Liberia elects bishop

Bishop-elect Samuel J. Quire addresses West Africa Central Conference delegates after his election. ~umns photo/Julu Swen

The Detroit Conference Liberia Task Force joins others in welcoming Bishop Samuel Quire into episcopal leadership.

Dec. 17, 2016 — The Rev. Samuel J. Quire Jr. today was elected a bishop by the delegates of the West Africa Central Conference. He will lead the Liberia Conference.

Eighty delegates — 20 each from Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Côte d’Ivoire —were in attendance at the conference held in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

On the fourth ballot, he received 50 votes out of 80 cast. To be elected, a candidate needed at least 60 percent of the vote.

“It is one thing to win an election and another thing to be a leader,” Quire said, after celebrations of his election. “I cannot be a leader alone. It is not a Samuel J Quire victory; it is a victory of the people called United Methodists.”

He pledged to work with everyone in the interest of the church.

Quire was among two episcopal candidates presented by the nomination committee. The other was the Rev. David Topkah, senior pastor of New Covenant United Methodist Church in Hamilton, New Jersey and a Liberia Conference member.

The Rev. Julius Julukon Sarwolo Nelson Jr., vice president and dean of student affairs at the University of Liberia, was nominated from the floor after central conference delegates overturned a Liberia Conference rule that barred divorced clergy from vying. That rule had earlier prevented Nelson’s candidacy. The Rev. James Labala, superintendent of the Gbarnga Mission Station and associate dean of the Gbarnga School of Theology, became a fourth candidate when he nominated himself.

By the second ballot, it was a two-man race between Quire and Nelson.

The Rev. Dr. Charles Boayue (front left) was among those present at the West Africa Central Conference. Boayue was born in Liberia and currently serves as the Superintendent of the Detroit Renaissance District. ~Facebook/Julu Swen

The Rev. Duane Miller, a retired member of the Detroit Conference and long-time member of the Detroit Conference Liberia Task Force, rejoiced at the news of Quire’s election. “I have known him since 2002,” Miller said. “He did a wonderful job as Director of the Judith Craig Children’s Village and as Assistant to Bishop John Innis.”

Samuel Quire will be the third episcopal leader to work in partnership with the Liberia Task Force. Bishop Arthur F. Kulah and Bishop John G. Innis were the others entering into that covenant. Kayte Aspray, current chairperson of the Liberia Task Force congratulated Quire saying, “Your experience, especially your time as the Administrative Assistant to Bishops Innis and Kulah, will stand you in good stead as you begin your service to United Methodists in Liberia and around the globe.”

“What makes me most excited about Samuel’s election,” Miller added, “is that while the others were qualified, Samuel will be right on top of knowing what has worked and what has not worked. Further, his own personal faith and passion will likely set some new directions for the church in Liberia.”

Speaking also on behalf of the international Liberia Partners, Miller reported that Bishop Quire has made a commitment to meet with members in mid-spring 2017. “We will send a team over to meet with him and other conference leaders,” Miller said, “to talk about priorities and goals and to determine the best way to work together.” Liberia Partners was formed in 2010 through leadership of the Illinois Great Rivers Conference. It draws together all who support the ministry of the United Methodist Church in Liberia. The Detroit Conference hosted Partner Summits in both 2014 and 2015. Miller serves on the Executive Committee of Liberia Partners.

Quire was born on September 5, 1959, to Samuel J. Quire Sr, and Lucy N. Keah in Garraway municipality, Grand Kru County, Liberia. He served as administrative assistant to Bishop John G. Innis, now retired, and Innis’ successor, Interim Bishop Arthur F. Kulah.

Quire holds a Master of Divinity from West Africa Theological Seminary in Lagos, Nigeria, and a Bachelor of Theology degree from the Gbarnga School of Theology in Gbarnga City, Liberia.

Quire has served as pastor of Jasper Grant United Methodist, Ebenezer United Methodist Church in Monrovia and was director of the Bishop Judith Craig Children’s Village.

He was elected as a clergy delegate to the 2004 and 2016 General Conferences, the 2004 West Africa Central Conference, and the 2005 All Africa Conference of Churches.

The United Methodist Church’s constitution says U.S. bishops get life tenure while allowing central conferences — church regions in Africa, Asia and Europe — to set the tenure of their respective bishops.

In the West Africa Central Conference, bishops are limited to 12 years in episcopal office.

~Julu Swen and Phileas Jusu, United Methodist News Service, and Kay DeMoss, Michigan Area Communications, contributed to this report.

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