As commentaries continue to pour forth in the closing days before General Conference 2019 convenes on February 23rd, several pieces by African United Methodists give a sense of the variety of African viewpoints heading into GC2019.
The Africa Initiative issued a call to prayer for the week of Jan. 28 in preparation for the special called General Conference.
UMNS published a series of video interviews with Rev. Forbes Matonga of Zimbabwe on his views of the way forward
UMNS published a commentary on GC2019 by retired Congolese bishop and Way Forward moderator David Yemba
UMNS published a commentary on GC2019 by Congolese native Albert Otshudi Longe, who currently resides in the United States
One could compare these four pieces in terms of their views on homosexuality. The Africa Initiative and Rev. Matonga (who is a leader in the Africa Initiative) are clearly opposed. Bishop Yemba does not take a direct position. Mr. Longe speaks against discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Yet another interesting comparison is to examine the range of terms the four pieces use to describe the upcoming General Conference and The United Methodist Church as a whole. The Africa Initiative speaks of GC2019 as "spiritual warfare." Rev. Matonga instead states, "This is not a war," and calls for gracious and civil behavior. Bishop Yemba speaks of the church as a worshipping community and theological entity. Mr. Longe describes the church using the African concept of "ubuntu."
While Americans often paint Africans with a broad brush, this collection of commentaries should serve as a good reminder that not only are there a variety of views among Africans about the issues at hand before GC2019, there are also differing African ways of understanding General Conference and the church itself.