Methodist Church

Liberia’s new President, a Methodist, vows to work for change

MONROVIA (Liberia) — Ms Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the 23rd President of Liberia, pledged to work for economic stability, create a brighter future for youth and children and empower women.

“We will work to change,” she said.

The first woman to be elected Head of State in Africa, Ms Johnson-Sirleaf, a Methodist, acknowledged many challenges lie ahead for her country.

“I understand what you ordinary citizens go through each day,” she said in her inauguration speech on Jan 16.

“I applaud the resilience of our people, who have been dehumanised by poverty and shackled by 14 years of civil war, who had the courage to go to the polls and vote — not once but twice — for me and Vice- President Joseph Nyuma Boakai.”

The new President began by reflecting on her two illiterate grandmothers and parents who taught her “to be what I am today”. She also called for a moment of silent prayer.

An active member of First United Methodist Church, she spoke of her faith several times during her 40-minute speech. On Sunday, Jan 15, a thanksgiving and intercessory service was held at her church and officiated by Liberian Bishop John Innis and Bishop Peter Weaver, President of the United Methodist Council of Bishops. Bishop Weaver presented her with a Bible signed by the bishops of the church.

On the grounds of the Capitol, Heads of State and dignitaries from many countries came to pay their respects to her and show support for Liberia. United States First Lady Laura Bush, also a United Methodist, headed a US delegation.

Ms Johnson-Sirleaf made a special point of thanking West Africans who “died for us and denied yourselves to assist and pray for us”.

In a statement given to the press, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan congratulated the people of Liberia for a peaceful and transparent electoral process. The establishment of the democratically elected government brings a close to the two-year transitional period in the peace agreement signed in 2003.

The new President faces a number of challenges, including restructuring security, strengthening the economy, protecting human rights and establishing basic services such as electricity and running water. Liberia’s civil war decimated most of the country’s infrastructure.

Liberians have high expectations for their new President, and Ms Johnson- Sirleaf said she would work to put Liberia’s economic house “back in order”. “We need to put Liberians back to work and bring our economic and financial house in order.”

She asked those Liberians who had fled the country during the war to return and join in rebuilding the nation. She also said she would help those living in refugee camps rebuild their lives.

She promised the days of terror by corrupt chief executives were over and said “corruption will be enemy No. 1” in her administration.

She ended her speech on a determined note. “We are good, we are kind, we are forgiving and we are God’s … We have a future of promise and hope, and we will not fail.” — United Methodist News Service.

Kathy L. Gilbert is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tennessee.


Britain has 300,000 Methodists

LONDON – The Methodist Church in Britain is the third largest Christian church serving the country, with nearly 300,000 members and regular contact with more than 800,000 people.

It has more than 6,000 churches in Great Britain, and also maintains links with other Methodist churches totalling a worldwide membership of 70 million.

Its activities, both alone and with ecumenical and secular partners, are based on four aims known as “Our Calling”:

♦ TO INCREASE awareness of God’s presence and to celebrate God’s love,

♦ TO HELP people to grow and learn as Christians through mutual support and care,

♦ TO BE a good neighbour to people in need and to challenge injustice,

♦ TO MAKE more followers of Jesus Christ.

— Methodist Church House, The Methodist Church in Britain