Fellow bishops mourn Bishop Yambasu

Maidstone Mulenga/Council of Bishops

Bishop John Yambasu, second from the left in the second row, poses with fellow bishops during the May 2017 Council of Bishops in Dallas, Texas. Bishop Yambasu died in a road accident on Sunday, August 16, 2020.

WASHINGTON, D.C.  - As the Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church mourns the sudden death of Bishop John K. Yambasu, the Resident Bishop of the Sierra Leone Area who died in a road accident yesterday in Sierra Leone, tributes are pouring in from across the global denomination.
Bishop Yambasu was also president of the Africa College of Bishops of The United Methodist Church.  He was also the newly elected Chancellor of Africa University.
 
Tributes are pouring in from his colleagues in the Council of Bishops:

My heart aches for Bishop Yambasu and his family and the people of Sierra Leone.
Bishop Yambasu’s untimely death is stunning news to the United Methodist Church. Bishop Yambasu’s undeniable love and passion for the church has been evident in his area and throughout the United Methodist Church.
Because of his sincere and deep love for the church, Bishop Yambasu gathered persons from diverse theological backgrounds to continue conversations about the future of the United Methodist Church, giving birth to the Protocol Through Grace and Separation.
His love for God and his church was never more evident than in his leadership in his area. I had the extraordinary privilege of walking alongside Bishop Yambasu in his beloved Sierre Leone while serving as the Deputy General Secretary of the United Methodist Committee on Relief. While leading worship, visiting the sick, leading meetings with other faith leaders, participating in government and NGO efforts to bring wholeness to the beautiful people of Sierre Leone; I learned firsthand of his remarkable leadership as he led his people through disease and struggle to a life of hope in Jesus Christ.
I am fortunate to have had Bishop Yambasu in my life. He leaves an enormous void in our hearts, minds, and work and will forever be missed.
Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey
President – Council of Bishops
The United Methodist Church
 
Bishop John Yambasu was a bridge-builder. He not only saw what was on the other side, he worked to build the bridge to get there. He worked with Christians, Buddhists, Muslims and others to care for the physical bodies of the people they all served together. He built bridges of trust, communicated that there was something more than division and discord, and never lost sight of a better world, a better church, and a better life….
John Yambasu’s physical life on this earth ended today. I ache inside thinking that I will never again see his wrinkled forehead, his unique smile, experience his warm embrace, or hear his standard lines: “Oh yes,” or “Thank you so very much.” My heart breaks for his wife, Millicent, and their five children, Rebecca, Adima, John, Emmanuel and Elizabeth. And while I know that the church has endured excellent leaders who come and go, I hurt for a church that seems just a little less than was yesterday when John was still with us.
Every day is a gift. I cherish the life of John Yambasu, my friend and my colleague.
 Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton
President-Designate – Council of Bishops
The United Methodist Church
 
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The Africa University community is heart-broken and deeply saddened by his untimely death. Bishop Yambasu was not only one of Africa’s powerful Bishops and the president of the Africa College of Bishops of The United Methodist Church, but had also just been selected as our new Africa University Chancellor who was going to be inaugurated at our graduation scheduled for October 17th, 2020. We have lost a great man of God and one of Africa University’s strongest supporters. We have indeed also lost a thoughtful and deliberate Board member whose wisdom and critical insights always enriched our deliberations. We cherish most his visionary leadership and clarity of thought,   his statesman outlook, his consistently inspiring and encouraging advice.  Africa University community will miss this great advocate and an inspiring leader.
 Professor Munashe Furusa
Vice Chancellor/President CEO
Africa University
 
Words are not enough to describe the blessed ministries of Bishop Yambasu. He was not only a leader of our church in Africa but touched all aspects of our global denomination. Our joint love for Africa University is indescribable. I enjoyed working with him in preparing for the future of this church, the future that he will be watching unfold from heaven. Both John and Millicent were pastoral to me and Barbara. He was a trusted loyal friend. He was an encourager for me in my role as executive secretary.  I was honored to be part of the team that nominated him to be the next chancellor of Africa University and he was an overwhelming unanimous choice.  Africa University is blessed to have had his leadership albeit for such a short time.   I am praying for Millicent, his wife and their lovely five children.  May God give the family strength and comfort during this painful moment.  
Bishop Marcus Matthews
Executive Security – Council of Bishops
The United Methodist Church
 
Our hearts are broken, and we're devastated by this sudden departure of Bishop Yambasu. This is a great blow to the people called United Methodists! It is our hope and prayers that God will comfort the family in particular and The United Methodist family at large. May his soul rest in perfect peace.
Bishop Samuel Quire
Liberia Episcopal Area
The United Methodist Church
 
