Liberia: Pastors Fear Politics Might Sway Council of Churches

Rev. Dr. Samuel B. Reeves. 

... Want Rev. Samuel Reeves’ Election ‘Nullified’

The Pastoral Network for Peace (PNP), a conglomeration of Christian leaders, has condemned the election of Rev. Dr. Samuel B. Reeves, Jr. as President of Liberia Council of Churches (LCC) and has called on the election committee to nullify the election results.

The church leaders said their fellow prelate is more of a politician than a preacher of the Gospel and therefore, if he is allowed to head the LCC, his role will not be neutral. Dr. Reeves is the senior pastor of Providence Baptist Church, the oldest church in the Republic of Liberia. In 2021, Providence Baptist celebrated its bicentennial (200th) anniversary. 

The LCC is an Ecumenical Christian organization in Liberia founded in 1982.  It is a member organization of the World Council of Churches. 

The network of Pastors yesterday assembled at the Gospel Missions and Education Ministries, located in Slipway, Monrovia, to declare their open protest against the upcoming installation of Dr. Reeves at the helm of the LCC.

PNP said that Rev. Reeves, though a good clergyman noted for demonstrating good leadership, is still a politician and member of the opposition and is yet to resign from politics.

In 2017, as a clergyman, Rev. Reeves resigned his pastoral office and contested on the ticket of Movement for Economic Empowerment (MOVEE) as Vice Standard Bearer to the former Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia, Dr. J. Mills Jones. 

The leaders of the Pastoral Network for Peace say their network has been in existence for over fifteen years and has a membership of over 1,000 pastors across the fifteen counties of Liberia.

In their protest statement, the PNP said the political endeavor of the Rev. Reeves — and any other Liberian for that matter — disqualifies him or her from assuming the position as President for the Liberia Council of Churches.

Bishop Justice V. R. Nyonsiea said the Council of Churches should be a mother body for all Liberians, irrespective of their socio-economic, political and religious convictions and should be able to play a twins-mother role in dealing with issues of national concern.

Although the pastors did not cite any particular clause of the constitution of the LCC that speaks against any member or leader’s participation in politics, they noted that political neutrality should be the hallmark for those assuming leadership at the level of the LCC. 

They believe that Reeves, as head of LCC, will not be independent as regards matters of inter-party conflict and the opinion of the Church will not be trusted on national issues, mainly pertaining to political elections.

“We do not pray for these, but they are inevitable,” Bishop Nyonsiea told journalists. “To impose an active politician, the Vice Standard Bearer of MOVEE, who contested the just ended 2017 elections, a political party that is still making frantic effort for the highest seat in our nation, is an affront to the Church of Liberia.”

The pastors said there is a need for the 33rd General Assembly of the LCC to nullify the results that declared Reeves president-elect and allow the secretary general of the LCC to act as President until a new convention is held and a new President other than Rev. Dr. Reeves is announced and subsequently installed into office.

In furtherance of their quest to see Reeves not inducted into office, the pastors also questioned the legality of the constitution of the LCC that brought the prelate and all others to leadership.

“After 35 years of existence, there has been no constitutional review and the current constitution of 1982 has not provided a full participation of all Church organizations in Liberia, except for the ‘main-line churches’”, Bishop Nyonsiea argued.

PNP said the issues of non-political participation were ignored by the elections committee and there was no vetting committee to scrutinize the candidates and their political affiliations.

They alleged that Bishop Kortu Browne, the outgoing President of the LCC and his co-workers micromanaged the process of membership and participation in the election.

“The issues of favoritism, sectionalism and class system are visible within the LCC,” the PNP alleged.

According to PNP, to label certain groups of Churches as mainline churches while the majority of the churches are disdained as grassroot churches is segregation, divisiveness and reflects a serious reminder of the country’s ugly, imperial past.

“The National Pastoral Network for Peace, therefore, calls on the Liberia Council of Churches to return to status quo ante and render the election as a serious human error and refrain, renounce and move away from all divisive class system and segregation,” they said.

The network noted that it is its prayer that the LCC reclaims its sacred status amongst the comity of ecumenical bodies in Liberia and the world at large.

When contacted, Rev. Dr. Samuel Reeves declined to comment on the matter and promised to provide a response in due time. Elected during a white ballot election on May 28, Reverend Reeves is expected to be inducted on Friday, June 3.