From the Worldwide Faith News archives

South African United Methodists seek status

From NewsDesk <NewsDesk@UMCOM.UMC.ORG>
Date 12 Oct 1998 14:41:06

Oct. 12, 1998	Contact: Linda Bloom·(212) 870-3803·New York      {589}

NOTE: This story may be used as a sidebar to UMNS #588.

TULSA, Okla. (UMNS) - The fledgling United Methodist Church in South
Africa is hoping to attain provisional annual conference status in 2000.

The Rev. S.V. Tobie, a pastor of six congregations in the black township
in Capetown, told United Methodist News Service such a conference would
join together the two districts of United Methodists currently
supervised by other conferences.

Tobie was a guest and meditation leader at the Oct. 8-12 meeting of the
United Methodist Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious

The autonomous Methodist Church of Southern Africa, founded by British
Methodists, has long represented Methodists in South Africa. Recent
United Methodist work started when the Mozambique Annual Conference
reached out to Mozambican miners working in South Africa. Other South
Africans, who were not Portuguese speaking like the Mozambicans,
approached the Zimbabwe Annual Conference for assistance in starting
United Methodist congregations, Tobie said.

In 1988, the United Methodist Africa Central Conference placed a South
Africa district under Zimbabwe's supervision. Today, the district has 23
pastors, 64 congregations and more than 5,000 members, he added.

Tobie stressed that United Methodists there are not trying to draw other
Methodists to their district, although he admitted, "we cannot stop
people from transferring from one church to another."

However, he noted, "there are many people who are unchurched. We are
reaching out to those people."

United Methodist News Service
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