Special Report: United Methodist Council of Bishops
Vol. 1 Number 1 Nov. 1, 2006
United Methodist Bishops Gather in Mozambique for First
Meeting Outside U.S.
Individually and in groups, United Methodist bishops from
around the world arrived over the past few days for the
first full Council of Bishops’ meeting to be held outside
United States’ territory. The meeting begins today.
With a delegation of 170, including bishops, general
secretaries, spouses, and staff, the Council has filled the
Hotel Avenida in downtown Maputo.
Bishops and spouses exchanged warm greetings and hugs
throughout the luncheon and dinner hours Tuesday as they
filled the dining room.
Some bishops received a special greeting as they arrived at
Maputo’s international airport on the outskirts of the
city. Local United Methodists surrounded them with song
after they were processed by Mozambique customs officials.
Tuesday, Oct. 31 was a warm and humid day with the
temperature above the 90 degree Fahrenheit mark. More of
the same is expected for the rest of the week, local
forecasters said. Maputo is located on the Indian Ocean on
Africa’s east coast.
Bishops Meet with President of Mozambique;
Share Focus on Eliminating Poverty in African Nation
United Methodist bishops from around the globe met with
Mozambique president Armando Emilio Guebuza in
his office on Tuesday, Oct. 31.
The 11-member delegation spent more than a half-hour with
the president in Maputo, Mozambique’s capital, the day
before their semiannual meeting is due to begin.
Bishop Janice Riggle Huie of Houston, president of the
Council, told the Mozambique leader the church has a deep
commitment to his country and to Africa. She introduced
each of the bishops to Guebuza. Most of the bishops’
conferences have a direct ministry connection with
Host Bishop Joao Somane Machado, who has had a long,
cordial relationship with the president, said the visit is
significant in Mozambique.
“The president was happy to know the United Methodist
Church is linking with United Methodists here, and we are
linked to the broader church,” Machado said. “We bring
strength to Mozambique. The bishops’ coming here sends a
Machado said the president told the group his government’s
priorities fit with the church’s priorities.
“The government works closely, in partnership with churches
to tackle poverty,” Machado said.
The Presbyterian president was elected in a peaceful
election two years ago, Machado said. “We changed
governments and not a shot was fired. It is something to be
truly proud of.”
The meeting took place in the president’s reception room, a
bright, airy space inside the presidential compound in
downtown Maputo. Dressed in a bright blue suit with red
tie, and wearing his trademark red AIDS pin, Guebuzza
warmly greeted each of the bishop, gripping some of the
bishops’ hand with both of his.
The bishops’ visit came on a significant day for
Mozambique. Later Tuesday, the president was to preside
over a ceremony finalizing the transfer of the huge Cahora
Bassa hydroelectric dam on the Zambezi river from Portugal
to the Mozambique government. The dam produces electricity
for Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe. After 470 years
of colonial Portuguese rule, Mozambique gained its
independence in 1975.
In addition to Huie and Machado, other bishops in the
delegation included: Gregory Vaughn Palmer of Des Moines,
Iowa; Peter D. Weaver, or Boston; John G. Innis of Libera,
Jose Quipungo of Angola; Roy I. Sano of Washington, D.C.;
Solito Toquero of the Philippines; Ann B. Sherer of
Columbia, Mo.; Violet Fisher of Syracuse, N.Y., and A.
Fritz Mutti of Kansas City, Mo.
Mozambique President to Open Bishops’ Meeting in Maputo
Today’s opening worship will have a definite presidential
flavor to it as Mozambique President Armando Emilio Guebuza
is expected to attend and offer greetings to nearly 80
bishops from around the globe.
The worship service will be held at a civic center in
Maputo, Mozambique’s capital.
Mozambique Fact Check
Land area: 302,737 sq mi (784,089 sq km); total
area: 309,496 sq mi (801,590 sq km)
Population (2006 est.): 19,686,505; life
expectancy: 39.8; density per sq mi: 65
Capital and largest city (2003 est.): Maputo,
Languages: Portuguese 9% (official; second
language of 27%), Emakhuwa 26%, Xichangana 11%, Elomwe 8%,
Cisena 7%, Echuwabo 6%, other Mozambican languages 32%
Ethnicity/race: indigenous tribal groups 99.66%
(Shangaan, Chokwe, Manyika, Sena, Makua, and others),
Europeans 0.06%, Euro-Africans 0.2%, Indians 0.08%
Literacy rate: 48% (2003 est.)
Economic summary: Gross Domestic Production (2005
est.): $25.66 billion; per capita $1,300. Natural
resources: coal, titanium, natural gas, hydropower,
tantalum, graphite. Exports: aluminum, prawns, cashews,
cotton, sugar, citrus, timber; bulk electricity.
Major trading partners: Netherlands, South Africa,
Malawi, Portugal.(press release from UMCOM)