Northern Ireland news

First African-born leader for Irish Church

Dr Sahr Yambasu is the first Africa-born cleric to be elected by the Methodist Church in Ireland as its president designate

THE Methodist Church in Ireland has for the first time elected a minister born in Africa to be its next leader.

Dr Sahr Yambasu (63) will become Methodist president for a 12-month term next summer, when he will succeed the Rev Tom McKnight.

"This is not something I never thought about or yearned for so it was great shock when I was told of the vote," he said following the vote at the denomination's annual Conference meeting, which is being held online because of coronavirus restrictions.

"God moves in a mysterious way, his wonders to perform."

After being ordained in his native Sierra Leone, Dr Yambasu was awarded a scholarship by the Methodist Church in Ireland to study in Belfast.

He was then awarded another scholarship to study at Cambridge University where he gained a PhD.

Dr Yambasu currently serves as superintendent of the Methodist Church's Waterford circuit. He has also been principal of Sierra Leone Theological College in Freetown - the same institution that he received his own initial training.

His wife Clodagh is also a Methodist minister and the couple have three adult children. Dr Yambasu became an Irish citizen in 1989.

Dr Yambasu wrote about his experiences in a book published in 2013 called Between Africa and the West: A Story of Discovery.

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