Our History

Liberia’s UMC: Roots, Birth and Growth

The Liberia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church was established in 1833 by the late Reverend Melville B. Cox. He was sent from the Edenton Street United Methodist Church, Raleigh, North Carolina. He was the first Methodist Missionary from America sent by the General Conference to serve outside of America. Even though some of the earlier emancipated slaves to Liberia of Methodist background had begun “Camp Fire” meetings and various forms of evangelistic outreaches to communities as early as 1821, that decision by the General Conference to send Cox to Liberia made “the Liberia Mission” the first Methodist Episcopal Church Mission to Africa. The establishment of the Methodist Mission at that early beginning of our nation made it one of the first churches to be planted on the soil of Liberia.

Although he served in Liberia for only four months before his demise (March-July 1833) due to poor health, before his death, Cox planted the seed of the gospel that is still germinating and growing today. While on his dying bed, Cox wrote back to his home church these words, “Though a thousand fall, let not Africa be given up.

In joyful response to his “Macedonian call,” many other missionaries followed him and continued the work in Liberia, ending with Bishop Prince Albert Taylor in 1965. Indigenous leaders took over the helm of leadership, beginning with Bishop Stephen Trowen Nagbe in 1965. The leadership team of the Liberia Episcopal Area remains grateful to all its partners for sustaining the missionary zest of Rev. Cox over the decades of ministry with the Liberia Area. His call not to give up on doing ministry with the church in Africa still resonates with many partners and friends of the UMC in Liberia, resulting to church development and growth.

The LAC/UMC now operates several mission stations. Major among them are: The Ganta United Methodist Mission, established in 1926; the Gbarnga United Methodist Mission, established in 1947; the Camphor United Methodist Mission, established in 1947; and the Gbason Town Mission, established in the early 1970s. Two other mission stations that existed in the early history of the church were the King William’s Town Mission Station, established in 1929, and the Barclayville Mission Stations, established in 1933. Other Mission Stations recently established by the LAC/UMC are the Gbarpolu Mission Station and the Weala Mission Station.

The purpose of these stations has been to evangelize, make disciples, plant new congregations, construct schools, and clinics, and meet other basic needs of the communities in which they exist. Offering basic social services to the poor and needy has been a powerful strategy for accelerating the spread of the Gospel among Liberia’s people groups. We want to continue to share the love of God in this way, with the support of our partners.

Mission and Structure

The Liberia Annual Conference now has a membership of over 297,308 (LAC/UMC Statistics, 2018). This membership is strategically structured into conference organizations of men and women, fellowships of youth and young adults, and children’s Ministry. This structural organization of the church facilitates the active participation of every person, irrespective of age, tribe, sex, social or economic status. They include:

  • Twenty districts and one Circuit of the Conference
  • The Conference United Methodist Men Organization (CUMMO)
  • The Conference United Methodist Women Organization (CUMWO)
  • The Conference United Methodist Young Adult Fellowship (CUMYAF)
  • The Conference United Methodist Youth Fellowship (CUMYF)
  • The Conference United Methodist Children’s Ministry (CUMCM)
  • The Conference United Methodist Church School (CUMCS)


Currently, the Liberia Annual Conference operates several academic institutions at all levels-primary, elementary, junior high, secondary, and tertiary; as well as a teaching hospital and several health centers across the country. Some of its major high schools include College of West Africa (CWA), founded in 1839 and located in Monrovia; J. J. Roberts United Methodist High School, located on 12th Street, Sinkor; Williams V. S. Tubman-Gray High School, located in Gbarnga, Bong County; Ganta United Methodist High School, located in Ganta, Nimba County; W. P. L. Brumskine High School, lower Buchanan, Grand Bassa County.

In 2000, the LAC/UMC began operation of the United Methodist University (UMU) in response to the need for quality college education for the growing population of young people in Liberia and the West Africa sub-region in general. Today, the UMU operates seven (7) colleges across four (4) campuses in Liberia. The colleges are: Management and Administration, Theology, Health Sciences, Liberal and Fine Arts, Science and Technology, Agriculture, and Education. The University also operates the Bishop John G. Innis Graduate School of Theology.

Due to its growing student population resulting in overcrowded conditions and inadequate teaching and learning experiences at its downtown Monrovia Campus, the UMU has embarked upon a capital campaign project to relocate to a 54-acre land space on the Roberts International Airport Highway. The capital campaign project is targeted to raise thirty-four million United States Dollars (USD $34,000,000.00) for the relocation over a period of ten years. Within the next five years, the University is committed to mobilizing about half of this amount to commence the construction of its new campus.