Ubuntu Retreat Centre at Africa University

Ubuntu Retreat Centre at Africa University Nears Completion-UMCD Donors Raise $27,000

By:  Pam Mettler

The long-awaited Ubuntu Retreat Centre at Africa University (AU) is in its final stages of being built.  Construction crews are on target and have set December 13th of this year as the completion date.  University administrators are planning a special dedication ceremony in March 2014.   Why are we so excited?  Through the support of United Methodist Church of the Dunes (UMCD) members, our church has raised $27,000 toward a meeting room for classes, seminars and mission meetings, which will train the next generation of Africa’s leaders.

“UMCD’s original goal was to raise $20,000, and with the extra $7,000, plus other monies received from church donors throughout the region, developers will purchase much-needed fixtures, office furniture, kitchen equipment and beds for guest rooms at the Centre,” said Don Reis, UMCD Ubuntu project manager.

The dream of both African and U.S. church leaders has been to develop AU as a center of excellence to foster ethical, moral leadership in students who will, someday, lead the country.  Africa is rich in minerals, agriculture and land.  Developing leaders with skill sets that include fiscal management, integrity, vision and good conduct will help capitalize on the anticipated growth in this country in order to manage these rich resources for the future.  The Institute of Peace, Leadership and Governance has already emerged from AU’s strong dedication to ethical and moral leadership.  It helps provide for these type of forums.  As the Institute grew and enrollment spiked, there was no place on campus to stay, resulting in students traveling to the nearest town of Hatari.  Thus, the Ubuntu Retreat Centre has become a necessity.

“It is also predicted that by the year 2040 Africa will have the most Christians, so it became implicit that this Centre be developed to train and nurture the next generation’s leaders,” said Don Reis.

UMCD’s generous gift, along with another $20,000 provided by a “cluster” of Methodist churches in west Michigan—including Central and Crestwood in Muskegon, First U-M in Holland, Lake Harbor, Lakeside, Montague U-M, Temple in Muskegon Heights, Community U-M in North Muskegon, Whitehall and Claybanks UMC—will be recognized with plaques at the new Ubuntu Retreat Centre.  Overall, the West Michigan Conference of United Methodist churches raised $500,000 and a generous donor provided a $500,000 match toward this important buildout.

“Our U-M Church of the Dunes was the first church to set a $20,000 commitment toward this project and we became the standard bearer for all churches who wanted to help pay for rooms within the Retreat Centre,” said Don Reis.

Having a special Retreat building is a very important component for AU because it is a place dedicated and recognized for emerging leaders to come together for peaceful resolution of issues that will confront them.  Upon its completion in December, the Centre will include 19 rooms.  These will accommodate students and visitors in the new computer center, dining room, commercial kitchen, greeting space, overnight guest rooms, plus several meeting rooms.

“Our UMCD Church Council encouraged us from the beginning to raise the monies needed for this amazing new Centre and it has been done in good faith.  Our church members stepped out first to get the project started.  Through risk taking and accepting this challenge, we have actually helped make it happen,” said Don Reis.

The Grand Rapids District of the United Methodist Church has recognized the contribution made by United Methodist Church of the Dunes’ members toward the Ubuntu Retreat Centre with a special plaque gifted to the church.

For further information about Africa University and the Ubuntu Retreat Centre, please follow this link to the west Michigan U-M Church District website:  http://www.grdistrictumc.org/