After recovering from surgery in the United States, Bishop Innis returned to Liberia to a full schedule of ministry. Presiding at a communion service for the annual gathering of the United Methodist Women of the Liberia Conference Bishop Innis was able to share the sacrament of Communion with the women of the Conference.
His ministry continued with a quick trip to Ghana. A few days after returning to Liberia, the Rev Dr. John G. Innis Resident Bishop of the Liberia Area of the United Methodist Church started his official episcopal duty by visiting the Buduburam United Methodist Church (BUMC) in Ghana. Established in 1993, the Buduburam UMC was intended to provide a home church away from home for the many Liberian United Methodists who were seeking refuge in Ghana at the time. The BUMC is an affiliate of the Liberia Annual Conference.
According to Bishop Innis, the visit to the church and the many Liberians living in that part of West Africa since the war is part of his episcopal duty. “I came here to ensure you that the United Methodist Church of Liberia and the general UMC is concerned about your welfare in this distant land,” Bishop Innis said. In his message to the congregation of the BUMC during a special service held in his honor, the Resident Bishop challenge members of the church and Liberians in the diaspora to return home and join the process of nation building. “Liberia needs you and your talents for the reconstruction process which has suffered another setback due to the Ebola crisis,” he emphasized.
Speaking on the theme, “Be Thankful” the Liberian prelate encouraged the congregation to remain thankful to God for keeping them safe in good and bad times. “Your survival through these rough years is the work of the Almighty God,” Bishop Innis added. He called on them to allow the spirit of love, unity, and peace, to lead them toward the decision of returning home. He urged them to be at peace with the citizens of their host country, Ghana.
Bishop Innis further thanked the leadership of the Methodist Church of Ghana for assisting BUMC and providing oversight services since its establishment.
For his part, the pastor of the Buduburam UMC, Rev. James Kaifunbah said the visit of
Bishop Innis was timely and a God-destined event in the life of the church. “His message inspired us to keep the faith in the face of adversity as we live in this strange land.” In a telephone interview the pastor confirmed that BUMC members and other Liberians were facing challenges in Ghana and it was now time for them to come home. The Bishop’s request for us to return home and the role of the UMC in helping will be the best thing that will happen to any of us in the refugees camp,” Rev. Kaifunbah concluded.
As part of his oversight responsibilities, Bishop Innis in collaboration with the leadership of the BUMC is initiating plans that will help members of the church to return home after long years of refugee life in Ghana. Rev. Kaifunbah also confirmed that enumeration of members who are willing to return home to Liberia has already started. “We are willing and ready to go if the UMC assists us in getting out of this country,’ he affirmed.
Reporting by E. Julu Swen.