United Methodists are justly proud of Bishop Joaquina Nhanala, the first African woman bishop in the UMC. In addition to breaking that gender barrier, Bishop Nhanala has been a skilled leader for the Mozambique Episcopal Area.
But she's not the only Methodist woman to take the reins of leadership in Africa. Looking beyond the UMC, there are at least two other Methodist denominations in Africa that have women as their top leaders: the Methodist Church of Southern Africa and the Methodist Church of Togo.
The Rev. Purity Malinga was elected last year as the 100th Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa, the first woman to hold that position. With nearly 2 million members, the MCSA is one of the largest Methodist denominations in Africa. It is also one of the oldest. At the same time as Bishop Malinga was elected, three other women were elected as regional bishops, meaning that 1/4 of the church's 12 districts are now led by women. Dr. Dion Forster has written this article about Bishop Malinga's election, the history behind it, and what it means for the MCSA.
The Methodist Church of Togo (Eglise Methodist du Togo) is a much smaller - about 40,000 members - and younger - independent since 1999 - church, but it too is currently led by a woman. In fact, it's led by two women. Rev. Grace Lawson is President, the highest-ranking clergy in the church, and as General Secretary, Rev. Angele is responsible for leading the work of the church. This partnership visit report by Dr Bunmi Olayisade, Africa Partnership Coordinator for the Methodist Church in Britain shares more about the ministry of these two women.
With episcopal elections coming up for United Methodists in Africa later this year, the question now stands: Will African United Methodists elect more women as episcopal leaders, as their fellow Methodists across the continent have?