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Sierra Leone News: Zion Methodist Church proclaimed National Protected Heritage Asset

Zion Methodist Church

Zion Methodist Church

In line with the provisions of section 10 of the Monument and Relics Act of 1962, the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma has proclaimed the Zion Methodist Church (Zion on the Hill) situated on Wesley Street as a National Protected Heritage Asset.
The proclamation ceremony which took place on Sunday 23rd October at the church’s building was attended by government dignitaries who include members of the Monument and Relics Commission, Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, the National Tourist Board and well-wishers.
The Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Joseph F. Kamara serving as the president’s representative during the ceremony delivered the proclamation certificate to the congregation.
Delivering the closing courtesy to the congregation, the chairperson of the Monument and Relics Commission, Isatu Smith described the occasion as a mile stone in the heritage protection sector in the country. She said “proclaiming an asset in the nation requires a lot of both procedural and legislative action considering the fact that the last proclamation was done over 57 years ago.”
She went on the say that the process of proclaiming the said church as a national heritage started in 2015 as the Monument and Relics Act describes certain steps to be followed leading to the nomination of a certain proclamation. Smith said all of those steps were followed.
She added also that the said Act gives power to her commission to recommend the proclamation of any monument site provided they had gone through the afore mentioned procedure. She said at the recommendation of the former minister of tourism and cultural affairs, the commission through the tourism ministry recommended the proclamation of the said church in December 2015.
According to the chair, some of the benefits of a national protected asset are: the official protection and recognition, comprehensive reservation of the asset to protect its integrity and listing of the asset as a national tourist attraction.
The preacher, Rt. Rev. Arnold C. Temple, said the history of the country has relationship with the church. He stated that the Christian Missionary Society and the Wesleyan Methodist Church played an important role in the settlement of the slaves captured on high seas in the 1800s. “This church is as a result of that historical fact.”
Citing some of the significant events undertaken by the church, the preacher said, the ordination of the first Methodist ministers was done in the church. He furthered that the said society, provided space for the Sierra Leone synod and “it was the leading congregation of what was known as the Freetown first circuit.”
Speaking on the text, proverb 22:28, the preacher expressed dissatisfaction over the present state of the church in relation to the issue of governance, especially in the aspect of education. He said the church played a very significant role in promoting education in the country.
“The school system was started by the church. Today, the church is being elbowed out in the system of education”, he lamented.
In addition to the proclamation of the church as an heritage site, the Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Sidie Yahya Tunis, at the ceremony, unveiled the Methodist Museum. The said museum comprise of pictures of early Methodist missionaries, a saw, which was part of the Goombay musical instrument, old church bell, creole attire used during church service among others.
Zion Methodist Church will be two hundred years old in February, next year.
By Edna Smalle
Tuesday October 25, 2016

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