Oct 08

John Wesley Yohanna elected bishop of Nigeria Area

By Phileas Jusu*

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (UMNS) — The Rev. John Wesley Yohanna of the Mungo Dosso area in Nigeria has been  elected a United Methodist bishop by delegates of the West Africa Central Conference. Yohanna, 49, succeeds Bishop Arthur Kulah who was recalled from retirement about five years ago to lead the Nigeria Episcopal Area.

The Nigeria Episcopal Area encompasses three annual (regional) conferences — the Central Nigeria, the Northern Nigeria and Southern Nigeria annual conferences.

Bishop John Wesley Yohanna is consecrated Oct. 7 at King Memorial United Methodist Church in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Yohanna is a new bishop of the Nigeria Episcopal Area. UMNS web-only photos by Phileas Jusu.

“I have a huge responsibility resting on my shoulders,” Yohanna said. “It is to pursue peace as articulated by 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,” said Yohanna.

Yohanna was elected Oct. 6 at Bishop Baughman Memorial United Methodist Church on the first ballot with 57 votes of the 65 clergy and laity delegates from the four nations that form the West Africa Central Conference — Cote D’Ivoire, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and the seventh most populous worldwide, according to the CIA World Factbook. Half of the nation’s roughly 170 million people are Muslim, while 40 percent are Christian. That religious division has been a source of violence in recent years.

“Since my election Saturday night, I have received several calls from non-Christians congratulating me on my election victory, and they are looking forward to working with me as the bishop of The United Methodist Church. With the foundation already laid by General Board of Church and Society workshops, we will be able to continue with interfaith dialogue in our Episcopal Area,” Yohanna said.

Challenges facing Nigeria

Nigeria faces other challenges. As of 2009, the country had the world’s second highest number of people — 3.3 million — living with HIV and AIDS.

“I will work hard to restore the functionality of the hospitals and health centers within the episcopal area,” he said. “We need skilled volunteers, sufficient medical equipment and drugs to keep our medical institutions running. Once we have the machinery in place, we would be ready to combat malaria and HIV effectively.”

Beside this, malaria has taken its toll on Nigerian rural and suburban population. The 2012 Malaria Consortium report indicate that 2,969,950 cases were reported in 2007 out of which 10,289 died.

Bishop Yohanna waves to the cheering crowd as he joins the west African bishops and the presiding bishop, Julius Trimble, (right) after his election.

Yohanna has to help glue together the leadership of three annual conferences. There have been internecine fights among various church leadership caucuses.

Those squabbles affected the West Africa Central Conference gathering. Only one annual conference in the Nigeria Episcopal Area — the Central Nigeria Conference — sent delegates to the gathering.

A communique signed by the 13 absent delegates titled “TOTAL BOYCOTT OF THE NORTHERN AND SOUTHERN NIGERIA ANNUAL CONFERENCE DELEGATES TO THE 2012 WEST AFRICAN CENTRAL CONFERENCE” reads in part: “Any attempt to impose or elect anybody on our behalf will not be acceptable to us in the interest of peace, unity, justice and fairness”.

The release cited a flawed process leading to the nomination of episcopal candidates, unresolved boundary demarcation disputes and doubt over the fairness of Bishop Arthur Kulah in the process as key among other reasons for the boycott.

Wants to build bridges

Yohanna said he will seek to build bridges with supporters of the boycott.

“I will engage everybody in having dialogues with all stakeholders, and these are the common people in the church whose voices have been drowned for too long,” he said. “In the church of Jesus Christ, we learnt a leadership model from Master Jesus. Christ came to reach those at the bottom to bring them to the top as evidenced in the scripture that says ‘if I am lifted up, I will draw people to myself’ (John 12:32).”

In a similar vein, Yohanna said leadership is not thinking of being at the apex, but it is about the people at the base. It is about offering more privileges to the less fortunate.

In the West Africa Central Conference, like the United States, a bishop is elected for life on his or her first election.

