West African archbishop retires due to ill health

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The Primate of the Anglican Church of West Africa, the Most Rev. Jonathan Hart, Bishop of Liberia, will step down from office on June 1 due to ill health. Archbishop Hart is currently in the United States receiving treatment following a stroke. 

In his March 24, 2022 letter he stated that “owing to my ill health which makes it difficult to continue serving as Diocesan Bishop, I have peacefully decided that I will resign and retire as Bishop of the Episcopal Church of Liberia on Wednesday, June 1, 2022.”

Bishop Hart was educated at Cuttington College in Liberia and earned a Masters of Divinity Degree from the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass. He consecrated Bishop of Liberia on 2 March 2008 and elected Archbishop of the Internal Province of West Africa of the Church of the Province of West Africa on 1 March 2014. On 3 March 2019 he was enthroned as Primate and Archbishop of the province.  

The Church of the Province of West Africa comprises over a million members in eight West African nations: Cameroon, Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Senegal and Sierra Leone. The church is divided into two internal provinces: the Church of Ghana, led by Archbishop Cyril Ben-Smith, and the Church of West Africa, which had been led by Bishop Hart.

The Anglican Church in Liberia was founded by American missionaries in 1836 and was part of the Episcopal Church of the USA until 1982, when it was transferred by the Episcopal Church’s General Convention to the Church of West Africa.

A bishop-coadjutor was elected last month for Liberia. The Rt. Rev. James B. Sellee will assume the post of diocesan bishop, while the West African bishops will elect his successor as primate and archbishop of the internal province of West Africa.