From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
UMNS# 04547-United Methodists express concern on tensions in
Mon, 22 Nov 2004 17:29:32 -0600
United Methodists express concern on tensions in Cote d'Ivoire
Nov. 22, 2004 News media contact: Linda Bloom * (646) 3693759* New
NOTE: : A related report, UMNS story #548, and photographs are available at
NEW YORK (UMNS) - Although scattered reports indicate its own church leaders
are safe, the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries has expressed
concern about continuing violence in Cote d'Ivoire.
The latest violence erupted Nov. 5 after the government there broke a
cease-fire with rebels and attacked a French camp, killing nine peacekeepers
and an American aid worker, Robert Carsky. France destroyed much of the
Ivorian Air Force in response, according to news reports.
In a statement released Nov. 22, board officials noted that Cote d'Ivoire
(Ivory Coast), in West Africa, is home to about 1 million United Methodists.
"We have had limited contact with church leaders there since the outbreak of
violence, and we are unable to put into context some of the scattered reports
we have received," the statement said. "We understand that the leaders and
pastors of the United Methodist Church of Cote d'Ivoire are safe and are
working to bring calm to a volatile situation.
"One report indicates that United Methodists provided aid to persons injured
in street clashes between the French military and Ivorian protesters. The
United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) has offered assistance to be
used in the care of civilian victims."
The Rev. Benjamin Boni, superintendent of the United Methodist Church there,
has been in consultation with other religious leaders to bring about
In a Nov. 10 statement - broadcast on Ivorian television and radio - Boni
condemned the killings and called for an immediate stop to the violence.
"The United Methodist Church of Cote d'Ivoire shares the sorrow and pain of
all the grieving Ivorians, French and American families," said Boni's
French-language statement. "The church regrets the extent of the killings and
massacre that characterized this time of uncertainty. The church wishes a
prompt recovery of all the wounded."
He also urged the expatriate population to stay in what he considers a
"welcoming and hospitable land." Thousands of French people and other
Westerners have fled the country since the violence began.
In praying for a lasting peace, the clergyman quoted Psalm 34:6-7: "This poor
soul cried, and was heard by the Lord, and was saved from every trouble. The
angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him and delivers them."
"The north-south tensions in Cote d'Ivoire are longstanding and involve
economic as well as political and, perhaps, religious factors," the Board of
Global Ministries' statement continued. "The country is the world's largest
producer of cocoa, and news reports indicate sectional conflict over control
of the crop. Much of the north is controlled by groups considered 'rebels' by
the government of President Laurent Gbagbo, which holds sway in the south."
The north is heavily Muslim, while the southern part of Cote d'Ivoire is
The former autonomous Protestant Methodist Church of Cote d'Ivoire was
received into full membership of the United Methodist Church during the 2004
General Conference, the denomination's top legislative meeting, last May.
Church leaders approached the Board of Global Ministries several years ago,
requesting mission status in order to become part of a worldwide church
rather than continuing as a national body.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or
United Methodist News Service
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