The Wesleyan Church of Liberia
In the same way local churches here in North America celebrate every time disciples and churches multiply, Global Partners fuels and celebrates a global multiplication movement — so that sustainable, locally led churches continue to multiply long after missionaries have moved on. The result is an exponential multiplication of new disciples who are transforming their communities through planting churches that plant more churches.
In the early 1800s, the West African country of Liberia was established to settle American free slaves in hopes of a better life. It was not an easy integration into the local African setting there, but it has forever been a part of Liberia’s story.
The influence of the Wesleyan doctrine of holiness began to be felt when Rev. Martin Y. Koroma and Rev. Julius Koroma from the Sierra Leone Wesleyan Church, Rev. Samuel Acquah, and Rev. William Wilburforce Brown began to organize and win souls in Liberia. This effort was recognized by the North American Wesleyan Church in 1978. Subsequently, missionaries were sent to assist.
In 1980, a military coup occurred in Liberia. The following year, missionaries Rev. and Mrs. Donald Karns arrived in Monrovia. Six churches existed then. It was a challenging beginning, but Rev. Karns assessed the situation and decided his goal was to establish a solid foundation for the church to be able to grow and become healthy.
Rev. Karns began to teach membership classes for those attending the churches, and to mentor and teach the pastors. Within four months, 32 members had been baptized and two men had been sent to Bible colleges in Liberia for training.
In May 2019, one of those men, Dr. James Toga, received his doctorate in theology; the other, Rev. Lemuel Harris, served as district superintendent as well as principal of WESCOL (Wesleyan College of Liberia). Dr. Toga also served as principal of WESCOL and has worked towards acquiring accreditation over the last few years.Presently, he is serving as vice principal of WESCOL and pastor of The Wesleyan Church in Gardnersville. The Karnses served in Liberia until 1985.
Rev. and Mrs. Milton Bagley followed the Karnses, continuing to mentor pastors and people. Rev. Bagley is remembered fondly for his preaching and teaching with authority and love. The political climate of Liberia was becoming more unstable, and missionaries were sometimes targeted by soldiers for assistance. Rev. and Mrs. Phil Nettleton followed the Bagleys but were forced to leave in the early 1990s because of the brutal civil war.
War brought much destruction and instability in the country. Church properties sometimes operated as safehouses for displaced people, military forces took residence in some properties, and other properties were destroyed. It was a fearful and difficult period. Praise God that the Church ministered to suffering people, being light in the darkness of that time.
Over the following years, Liberians served as district superintendents: Rev. Lemuel Harris, Rev. James Coleman, Rev. Isaac Wheigar, and Rev. Peter Kollie. The Liberian Wesleyan Church established the Wesleyan Bible College of Liberia (WBCL) in 1995. Rev. James Toga became the principal of WBCL in 1997. The Liberia Church became an established district in 2013.
Over the past six years (2013-2019), the Liberian Church has been working on writing their own Discipline as well as other requirements to become a national church. The joyful eruption of celebration was unforgettable as the Liberian Church chose to become a national church in December 2019.
The Wesleyan Church of Liberia has matured to the point of having one established district, two provisional districts, 52 churches, and nearly 4,000 members. The Wesleyan Church of Liberia has also established 14 schools serving about 2,000 students. Rev. Daniel McGee was elected their first national superintendent and seeks to move the Liberian Church forward on a number of fronts.
Rev. McGee asks for the prayers of God’s people as he and The Wesleyan Church of Liberia continue to grow a healthy, mature church in Liberia. To God be the glory!