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Bradenton church accepts challenge to help East Angolan children

Bradenton church accepts challenge to help East Angolan children

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Bradenton church accepts challenge to help East Angolan children

Dec. 2, 2005  News media contact: Tita Parham*  
800-282-8011   Orlando {0406}

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

BRADENTON — Bishop José Quipungo (second from right, middle) of the East Angola Conference and Francisco Cautama (left, back) and Alcides Martins (second from left, middle), the two students from Angola who are studying at Florida Southern College as part of the partnership between the Florida and East Angola conferences,  visit with the Revs. Steve (back, right) and Catherine Price (left) at their home during Quipungo's trip to Florida. Photo courtesy of the Rev. Steve Price. Photo #05-283.

BRADENTON — In the world of churches, guest preachers are a nice change of pace, but when a bishop from another country graces the pulpit and casts a vision members of the congregation eagerly embrace, that's extraordinary.

That's what happened at Harvest United Methodist Church Oct. 23 when Bishop José Quipungo delivered the sermon during worship services at the Bradenton church.

Quipungo presides over the East Angola Conference of The United Methodist Church. He made a brief appearance in Florida to attend the East Angola-Florida Conference Partnership meeting in Lakeland before heading to Lake Junaluska, N.C., for the Council of Bishops meeting. Quipungo stayed with the Revs. Steve and Catherine Fluck Price, co-pastors of Harvest United Methodist Church, a congregation of about 600 members that began in 1997 and moved into its building a year and a half ago.

The East Angola and Florida conferences formed a partnership in February 2003 after a three-person team from Florida visited East Angola. The partnership was initiated as part of the Council of Bishops' Hope for the Children of Africa, and each year the Florida Conference raises money for projects in East Angola through offerings collected at the annual conference event.

Price said he was thrilled to have the opportunity to spend time with Quipungo. "It was fantastic, very inspiring, for people to hear his story," he said.

The story of Harvest United Methodist Church and the East Angola Conference began earlier this year when the church viewed a DVD from Florida Conference staff announcing an offering for children in Angola and Florida would be collected at the "One Body One Spirit" 2005 Florida Annual Conference Event. The DVDs were sent to all conference churches to help them interpret the partnership between the two conferences.

Harvest United Methodist Church raised more than $6,000 for the offering, but Price felt the church was being called to have a deeper, more meaningful relationship with East Angola and to do even more. He felt members would answer that call if opportunities and possibilities presented themselves. They did.

Price learned the orphanage in Malange, East Angola, could house an additional 25 children beyond the 25 already living there if it had additional funding. Then, Quipungo challenged the congregation during his sermon to continue moving forward and not become complacent with what they had already accomplished.

That opportunity and Quipungo's challenge inspired Price to tell the congregation about the dream he had for them — that 50 families would make the financial commitment of $1 a day, or $365 a year, to provide additional funding for the orphanage.

That dream became a reality 48 hours after the church's two worship services, when all the pledges were received. Seventy-four families agreed to make the financial commitment.

"We want to have that personal connection with people ... to really have an impact on the lives of people," Price said.

Now, Price has the pleasure of contacting Quipungo and asking him if the orphanage would like to house additional children.

"The more you share the story, the more people can catch the vision for doing something more," he said. "The partnership between the two conferences begins to take on an increased level of importance. We are doing something to make an impact."

Price said other churches can also make a greater difference. A delegation of seven clergy and laity from the Florida Conference will be traveling to East Angola for 10 days in March 2006 to learn about additional opportunities for Florida United Methodists. Price will be part of the group.

"I'm excited and eager to go and learn and see and be with the people," he said. "It's one of my passions, reaching across cultural boundaries. I'm really looking forward to being there."

A focus of Florida's efforts has been helping the East Angola Conference rebuild Quéssua, an area located near Malange that was once a thriving missionary and spiritual center of The United Methodist Church in Angola. Many of the center'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 the Florida Conference at annual conference events will be used to help rebuild Quéssua's structures. Work is already nearing completion on the church.


This article relates to Missions and the East Angola-Florida Conference Partnership.

*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.