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Schedule finalized for Congo Mission Network conference

Online participants can register up to March 14

by Scott O’Neill | Presbyterian News Service

Key speakers at the 2024 Congo Mission Network Conference will include, from left, the Rev. Zacharie Mboyamba Kabala, the Rev. Dr. Diane Givens Moffett, the Rev. Cheryl Barnes, and Dr. Larry Sthreshley.

LOUISVILLE — Next week’s Congo Mission Network conference, hosted by Charleston Atlantic Presbytery, finalized its schedule earlier this week and features several current and former PC(USA) mission co-workers hosting or presiding over topics important to the long-term health of education for the Congolese people. The conference’s theme is “Education for Transformation: Equipping Congolese Youth for the Future.”

According to Kelly Norrell, communications coordinator for the CMN, interested participants can register online right up until the day of the conference, which will be broadcast in both English and French. Registration is free for online attendees outside the United States; otherwise, there is a $25 fee. PC(USA) staff, mission co-workers, Congolese and college students can also register for free. In-person registration is $100.

Register here.

Congolese speakers via video will include, from left, Dr. Freddy Nsapu, coordinator of CPK Schools; Ilunga Munyoka of Kananga, coordinator of schools for the CPC for Central Kasai; Muamba Mpoyi Samuel of Mbuji-Mayi, also representing the CPC; and Dr. Samy Ntumba Mukendi, director of the Department of Health of CPK. Not pictured: Professor Muenyi Kamuinga of the Protestant University of Congo.

“Everyone who registers will get a Zoom link, but each participant must have the Zoom app in order to use the translation feature,” said Norrell. “Participants will have to choose a channel, English or French, to hear the simultaneous translation. The sessions are available on a computer, notebook or cell phone.”

The conference kicks off at 8 a.m. Eastern time on Thursday, March 14, and runs through noon Eastern time on Saturday, March 16. The complete schedule is below:

Thursday, March 14 (all times Eastern)

8:00    Registration Open

10:00  Congo 101 (Country, Churches, Partnership) — Jeff Boyd

10:30  History of Education in the Congo — Prof. Muenyi Kamuinga

11:00  Welcome & Opening Worship — CAP and Rev. Zacharie Mboyamba Kabala

12:00  The Rev. Dr. Diane Givens Moffett, president and executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency (via Zoom)

1:00    Lunch

2:00    Explanation of Localization (U.S. Agency for International Development) — Dr. Larry Sthreshley

3:00    Break

3:30    Mission co-workers — José Lamont Jones, Inge and Larry Sthreshley

5:00    Break

5:30    Mission co-workers — Christi and Jeff Boyd

6:30    Dinner

7:30    Overview of education in CPC & CPK — Video with discussion

Friday, March 15 (all times Eastern)   

7:30    Refreshments

8:00    Devotions — Presbytery of Charleston Atlantic

8:30    Keynote Address — Rev. Zacharie Mboyamba Kabala

10:00  Break

10:15  Education, Especially for Girls — The Rev. Cheryl Barnes

11:00  Exploration of localization — U.S. Agency for International Development (live discussion)

12:30  Lunch

1:30    Church and girls’/women’s health — Dr. Ntumba Samy (video)

2:00    Educational goals of Congolese government — Dr. Freddy Nsapu, Coordinator of CPK Schools (video)

3:00    Break

3:30    Updates on partnerships — Presbyteries, churches, and individuals

5:00    Dinner

Saturday, March 16 (all times Eastern)                      

7:30    Refreshments

8:30    Devotions — Presbytery of Charleston Atlantic

9:00    Apprenticeship centers – video and discussion

10:30  Break

11:00  Next steps in partnership

12:00  Adjournment and lunch

Thursday’s agenda features the president and executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, the Rev. Dr. Diane Givens Moffett, speaking to the delegation via Zoom about the Matthew 25 movement. In addition to several PC(USA) mission co-workers providing an overview of their work in the region, former mission co-worker Larry Sthreshley will provide an overview of localization, what is required to make it work, and how U.S. churches and their local partners can work together to use localization to strengthen the education work in Congo.

On Friday, the Rev. Zacharie Mboyamba Kabala of Kananga, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), will deliver the keynote address. He will be followed by the Rev. Cheryl Barnes, World Mission’s Africa area coordinator, who will present on the value of education, especially for young girls, on Friday.

Speakers will include Congo-based PC (USA) mission co-workers Jeff Boyd, regional liaison and Christi Boyd, regional facilitator for women’s and children’s interests; José LaMont Jones, educational specialist to the CPK; and Inge Sthreshley, who is seconded to IMA World Health.

“I will share some of my work in partnership with the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP), as education facilitator,” said Barnes. “The focus of my position as education facilitator was to improve the quality of education for more than 1,900 schools for the five synods under the CCAP umbrella in Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. It quickly became apparent to me that because of Covid, the focus of my work was to keep young girls in school as their opportunities for education decreased due to unplanned pregnancies during school closures. I will share my experiences on how a collaborative effort with the education directors of the five synods produced a program that allows new teen mothers the opportunity to return to school.”

For more information on the conference and its speakers, click here.

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