Bishop John K. Yambasu, resident bishop of the United Methodist Church in Sierra Leone and president of the Council of Churches in Sierra Leone, died suddenly in a road accident on 16 August.
Yambasu was also president of the Africa College of Bishops of the United Methodist Church and had been newly elected as chancellor of Africa University. Within the United Methodist family, he was instrumental in bringing together diverse views and opinions and helping the church to navigate its deep differences.
He was actively engaged in ecumenical life as well.
Yambasu will be remembered for his commitment to Christian education and youth ministry, as well as peace and reconciliation he promoted amid national issues during and after the civil war in his country.
He is survived by his wife Millicent and their five children.
Dr Agnes Abuom, WCC moderator, shared prayers for solace and strength for Yambasu’s family and all those who loved him. “May God give you solace and strength in face of this tragedy, and may you be surrounded by love from all those who loved Bishop John,” she said. “All of us in the whole worldwide church stand in his debt.”
Bishop Mary Ann Swenson, United Methodist Church (USA) and vice moderator of the WCC Central Committee, was a close friend of Yambasu. “He showed us the future leadership for all of Africa in significant ways,” said Swenson, who traveled with Yambasu to Nigeria many years ago in the course of their work together. “I watched his pastoral style and way of comforting people in their struggles.”
Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca, WCC interim general secretary, reflected that Yambasu was dedicated to serving his people and serving others who minister to them. “He was a pioneering missionary, keenly aware of the needs of this age,” said Sauca. “Christian, churchman, educator, missioner, African leader and reconciler: John Yambasu has been all that and more. May God embrace him in love in that kingdom of heaven he served so well.”
Bishop Rosemarie Wenner, Geneva secretary of the World Methodist Council, commended Yambasu’s heart for vulnerable people. “Bishop John K. Yambasu was a peace maker within the worldwide United Methodist Church, in his home country Sierra Leone and in the ecumenical and interreligious movement,” she said. “He had a heart for people, especially for the vulnerable, and he was a visionary strategist to implement change. His work for justice and peace will bear fruits.”
Methodist Bishop Arnold Temple, from Sierra Leone, chairperson of the WCC Ecumenical Water Network, remembered Yambasu’s work on both a community and a global level. "Bishop Dr John K. Yambasu gave effective service to his church, the ecumenical movement and his community, and at a global level,” said Temple. “May the soul of God's faithful servant rest in the perfect peace of our Lord, Jesus Christ.”