Members of a new United Methodist church community gather in Antsiazopaniry, some 50 kilometers from Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar. Though only officially a church for a year, United Methodism is taking hold in the island nation. Photo by João Filimone Sambo, UM News.
By João Filimone Sambo
Sept. 3, 2019 | ANTANANARIVO, Madagascar (UM News)
The large island of Madagascar, located between the Mozambique Channel and western Asia, is a fertile ground for evangelism and the establishment of United Methodism through education.
The country, with an estimated population of about 26 million, is currently under the responsibility of the Mozambique Episcopal Area, where Bishop Joaquina Filipe Nhanala is the resident bishop.
Recently, a representative from the bishop’s office visited the country to assess the development of the church and to meet with spiritual leaders.
“Our existence as a community of faith dates back to 2017,” said Jean Aime Ratovohery, one of the co-founders and leaders of The United Methodist Church in Madagascar. “This is the result of internet research on potential churches with doctrinal, social and practical principles that were consistent with the morals and practices of the Malagasy (natives of Madagascar) people.”
The church was officially recognized by the government on March 7, 2018, and Ratovohery said there are already more than 200 followers in two communities.
One of the places where they gather is at the Alpha Primary School, located in a poor urban area of the capital city, Antananarivo.
The community, which meets at the school every Sunday afternoon, ranges from 50 to 80 members. Here, people from various places, children and adults, come to Sunday services to hear the Word proclaimed and praise the Lord.