It is happening again for the upteenth time in Somerset, New Jersey where Sierra Leone churches have the tendency to break up. In so small a community, there are now four Sierra Leone churches .The latest church on the brink of collapse is Bethel United African Church of Franklin Township where a bitter battle is raging between the Pastor, Bishop Sam Boyabei and recalcitrant members.
Yesterday , some members of the church dashed to the COCORIOKO office to appeal to the Editor to bring the crisis to the notice of the public in a desperate attempt to get the community to intervene. They said that the situation in the church has worsened with members openly pointing fingers at their pastor, hissing at him and threatening him. It was said that few sundays ago , while Pastor Boyabei was leading the Sunday Praises , the women’s leader, whose name was given as Rebecca Jaka went and unplugged the microphone , thereby bringing the singing session to an end. Scenes of chaos with members almost going into blows were described by the aggrieved congregants , one of whom cried bitterly in our office.
The members said that there is a big struggle for power in the church and this has pitched the Pastor against one of the founders, community activist and pharmacist , Mr. Victor Fakondo , who is solidly supported in the row with the pastor by the organist, Jonathan Vandi , one Frank Koroma and Ms. Jaka . Calls made by COCORIOKO to Mr. Fakondo did not go through .
Pastor Boyabei , by the way, is the founder of the Army of God Assemblies in Freetown , Sierra Leone. He was one of the teachers of the Editor of this newspaper , Rev. Wilfred Leeroy Kabs-Kanu , in Bible college in Liberia. He is a fiery and powerful preacher and a much-acclaimed man of God who set Liberia and Sierra Leone on fire with his sermons and teachings.
He came to the U.S. on a preaching tour and was invited to the Bethel Church to preach during a special program .Boyabei met the church embriolled in another big conflict , involving another tug-of-war between Mr. Fakondo and the then Pastor, a Pentecostal preacher called Sangule . When Sangule left along with a top member , Mr. Bunting Macauley , to form his own church which now meets at the Fire house at Somerset, Bishop Boyabei was asked to head the Bethel Church. But it did not take long for Rev. Boyabei to fall out with members as had previously happened to the church’s other ministers like Jonathan Decker , Billy Simbo and a Jamaican preacher , whose name was not given. Simbo formed his own church in Somerset, called the Evangel United Brethren , after he left Bethel.
The Bethel members want the public to know about the crisis this time so that a thorough investigation could be conducted on the reasons for all these conflicts in the Sierra Leone church in New Jersey.
We are going to interview Bishop Boyabei, Mr. Fakondo and other members relevant to the conflict in future articles. Our position as a newspaper is a neutral party .We will unearth all the problems and provide the community with something to work on to restore peace to the church for once.