The United Methodist Church in Cameroon has ordained its first nine pastors (elders), including one woman. This historic occasion took place on July 31 at the civic auditorium in Yaounde, the capital of the West African country.
Bishop Benjamin Boni from Côte d'Ivoire, who also supervised the United Methodist missions in Cameroon and Senegal, officiated at the service attended by family and friends of the ordinands, as well as United Methodist leaders and representatives of other denominations.
Cameroon is a United Methodist Mission linked to the General Board of Global Ministries. To date, most of its leaders have been lay pastors, who can preach and carry out pastoral work but do not have full standing to preside at the sacrament of Holy Communion.
There are more than 30 United Methodist congregations and fellowships in Cameroon. It is also one of a dozen recent Mission Initiatives. The work in Cameroon began in the late 1990s and became a formal Mission in 2005. A medical ministry has a strong emphasis on eyes.
Bishop Boni noted the historical importance of the occasion, one to be remembered, he said, long after the church in Cameroon has elected its own indigenous bishop. He described the serious responsibilities being assumed by the ordained pastors. The life of a pastor, the bishop said, requires sensitivity, servitude, patience, maturity, and complete trust in God. "Trust in God is required," said the bishop to the new pastors. "Because we have complete trust, everything is possible."
One historical element was the ordination of Rev.Rosalie Nzie, the first woman ordained in the United Methodist Church mission and one of the first in any church in Cameroon. Women clergy are not common in Africa.
The bishop expressed appreciation to a wide range of persons and organizations that contributed to the special celebration, including the government of Cameroon for assistance with organizational issues. He said that the General Board of Global Ministries had been present over all the years leading up to the first ordinations. He thanks the newly ordained for accepting God's call and their families for their support.
In addition to Pastor Nzie, those ordained were: Andrew Ekoka Molindo, Ashu Simpson, Bernard Mbehna, Guillaume Mboua Likeng, Jean Blaise Bikoy, Michael Elango, Simeon Nomo, and Solomon Mbwoge.
The preacher for the day was the Rev. Phillip Adjobi, district superintendent in South Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, and president of the Committee of Ordained Ministries in Côte d'Ivoire, Senegal, and Cameroon. He called the nine persons ordained "pioneers" who should rely on God to successfully carry out their work. He said that they must set a good example for the clergy who will come after them.
Cameroon is some 40 percent Christian and 20 percent Muslim, with a variety of other religious expressions. A new United Methodist hymnal for Cameroon is in English and French, the two most common languages.
Bishop Boni and Rev. Adjobi were also accompanied by Dr. Nathaniel Ohue, president of the Methodist University of Côte d'Ivoire.
Representatives of other denominations included the Rev. Jean Libom Likeng, convenor of the Presbyterian Church of Cameroon, the largest Protestant communion in the country; and the Rev. Dr. Jean Emile Ngue, secretary general of the Council of Protestant Churches in Cameroon.
Two United Methodist missionaries were present, Pastor Joel Ncahoruri, the new mission treasurer, and Pastor Nkemba Ndjungu, the mission superintendent. Global Ministries was represented by Dr. Caroline Njuki and the Rev. Patrick Friday, each of whom has staff relations with the church in Cameroon. Rev. Friday is a clergy member of the North Alabama Conference on staff at the General Board of Global Ministries.