Methodist Church

Methodism in Côte d’Ivoire sees steady growth

ABIDJAN (Côte d’Ivoire) – The United Methodist Church’s roots in Côte d’Ivoire date back to 1914, when William Wadé Harris arrived in the country from neighbouring Liberia.

Completing a prison sentence for his role in a political revolt, Harris heard God directing him to Côte d’Ivoire. Telling the story, United Methodist Bishop Benjamin Boni said people would walk more than 160 km to hear Harris preach, and the magicians fled before the evangelist.

If Harris were to visit Côte d’Ivoire almost a century later, he would find a church that has grown over the decades into a powerful presence, providing a wide range of ministries.

The church started in the area of Grand Bassam, the French colonial capital on the coast of the West African country. Harris went on to neighbouring countries, and in 1923, William Platt arrived and built on his predecessor’s work. In 1924, the Methodist Church was officially established in Côte d’Ivoire.

The church was related to the British Methodist Church at one time but became autonomous in 1985.

In 2004, e United Methodist Church’s top legislative assembly welcomed the Protestant Methodist Church of Côte d’Ivoire into the denomination as a provisional annual conference. Four years later, the assembly confirmed Côte d’Ivoire as an episcopal area of the denomination. Bishop Boni, who had been President of the church since 1998, became Bishop in 2005.

The church has about 700,000 members and serves a wider community of about 1 million, in a country with a total population of 21 million. The Côte d’Ivoire Conference’s main offices are in Abidjan, the commercial capital.

About a third of Ivoirians are Christian, a third or more are Muslim and some 20 per cent follow traditional African religions. Methodism is the largest Protestant tradition, and the Catholic Church has the largest Christian presence.

The denomination has 900 churches and 100 preaching points, and its membership is growing at 7 to 8 per cent annually, according to the conference. is thriving church is led by a relatively small number of pastors – about 109 – with help from 6,000 local pastors and 7,000 to 8,000 class leaders.

Bishop Boni also oversees the United Methodist mission to neighbouring Senegal, which has 800 to 900 members, and Cameroon, with about 1,200 members. For those countries as in Côte d’Ivoire, training pastors is a priority.

Women and young people are driving the Ivoirian church’s growth.

Methodism’s growth has been accompanied by an expansion of ministries not only into education but also health care and economic development. The church operates dozens of schools, a hospital and other health care ministries. In a country where governmental resources are under strain, The United Methodist Church is standing in the gap to address the needs of the whole person. – United Methodist News Service.

Tim Tanton is Director of the Media Group for United Methodist Communications.


John Wesley’s health tips

CHICAGO – Not many people know that John Wesley had written a book on health. He first published it anonymously, and it became a best-seller in his day.

“Nothing conduces more to health than abstinence and food with due labour,” Wesley wrote in his 1747 book, Primitive Physick: or An Easy and Natural Method of Curing Most Disease.

“It sold more books than anything that he ever wrote,” said Mr Randy Maddox, a John Wesley specialist who teaches at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.

Among Wesley’s advice: Eat a light supper at least two or three hours before bed.

Wesley’s counsel to scholars also may seem relevant to couch potatoes, computer addicts and people who work in cubicles. “Those who read or write much should learn to do it standing; otherwise it will impair their health,” he said.
Other Wesley diet and exercise tips include:

• Drink lots of water; it’s the healthiest of all drinks.
• Avoid coffee and tea; they elevate anxiety.
• Exercise, preferably walking, is necessary for good health.
• Cold baths promote circulation.
• Exercise on an empty stomach.
• Go to bed at 9 pm and rise at 4 am or 5 am.

– United Methodist News Service.


Please pray for us: Methodist Church of Fiji

SUVA – The Methodist Church of Fiji, which is being placed under great pressure by the government, is requesting Methodists all over the world to “please pray and continue praying for us”.

According to Mr Tevta Banivanua, Deputy General Secretary of the Methodist Church of Fiji, its Annual Conference has been cancelled and would now be held in 2014, and the reason given by the government for the cancellation was that “a number of ministers of the church are involved in espionage (spying) on the military”.

The authorities claimed that the ministers received money from the police Special Branch Unit, but were unable to provide evidence when asked to, added Mr Banivanua, in a letter to the World Methodist Council.

On Jan 29, the church received a letter from the Commissioner of Police stating that the Annual Divisional Meeting of the 54 Church Divisions and the Quarterly Meeting of the 325 circuits were also cancelled.

The reason given was that the church “is involved in the formation of a political party”. Again, this was an unsubstantiated accusation, said Mr Banivanua.

He said: “Our government is trying to break us since its legitimacy depends on the church’s submission to its programme.

“As a church, we have stated our opposition to them and right now we as a church are standing by our original position rather than submitting to their violent tactics of treating all of us as a bunch of soldiers.” – World Methodist Council Last Friday Letter.