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Remembering Bishop John K. Yambasu

Bishop Yambasu

We join the Sierra Leone Conference and the entire UMC in mourning the untimely death of Bishop John K. Yambasu in August. Bishop Yambasu was a faithful advocate for Central Conference Pensions and worked with CCP staff to establish the Sierra Leone pension plan. Paul Dirdak, retired Central Conference Pension Administration Director and CCP consultant, knew Bishop Yambasu well and offered this reflection:

“Before John Yambasu was a Bishop, he was a child advocate… He advocated for the children—those whose hands had been severed to ‘win’ a war and those who had been conscripted into armies to bear AK-47s about as tall as they were. John was a child advocate in the midst of that. What’s not to admire?”

Paul went on to say that while Bishop Yambasu was elected to important, public roles in the UMC and broader ecumenical community, “his greatest contributions were quiet, behind the scenes, for the sake of his church’s sustainability. He hired better lawyers, better treasurers, better staff supervisors and he cared for those who labored in his institution, for all of their basic health and safety and welfare. His public profile was still growing when he died, but his greater accomplishment was the stronger, more capable church that survives him.”

Bishop Yambasu’s own words and witness continue to remind us of the importance and impact of the CCP program:

“In my many years as clergy and a missionary in Africa, I have lived to see retired pastors die in abject poverty and without dignity. I have seen many young people shy away from full-time itinerant ministry because it was like intentionally signing on for a life of permanent poverty. Through the Central Conference Pensions, you and your colleagues restored dignity to ordained ministry. Today in Africa, we celebrate the lives of the many young people who now see ordained ministry as a vocation worth pursuing. And, we continue to see retired pastors live healthier and longer—and with dignity.”