"The United Methodist Church in Nigeria has gone from 10,000 members to over 400,000 in 15 years. United Methodism's future depends upon the growing and conservative African churches." -- Mark Tooley, IRD's UM Action Director
Contact: Loralei Coyle 202-682-4131, 202-905-6852 cell, firstname.lastname@example.org; Radio Interviews: Jeff Walton email@example.com; both with The Institute on Religion and Democracy
WASHINGTON, Mar. 20 /Christian Newswire/ -- The United Methodist Church in Nigeria has a new bishop, 40 year old Rev. Kefas Kane Mavula, who was elected on March 3. Mavula's appointment comes at an exciting time for Nigerian United Methodists, who are experiencing rapid growth over the past decade. Mavula replaces Bishop Done Peter Dabale, who died of cancer and was elected the first United Methodist bishop of Nigeria in 1992.
Mark Tooley, IRD's UM Action Director, commented:
"Africans now constitute about 25 percent of the United Methodist Church. With this membership shift to theologically conservative churches in the Global South, United Methodism is slowly moving away from 20th century liberal Protestantism, which wreaked havoc on America's mainline denominations.
"Bishop Mavula now leads one of the fastest growing UMC conferences in the world. In 1992, there were 10,000 Nigerian Methodists. There are now over 400,000.
"A strong emphasis on biblical teaching and evangelism has fueled rapid church growth in Africa, in sharp contrast to United Methodism in the U.S., which has declined from 11 million to fewer than 8 million members in 40 years.
"In addition to rapid church growth in Nigeria, United Methodism elsewhere in Africa is growing quickly. There are 1 million United Methodists in the Congo. And there are over 600,000 United Methodists in the Ivory Coast. The increasing Africanization of United Methodism is shifting the denomination in a more conservative direction. Meanwhile, mainline denominations with U.S. only memberships are becoming more liberal and suffer accelerating membership declines."
"Many within United Methodism believe that God is renewing our church through the growth of the African churches. In the not distant future, a majority of United Methodists will be outside the U.S. A more international church will be a stronger church. And the witness of African United Methodists will hopefully inspire U.S. United Methodists to greater devotion and evangelism."
The Institute on Religion and Democracy, founded in 1981, is an ecumenical alliance of U.S. Christians working to reform their churches' social witness, in accord with biblical and historic Christian teachings, thereby contributing to the renewal of democratic society at home and abroad.