PROFILE OF EPISCOPAL DIOCESE OF LIBERIA
Where Have We Come From?
Liberia is a West African country founded in 1822 by free men of color from the United States. The freed-men who settled here, matriculated from Shebro Island in Sierra Leone and landed on an island they named Providence Island on the Du River as was called by the indigenous Dey and Gola people who lived along its banks. In the ensuing years, more freed-men of color settled along the Atlantic shores of Maryland, Sinoe, Grand Bassa, Cape Mount and the upper banks of the St. Paul River of Montserrado. Some others settled on another island they named Bushrod Island in honor of Thomas Bushrod who was sent by the American Colonization Society to purchase land from the indigenous people for the settlers.
After 25 years as a growing commonwealth, the settlers declared independence on July 26, 1847, and named the new state Liberia. The new state was comprised of four counties - Montserrado, Grand Bassa, Grand Cape Mount, and Sinoe. In 1859, the state of Maryland in the east joined the four original states after a bloody war with the indigenous Grebo people of that region.
As a growing modern independent state, the first in Africa, over a period of 163 years, Liberia has had 22 leaders, most of whom were from Montserrado County. Liberia has 16 principal tribal groups ,all of whom share habitations in her political and commercial Capital, Monrovia.
Liberia is bordered by three countries, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Ivory Coast on her west, north and east and by the Atlantic Ocean on her south.
Beginning in 1990, the people of Liberia suffered a bloody civil war that ravaged the land and sent its people into refugee camps across West Africa and other parts of the world. The war was ended in 2003 and a democratic election was conducted in 2005 which brought Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Africa and Liberia’s first female leader to power. Liberia has a population of 3.5 million people
The Episcopal Church of Liberia: The Episcopal Church of Liberia was established in 1836, in the then state of Maryland, which is situated on the southeastern shores of Liberia. Missionaries supported by the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States built churches and opened schools in that region of Liberia among the Grebo people. In the continuation of her missionary work, the Episcopal Church spread to the neighboring county of Sinoe. Simultaneously, the work spread to Grand Bassa and Cape Mount County on the western border with Sierra Leone. From Cape Mount County, the work spread to Lofa County through the efforts of the Order of the Holy Cross missionaries, who built churches, schools and a monastery in Bolahun and Kolahun among the Gbandi people of that region. The Episcopal Church opened a Divinity School in Maryland under the bishopric of Samuel David Ferguson. In the ensuing years under the bishopric of Bravid Harris (1945-1964) the Divinity School was transferred to Suacoco in Bong County and became a college.
The Episcopal Church has since her establishment, opened many primary and high schools in ten counties of Liberia. Some of the schools are Bethany, Bromley, B. W. Harris, St. John’s Mission, J.D. K. Baker, S.D. Ferguson, Canterbury, St. John High, St. Paul High etc…
The Episcopal Church has had 12 diocesan bishops and two suffragan bishops. The first Liberian-born bishop was George Daniel Browne (1970-1993), followed by Edward Neufville (1996-2007) and Jonathan Hart (2007-).