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Methodist men turn 25

Feb 24, 2010, 12:10 PM | Article By: Augustine Kanija

The Gambia Methodist Laymen's Association (GMLA) last Sunday celebrated its 25th anniversary (Silver Jubilee) at the Trinity Methodist Church at Serrekunda.

The anniversary attracted hundreds of friends.

The Methodist Laymen Association has been noted for their contribution to Education, Health and Agriculture with particular emphasis on education to care for the little ones.

The GMLA's mission is to promote the spiritual, financial and social life of the Church. In pursuit of this mission the association thanks the Almighty God for the remarkable achievements registered during the past 25 years. 

Methodist Laymen Association is no doubt a group that many desire to be part of. Panorama finds out more about their celebration and why they should celebrate.

Comparing 25 years of the Gambia Methodist Laymen's Association as to the age of the Methodist Church in the Gambia, Solomon J.E. Owens, President of the Association, said it is a short time.

He maintained that though it is a short time, but the period has been one of significant transformations in their world, country and Church.

"In every arena of human endeavour, from politics to economics to technology, rules have been broken, barriers shattered and conventional wisdom turned on its head. Remarkable political, socio-economic and environmental changes have altered the world and our lives and these changes have had a dramatic effect on the Church and the relationship between Church and the rest of humanity," he said.

"The GMLA has undergone changes as well some dramatic, others more subtle. GMLA can be proudly considered as an unrivalled success story in a domain where most efforts seem scanty, patchy and insufficient," Owens added.

Recounting their successes over the years, Solomon JE Owens outlined that in the area of education, GMLA's strategic objective is to ensure that Methodist schools provide sustainable quality education in the country.

He revealed that annually GMLA continues to provide book prizes for the annual speech and prize giving ceremonies of most of the Methodist schools, from kindergarten to the senior secondary level.

According to him, special prizes are also usually provided for the best students in, Science, Mathematics and Christian Religious Education as well as for the best teachers in the various schools.

"Since the launching of the Justice Forster Memorial Scholarship Fund in 1988, we have successfully kept the fund operational. We continue to complement the work of the Church in providing affordable quality health care to the people of the Western region. In 2008, medicine valued at over D200, 000 were donated by GMLA to the Church's medical board. Social responsibility has been and continues to be one of the strongest areas in our interventions. Members take time out annually at Christmas to visit with and present Christmas gifts to inmates of the Psychiatric hospital, then at Campama and now at Mariama Kunda and the sanitarium unit of the RVTH, a gesture highly appreciated by recipients and staff of both institutions.

"These visits provided us with enriching experiences for which we are most grateful. We saw and appreciated people in the subnormal state and we could not help but be touched. We record their gratitude to the Association," he said. GMLA also continues to support less fortunate members of our circuit with Christmas gifts of cash and food items. "In addition to these activities, the association continues to support interventions in the areas of evangelism, Christian Religious Education, members' development through strategic retreats and collaboration with other Church organizations."

"We have gone through our first 25 years with ups and downs but have come out of it all stronger, happier and more determined to help the disadvantaged among us," he said.

"As we celebrate this important milestone in the life of the GMLA, we express sincere gratitude to the founding fathers for their foresight, vision and drive in starting the association. We remember especially the late Justice Samuel John Forster. We are thankful for the fact that because he was today we are. We pay special tribute to the doyens and past presidents. We honour in a very special way Brother Ernest Aubee as one of the most successful presidents the association has ever had. He brought it back to life when it almost fumbled. He has been very generous to the association and his generosity is ever present in our activities. We are thankful to all members who put their heads together to make this work as we want it," he said.

He added: "We must embrace change and re-examine our raison d'etre, our vision and our operating principles. We must broaden our reach through alliances, collaboration, partnerships and substantive interactions with all other lay associations within the church."

Outstanding members were given certificates.

Brother Henry K. Davies, GMLA's Secretary General said this is because when your brother or sister does something good you need to pat him on the back as supported by the Bible. He thanked Ernest Aubee of the ECOWAS Commission in Abuja and read out his congratulatory message to the group. He thanked God for the celebration.

Through their activities, GMLA have been able to touch the lives of quite a number people and they are grateful for the moral and financial support of individual members, patrons collaborators and well-wishers, especially Gambia Electrical Co. Ltd. (Bro Aki Allen), Brothers Dr. Reuben Mboge, Henry K. Davies, Sammy H. W. Davies, William Cole, John Sarr, Kwamla Manly Elliott, Danny Bruce Oliver, Bola Carrol, Ernest Aubee, Harold Mahib, Jim Clement, William T. Roberts and Arnold Kassy Janneh.