Recently, E. Julu Swen reported for UMNS on the Buduburam United Methodist Church in Buduburam, Ghana. The Buduburam UMC was formed by Liberian refugees who fled to Ghana during the Liberian Civil War. It is the only United Methodist congregation in Ghana.
The Buduburam UMC has always existed in a unique and liminal ecclesial status. It is neither fully part of the UMC in Liberia, its parent organization, nor has it integrated into the autonomous Methodist Church of Ghana, the main Methodist denomination in the country.
As Swen reports, the church is currently facing questions about its future, as most Liberians have returned from Ghana to their home countries after the conclusion of the civil war, leaving the church to struggle.
Yet in those questions about this congregation's future lie larger questions about the relationships between denominations, nations, and people groups that extend far beyond this one congregation. What is the value of a specifically United Methodist presence vs. other Methodist/Wesleyan bodies? How can and should denominations provide for the spiritual care of refugees and other migrants? What are the roles of host denominations and home denominations? What is the role of migrants themselves in shaping their denominational structures?
The Buduburam UMC makes a nice case study to highlight these questions (and more), in part because of its migratory origins, its clear focus on that migratory group, its relationships with both home and host denominations, and its well-documented history.