In light of the United Methodist News Service story recently posted on the Florida Conference Connection concerning the suspension of funds for the East Africa Annual Conference, I thought it would be beneficial to point out to our readers in the Florida Conference that the East Africa Conference of the UMC, which includes Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan, is not the same as the East Angola Conference of the UMC. The decision of the General Board of Global Ministries to suspend all funding to the East Africa Conference does not affect our East Angola/Florida Partnership.
When in 2009 Armando and I went to Angola to serve for a year, we were motivated not only by obedience to God’s call but also by a profound desire to get to know our partners in ministry at a deeper level. What God revealed through our Angolan brothers and sisters during that year shaped the way we do ministry with East Angola today. We have moved from “sending money” to full engagement in a ministry of presence and mutual edification.
We now understand the importance of supporting education at all levels in East Angola. Decades of war destroyed the dreams of education for many, but there is a new generation with new hopes for a brighter future. This is the time for the global United Methodist Church to provide those educational opportunities that will bring a successful transformation to the nation of Angola.
We also recognize the importance of a long-term missionary presence in East Angola. Missionaries on site not only teach, lead, host VIM teams, but also serve as administrators of the funds sent to East Angola from churches in the Florida Conference. In order to facilitate transparency and accountability, the Florida Conference Committee of Global Missions has set up Conference Advance Specials that relate directly to the programs we support. Funds are not sent through the East Angola Conference office but directly from the Florida Conference to each educational institution, given that the institution abides by the financial regulations of the UMC. Starting in 2009, once a year we audit those funds with outstanding results that prove that the resources are being used for the intended purposes.
Currently, the following programs are being supported:
• Advance # 100130 supports missionaries of the Cuban Methodist Church serving in the East Angola United Methodist Conference.
• Advance # 100125 supports the feeding program of the East Angola Boarding House/Orphanage.
• Advance # 102020 provides scholarships for East Angolan students to attend Higher Education institutions.
• Advance # 100145 provides scholarships for students at the School of Theology in Quéssua.
• Advance # 100090 supports the ongoing reconstruction of the Quéssua Mission.
• Advance # 100120 supports a variety of ministries and projects related to the East Angola/Florida Partnership.
This year we celebrate ten years of Partnership with East Angola, ten years in which Florida has been part of a story of rebirth and victory over death and destruction. We are encouraged by the progress in rebuilding the Quéssua mission and helping people find a path to discipleship, but we also realize that much work remains to be done. We hope that questions surrounding another conference on the other side of Africa will not deter you from supporting the efforts of the East Angola/Florida Partnership.