Pastoral Letter on Cote d'Ivoire


Dear friends in Christ,
I am aware that we are all carrying a pretty long prayer list right now especially about national and global matters. Economic woes, natural disasters, fear of radiation, political upheaval in nation after nation. I have received the following request for our prayers and an update from West Africa and invite you to join in stretching ourselves once again in prayer. Thank you. Blessings and Peace.
Gregory V. Palmer
Bishop Benjamin Boni has asked for prayers for the people of Cote d’Ivoire, for The United Methodist Church in Cote d’Ivoire, and for its leaders and people.    As you may be hearing from the media, Cote d’Ivoire is on the verge of a civil war over the disputed election of its president.  The out-going president, Mr. Gbabo, has refused to step down in the face of fair, impartial elections in which the clear winner is Mr. Outtarra.  Violence has escalated significantly in the last 24 hours.
The UMC compound which contains the Episcopal Residence, radio station, conference offices, and Jubilee UMC is in close proximity to the Presidential Residence.  Gunfire is already occurring in the area.  Reverend Cynthia Harvey, Deputy General Secretary of UMCOR, spoke with Bishop Boni earlier today as well as with another conference leader.  In addition, Tim Tanton of UMCOM has also been in touch with conference leaders and continues to offer prayers and support on behalf of the people of the United Methodist Church.
Currently, Bishop Boni and his family and Bishop Boni’s assistant are being moved to a safer place. Some believe that President Gbagbo will leave office and that this will soon be over.  The five communicators of the radio station have locked themselves inside the radio station and they are still broadcasting messages of Christ’s love and hope. Pastors and people are locking themselves in their homes as the two factions engage. Four UMC congregations are taking Internally Displaced Persons.
Prior to this most recent crisis, UMCOR had already sent funds to help the church care for the thousands of Internally Displaced Persons and for food for children attending UMC schools.  We stand ready to do more as soon as the best course of action becomes clearer. UMCOM is also maintaining close contact with the leaders in our radio station.   Please check the UMC website for UMCOM updates and UMCOR for additional updates.  I’ll keep you updated as well as I can.
Please pray for Bishop Boni and the people of Cote d’Ivoire.