ATLANTA – Dr. Aquilas Soronaka, country director of United Methodist Global Ministries’ mission initiative in the Central African Republic (CAR), was ordained as an elder in The United Methodist Church on Aug. 29, 2023, by Bishop Gabriel Unda. His ordination was held in the city of Kindu in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). His wife, Priscila Soronaka, was also commissioned as the first deaconess in CAR.
Soronaka received teaching on Methodist polity and completed theological training prior to his ordination. He is the only ordained UMC minister in CAR, other than the Rev. M. Sachou, a missionary who will be leaving CAR later this year.
CAR was designated as a new mission initiative in 2015, focused on congregational development; forming youth fellowship groups, scouts, women’s and men’s groups; and training church leadership. This work builds on mission outreach from the adjoining East Congo Episcopal Area which borders CAR to the northwest.
Soronaka’s training and ordination bring renewed hope and energy for the mission initiative. “My ordination gives me the conviction that The United Methodist Church in CAR will continue to make a great impact,” said Soronaka. It also strengthens the partnership between the East Congo Episcopal Area led by Bishop Unda. In November, Bishop Unda is planning to send a team of pastors from East Congo to train local pastors in CAR.
Greater partnership with the associated UMC conferences is a key goal for mission initiatives started by Global Ministries. Global Ministries has started more than a dozen since the early 1990s – in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Central America. Several have become integral parts of the United Methodist connection and some have or will become annual conferences, districts or autonomous churches.
Under Soronaka’s leadership as the country director and now ordained elder, three new United Methodist churches have been planted, rising from 14 to 17.
Susan Clark is the chief communications officer for the General Board of Global Ministries and UMCOR.
EVANGELISM AND CHURCH REVITALIZATION
Founding and nurturing new faith communities and supporting existing congregations that seek to increase membership and expand ministries into local communities have historic roots and contemporary implications for Global Ministries. Missionaries who train pastors to plant churches in new places; mission initiatives, which start new Methodist faith communities; scholarships that assist church leaders to earn the credentials and degrees they need for service and ministry; and networks that resource racial and ethnic faith communities across the United States are examples of Global Ministries’ commitment to evangelism and church revitalization.
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