Liberia: First Presbyterian Church Pastor Escapes Death

Reverend C. Wellington Morgan.

The Acting Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Monrovia narrowly escaped death after being attacked by suspected armed robbers in a tricycle, who left him with some serious wounds.

Reverend C. Wellington Morgan, whose church is the country’s third oldest after the Baptist and Methodist churches in Liberia, came under attack after he had boarded a tricycle as a means of beating the traffic on the Japan Freeway and that of the Freeport route. 

Rev. Morgan disclosed that within minutes after entering the tricycle, one of the male passengers in it took out a knife demanding his mobile phone or they would kill him.

According to the prelate, he boarded the tricycle before the two men and could not tell whether they were armed robbers or not. 

“While in bitter exchanges with the attackers, two of them, they managed to take the phone and then push me out of the tricycle, which was speeding.  This landed my head against the middle divide along the Japanese highway, resulting in injuries at the back of my head and left arm and other parts of the body.

“It is time for President George Weah to increase and place more focus on national security. Liberians are vulnerable and this is no politics but a genuine call.  While I may not know my attackers, yet as a minister of the Gospel of Christ, I pray for them to leave the life of attacking innocent people, including other  negative engagements, to seek the Lord Jesus Christ for fulfilling life.” Rev. Willington Morgan told reporters on Sunday.

The attack against Rev. Morgan which happens in daylight and on the popular Japanese freeway comes just two months after the U.S. Department of State has assessed Liberia as being a CRITICAL threat and issued a Crime “C” Indicator on its Travel Advisory for Liberia, indicating that there may be a widespread violent crime and/or organized crime present in the country, and/or that local law enforcement may have limited ability to respond to serious crimes.

The US government’s report noted that crime remains at a critical level throughout the country and that many of them involve “snatch-and-grabs” and that the perpetrators often carry knives or homemade handguns, and occasionally work in small groups to target unsuspecting victims. 

The report noted that most of these cases end without violence if the victim is compliant and crimes resulting in the use of lethal force have also increased. It added that theft and armed extortion has happened in taxis and any other means of public transportation.

Reports of home invasions, according to the US government, plagued local nationals at higher levels in 2019; particularly in outlying areas of Monrovia lacking community security organizations -- with most home invasions occurring overnight, between 0100-0400, and usually involve multiple armed assailants using a combination of homemade guns or semi-automatic weapons.

Meanwhile, Rev. Morgan has lauded an early man and other residents of the Japanese freeway for coming to his rescue before the arrival of his wife who was previously at work.

The incident against Rev. Morgan happens two months after the First Presbyterian Church of Monrovia celebrated its 189th Anniversary as Liberia’s third oldest church after the Baptist and Methodist Churches.

The Presbyterian Church was formally in 1833 – 11 years after the arrival of freed slaves and 14 years before Liberia declared its independence.

The church was the first denomination to establish a high school in Liberia – the Alexander High School where notable Liberians including E. Wilmot Bylden and Liberia’s eleventh President Hilary Richard Wright Johnson, were educated.

Reverends Amos Herring and Ephraim Tilter were the two Presbyterians among the 11 signatories to the Declaration of Independence in Liberia. The two represented the Bassa Cove (now called Grand Bassa County); and because of that representation, two of the four stripes in the Grand Bassa flag represent their memories of participating in the signing of the Independence.

Daniel B. Warner, Liberia’s third President and composer of the Liberian National Anthem, was a presbyterian minister along with his Vice President, James M. Priest who also served as Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church-Monrovia.

The Presbytery of Liberia became independent in 1928, and this is also the founding date of this denomination. In 1944 the church started its own mission work in the Todee District. In 1980 the church became a provisional Presbytery of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.In 2006 in Cheersburg the church decided at its annual Synod to sever all relations with the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, the Synod of Tennessee, putting an end to a more than a two-decade-long partnership.