Nigerian, Eurasian bishops join Class of 2012
United Methodists, gathered in Lithuania and Nigeria this fall, added Bishop John Wesley Yohanna and Bishop Eduard Khegay to The United Methodist Church's episcopal class of 2012. Mid-December brought more additions to the episcopal roll with elections in the Philippines. The elections had not been completed at Interpreter's deadline.
Bishop John Wesley Yohanna
New Bishop John Wesley Yohanna (left) waves to supporters following his election in Nigeria in October. He leads the Nigeria Episcopal Area.
Elected on Oct. 6, Yohanna, 49, succeeds Bishop Arthur Kulah, who was recalled from retirement about five years ago to lead the Nigeria Episcopal Area.
"I have a huge responsibility resting on my shoulders," Yohanna said. "It is to pursue peace as articulated by the West Africa Central Conference theme ('Seek Peace and Pursue It'). I need to serve the people of The United Methodist Church in Nigeria and show servanthood leadership to ensure transparency in every transaction that I make and picking everybody along the peace and development process."
Before his election, Yohanna was the administrative assistant to the bishop of the Nigeria Episcopal Area. He has also been a district superintendent, a pastor and a conference staff member.
Bishop Eduard Khegay
Bishop Eduard Khegay begins service as episcopal leader of the Eurasia Area in January. He is the first United Methodist bishop to have been born in the former Soviet Union.
Delegates to the Northern Europe and Eurasia Central Conference elected Khegay, 42, on Oct. 19. On Jan. 1, he was to succeed retiring Bishop Hans Växby as the new leader of the Eurasia Area, which stretches across 11 time zones and spans Russia, Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, Kazahkstan and other former Soviet republics.
The first bishop to be born in the former Soviet Union, Khegay says his "mission is to inspire people to become Christlike and [to] develop into (their) full God-given potential to serve God and people." He has been a pastor, teacher, district superintendent and director of international relations for the Center for Church Leadership in Central Asia. He played a major role in launching Mesto Vstrechi, the Russian edition of The Upper Room daily devotion guide.
Adapted from United Methodist News Service reports by Phileas Jusu, United Methodist communicator in Sierra Leone; Elliott Wright, freelance writer in New York; and Heather Hahn, UMNS multimedia reporter, Nashville, Tenn.