Chicuque United Methodist Mission witnessed the rebirth of a united, spiritual and multicultural Church. The Bright and very warm summer that hit the Mission could not stop thousands of delegates and guests of honor who convened to celebrate a legacy of long years of intense work in evangelization and church growth, after 60th conference sessions.
Bishop Joaquina Nhanala referred in her opening speech, about the challenges and opportunities the Church went through, and its actions within the society towards helping alleviate hunger and poverty in many ways. Its polyvalence has made the Institution well-known nationwide for its commitment towards peace-building, and in saving lives during natural disasters and through its health institutions. The Church has nurtured many people through theological and secular education, now serving for country’s development. “We fought a good fight”- Bishop said in her closing remarks, enhancing the 125 years of hard work in making true disciples for transforming the world through words and acts of service. Methodist has witnessed the coming of many people into the ministry and as a result class meetings yielded local churches and these into parishes and into districts- a new church-start process.
Holy communion was served for hundreds that filled the magnificent Chicuque United Methodist Chapel and all partook to taste the extent of Jesus' sacrifice and shared His love, to celebrate the king of heaven descend to suffer as a sinner for our sins; to feel the width of His arms spread on the cross to bring all humankind into His embrace; and the height He rose to transcend death and Hades and lead us in triumphant life and glory. Bishop and cabinet members recited that “as we eat the bread, we remember the body that was broken by nails, His splintered flesh. As we drink of the cup, we remember the blood that poured from His wounds. We not only remember His suffering. We proclaim the eternal life in heaven the Lord Jesus Christ prepared for us through His death and resurrection.” Luke 22:19 reminds us to eat and drink from the body of Christ, as we put Him in the mirror, so that we can remember Him. We are spiritually nourished and be able to reach out other people for the ministry of God.
The life and ministry of the United Methodist Church in Mozambique started in December 1890 with the arrival of the first Missionary Dr Erwin Richards, and had its roots expanding from Cambine Mission to Chicuque Mission and throughout the entire country. Today it is sensed in Swaziland and South Africa. During this period, the Church was blessed by good leadership of national Bishop’s namely the late Bishop Escrivão Anglaze Zunguze, the late Bishop Almeida Penicela, the retired Bishop João Somane Machado and now the first female African Bishop, Joaquina Filipe Nhanala. There is a total of 113 active pastors and nearly 53 female clergy in Mozambique conference Area, that are also supported by a good number of local pastors and exhorters and bible classes graduates, serving in 184 churches within 26 ecclesiastic districts.
Morning devotions by Rev Joao Sambo and Rev Raimundo Vilanculos awakened and ignited the delegated with spiritual food before the conference sessions. Church heroes were remembered in memory for their time and dedication in spreading the good news around Mozambique and bringing Disciples of Christ. Church leaders who passed but planted the seed of the gospel in Mozambique. Gifts of love, hope and faith shared throughout their lifetime.
The book of Mathew 26:26-29 was brought into evidence where through the blood and body of Jesus Christ we are all strengthened to serve The Lord in various spheres of social and economic arena, transformed and renewed, for an everlasting and blessed life for the future of the church after 125 years of the life if the Church.
Bishop Rosemarie Wenner and Bishop Robert Schnase of the Germany and Missouri Conferences greeted the Mozambique conference through special video presentation, congratulating Mozambique for the successes in the transformation of people and communities for the image of Christ through the 125 years of its inception. Partnership ties that bind together ministries in mutual relationship that has helped connect cultures, reunited Methodists, and helped change perceptions in our mission to serve and above all, it brought people into same body of Christ. They stressed out about the work of Germany and Brazilian conferences in Cambine Mission for the school of Theology, the staff housing, agricultural projects and the vocational school. Bishop Schnase pointed out about the covenant program with Cambine, Ricatla and the Gondola training students; church to church relationship; income-generating projects for self-sustainability; pastor’s salary grant support; support to the orphan children and elderly people and provision of safe water to communities; and lives transformed across continents. Both Bishops kept the commitment to a continuous relationship for the future work of the Church in Mozambique. These messages were warmly applauded by delegates and Bishop Joaquina Nhanala expressed words of deep appreciation for these outstanding partnerships. “God has blessed Mozambique in building this model of partnership that brought hope to pastors who did not shelter, congregations that worshiped under tree cover, children who now have access to decent education, lives saved through safe water ministry, children and elderly people that have shelter, clothing and food, and a considerable great number of pastors and lay people trained through partnership support”- Bishop Nhanala finalized her remarks.
Ordained Clergy during conference session
Celebrations went on with procession of groups that came from various corners of the country including the North conference men’s chorus, the children, women, the timbila dancers from Zavala and the Mpunzo youth afro gospel group. The joy was indeed immense among participants, who sang and danced, praising the Lord, the Creator.
Closing Sunday worship service could not be finished as heavy rain blessed the reunion. Bishop João Wanela of the Free Methodist Church was the guest preacher. Bishop J Nhanala supported by the Book of Discipline, assigned all clergy and lay people to serve in God’s field, accompanied by a unison voice of readiness to go spread the Good News in all corners.
Ezequiel Marcos Nhantumbo- MT
The Mozambique Initiative Representative