On June 1, 2021, the Africa Region started the anniversary year, which the UEM will celebrate starting in June under the motto "United in Mission," with a UEM Week. In a digital event lasting about three hours, which was broadcast and can be viewed on the UEM YouTube channel here, the Africa Region celebrated 25 years of the UEM with a biblical reflection, numerous musical contributions, prayers, a minute of remembrance for the pioneers of the UEM, video messages from the African member churches, and greetings from Asia and Germany. In addition, numerous greetings, congratulations and expressions of solidarity from the audience from all over the world were received in the chat that ran along with the event. The event was organized by the Africa department from the regional office of UEM in Dar-es-Salaam (Tanzania) and the office in Wuppertal. UEM Moderator, Rev Dr Willem Simarmata, UEM Management Team members, congregation choirs, individual churches and UEM Co-workers were all appreciated by African church leaders for their valuable inputs to the UEM celebrations in Africa region. The event was hosted by the UEM member ELCT-ECD. Members of Africa Regional Board actively participated to the event through UEM greetings/testimonials, reports, intercession prayers and interaction between participants.
Numerous church leaders of the 15 UEM member churches in seven African countries as well as African members of regional and supra-regional governing bodies of the UEM emphasized the importance of today's international fellowship of Protestant churches and the von Bodelschwingh Foundations Bethel in that every African member church today is itself a responsible and self-confident member of the United Evangelical Mission.
In the statements of the contributors, this responsibility was concretized, for example, with the execution of events and implementation of numerous programs and projects within the region as well as the exchange with members of the Asia and Germany regions. In addition, further importance is attached to the support of the UEM within the framework of the aid for the service of the churches. This is complemented by the promotion of numerous projects of the churches, which they launch with a view to the many challenges in their respective countries. Reference was made here to the two current examples of the organization-wide campaign "United against Covid-19" and solidarity in disaster situations, such as most recently with the eruption of the Nyiragongo volcano in Goma (DR Congo).
It was also mentioned that the African region was an important arena in the initial phase of the international UEM: In 1993, the all-important General Assembly took place in Ramatea (Botswana). Here, with the adoption of the new constitution by the future member churches, the foundation stone was laid for the transformation of a German mission into an international church communion with African, Asian and German members.
In their solemn speeches, the African church leaders also pledged to assume more financial responsibility for the UEM in the future. This could be done, for example, through the "United Action" fundraising campaign launched in Africa and Asia. Another possibility for financial participation has proven to be the assumption of accommodation and transport costs for international committee meetings as host church(es).
In addition, expectations were placed on church leaders - not only in Africa - to recruit more highly qualified graduates of the fellowship program in the future and to mutually recognize ordination across all theological differences among the 38 Protestant member churches of the UEM.
The Asia Region member churches will mark the 25th anniversary of the UEM on June 4, 2021, with a hybrid event in Jakarta, Indonesia. The Germany region has postponed the anniversary celebrations until 2022, following the next General Assembly in Bethel (Germany).
Martina Pauly (UEM spokesperson)
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