The Bishop of Liberia, the Rt. Rev. Jonathan Hart, writes that diocese has cancelled its 83rd Diocesan Convention scheduled for 6 Feb 2013 in Harper, Maryland County in Liberia.
In a statement released by the diocese, Bishop Hart said a shortage of funds prevented the diocese from holding its convention.
Founded by freed American and West Indian slaves in the 1830’s, the Episcopal Church has had a presence in the country since 1836 and was part of the Episcopal Church until 1979, when it transferred to the Church of the Province of West Africa.
In 1980 the government of President William Tolbert was overthrown in a coup led by Sergeant Doe. The coup ended the dominance of political and economic dominance of the Americo-Liberian minority – the descendants of the settlers of the 1830s who comprised only 5 per cent of the population – but ushered in a generation of turmoil
By the late 1980’s dissatisfaction with President Doe’s rule led to a civil war. In 1990 Charles Taylor and his National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) militia overran the capital, killing President Doe. The NPFL soon splintered and five years of civil war ensued amongst rival militia groups, ending in 1995 upon the intervention of a West African peacekeeping force.
Fighting resumed in 1999 with the conflict spilling over into neighboring Sierra Leone, where President Taylor had sent aid to rebels battling that government. In 2003 President Taylor stepped down from office in the face of international pressure and went into exile in Nigeria. A transitional government was formed and elections held in 2005.
However, in the 25 years following the murder of President Tolbert, 250,000 people were killed in the fighting and the country’s infrastructure was destroyed. Cuttington University College, founded and operated by the Episcopal Church and the oldest private university in Sub-Saharan Africa, was ransacked and most of its facilities were destroyed after successive waves of militia took possession of school in the fighting.
The bulk of the country’s Episcopal Churches were destroyed and the capital, Monrovia, remains without running water and a working electrical supply. The Episcopal Church entered into an aid agreement with the Diocese of Liberia in 2001, but its five year program of support has concluded and the diocese remains in a precarious financial situation.