The Missions Ministry Team of Holston Conference is aware of the United Methodist News Service article indicating that the Western Pennsylvania Conference has requested a Judicial Council decision concerning the finances of the East Africa Annual Conference.
While we join others in prayer for all persons involved in this situation, we reaffirm Bishop James Swanson’s statement that we continue to be in ministry with persons in the Yei District of South Sudan, which is a part of the East Africa Annual Conference. The article quotes an email that alleges that Holston Conference has demanded the return of funds, and Bishop Swanson indicates that statement is not true.
In fact, Holston Conference is working very closely with the General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) to ensure that our funds are sent to South Sudan in a way that is totally accountable to Holston, to GBGM, and to the people of South Sudan. The Rev. Fred Dearing, the District Superintendent of the Yei District, in August underwent a very careful audit of all funds sent to South Sudan from Holston through the GBGM, and GBGM was very affirming of the handling of all funds. We seek to manage all funds sent for work in South Sudan in a manner that is according to good fiscal accounting practices, and GBGM confirmed that we are doing so.
The work of the United Methodist Church in South Sudan continues to flourish through the combined efforts of Holston, GBGM, United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM), and United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). The UMC is growing in South Sudan village after village, and as these local congregations mature and become vital to the population, partnerships are created that allow our denomination to live into our strengths by providing (1) new places of worship that are the source of spiritual growth, (2) opportunities for economic sustainability, (3) a source of education for future generations, and (4) a place of healing through clean water, sanitation, and health and hygiene. Our efforts, and the resources needed to bring them to fruition in partnership with the people of South Sudan, are providing results each and every day. We celebrate the ministry of God in South Sudan through the efforts of the United Methodist Church. We are blessed as a denomination to have the opportunity to be part of God’s being faithful to the people of South Sudan, a people who have struggled for decades and now look to God, not humanity, for a future of hope and promise.
The Rev. Carol Wilson, Director of Communications for the Holston Conference, stated, “The Holston Conference will continue to be faithful in our work with the GBGM and Fred Dearing, who is serving as the superintendent of the Yei District. We are grateful for the leadership of our Holston Conference Missions Team and their work to assure that our partnership can continue without interruption.”
For more information, email Anne Travis, Holston director of connectional ministries.