Bishop John Innis, the Resident Bishop of the Liberia Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church (UMC) and President of the West Africa Central Conference of the UMC paid a working visit to the Annual Conference of Cote d’Ivoire from October 1 – 3, 2015. Bishop Innis was accompanied by Mr. Rudolph Merab, the Lay-Leader of the Liberia UMC.
The purposes of the visit were first of all to extend the condolences of the Bishops of the West Africa Central Conference of the UMC to Bishop Benjamin Boni, Bishop of the Cote d’Ivoire Annual Conference, following the pass away of his mother on August 1, 2015.
“It was the responsibility of the bishops of West Africa to be with Bishop Boni during the funerals ceremonies of his mom.” Bishop Innis said during an interview granted to the Voice of Hope Radio in Abidjan. “Due to other engagements, the other West Africa Bishops and I were not able to make it and they have asked me to come and extend their sympathy,” he added.
Bishop Innis also extended the sympathy of the people of the Liberia Episcopal Area of the UMC.
The second purpose of the visit was to talk about preparations of the next assembly of the West Africa Central Conference of the UMC that will take place in Abidjan in December 2016. “As president of the West Africa Central Conference, it is my concern to have first-hand impressions of our next gathering” Bishop Innis said.
A major item on the agenda of the next West Africa Central Conference will be the election of the next Resident bishop of the Liberia UMC. Bishop Innis will be retiring in 2016. He was elected bishop of the Liberia Area at the West Africa Central Conference of The UMC held in Monrovia in December 2000.
At the upcoming 2016 West Africa Central Conference, 80 statutory delegates are expected from annual conferences in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire . On Friday, October 2 2015, Bishop Innis visited the facility that will host the event – “The House of Hope”, the recently opened missionary house of the Cote d’Ivoire UMC, situated in the commune of Yopougon in the west of Abidjan.
During the interview at the Voice of Hope Radio, Mr. Rudolph Merab invited to the laity of the Cote d’Ivoire UMC to be tireless supporters of the clergy. Interviewed by Jean Stephan Leba, he said “the lay people are basically like the frontline soldiers; the clergy are the army officers who train and nurture the people, then the laity go out and witness to the world.”
Addressing the lay people ahead of the National Week of the Laity to be observed in the Cote d’Ivoire UMC, from October 10 – 18, Mr. Merab said that “on the lay people depends the movement of the church to be able to win souls to Jesus-Christ.”
Before leaving Abidjan, Bishop Innis invited his peer, Bishop Boni and the Cote d’Ivoire Annual Conference as a whole to join their brothers and sisters of Liberia at the 183rd Annual Conference of the Liberia UMC that will take place in Buchanan (about 150 Km south east of Monrovia), from February 10-14, 2016. It will be Bishop Innis’ last Annual Conference as resident Bishop of the Liberia UMC.