Library under construction at Liberia seminary

By Vicki Brown, Special Contributor…

The Rev. Yatta Young poses at the construction site for a new library at Gbarnga School of Theology in Liberia. PHOTO COURTESY GENERAL BOARD OF HIGHER EDUCATION AND MINISTRY

A new $300,000 library to replace the building looted during Liberia’s civil war is under construction on the campus of the Gbarnga School of Theology.

“The library was up to first floor level when I left for school in early January,” said the Rev. Yatta Young, dean of the seminary. She is studying for a D.Min. at Saint Paul School of Theology in Kansas City, Mo.

“The former library building and other structures on the United Methodist Mission campus [where the school is located] were destroyed by warring factions. What little they left standing was destroyed by the elements: rain, sunshine, moisture, humidity and termites. The books and furniture were used as wood for cooking. Toward the end of the crisis, some were bartered for food. That business was called ‘buy your own thing.’ That meant that you had to pay some money for the book even if your name was written on it,” Ms. Young said.

She said there is no special funding for the construction. Bishop John Innis is raising funds for the construction and the Liberia Annual Conference and United Methodist Church members have been asked to get everyone involved in fundraising.

“Each category was asked to decide the amount each person should give. So each group, for example faculty members, agreed on a certain amount that each would contribute to the library,” Ms. Young said.

“We have received funds from friendly folks abroad: Mrs. Diane Shumaker of Kansas City, Mo., donated $20,000 and the family of the late Rev. Paul Saundar of Norway gave $2,000. We also received $3,000 from Arlington Baptist Church in Arlington, Va.,” she said.

She said the $300,000 estimate for completion does not include installing shelves for books or buying furniture.

“We are soliciting funds from sympathizers, well-wishers and supporters of theological education everywhere for both the construction and furnishing of the library with books, other pertinent reading materials, computers and more,” Ms. Young said.

“The seminary is open to all denominations and so is very popular. The challenges we face are enormous. We need all the help we can get to rebuild the campus. We are also soliciting small needs-based grants for women desirous of getting a theological education,” Ms. Young said.

She said $1,000 [U.S.] can support a student for two semesters, or an academic year. This money will be used for registration, tuition, dormitory fees, and stationery supplies such as notebooks and photocopying.

The Revitalization of the Gbarnga Mission and School of Theology/United Methodist University is a designated Advance Special Giving project, Advance #3020679. Donations to the Advance on behalf of the school can also be made online at

Gifts of goods can be shipped via Joe and Carolyn Wagner of the Indiana Annual Conference. E-mail them at mailto: Learn more about their work at


Ms. Brown is associate editor and writer, Office of Interpretation, General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.

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