Monday, 15 June 2009

The Gambia Experience - Celebration day

There is so much I could say about this very special day.... It was May 24th Wesley Day. Many of us as overseas visitors were preaching in some of the churches. This is a very small Methodist Church with 5 circuits and only 17 ministers, some of whom are supernumeraries, living in the UK or USA, studying on scholarships or training for ministry. In this predominant Muslim country it has taken 188 years for the Methodist Church to feel able to become autonomous. Throughout our visit there was a continuing anxiety about the future. I kept assuring them that the British church would not desert them but we were entering a new era of partnership and maturity.

The Inauguration of the Foundation Conference of the Methodist Church The Gambia was held at trinity Church, Serrekunda. The building was packed with hundreds more outside........and it was a glorious and memorable celebration....with choirs, children dancing, reading and praying and preaching.

The signing of the papers (21 people signed and witnessed about 12 copies of legal documents) took about 25 minutes and it was during this period that the whole church spontaneously burst into singing and dancing....

It was a privilege to induct the Rev Norman Grigg as the first President of their Conference

Malcolm Clarke as the Vice-President

and the Rev Dr Mark Jason as the Secretary of Con ference.

There was a real joy as people came forward for communion and a glimpse of God's Kingdom as children came for a blessing during the final hymn as the Anglican Bishop, the Roman Catholic Bishop and our new President gave them a blessing.

the worship lasted a good four hours....and nobody cared...we have waited 188 years for this..why worry!!

We should have been back at the Jamma Hall for a Grand reception at 7.30pm....we made it by 10.00pm. Once again we 'clashed' with the President as he was having his 'birthday party' at the same it took a little while for everyone to get their food....but why worry...what a fabulous day.

The Foundation Conference was held on the Monday. Government cabinet ministers were there to bring greetings, as were the 2 bishops and leaders of the Muslim community. It all went off well.

Just before we left on the Tuesday we were invited to meet with the Vice-President of the country, HE Aja Dr Isatou Njie-Saidy. She spoke so warmly and enthusiastically about the contribution this small Methodist Church has made to the life of The Gambia. Once again God continues to use what many see as weak and small to buold his Kingdom and bring glory to His name.

1 comment:

Helen Jenkins said...

Having spent a month with the Gambian Methodists earlier this year (placements when training for ministry are such a drag!), it's great to see the pictures of the autonomy weekend. I heard much about the planning, it looks as though it all came together wonderfully. Thank you for sharing the stories.