Liberia: “Your Mission Is to Build”

Reverend Dr. James Bombo Sellee as Bishop Coadjutor of Liberia.

... The Right Rev. Dr. Mensah Torto tells Liberian Episcopal Bishop Coadjutor, the Very Rev. James B. Sellee.  

Just a few weeks after an intense Episcopal bishopric election bordering on the mild controversy, the ordination and consecration for the Very Reverend Dr. James Bombo Sellee as Bishop Coadjutor of Liberia, turned out to be a joyous display of unity in the Episcopal Diocese of Liberia.

At a solemn ceremony officiated by a team of Bishops from other dioceses in the province of West Africa, led by the Most Rev. Dr. Jonathan B.B. Hart, Primate of CPWA, Archbishop of Internal Province of West Africa (IPWA), Bishop of the Episcopal Church of Liberia. 

The liturgically rich event was colored with soul-stirring choral musical interludes that piqued the enthusiasm of the congregation who seemed to gladly receive Rev. Sellee as Bishop Coadjutor of the Episcopal Church of Liberia. He is the 13th person to be elected as Bishop of the Episcopal Church of Liberia.

Other visiting Archbishops and Bishops of the Province include The Right Reverend Dr. Daniel Sylvanus Mensah Torto of Accra, Ghana; Archbishop The Rt. Rev. Solomon Scott-Manga of Bo, Sierra Leone; The Rt. Rev. Jacques Boston of Guinea; The Rt. Rev. Dr. Canon Thomas Arnold I. Wilson of Freetown; among others.

Also at the Cathedral of the ordination were the General Secretary of the Liberia Council of Churches, Christopher Wleh Toe, I., Cllr. Cyril Jones of the Episcopal Church of Liberia and Seward M. Cooper, Chancellor of the Episcopal Church of Liberia, among others.

The investiture, which took place at the Cathedral Church of the Holy Trinity Episcopal on Broad Street, attracted clergymen and women, former and current government officials including former Vice President of Liberia Joseph Boakai, Maritime Commissioner Lenn Eugene Nagbe, Cllr. Benedict Sannoh, LPRC Managing Director, Madam Marie Urey-Coleman Browne and spouse, former Minister of Foreign Affairs Madam Majon Kamara, Mr. Gbehzohngar Milton Findley, Cuttington University President Madam Romell Horton, etc.

In a goodwill message at the occasion, the Rt. Rev. Dr. Daniel Sylvanus Mensah Torto, Bishop of the Province of Accra, prayed that the Almighty God would grant the new Bishop Coadjutor the grace, wisdom, strength and support he would always need in the discharge of his celestial responsibilities.

The Rev. Mensah Torto added that the mission of Bishop Coadjutor Sellee is three-fold: to teach the Word of God, sanctify the church, and govern it. He said it is a season for restorative leadership in the Episcopal church — a time to build and preach the Word of the Lord to his servants. He told Bishop Coadjutor that people will come from afar and bless him because he is a servant of the Lord, adding that, “in the glory of the gentiles you shall boast”.

“You shall eat the fruits of the gentiles and never labor in vain. Remember it is God who has qualified you. He has qualified you because He has called you. 12 bishops have come before you and you are the 13th.”

The Ghanaian Bishop, who preached from Isaiah 16:22 told the Bishop Coadjutor that the people of the diocese are hungry for the Word of God and are watching with a hopeful expectation of how the Holy Spirit will descend upon them.

According to him, referencing John 21:15-17, Jesus Christ restored Peter three times. So, the congregation of the diocese is hungry to see the Light of Christ shining through the life of their leader, to see their souls fed through the Word of God.

“Hoping to learn your commitment to Christ, people will see you as the Minister of God. The priest of God brings the people closer to God. That's a big challenge.  You have come at a time when authority is seemingly lost,” he added.

The Archbishop said the expectations of the people of a bishop, whether bad or good, are rooted in what makes them happy. 

“So be the Bishop that God expects you to be. Follow the paths of righteousness. Justice must prevail. Be guided by the word of God and nothing else. Half of these people who are here today may not be here with you tomorrow because some of them are your enemies,” Bishop Torto said.

He said what God does is always wonderful and anyone God calls, He anoints and equips them for His service.

“The message of Isaiah is a message of restoration and hope, Bishop Torto continued. “James, you are called to build. [The book of] Isaiah begins with doom and hopelessness but ends with blessings of restoration.

“Therefore, you have been called to build.  Everyone is looking for water to drink. For restoration; for So you are being called to build.” 

Fr. Sellee was elected on February 19, 2022, as Bishop Coadjutor with 183 votes (74.7%). He needed two-thirds of the total vote count in order to win. The election of Bishop Coadjutor was the main activity of a Special Diocesan Convention held over the weekend at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, Paynesville. Other candidates for the post included Rev. Dr. Herman Browne and Ernest T. Johnson.  

He will officially take over the Episcopal Church in June 2022, at which time the Most Rev. Dr. Jonathan B.B. Hart will be retired and hand over the mantle of authority to the Rev. Sellee.