UMC Scrutinizes Fast-Growing Africa Region, Suspends Conference Funds

(Photo Credit: United Methodist News Service/Mike DuBose)Abigail Shukuru works on a math lesson at Humble United Methodist School in Mukono, Uganda, in May 2007.

The United Methodist Church is closely scrutinizing the finances of one of its fastest growing regions, announcing on Wednesday that it has cut off funding to its East Africa Conference until it improves its internal accounting practices.

The UMC Board of Global Ministries, the denomination's mission agency, decided to suspend funding after a recommendation by the agency's independent audit committee during its annual meeting, according to the United Methodist News Service.

The total amount of funds or what portion those funds represent in the conference's annual budget could not be determined immediately, according to the report.

In 2009, Africa as a whole had roughly 4,600 churches of the denomination's 40,700 congregations. Membership in Africa grew 134 percent in the 10 years prior. The U.S. membership dropped 8 percent in that time.

A report submitted to Global Ministries indicated auditors had conducted three internal audits of the conference treasury in Kampala, Uganda since April 2011.

The latest audit – concluded on June 30 – covered projects from 2009-2011.

The report recommended "that all funds for the conference be suspended indefinitely, until such time as the EAAC is prepared to accept responsibility to be accountable and all internal controls have been put in place."
The report was sent to the leader of the EAC since 2006, Bishop Daniel Wandabula.

The independent audit committee, chaired by Boston Area Bishop Peter Weaver, said it had found lack of adequate documentation, lack of financial resources, and an inability to verify the use of funds.

Programs affected include suspended funds for the Humble School in Mukono, Uganda, the Hope for Africda Children's Choir Academy in Mukono, Namunkanaga HIV/AIDS and Malaria awareness, Trinity United Methodist Chruch in Wanyange, United Methodist Women Center in Jinja, and the United Methodist Empowerment Center in Jinja, according to the report.

Copyright © 2013 Ecumenical News