Before his election, Yohanna was the administrative assistant to the bishop of the Nigeria Episcopal Area. He was district superintendent in the Central Nigeria Annual Conference from 2005 to 2010. He has served in several positions in the Central Nigeria Annual Conference including director, Council on Ministries; secretary, Board of Ordained Ministry and a pastor at Saladuna and Piribi local churches. He was also an instructor at Ahmadu Bello University at Zaria-Banyam Theological Seminary from 1991 to1993.

Born to staunch Evangelical United Brethren parents, Yohanna spent his formative years in the Karim Lamido local government area of Taraba State, Nigeria.

The Evangelical United Brethren missionaries had a lasting impact on his parents, and they handed down to him and his siblings an unshakeable faith. He draws inspiration from the name John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement, and this has seen him through his faith journey fraught with various challenges from persecutions in the church and threats of arrests. God held him with God’s victorious right hand, the bishop said.

“My prayer for Nigeria Episcopal Area is to restore peace in the Nigeria UMC by going to the people, discussing with the people and finding solutions together with the people,” he said.

Another issue Yohanna discussed was to restore the church’s various ministries, namely aviation, education, agriculture and medical.

Furthermore, Yohanna hopes to improve visibility by increasing membership of The United Methodist Church in a predominantly Muslim area by reaching out to the eastern and western parts of Nigeria, even in Abuja, the federal capital of Nigeria.

“I pray that all the UMC boards and agencies will come to our aid at this juncture in the history of our church to move us from the lower rung of the ladder in order for us to reach the mountaintop in all our ministries,” he said.

Yohanna was consecrated Sunday, Oct. 7, at King Memorial United Methodist Church in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

*Jusu is a United Methodist communicator based in Sierra Leone.

News media contact: Tim Tanton, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.


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  1. Mudulus. M. Shago

    I personally congratulate John Wesley Yohanna for his recent election as the New bishop of the United methodist church in Nigeria. May God be his Stronghold in his service to God and Humanity. Let him embrace the whole comferences and preach Peace, Unity and harmony . “United We Stand“, Divided we fall.

  2. Ande

    I am an ordained United Methodist pastor from Nigeria currently doing a graduate program in the US. I really appreciate God for the success of this election and pray that God will use the bishop to bring lasting reconciliation in UMC Nigeria.

  3. Pierre Omadjela

    It is a pleasure to hear of this election. It was good to meet Bishop John Wesley Yohanna in Monrovia for the prayer summit to the General Conference. I pray that God be with you dear Bishop and may Him be your light for His work. The Central Congo Episcopal Area will work with you as we are doing now to built a strong reconciliation and mover forward for God’s work. Stay Blessed.

  4. Keto Ambrose

    I am a student pastor in lagos state. I personly congratulate his lordship rev. John wesl yohanna for his succesful installedment as the bishop umcn. I pray that God will use him as instrument to change the situation at hand in Jesus name.

  5. Rev .John Pena

    Congratulation Bishop John wesley Yohanna

  6. Rev. Uzajja Dauda

    I am a Seminary professor in Banyam Theological Seminary in Nigeria. I congratulate The Rev. Johnwesley Yohanna Munga Dosso for his election as Bishop, Nigeria Area. It is my prayer that God will use for the good plan He (God) has for his church.

  7. Entire UMCN student of WATS lagos

    The entire students of the united methodist church nigeria area studying in West Africa theological seminary, lagos, wish to congratulate Rev. John Wesley Yohanna for his succesful election as the new bishop of UMCN nigeria. It is our prayers that the spirit of the lord will take lead and convince the entire clergymens and members of umcn to accept what the lord has done. (fear not for He that is in you is greater than he that is the world)

  8. Rev. Nday Bondo

    Wow!!! Elected Bishop at first ballot! This is great and it shows God’s election! Congrats Bishop Yohanna and congrats West Africa Central Conference for the quick election of your bishop, showing some kind of maturity!

  9. tanko ahijo

    It’s really the Lord’s doing, I congratulat our Bishop Rev. Johnwesley Yohanna, and wishing him long life and the best leadership in umcn, may the lord be your helper.

