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Hands on Social Principles

Nyarota in Kenya

The Rev. Lloyd Nyarota (standing), Africa organizer at the General Board of Church & Society, talks with attendees at a Social Principles workshop sponsored by the East Africa Conference in Naivasha, Kenya. Nyarota was a featured presenter at the workshop.

Tackling the problems that afflict the lives of people is perhaps the most challenging situation anyone can think of. A question such as “Who is responsible?” always comes up, but no completely appropriate answer can be realized. Everyone seems to run away from the social principle that because God bestowed such love on us, we are to care and to respect one another.

Because God bestowed such love on us, we are to care and to respect one another

A team of leaders from The United Methodist Church in the East Africa Episcopal Area has undergone training on the best Social Principles practices where duties of stewardship and interventions to improve the lives of the people in their communities shall be realized.

The training was held in Naivasha, Kenya, with support from the General Board of Church & Society (GBCS). Countries of Uganda and Kenya were the first to come on board.

“This training was to identify initial leaders on the ground with the help of local leaders themselves,” explained the Rev. Lloyd Nyarota, GBCS Africa organizer. “We started a process of becoming sensitive to issues happening in our societies and recognizing the responsibility of the Church and its members towards responsible social, economic and political lifestyle.

“Time is now for the Church especially in Africa to become innovative with a new approach to basic rights of access to food, shelter, clothing, education, health, peace and justice, communication and employment among others.”

Kenya’s focus

Participants in the training agreed on plans to guide in the identifying not only of needs but also of assets: What is working and why, and then monitoring and evaluating specific needs in their communities.

Kenya shall be implementing new peace and justice projects.

Kenya shall be implementing new peace and justice projects. Issues such as civic education and national-election observation shall be addressed. This is because the country will next year conduct national elections.

Members pointed to the need for the Church to promote peace in the forthcoming elections. The previous elections caught them unaware and a big number of their congregations were displaced because of civil violence. Some died. Property was destroyed during post-election violence.

“The United Methodist Church in Kenya will form new country peace forums that will be conducted in 47 counties where the Church is worshipping,” Nyarota said. “The Church will work closely with the local authority and partner churches to contribute toward peaceful elections.”

Nyarota said this will be done through working with other ecumenical organizations in Kenya. They will also make an effort to meet with the All Africa Conference of Churches leadership to discuss ways of working together and cooperating as well as financing this work.

Uganda’s focus

“Uganda shall focus on poverty alleviation, illiteracy, malaria and HIV/AIDS,” Nyarota said. “Under poverty, the plan focuses on modern agricultural production where several community cooperatives shall be established to realize value addition, market bargain, and practice of saving, budgeting and investment.”

These cooperatives will work with Uganda government agricultural extension workers who are working in different communities. They will start working in those communities where The United Methodist Church has pastors and government agricultural extension workers.

The team will work with agricultural extension officers at village level, hold training and workshops on microfinance and better methods of farming, according to Nyarota.

In Uganda, Nyarota said The United Methodist Church is already working on micro-financing with some of its partner conferences in the United States.

Programs are planned on malaria and HIV/AIDS:

  • Counseling programs for married and unmarried youths shall be established;
  • A new technology of SMS life-saving messages on phones, such as use of bed nets, anti-retroviral drugs, hygiene, sanitation and clean, safe water among others shall be used.

“The team will work with government health officers and non-governmental organizationss to sensitize the people on the need for behavior change,” Nyarota said.

United Methodist Communications

“They are already setting up the SMS life-saving massages working with United Methodist Communications. So they are planning to implement this program already.”

East Africa Episcopal Area comprises two annual conferences: Burundi and East Africa reaching five sovereign countries. The countries are Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda.

The Episcopal Area has had challenges to governance. All five countries have experienced civil wars. Other challenges are poor roads, poor communication network, bad infrastructure, diseases and, of course, aftershocks of wars.

The Episcopal Area also has an excellent geographical location endowed with natural resources such as lakes, rivers, mountains, forests, animals and waterfalls.

The training in Kenya generated some knowledge and understanding of how our general agencies like the General Board of Church & Society work and do their ministry.

There is hope that the participants will be active in social-justice ministry in their respective communities. We also hope they will keep being connected so that they will work on countrywide plans for their social-justice ministry.

The work of an organizer consultant based in Africa is facilitating necessary connections and mentoring of Africa leaders in social justice ministry.

Editor’s note: Grace Nakajje is East Africa Conference Communicator. She is based in Kampala, Uganda.

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