Bishop Thomas Bangura of Sierra Leone dies at 81
Sep. 27, 2006
NOTE: A photograph is available at http://umns.umc.org.
By United Methodist News Service
Bishop Thomas S. Bangura, the second indigenous person elected United Methodist episcopal leader of Sierra Leone, died Sept. 24.
Bangura, 81, began his ministry in the Evangelical United Brethren Church and served as bishop from 1979 to 1992.
He died within one day of the anniversary of the Sept. 25, 2005, burial of his wife, Regina. The funeral service is scheduled for Oct. 8 at King Memorial United Methodist Church, Freetown, Sierra Leone.
According to Sam Bangura, his son, the bishop said during his final days that he "was confident that I will see God, whom I have served so well here on earth." Bangura described his father as "a man of deep faith," and in requesting that news of his father's death be communicated to the United Methodist Council of Bishops, he said, "May his soul rest in peace."
The Sierra Leone Annual Conference was established in 1973 under Bangura's leadership. The first indigenous bishop of the conference was Benjamin A. Carew who served until retiring in 1978. When Carew retired, Bangura was elected bishop in 1979 and the conference became a part of the West Africa Central Conference in 1981. It has been led by Bishop Joseph C. Humper since 1992. Humper is also indigenous to Sierra Leone.
Responding to his predecessor's death, Humper said "everybody knew Bishop Bangura to be a committed minister and church leader. He was well respected by the community." In recognition of the high regard in which Bangura was held, all the church leaders within the Council of Churches in Sierra Leone are planning to attend the funeral, Humper said.
"Bishop Bangura was a true servant of God. He was a friend of the poor and a man of great compassion," said Bishop Janice Riggle Huie, president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops and leader of the church's Houston Area. "Through the office of the bishop he extended Christ's care to everyone, especially those who were among the poor."
Bangura pursued theological training locally at Fourah Bay College, the first college for higher education in West Africa. He came to the United States in 1950 and studied for a year at United Theological Seminary before returning to Sierra Leone. He was the pastor of churches in Moyamba, Yonibana and Magburka, and was superintendent of the Yonibana District.
The United Methodist Church in Sierra Leone today traces its history to 1855, when the Church of the United Brethren in Christ began mission work there. More recently, the country was plagued by a civil war that began in 1991, and a peace agreement between the government and rebels was signed in July 1999.
Bangura received a bachelor's degree in philosophy and education from the University of Akron and a master's degree in education from Columbia University between 1959 and 1963. He returned home to serve Price Memorial Church in Georgebrook and Baughman Memorial Church in Brookfields, and taught at the United Methodist Taiama Secondary School. In 1975, he became superintendent of the Western District and in 1977 was assigned to King Memorial Church.
The United Methodist Church in Sierra Leone has 94,000 members.
The Banguras had four children: Thomas Opa, Jeneba Koni, Philip Sam and Ansumana; and two grandchildren: Regina and Arthur Yaskey.
News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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