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Hello and happy October!

On this the week of World Communion Sunday, I was asked to record a little video about the church in Sierra Leone for one of my partner congregations.  I thought it was a good enough idea that some of you might be interested in seeing and sharing it as well.

Below you will find a video that lasts a little over five minutes.  The tone is off-the-cuff and conversational.  After that I've included some basic information about the UM church in Sierra Leone along with the work that I do here.

God bless you.  May this World Communion Sunday be a reminder of the vastness of God's faithfulness and work across the globe.

World Communion Sunday from Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone United Methodist Church

The United Methodists started out as United Brethren Church back in the late 1800’s with an active missionary presence.  Now the UMC is vibrant and growing, with 150 ordained clergy, 50 certified lay preachers and evangelists, and over 200,000 members. The church is under the leadership of Bishop John K. Yambasu who is a man of vision, passion, and hard work.  It looks and feels a lot like UMC churches at home with children’s camps and Sunday school, youth and young adult ministry, UMM/UMW, weekly services, etc.  The UMW is particularly active with their prison ministry to women and juveniles and their focus on combatting violence against women.  I will say that the 3+ hour worship services in a mix of Krio (their local language) and English make it feel a little different than home.  :-)

One of the challenges in Sierra Leone is an education system that really suffered during the 12 year war in the 90’s and early 00’s.  As a consequence, illiteracy is something like 70% and the students who have completed school often still struggle to write and read accurately.  Youth and young adult unemployment are also around 70% and even those that do have work often make much less than the government minimum wage of $60 per month.  So what you find are a lot of people struggling to get basic necessities when what the country needs is strong, educated, principled leadership that can help lead the country out of poverty.  (If you want to read more about the poverty here, read this post.)

My Work

My job title after Missionary is “Coordinator of Congregational Development and Education”.  I am a member of the staff in the Bishop’s office.  However, my primary work is as a Lecturer at the newly established United Methodist University Sierra Leone, Bishop Wenner School of Theology.  We are only a year old and doing the hard work of getting a new university off the ground in a country where bureaucracy is challenging and basic education is limited.  As such we have several programs.  The first is for high level university students who are all ministry candidates in the UMC.  The second is a chaplaincy program with the vision of training a chaplain for each of our 300+ UM elementary and high schools across the country. The third program is specialized certificate programs for called persons whose prior education isn’t enough for them to enter university.

The vision of the school is to do everything we do with a focus on excellence, service, and integrity.  In a country where the political leadership has been historically overcome by corruption, this is vital work.  I like to say we are playing the long game.  We are educating our students based on the values of Christ:  that we do everything that we do with all we have, with a focus on the needs of others, and holding fast to our integrity.  In this way we are building a generation of tomorrow’s leadership who, by God’s grace, will empower and lead without corruption.  The UMU will soon expand to a school of allied and health sciences and a school of development among others.  You can read the bishop’s vision for the University here.

As a preacher at heart, I also spend as much time as I can in UMC pulpits across the country.  My most common message is one of empowerment: that God has called them and equips them with dreams of a better future and the courage of conviction to make those dreams a reality by God's power.
Rev. Katie Meek
Missionary, Global Ministries
United Methodist Congregational Development & Educational Coordinator
Freetown, Sierra Leone
Advance #3022393 (Bio)

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