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Indiana, Sierra Leone conference leaders explore covenant relationship

Bishop John Yambasu of Sierra Leone INDIANAPOLIS – Representative of Operation Classroom, the Indiana Conference Mission Team and Bishop Mike Coyner met in Indianapolis Oct. 26 with United Methodist Bishop John Yambasu of Sierra Leone to explore the possibility of a covenant relationship between the Indiana and Sierra Leone conferences.

The Rev. LeKisha Reed, associate director of the Indiana Conference Mission and Advocacy Team, explained that a covenant relationship is a relationship in which all the projects of the two conferences are involved together and brought under one umbrella. She also provided to the group existing covenants between other U.S. conferences and conference overseas known as Central Conferences.

Coyner emphasized that such a relationship is a partnership going two ways. In this case, Hoosier United Methodists would continue to work on projects in Sierra Leone through Operation Classroom/Operation Doctor; and United Methodists from Sierra Leone would contribute their experience to United Methodists in Indiana.

The United Methodist Church of Sierra Leone has more than 300 primary schools and 30 secondary schools. Operation Classroom is currently in partnership with around 20 of the schools.

Yambasu explained that the Sierra Leone Conference is working on a 2020 Vision for Sierra Leone which was introduced by him during its annual conference session in March 2012.

During the dinner meeting, Yambasu also expressed a great appreciation for Indiana churches and Operation Classroom in rebuilding schools after the 1990s civil wars.

Leaders of Operation Classroom, Indiana Conference Mission Team and Coyner will continue to work with Yambasu and hope to bring a plan for such a covenant relationship to the 2013 Indiana Annual Conference Session in June.

This past month, Bishop Yambasu also met with Hoosiers at an Operation Classroom Rally in New Castle Oct. 28 and made other visits across the state. Unfortunately, he had to cancel Saturday meetings Oct. 27 in Columbus, Bloomington and Lebanon due to his health.