For my November newsletter, I am sharing with you a very special celebration that just took place in Africa. I attended and want to fill you in on this powerful Methodist story.
Africa University (AU)’s 30th anniversary celebration and the inauguration of its 5th Vice Chancellor, the Rev. Dr. Peter Mageto, took place on October 22, 2022 in Mutare, Zimbabwe. Rev. Dr. Mageto is the brother of Rev. Dr. Saneta Maiko, who is the Conference Superintendent of our North Central District.
The celebration actually began much earlier in the week with presentations of academic papers and other business. The inauguration celebration itself was an experience of its own, with AU’s thundering choirs quaking the whole region of Mount Ciremba above Old Mutare with their voices, singing the AU anthem, The Dream, and with their dances, inviting the whole creation to take part. In African culture, the installation of a chief is the high point of tribal life, and that song was written and first sung by the AU’s choir at the inauguration of the first Chancellor and Vice Chancellor by the President of Zimbabwe in 1992.
A Brief History of Africa University in Zimbabwe
AU’s proud vision of moving to the future started with a missionary bishop’s dream. In 1898 Methodist Bishop John Crane Hartzell stood on Mount Ciremba above Old Mutare city and, looking down upon the valley, envisioned hundreds of young Africans with books in their hands, running to school. People always believed in his dream, and 86 years later, in 1984, with the support of thousands of African Methodists, the bishops of Angola and Sierra Leone issued a call to create Africa University, which was supported by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry. AU’s creation was unanimously approved at our 1988 General Conference. With its charter granted in 1992, AU inaugurated with 40 students with two academic programs: Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Bachelor of Divinity, with then-President of Zimbabwe Mugabe at the first inaugural celebration.
30 years later, AU’s 10,449 alumni are actively engaging all over the world. AU now has 65 active academic programs, with 35 nationalities of alumni. AU exemplifies all the best of a Methodist university.
Four of us from Indiana went to the celebration—Rev. Russ Able, Rev. Mitch Gieselman, Rev. Dr. Saneta Maiko, and me. We were met at the AU campus by our Bishop Julius Trimble, who serves on AU’s Board of Directors. As you can tell, there are deep ties between the Indiana Conference and Africa University.
Our other traveling companions on this trip were from all professional backgrounds and from all over the world, including an AU graduate, Rev. Dr. Michel Lundula. His journey to AU began in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and he is now serving as a District Superintendent in the Iowa Conference. What a miracle!
No words can adequately express the fervor and excitement of the occasion. Was it inspiring? Yes! Rejuvenating? Yes! Reviving? Yes! All at the same time! Everything about AU reminded me of the passion of the UMC mission to educate the young anywhere and everywhere, both locally and globally, where the Cross and Flame is strong, alive, and missionally impacting.
During the celebration, I was so proud of the UMC for making the AU a crown jewel of our mission, and of AU for its hard work, accomplishments, carrying on the fire into the future, and finally of all the churches in the INUMC and our role in making AU a success story 1988.
Relationship Between INUMC and AU
INUMC has been a huge supporter of AU from the beginning. INUMC fundraised and built a dorm for female students, and also a vehicle bridge over the ravine splitting the 1,600 or so acre campus. Many of our churches created scholarships for AU students over the past 30 years. Dozens of delegations of Hoosier Methodists have taken laptop computers and other supplies on their visits to AU. Many thanks to you all for your mission trips to AU, ongoing monetary support, and prayers of goodwill.
As AU begins a new season, so do we. We begin this holiday season with renewed hope of our mission with AU, and unwavering thanks to our local churches for this support to making a dream alive, building a bridge of hope between continents.
Bishop Trimble’s 40th Anniversary of Ministry and AU Fundraiser
In fact, in celebration of his 40th year of ministry, as well as Africa University’s 30th anniversary of existence, Bishop Julius Trimble has a challenge for us Hoosier Methodists in 2022 and 2023: to raise $500,000 for scholarships for AU. Details and information are below. Thank you all for your support of Africa University. For giving information, a PDF file is included in this article:
Bishop Trimble’s AU Giving information/instruction
Download pledge card/ Brochure here
In Suk Peebles
Superintendent, Southeast District
Indiana Conference of the United Methodist Church