For more than five decades the Rev. Jonathan Weaver has traveled from the United States to Africa, whether it was for medical ministry in Rwanda, or to build a school in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“People in America need to have a global perspective about life,” said Weaver, who stepped down as pastor of Greater Mt. Nebo African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in June, after 34 years, to begin his work as a presiding elder of the AME Church’s Potomac District.
While the longtime pastor and faith leader is busy overseeing 40 churches throughout the area, his commitment to Africa, which began when he took his first trip in 1971, has not changed.
In 2015, Elder Kamutera Kulu Salomon and the Rev. Seraphin Mutabazi, both of the AME Church in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo (D.R.C.) came up with the idea of building a school.
In addition to providing access to education, the institution– called The Weaver School– increases the impact of the A.M.E. Church in the local communities. Congolese officials say the school was named after Weaver to honor his impact on countless lives of Congolese people during his evangelical, charity, and medical missions in Goma, D.R.C. since 2010.”
“Millions of children in Congo can’t go to school because they can’t afford it. Their families live on $3 a day,” Weaver said in an interview from Africa. “They have to choose between housing and food. We are filling. a tremendous gap.”
There are plans to increase the capacity of The Weaver School, but he said one person who played a critical role in the school’s construction was Ulysses Jefferson, a retired State Department official and government contractor, who donated $375,000 to purchase land for the school.
The community has reached out to the longtime pastor and mission leader to show gratitude for his dedication to educating the students of Goma.
“We are honored to be writing to thank you for your commitment and support throughout this academic year,” Olivier Pendo, an English teacher at the school, wrote in a letter to Weaver.
“We would like to let you know how much having you as a mentor has meant a lot to every individual at the Weaver School – Goma,” Pendo continued. “Your guidance and support have been instrumental in helping us achieve this 2022-2023 academic year. Please, do receive our heartfelt gratitude.”
What’s Next for Weaver and His Work in Africa
Weaver has made more than 50 trips to Africa and in 2012 he made the trip with doctors and nurses from his old church to go to Rwanda for two weeks at a time.
“We set up a temporary unit inside the sanctuary and worked from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.,” he said. “We carried medicines to Rwanda and then we had Raymon Nelson, cardiologist from Mt. Nebo who went with us from 2012 to 2019. After his first trip, he asked me, ‘When we are coming back?’”
But Weaver has had a passion for anything that he has been involved in.
In 1992, Greater Mt. Nebo AME Church, in suburban Upper Marlboro, Maryland, applied to its bank for a $50,000 loan. As the church’s pastor had attracted so many new members until the church outgrew its old building.
Even though Mt. Nebo repaid a $200,000, 30-year mortgage within seven years, the bank imposed punitive requirements on the church, and Weaver, who had an MBA from Harvard, mobilized pastors across the area to form what began the Collective Banking Group.
Today the group is called the Collective Empowerment Group with more than 300 pastors and church leaders with chapters in across the country.
Even though he is the presiding elder of the Potomac District of the Washington Annual Conference of the AME church Weaver, 73, still plans to visit Africa at least three times this year.
“I have a national prayer breakfast in November and a wedding in early December,” said Weaver, who also has a campaign to donate cows and goats to needy families to get fresh milk.