Culberson speaks at confirmation

Confirmation Sunday Worship will be at 10:45 a.m. Sunday, May 22, at Mahomet United Methodist Church, with a luncheon following the service for confirmands.

Sarah Culberson will be the speaker.

Culberson was born in West Virginia to a young West Virginian and an African student. Both recognized that they were unprepared for marriage and child-rearing, and so Culberson was adopted by Judy and Jim Culberson in Morgantown, W.V.

As Culberson grew up in Morgantown she was active in athletics, drama, dance and musical theater. She majored in theater at West Virginia University, and continued her study and training at San Francisco where she received a master’s in performance from the American Conservatory Theater. She then moved to Los Angeles, where she has worked in television and danced professionally.

While none of her early passions have been abandoned, the story that drives much of her life now began when she found her birth father. She learned he returned to Sierra Leone, Africa. When she contacted him, he invited her to Sierra Leone so they could meet.

Upon reaching her “home village” of Bumpe, Culberson was welcomed with celebration and warmth by a community whose lives had been devastated by a recently concluded 11-year civil war. She discovered her father was a leading member of the ruling family, and that as his offspring, she was a maholoi, or princess. But the kingdom was in ruins. Her father directed a large, once respected boarding school that had since been destroyed by invading rebels. The country had dropped to the bottom of the UN’s Human Development Index. After this single, first visit, Culberson realized a call to service, to participate in the rehabilitation of a school, village and community.

Culberson has since shared her story in the Los Angeles Times, on CNN and Inside Edition. She has written a book entitled, “A Princess Found, an American Family, An African Chiefdom, and the Daughter who Connected Them All.” And she has co-founded the Kposowa Foundation whose goal of rebuilding Bumpe High School is well under way.

Culberson also is the sister of Laura Retallick, of Mahomet and member of the Mahomet United Methodist Church.


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