In the summer of 2004, the Illinois Conference of the United Church of Christ entered into a partnership with the Igreja Evangélica Congregacional em Angola (IECA — The Evangelical Congregational Church in Angola) with the encouragement and assistance of Global Ministries Team of the United Church of Christ and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). While the Partnership Team began in 2004, the history of IECA and North American Congregationalists is a long one, stretching back to the end of the 19th century. The Illinois Conference/Angola Partnership Team is responsible to continue the work and joy of developing and deepening these existing relationships.
Members of the Angola Partnership Team know from first-hand experience that our partner denomination in Angola, IECA, is amazing. In the midst of difficult circumstances, they give hope and support to about 1.5 million members. They are very actively involved in bringing people to deep Christian faith and in their social mission, focusing on education, healthcare, and nutrition. We are grateful for our ongoing, active partnership.
Conference Staff Consultant, Rev. Dr. Terrill Murff
Hymnal Project: Working with our partners, the Illinois Conference Angola Partnership Team enabled IECA to print and distribute 50,000 hymnals among its members. A hymnal is a critical personal resource for IECA members, being both used in services and at home for communal worship and personal spiritual growth.
Congregation-to-Congregation Partnerships: Starting in 2017, the Angola Partnership Team has worked to form congregation-to-congregation partnerships, allowing individual churches here in the Illinois Conference and in IECA to connect and develop relationships together through regular communication and prayer, shared bible study, and visiting each other’s congregations.
Language Institute: Our work with the Instituto de Línguas da IECA (the IECA Language Institute), beginning in 2018, has progressed to a program of three levels of English-language courses serving students in Huambo city and the surrounding area. While the Institute regularly runs classes, the building is still in dire need of repairs and improvements to make it easier for students and teachers to focus on the work of learning. There are also opportunities for American volunteers to visit and provide teaching support.
Dondi Hospital: In January of 2020, a physician from Union Church in Hinsdale served at the hospital at IECA’s Dondi Mission. There are hopes that more doctors will visit in the future to help meet the critical need for healthcare and to offer up-to-date training to Angolan health professionals.