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Churches begin to take partnership with East Angola to heart

Churches begin to take partnership with East Angola to heart

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Churches begin to take partnership with East Angola to heart

May 19, 2005    News media contact:  Tita Parham*    
800-282-8011     Orlando  {0294}

NOTE:  This story is a sidebar to e-Review Florida UMNS #0288 - Conference brings Angolan students to Florida to study, share.

An e-Review Feature
By J.A. Buchholz**

LAKELAND — The Rev. Catherine Fluck Price felt a burning in her heart as she researched information about East Angola.

MALANGE, Angola — During Bishop Timothy and Melba Whitaker's visit to Angola last November, students at the Hope for the Children of Africa School received school kits provided by members of Florida Conference churches and assembled during the 2003 Florida Annual Conference Event. Photo by Melba Whitaker, Photo #05-0166.

Price is co-pastor of Harvest United Methodist Church in Bradenton. She was preparing to watch a DVD from the Florida Conference announcing that the "One Body One Spirit" 2005 Florida Annual Conference Event offering would go toward the children of Angola and Florida. The DVD interprets the partnership between the Florida and East Angola conferences of The United Methodist Church. A copy was sent to each church in the Florida Conference.

During this time of exploration, Price said she knew her heart was leading her and Harvest's 600-member congregation to a deeper and more meaningful relationship with the partnership that exists between the conferences.

"This is something that God wants Harvest to be a part of in big ways," she said. "I really feel we are called to have a real involvement with this partnership."

The East Angola-Florida Partnership was launched in February 2003 after a three-person team from the Florida Conference visited the East Angola Conference.

The United Methodist Council of Bishops asked the Florida Conference to turn its attention to East Angola after the Florida Conference completed the Bishop Cornelius L. and Dorothye Henderson Secondary School in Mozambique.

The partnership originated under the Council of Bishops' Hope for the Children of Africa initiative. Each year the Florida Conference raises money for projects in the East Angola Conference through offerings collected at the annual conference event. Eighty percent of the offering collected at this year's annual gathering June 2-5 will go toward projects related to the partnership, including rebuilding a theological school and bringing two Angolan students to Florida to study at Florida Southern College and share their experiences at local United Methodist churches.

The Rev. St. Clair Moore, pastor of Rogers United Methodist Church in Bradenton and chairman of the East Angola Task Team, said mailing the DVDs to churches before annual conference demonstrates the partnership is more than an initiative between two bishops. He said there is "phenomenal excitement" about the partnership at churches, such as Harvest United Methodist Church, throughout the conference.

"People are truly starting to take on the mission," he said. "They are sharing the vision. Individuals have taken a passion for this because the vision is so compelling."

MALANGE, Angola — East Angola United Methodists worship in Quéssua United Methodist Church, despite the scaffolding and broken windows. Money raised in the Florida Conference through annual offerings is helping make reconstruction of the building, which was damaged during the country's civil war, possible. Photo by Melba Whitaker, Photo #05-0167.

Price said her church has raised $6,000 toward the East Angola offering, but has a desire to be an active participant.

"I want to go to Angola. I want to learn Portuguese," Price said. "Our preschool wants to develop a partnership with the orphanage there."

Price is not alone in her quest. Seven church members have expressed an interest in traveling to the country, and she says e-mails are pouring in with ideas for fund-raisers to finance the trip.

"We are excited about the impact Harvest can have on this partnership and the impact they can have on us," she said. "It's not a one way thing. It goes both ways."

Moore said he is hoping more churches will hear the call of Christ to be in partnership with those who have lesser means.

"I sincerely believe that those who bless will be blessed," he said. "If we focus on ourselves, we will always be without. This is a partnership ordained by God. This is a partnership of genuine integrity."

Price anticipates the conference's partnership will deepen and grow in the coming months and years. "We want to see where God takes all of this," she said. "This is really just the beginning."

MALANGE, Angola — Like most of the buildings at the Quéssua complex here, the theological school was nearly destroyed during the country's civil war. Money raised in the Florida Conference will help rebuild it. Quéssua was once a thriving missionary and spiritual center of the United Methodist Church in Angola. Photo by Melba Whitaker, Photo #05-0168.

A focus of the conference's efforts has been helping the East Angola Conference rebuild Quéssua, an area that was once a thriving missionary and spiritual center of the United Methodist Church in Angola. It's located near the city of Malange in East Angola, and many of the area's buildings were destroyed during the country's 27-year civil war. The complex included Quéssua United Methodist Church, an elementary school for boys and girls, residences for missionaries and school and hospital administrators, dormitories for students and a hospital, college, school of domestic sciences and theological seminary.

Money raised by Florida Conference churches has already been put to use to help rebuild the church, which is nearing completion, and dig a well, as well as purchase a generator for the Hope of Africa School in Malange, bicycles for 35 pastors, four sewing machines for the Malange Women's Training Center and medicine for the Quéssua Medical Clinic in Malange. Funds have also been set aside to assist with salaries for teachers at the seminary and improvements in the conference's communications ministry.

For more information about the East Angola-Florida Partnership, visit the Florida Conference Web site at or contact the Rev. Dr. Larry Rankin at or 800-282-8011, extension 131.


This article relates to Missions and Outreach.

*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Buchholz is a staff writer for e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.