It is with deep sadness that we learned of the accidental death of the great servant of God, Bishop John Yambasu. On behalf of the Côte d'Ivoire United Methodist Church, we would like to express our condolences and pray for his family, church, and nation.
He will be missed.
Bishop Benjamin Boni
Côte d'Ivoire Episcopal Area
The United Methodist Church
 
 My wife and me are very sorry to hear this sad news of death of Bishop Yambasu.
His death is a big lost for our United Methodist Church in Africa and the world.
We present our deep condolences to you, his family and all church at Sierra Leone.
May our God be with you all. You are on our prayers.
Bishop Unda Yemba Gabriel
East Congo Episcopal Area
The United Methodist Church
 
Bishop John Yambasu was my friend.  Many United Methodist could begin their own tribute to this leader who died suddenly and tragically in a car crash while traveling to memorialize one of his pastors who died, with the words, "he was my friend."
I met him after we were elected bishops in 2008. Bishop Yambasu, Bishop Mary Ann Swenson, and Bishop Trimble were asked by the Council of Bishops to travel to Nigeria for a mission of peace and reconciliation to prepare them for a process to elect a new bishop. We left Nigeria as colleagues and friends saying as long as we live we would remember our experience of praying together and listening and praying with the United Methodists in Nigeria.
In January 2019, First Lady Racelder Grandberry-Trimble joined me to travel to Sierra Leone to join our friends John and Millicent Yambasu at their Annual Conference where I would preach and assist in ordaining new clergy. We brought greetings from Indiana United Methodists and the Council of Bishops.  Before we arrived and after we left other teams from Indiana traveled to Sierra Leonne for work on projects that have bridged a long-standing partnership made stronger under the leadership if Bishop Yambasu. The Indiana United Methodists including those long associated with Operation Classroom mourn the loss of Bishop Yambasu.
Bishop Julius Trimble
Indianapolis Episcopal Area
The United Methodist Church
 
Bishop John Yambasu is an outstanding leader of African Methodism. Bishop John Yambasu is one of the kindest persons that I have known. This is a very sad day. I will miss him so much. We were together in GBGM for one quadrennium. I will miss his great preaching.
Bishop Pedro M. Torio
Baguio Episcopal Area - Philippines
The United Methodist Church
 
My first encounter with Bishop John Yambasu was when he preached at the 2016 General Conference.  As a delegate I was in awe of this prophetic, anointed preacher who dared to speak truth to the church.  His intercultural competence was so profoundly displayed in his preaching that I just knew he was destined to do some bridge building work within the church.  After my election as bishop, Bishop Yambasu extended radical hospitality to me as a new bishop.  He and I were assigned to the same covenant group, so I got to know him very well.  His passion for the church, integrity as a leader, reliance on the Holy Spirit, and love of all people was inspiring.  In that small group setting I continued to be in awe of him as he treated us all as if we were essential conversation partners. I will miss him personally and the church collectively will miss his voice.  I wonder what smart suit or shoes Bishop Yambasu is now wearing in heaven. 
Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi
Pittsburgh Episcopal Area
The United Methodist Church

 
Gloria, my wife and our children regret and are sad to hear about the tragic death of Bishop Yambasu. He was not only a son in the ministry, but my colleague, and my president of the West Africa Central Conference. It is my prayer, thought and hope that. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit will comfort, console and bless you and abide with you and the children. Blessings, peace and the love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ be with you. 
Retired Bishop – West Africa Central Conference
The United Methodist Church
 
Bishop Yambasu's love for God and all of God's people was reflected in his leadership throughout our connection and the wider Church. He was an educator, a missionary, and a planter. He had just been named the Chancellor of Africa University, and served as the President for the Africa College of Bishops. His was a steady voice of deep devotion, collaboration, and the need to live our Christian witness. It was Bishop Yambasu's yearning for justice and healing that led to the formation of the task force that developed The Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation.
 Through that work, I spent time in conversation with Bishop Yambasu and came to appreciate his humor, compassionate heart, and vision for the beloved community. His hope for our future did not rest in the ability of humanity, but in the witness of Jesus Christ and the power of the gospel. We discussed plans for a delegation from the Baltimore-Washington Conference to travel to the Sierra Leone area for shared worship, fellowship, and learning. That trip will one day be made in his honor.
Bishop LaTrelle M. Easterling
The Washington Episcopal Area
The United Methodist Church
 
 
 
 

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