  10. Rev. Tanko Ahijo

    I trust my bishop with all the project he mentioned above, programmes will start functioning by the grace God almighty.

  11. abigau peter danladi

    congrate, My lord bishop john wesley. God has made it for us. Wash the feet of your disciple just as jesus did. This is to show you that a true leader is alway a slave and not a master to his people. Take courage.

  12. Dr Ahmed Jatau Loh

    Congratulations on your election as a Bishop of the United Methodist Church. May the Almighty God be with you and grant you the wisdom to lead his people. Your task should be to strive to be selfless and bring unity in the body of Christ. Best of God leadership towards this assignment.

  13. Dr Ahmed Jatau Loh

    I congratulate Bishop John Wesley Yohanna and pray the Almighty God to grant you abundance of wisdom in order to accomplish this great assignment. Our prayers is for God to help you bring unity and Growth in the body of Christ. Strive to be selfless and endeavour to carry all along. Best of Gods leadership.

  14. Godfrey

    The stone that the builder reject yester yes has become the corner stone. Once again congratulation your Lordship the Bishop of the UMCN Nigeria.

  15. Dauda Marafa Goding

    God has his own way of doing things that seems odd to human imagination. If God is at work in the arm twisting at the WACC election saga, he may be making a st.Paul out of Rev. Johnwesley for more missionary journeys in Nigeria.Congratulations then.

  16. Andrew Bango

    Congrats My Lord Bishop. I pray for wisdom, knowledge and understanding from the Almighty to guide and direct your pathway in ALL your plans and endeavors.


    Congratulations my bishop.May the Lord use you as a source of peace and genuine reconciliation to the church in Nigeria. God who elected you will surely give you the wisdom and courage to carry everybody along to sail across the river.CONGRATULATIONS.

  18. Ibrahim H. Iliyasu Kode

    My Lord Bishop, Congratulation once more. your election and conscretion, no any man whether president has no right to drop or stop you from piloting people to the kingdom of God. may God guide and give you wisdom as he gave king solomon

  19. Sir-gawi D. Dugule

    your eminent Bishop, ours is to say thank God for what He has done on your election. may more annointing continue to flow in you as higher responsibility is now bestowed on you. accept our felicitation. God bless,God bless UMCN.

  20. J A G

    Only God knows WHY and NOW. Congratulations

  21. Mr. Jacob

    Leadership comes from God, and who ever God has chosen who are you man to say no. Instead, let’s put our differences aside and join the New Bishop to build the lost glory of our belove Unite Methodist Church.

    Jacob b. Tahiru

  22. fernando de castro

    May the Lord be guide His servant… In Jesus’ name

  23. Jordan

    sir i must say you have caused me joy and grief as a preachers kid. I dont know if you or anyone will read this. but many peaple always say that when you move “oh youll make new friends” as you decide wheather we move or not i moved when i was 10 and hated it. I got mad and took it out on everybody but myself. but i came to love where i moved after my 2nd year there and now it being my 3rd year hear with me in 8th grade and my dad tellin me we will move i must say i can almost hate you but cant as i know you do the Lords will but taking me away from somethin i just started to love i fell heartbroken. but please if you can pray for me to get past this thank you

  24. Tomoh Josiah Biyams

    I once again congratulate our lordship Bishop, God is ur refuge we pray that God will bring back the lost sheeps, more energy to ur elbow sir.

  25. James Sabo Adams

    This is to congratulate my lord bishop, The Very Rev. John Wesley Yohanna, on his election and consecration as the bishop of UMC Nigeria Episcopal Area. The Lord that commissioned you for this assignment will surely give you the grace and fortitude to accomplish it in Jesus’ name.

  26. sabbath kefas mavula

    Congratulations Bishop John Wesley Yohanna for this great responsibility placed on you. You are elected the new bishop of UMC Nigeria Episcopal Area because there is the potential in you and I pray that God Almighty will be your guide in leading your people. Once again I say congrats.

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