coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.