By: E. Geedahgar Garsuah, Sr.
MONROVIA: The ‘Investigative’ INDEPENDENT has gathered that the Lutheran Church of Liberia has been embroiled in conflict as its members and officials are at loggerheads.
It has also been gathered that the increasing misunderstanding among the church congregations has been warranted by allegation that Lutheran Bishop, Dr. Daniel Jensen Senyenkulo, unilaterally nullified the result of the recently held National Lutheran Church Women Fellowship Elections for personal reasons.
According to our sources, Bishop Senyenkulo cancelled the church’s women fellowship election result which was held on the Saturday, March 19, 2022 in the edifice of the Lutheran Training Institute situated in Salayea, Lofa County.
According to our sources, the discontentment started on Sunday morning, March 20, 2022, twenty-four hours after voting, when Bishop Senyenkulo allegedly informed the gathering of over 500 delegates who had gathered for worship service and induction program of elected officials that the outcome of the election has been nullified on grounds that two-vote margin speaks of disunity among Lutheran women.
Sources say the election result placed Madam Annie Flomo of the St. Mathew Lutheran Church, located in Red Light, Paynesville City, as the winner with 148 votes, while Madam Yamah Lorpu Bowah of the Bardnersville Lutheran Church came second with the accumulated votes of 146.
This paper has also gathered that election results were counted on three different occasions which placed Madam Annie Flomo as winner with a two-vote margin, but the Election Steering Committee, on the alleged order of Bishop Senyenkulo, failed to officially declare Madam Flomo winner of the process to the dismay of delegates.
However, delegates were still hopeful that the winner (Madam Flomo) would be announced and subsequently inducted into office along with other elected officials after the Sunday, March 20, 2022, worship service in keeping with the Church’s tradition, but to the shock of delegates who were eagerly awaiting the commencement of the induction ceremony, Bishop Senyenkulo allegedly broke the rules by announcing the cancelation of the elections results.
Bishop Senyenkulo whose five years tenure expires later this month has allegedly mandated the current leadership, headed by Madam Theodosia Scott, to continue steering the affairs of the National Lutheran Church Women Fellowship until further notice.
This paper has also been hinted by highly placed sources of a purported ploy allegedly by the Election Steering Committee, allegedly in cohort with Bishop Senyenkulo to rerun the electoral process on grounds that the Committee made a big mistake by omitting the names of some delegates including formers Queens and the Wives of Pastors.
Sources however said, the alleged omitting of names of some eligible delegates by the Election Steering Committee was a pretext to rerun the election, something the sources said, has been sternly rejected by majority of the delegates, citing violation of Article 10 Section 2 (a) of the National Lutheran Church Women Fellowship Constitution.
The above constitution provision states that “Person with the right to speak, propose but not vote shall be resource persons, fraternal delegates, and observers,” a category in which queens and wives of pastors fall.
Sources, speaking on anonymity have told this paper that the reason for which Bishop Senyenkulo cancelled the election results is because his favorite for the National Lutheran Church Women Fellowship Presidential post, Madam Yamah Lorpu Bowah of the Bardnersville Lutheran Church was defeated at the March 19, 2022 polls.
Sources further hinted that Bishop Senyenkulo wants Lutheran Church Women to vote his choice at the upcoming Bishop election that will climax his five-year tenure.
Bishop Senyenkulo’s action to have cancelled a major election few weeks to the end of his tenure is unprecedented in the history of the Lutheran Church, one source indicated.
“The tight vote margin in the just ended women elections in not a strange phenomenon as several past elections have recorded narrow vote margins”, our sources disclosed.
“The narrow vote margin is not a genuine reason to cancel the election results as it was not the first time in the church’s history for someone to win by a slight Margin”. According to highly placed church insiders, in 2018, Gotoe Jallah won Abraham Mulbah 118-117 votes to become Financial Secretary of the National Lutheran Youth Fellowship, while in 2016, Jerome Jallah, defeated Moses Togba 26-25 votes to serve as President of the Monrovia District Youth in Harrisburg, Montserrado County.”
Our sources added that Bishop Senyenkulo’s recent action has ignited serious confusion among the Lutheran Church of Liberia women ahead of the Lutheran Bishop Elections scheduled to be held this month.
According to the Lutheran Church insiders, while the bishop has the right to a seat at every convention and to observe the elections process, he has no voting right, and it is not in his power to cancel election results. According to our investigation, a party in the election had earlier protest the inclusion of their names on the voters roll which were removed, but the election commission and Bishop Senyenkulo attempted to change the rules to allow them vote which could lead to victory for the Bishop’s choice of candidate in Madam Yamah Lorpu Bowah of the Bardnersville Lutheran Church after it emerged that Madam Annie Flomo had won by a slight margin of 2 votes.
The Lutheran Church is expected to go to election later this month, and the March 19, 2022 National Lutheran Church Women Fellowship convention was an opportunity for those wanting to replace Bishop Senyenkulo to test their strength by ensuring victory for their candidates.
It is reported that four out of the five individuals vying for the Lutheran Church Bishop in the upcoming election include outgoing Bishop Senyenkulo who reportedly supported Madam Yamah Lorpu Bowah.
According to our investigation, Madam Annie Flomo, winner of the cancelled election is an ardent and vocal supporter of Reverend Oretha Miller Davis, the only female candidate in the upcoming Bishop election who supported her.
Indication suggests that Bishop Senyenkulo considered Madam Flomo’s victory as a massive boost for Reverend Davis who is likely poised to defeat Pastor Mulbah Zayzay, Bishop Senyenkulo choice for the Bishop post at the upcoming election.
Religious pundits within the corridor of the Lutheran Church are still wondering why Bishop Senyenkulo will want to serve as a stumbling block for Madam Davis ambition to be elected as bishop when she was a key proponent of his election in 2012 and his subsequent re-election in 2017.
It is also reported that Bishop Senyenkulo has filed a formal complaint against Reverend Oretha Miller Davis to the Church Board of Ministry, Theology, Evangelism and Adjudication.
He reportedly accused her of being the mastermind of the growing confusion in the women fellowship owing to his decision to nullify the outcome of the election.
According to the church’s insiders, the Bishop also called for an immediate audit of the church ongoing Radio construction project and also recommended that Reverend Davis should serve a punishment. It is unclear whether the bishop has called for a comprehensive and forensic audit of his outgoing administration.
There is also emerging allegation that Bishop Senyenkulo is seriously opposed to the election of a female as bishop of the Lutheran Church of Liberia on grounds that the time is not feasible for the church to elect a female to steer the affairs of the Lutheran Church.
It has also been alleged that Bishop Senyenkulo is said to have been successful in convincing approximately 90% of Lutheran Church male pastors from electing a female as bishop.
Three men are expected to battle two women for the right to replace Bishop Dr. Jensen Senyenkulo whose 5 years (two terms) end later this Month.
Others sources in the corridor of power of the Lutheran Church have expressed doubts that the upcoming bishop election will be held if the current impasse is not amicably resolved.
When contacted by this paper for his reaction to the allegations levied against him via a mobile phone, Bishop Senyenkulo declined to comment. He also failed to respond to several text messages sent to him via a mobile phone.