“We want to thank you, [Rev. Steve Bryant], for being true to your promises,” commented Rev. Diamond Mainsa, Conference Treasurer for the Zambia Annual Conference. Bryant, Mainsa and Rev. Robert Kilembo, Assistant to the Bishop, first met at the South Congo Round Table in 2014 where they discussed the possibility of launching a publishing team in the Zambia Annual Conference.
This week, clergy and laity gathered at The New Life Center in Kitwe, Zambia to fulfill the vision from those initial conversations. In an annual conference with about 80 pastors and over 12,000 members they still lack print material to teach Sunday school, train pastors in Wesleyan theology and practice, to worship together and go deeper in their spiritual life. Kilembo told of his recent visit to the Northwestern Province where he found many pastors without a Bible of their own and one United Methodist pastor using Watchtower, produced by Jehovah’s Witness, to lead children’s Sunday School.
Within two days the team could clearly articulate their need for Bibles and a United Methodist catechism that can be used in Sunday School classes, section (small group) meetings, and with UMW, youth and men’s meetings. These projects will be launched at their annual conference meeting this August. It is an aggressive timeline, but the team is excited to be able to provide United Methodist resources that will quickly begin to give confidence to pastors and bring unity to the lay people.
After the initial day of planning, team members were challenged to envision the books that
they most want to deliver into the hands of pastors and
church members. At the start of the meeting the next morning, every single team member brought the mock-up of his or her desire for resources. The conference youth director and lay member have visions for a youth manual that will address the challenges of youth in the modern age and provide spiritual resources for growth and retreats. One pastor shared his vision for the first United Methodist Worship Book in Zambia that will include liturgies for Holy Communion, Baptism, Confirmation, weddings and funerals, as well as hymns. Mainsa, the Treasurer, envisioned a book of devotions with a clear outline of themes leading persons into deeper relationship with God and greater spiritual maturity.
As we worked together on the four-year publishing plan, these visions made their way into the plan. Timelines have been set. Project coordinators have been named. And the entire process has been celebrated and blessed in song and prayer.
This team launch was enriched by the presence of Rev. Dr. Gift Machinga and Rev. Phillip Musharu, publishing team leaders from Zimbabwe who have been working in this ministry since 2010. Their experience and wisdom were invaluable in the process. They will be available for continued support and trouble-shooting as this new team begins.
The work of these publishing teams around the world continues to inspire me. They renew my faith in God’s abundance, the Holy Spirit’s active movement, and the continued work of Jesus Christ in world through the faithful.