Four-Day Conference in Liberia Aims to Equip Church Leaders

Over 400 church pastors and lay leaders, representing each of Liberia’s 15 counties, are attending a four-day conference in the country’s capital city of Monrovia, reports a global charity operating a growing fleet of hospital ships.

The conference, organized by Texas-based Mercy Ships in association with the Liberian Council of Churches, aims to equip church leaders for their role in Liberia’s reconstruction after 14 years of civil war.

“This conference is important because Liberia is on the threshold of breaking forth out a black hole,” said Pastor Nimene Myers, Conference Liaison. “I believe it will widen our understanding of spiritual leadership and sharpen the need for genuine leaders. The feedback from pastors has all been positive.”

From Apr. 13 to Apr. 18, conference participants gathered at the Bethel Cathedral of Hope in Monrovia will receive training in Child Development, HIV/AIDS Awareness, Marriage and Family, and Micro-Finance through four workshops led by Mercy Ships specialists.

So far, the conference has agreed upon a written resolution concerning the upcoming presidential elections in October, according to a report released by Mercy Ships. The global charity stated that the resolution outlines what characteristics the Christian church deems necessary in a presidential candidate, and will be presented to the National Transitional Government.

“It was a historically significant meeting for the 'New Liberia',” said Mercy Ships career crew member Gary Graham. “It was the largest gathering to bring the church together in unity since the war.”

According to Mercy Ships, churches in Liberia are actively involved in development projects and social work as the nation seeks to rebuild after years of war and instability.

“The conference established a solid foundation for the relationship between Mercy Ships and the Liberian church, with two more conferences planned for the second visit of the Anastasis to Monrovia later this year,” the charity reported.

Earlier in March, Mercy Ships reported that it plans to conduct development projects and educational programs to help re-build Liberia after 14 years of civil war during their three-month stay in Liberia – the first visit by the charity to the war-torn West African nation.

Mercy Ships also plans to complete over 500 surgeries during the three-month stay, and says that it will continue bringing "hope and healing" to Liberia in a second phase beginning in October 2005.

Currently, Mercy Ships has three hospital ships and offices in 17 countries and has visited more than 500 ports in over 50 developing nations. Mercy Ships has performed more than 2 million services, with a value of $250 million (USD). These services include treating more than 300,000 people in village clinics, performing 18,000 surgeries, 110,000 dental treatments and completing close to 350 construction and agriculture projects, including schools, clinics, orphanages and water wells.