Bishop Samuel Quire recently spent three days sharing his ministry vision in the Michigan Area.
Senior Editor-Writer, Michigan Area
Bishop Samuel Quire, leader of the Liberia Conference was in Michigan last month for the first time since his election to the episcopacy last December. The Detroit Conference has been in a covenant relationship with Liberia since 1997. Bishop Quire’s visit focused on his vision for God’s people whom he shepherds.
Rochester: St. Paul’s, Grand Rapids: Northlawn, and Midland: First United Methodist churches were on the September 25-27 itinerary. Bishop Quire also participated in a Liberia Task Force meeting hosted at the Area Ministry Center in Lansing on September 27.
Before becoming a bishop, Quire served as the Administrative Assistant to two of his predecessors, Bishops John Innis and Arthur Kulah. He also served as the founding Director of the Bishop Judith Craig Children’s Village.
MIConnect was present at the session in Grand Rapids where the Rev. Duane Miller, member of the Liberia Task Force, announced that the team is expanding to include members of the West Michigan Conference. The Revs. Bill Haggard and Eric Mulanda are now seated on the Task Force.
“The work of a bishop in Africa is very, very challenging,” Quire began. “There are just too many needs that are difficult to meet in the midst of scarcity and lack of resources to do the work you have to do.” Fourteen years of civil war took major toll on the infrastructure and people of the nation. Today much of the country is without clean water and electricity.
Despite the challenges, Bishop Quire noted that his goal is to develop a vibrant church in Liberia, “a church that is Christ-centered and self-sustainable.” He believes the key to vibrancy and prosperity is agriculture. “The church has a lot of land that has been lying for 100 years. Food production will help grow the Annual Conference.” The Bishop is encouraging rural churches across Liberia to “go back to the soil to get money in their pockets.” He would welcome Volunteers in Mission visiting Liberia in order to teach farming techniques.
Improvements to the health care and educational systems are also among Bishop Quire’s priorities. “We want to put vocational skills at the center of the church school program,” he said. He also reported that the United Methodist University is being relocated. The Liberia Annual Conference looks to its partners for scholarship help with school fees, elementary ($150 a year) through university ($300 a year).
Bishop Quire placed the focus on hope. “Once you have a United Methodist Church in a village there is hope because a lot of things will come. A well. Toilets. A school will spring up.” Asked where he sees the greatest hope, Quire’s answer was, “I see hope in the people’s receiving of the Gospel.”
The Bishop was accompanied by Rev. Albert Barchue, a former D.S. in Liberia who now pastors a church in the Marquette District. Barchue also serves on the Liberia Task Force. Bishop Quire explained that Albert often walked 5-6 hours to visit churches in his care. “Sometimes he had to get in a canoe to get to the next church.” Quire called the pastors in Liberia, “foot soldiers of the gospel” who often get nothing at the end of the month. Duane Miller noted that the Liberia Task Force is working on salary support and pension for these rural pastors.
Pastor Barchue told the group that roughly 80% of education and health institutions in Liberia are church owned. His observation: “The church in the United States is involved in charity but people don’t look up to the church here in the same way they do in Liberia.”
He explained that worship in his country celebrates God as Protector. “Who did it for you? It was God! Most have no bank account, life insurance, or refrigerator. They may not have a meal for tomorrow but they trust in God to provide.”
Bishop Quire took the opportunity to thank the Rev. Bill Haggard for a Grand Rapids District fundraising effort that provided a truck for the Superintendent of the Lofa District.
He expressed joy that the new Michigan Conference will now get to know about Liberia, as other saints across the State have done. “People do not give up on Liberia,” Quire said. “Liberia is blessed. God loves the people in Liberia.”