From September 9-13 2013, the World Methodist Council gathered together from throughout the globe in the cradle of Methodism, Wesley’s Chapel. What follows are highlights of the meeting.
The Family Gathers
“You haven’t come to visit, you have come home.” With these words of Lord Leslie Griffiths, Minister of Wesley’s Chapel welcomed more than 250 delegates from 36 countries as the World Methodist Council gathered in London. The Historic Chapel would inspire our work. It is where John Wesley lived and preached, where in 1881 the World Methodist Council came into being, and where the vision of a ‘Worldwide Parish’ was born.
The Council received three new member Churches, the Uniting Church in Sweden and the Free Methodist Churches in both Rwanda and The Congo bringing the number of member churches to 80.
General Secretary Ivan Abrahams challenged ‘…the Council to be a spiritual and moral force in the Wesleyan family and in the world.’
The Family Considers
Every Council delegate serves on a Standing Committee. From the significant time set aside for committees to meet reports were made to the Council. Some highlights of the committee meetings are:
- Social Justice brought two resolutions seeking non-violent resolution in Syria, and a response to the Arms Fair in London.
- Ecumenical Relations proposed a new committee Faith and Unity to focus on and promote dialogue within the Methodist family.
- Family Life proposed a focus on Children and Rights of the Child.
- Youth and Young Adults proposed increasing active, essential participation of youth and young adults in the life of the Council.
- Education highlighted the critical importance of education to Council life and Christian development.
- Evangelism shared their passionate Vision and theme for 2016. One family, One Mission. That the World may know Jesus Christ.
- Worship and Liturgy are planning to make Liturgies and Children’s resources available on line.
- Theological Education shared a proposal for a leadership Academy
- A new and very significant Standing Committee Inter-religious Relationships, reported for the first time.
- Finance reminded of the decision made in Durban for member churches to be asked to contribute 50 cents per member to the Achieving the Vision Endowment. The aim is to establish a US$20 million endowment which can provide ongoing income to fund the Council’s work.
Affiliates to the Council also reported:
- Oxford Institute, the papers from the recent meeting are available on line.
- Epworth Old Rectory, reminded of the treasure of Methodism which belongs to us all.
- Ministerial Exchange encouraged
- World Federation of Methodist and Uniting Church Women have been focusing on the Millennium Goals
- Methodist and Uniting Church Men brought forth a resolution to mobilise Methodists to fight hunger.
- World Methodist Historical Society are committing themselves to increased networking with member Churches
A common recurring thread in Committee reports was the need to increasingly use e-mail and virtual meetings to involve more people, more easily share information and reduce costs. Our work was also inspired and enabled by phenomenal worship.
The Methodist Peace award for 2013 was awarded to Marion and Anita Way. Missionaries in Angola and Brazil, the citation noted, “In 54 years of continuous service the couples work helped more than 15,000 children and 45,000 families, and more than 100,000 through the outreach that their organisations conduct”. Sadly Marion died in May 2013, but Anita was present to receive the medal, citation and cheque for US$1000.
All the work of the Council had a future focus, but there was a particular emphasis on the World Methodist Conference which will meet in Houston Texas from August 31st to September 4th 2016. The theme: One, One people, One Faith, One table, One Lord Jesus. Sarah Wilkie programme coordinator asked, “what is the dish you will bring to the table”, requesting member churches to suggest workshop leaders, speakers, and other key participants who can inspire.
As delegates left Wesley’s Chapel they must walk past the Statue of Wesley. On the plinth the words ‘The World is my Parish” are engraved. With this in mind Lord Griffiths challenged. “Go from this place to change the world in the Spirit of Christ”