The United Methodist Church in Liberia recently decommissioned its episcopal residence and property for use by the United Methodist University of Liberia, which plans to use the property to expand its graduate school.
E JULU SWEN
- The property will be used by the United Methodist University’s Graduate School of Professional Studies.
- Retired bishops Arthur F. Kulah and John G. Innis lived in the residence during their terms.
- Dr. Yar Donlah Gonway-Gono, UMU president, said the facility would be developed with help from university partners to ensure that Liberians receive quality education.
August 3, 2022 | MONROVIA, Liberia – The United Methodist Church in Liberia recently decommissioned its episcopal residence and the entire property for use by the United Methodist University of Liberia’s Graduate School of Professional Studies.
“After serving the church for 29 years,” Bishop Samuel J. Quire Jr., Liberia Episcopal Area, said, “this building is now decommissioned from being an episcopal residence to an educational facility of the Liberia Annual Conference, where the UMU will now operate its graduate school.”
He indicated that decommissioning the building was The United Methodist Church’s way of helping the Liberian government to make education available to all Liberians, especially young people.
In an interview with United Methodist News, Retired Bishop Arthur F. Kulah said the building was purchased by the annual conference during the Liberia civil war in fulfillment of the conference decision. “The conference,” he said, “passed a resolution during the tenure of retired Bishop Bennie D. Warner not to rent any house for their bishop to live in.”
Kulah, the first bishop to reside in the building, said it was acquired through a grant from the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries during the Liberian civil war in the 1990s. The house and the land on which it is located were paid for separately by the conference.
“The money for the land was paid from my episcopal salary with the intention that the Liberia Annual Conference was going to refund my money,” he noted.
He indicated that the money was not refunded because he told the conference at the time that it was his contribution to The United Methodist Church in Liberia. “I wanted the acquisition of the property to be part of my legacy in the church,” Kulah said.
Dr. Yar Donlah Gonway-Gono, UMU president, assured Bishop Quire that the facility would be developed with help from university partners to ensure that Liberians receive quality education.
“You are all aware,” she said, “that The United Methodist Church in Liberia is noted for its persistent role in providing quality education for our people.”
Gonway-Gono pointed out that the property was an added advantage in helping the university as it seeks to expand the graduate school beyond theological studies. “We are going to diversify our graduate studies program to include business, education and health sciences,” she added.
The Rev. Jerry Kulah, vice president of the graduate school, said he is in discussion with several partners of the school including the Knoll Foundation, which is currently supporting the work of the graduate school for property development. “It will cost $1.5 million USD to fully develop the graduate school, which will now be known as the Graduate School of Professional Studies,” he said. The theological college of the graduate school will still bear the name of former Bishop John G. Innis.
The decommissioned episcopal residence is the second property that the Liberia Annual Conference has ceded to UMU since the arrival of Gonway-Gono. The building was the home of retired Bishops Arthur F. Kulah and John G. Innis. When Quire was elected bishop, he indicated that he would not move into the 29-year-old building, which needs extensive repairs. The building has not yet been renovated.
~E Julu Swen is a United Methodist communicator based in Liberia.