Methodist African woman bishop makes history

By agency reporter
July 24, 2008

The Rev Joaquina Filipe Nhanala was elected on 23 July 2008 as the first female United Methodist bishop in Africa, reports UMNS.

Nhanala, aged 51, the pastor of Matola United Methodist Church in Mozambique, was elected during the 22-24 July 2008 meeting of the denomination's Africa Central Conference at Africa University in Mutare, Zimbabwe.

Effective from 1 September, she will succeed Bishop João Somane Machado, who is retiring as the leader of the Mozambique area.

Besides serving a large church in Matola, a suburb of Maputo, Nhanala has coordinated women's projects for the Mozambique church and led a World Relief HIV/AIDS programme designed to mobilize churches for education and advocacy in Mozambique's three southern provinces. Nhanala and the programme were featured in the 2004 Bread for the World video, "Keep the Promise on Hunger and Health."

Among those celebrating her election were members of the denomination's Missouri Annual (regional) Conference and its Mozambique Initiative ministry, which connects churches, groups and individuals in Missouri with partner United Methodist congregations and districts in Mozambique to strengthen the church there.

"We in the Missouri Conference have had a long relationship with Rev Joaquina Nhanala, providing assistance for her to attend the clergywomen's event in California several years ago, working together in workshops around women's issues in Mozambique, and as a pastor of a covenant partner church, Matola UMC in Mozambique," said Carol Kreamer, coordinator for the Mozambique Initiative.

The new bishop also facilitated the Mozambique Initiative's consultation with 200 participants in Maputo in 2003. "Bishop Nhanala is capable, bright and dedicated and we look forward to collaborating in mission and ministry together," Kreamer added.

With acknowledgments to the United Methodist News Service

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