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Saturday, January 28, 2023

Wrightsville Methodist Sierra Leone bound

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A group of seven from Wrightsville United Methodist Church will land in the West African country of Sierra Leone on May 16 to spend 12 days working on the reestablishment of the Rotifunk Hospital.

Edie Gleaves, WUMC associate minister and former United Methodist Church Global Ministries member, said the connection between WUMC and Sierra Leone United Methodist Church began after she took a trip to the area and when the Wrightsville congregation decided to become involved in international outreach.

“Our church has been very active in local missions and we wanted to expand into international missions,” Gleaves said. “When I left the board of global ministries and came to be a pastor here in 2010, something about Sierra Leone really impacted my heart.”

Gleaves said Bishop John Yambasu of SLUMC recommended working on Rotifunk Hospital after the United Methodist Church of Norway helped restore the facility. The hospital was one of the premier healthcare facilities but was destroyed in the civil war that engulfed Sierra Leone in the 1990s. The hospital is located in one of the poorest regions of the country. Once it is operational, Gleaves said the hospital would primarily focus on maternity care and secondarily on HIV/AIDS education and training.

Wrightsville Beach resident Nancy Faye Craig is one of the seven traveling to Sierra Leone for the mission and said WUMC has already raised $16,000 for the installation of a deep water well to help combat the region’s lack of potable water. Although each team member is required to contribute $1,000 for travel, additional fundraising is ongoing to fund lodging and supplies, Craig said.

The next trip fundraiser will be a one-woman play at TheatreNOW on Sunday, April 13, at 7 p.m. Carol Pendergrast, a native of Norway, will perform “From Norway to America With Love,” which follows her journey to America.

Gleaves said the performance ties into the Norwegian connection in Sierra Leone. Pendergrast contacted Gleaves about performing for free after learning about the mission.

The performance will be free and open to the public with donations accepted for the WUMC mission to Sierra Leone.

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