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Bishop’s gift creates new pool at Africa University

Posted by Erik Alsgaard on

By Erik Alsgaard
UMConnection Staff

The relationship between the Baltimore-Washington Conference and Africa University stretches back decades, even to the point before it actually existed. That relationship went a little deeper recently with the groundbreaking of a new swimming pool at Africa University, the first piece of a new Sports Complex on campus.

Bishop Marcus Matthews
Bishop Marcus Matthews 

The money for the pool comes from the BWC through the gifts given in honor of Bishop Marcus Matthews’ 2016 retirement. Members made a splash by raising more than $330,000.

“I will always be indebted to the laity and clergy of the Baltimore-Washington Conference for our ministry together,” said Bishop Matthews. “I cherish those days I served among you as pastor, district superintendent, council director and bishop. Your gift to Barbara and me through the funds raised for a fitness/sports complex at Africa University will always be dear to my heart. We praise God that a swimming pool — as the first stage of that process — is now becoming a reality. Thank you for your support of Africa University and our global church.  May God continue to be glorified through your ministry.”

Africa University at the groundbreaking for the new pool
Bishop Marcus Matthews (center) is joined by others from the BWC and
Africa University at the groundbreaking for the new pool.

Africa University, created by the 1988 General Conference of The United Methodist Church, opened its doors four years later, with the first graduates coming in 1994. 

In 2007, the Baltimore-Washington Conference joined in a partnership with United Methodists in the Zimbabwe Episcopal Area, the location of Africa University. One of the cornerstones of the partnership is the Pastors’ School, held every two years at Africa University, with BWC leaders providing most of the support in resources and instructors. The most recent school occurred in 2017.

James Salley, Associate Vice-Chancellor for Institutional Advancement in the Africa University Development Office, said that the new pool is an important step in the advancement of the school.

“When you come to Africa University,” Salley said, “you’re going to get a world-class academic and learning experience, but we’re also working on our students’ sports and social experiences.”

With the latter in mind, Salley said, the Sports Complex was begun. The pool is the first phase. As additional resources are received, the complex will take shape. The pool is expected to be completed by the end of July.

Salley said that Vice Chancellor Munashe Furusa talked with students at the school and asked them what they wanted today on campus regarding sports. The consensus answer was a swimming pool. Africa University already has soccer and rugby fields, and tennis and basketball courts.

An outdoor pool for now, it is 25 by 22 meters, Salley said, but can be expanded to Olympic standards (50 meters long) later. Groundbreaking for the pool took place on March 24, with Bishop Matthews and Carol and Charlie Moore, among others, present to represent the BWC.

Construction has already begun on the new swimming pool at Africa University.
Construction has already begun on the new swimming pool at Africa University.

The pool will help Africa University recruit new students, Salley said. The school already hosts national and regional soccer and rugby competitions, and the new pool will boost their ability to host those kinds of activities.

“People in the BWC need to know how thankful we are and how blessed we feel by their investments in enhancing the student’s life on the campus,” said Salley. “They are helping us help the students have a quality, whole, wonderful and enjoyable and healthful experience as they matriculate at Africa University.”