Louisiana Annual Conference is proud to announce its fulfillment of a million dollar pledge to Africa University.
The announcement came during Annual Conference 2017, the same year that marks the 25th anniversary of the founding of Africa University.
"I am delighted to complete the commitment begun so many years ago," said Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey. "I am reminded of my first trip to the continent which included a visit to Africa University. It was a transforming experience for me as it opened my eyes to the global nature of the United Methodist Church."
Louisiana's pledge was originally made during Annual Conference of 2005 under the leadership of Bishop Bill Hutchinson.
At the time, it was a financial commitment that felt completely achievable. "We were at a good point in our Annual Conference's life," recalls Bishop Hutchinson. "People were happy, people were doing well. Resources were good. Folks were paying the apportionments and the idea of a million dollars was not overwhelming."
Bishop Hutchinson remembers two factors that led to the pledge. First, the Biblical teachings to spread the news of Jesus Christ to an area that had no United Methodist Conference institution. Secondly, the work and guidance of the late Nancy Carruth.
Carruth was present in October 1984 when Bishop Emilio De Carvalho of Angola and Bishop Arthur Kulah of Liberia made their historic appeals for The United Methodist Church to establish a university on the continent of Africa. Carruth became an impassioned advocate for the establishment of the new university.
"Nancy Carruth was a great servant of the Louisiana Annual Conference," Hutchinson recalls. "She was a great servant of the church of God. She reached out beyond her local setting of Bunkie, Louisiana into the reaches of the world."
Carruth's son, William M. Tebow, was on hand for the check presentation, along with his wife Joan and Africa University's Dr. James Salley, Associate Vice Chancellor for Institutional Advancement.
The million dollar pledge was not without its journey, having been made just prior to the landfall of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and in the midst of a constrained budget.
Rev. Dr. Van Stinson, Assistant to the Bishop and Director of Clergy Excellence, explained from the podium of the Gold Dome, "This was a pledge made and a promise kept. In 2014, thanks to the faithfulness of United Methodists throughout Louisiana, the conference began making annual payments of $200,000 with a goal of fulfilling the pledge in 2018," he said. "Other disasters have come and other challenges have presented themselves. Budget concerns always seemed to be the loud, though silent, voice in every meeting, at every table, impacting every decision. Fear, anxiety, and uncertainty could have certainly had the final say."
However, at their spring meeting, the Conference Council on Finance and Administration took a bold step in adopting a proposed budget that included fulfilling the $1 million pledge to Africa University one year ahead of schedule to coincide with Africa University's 25th anniversary.
A pledge made, a promise kept.
"While this completes our commitment of 2005," says Bishop Harvey. "It, in no way, completes our ongoing commitment to this amazing institution that continues to change the lives of so many across Africa and the world.