“On The Move” – Second World Methodist Council Consultation on Migration September 4-7, 2023, in Manila, Philippines

On September 4-7, 2023, a group of about 25 people representing various member churches of the
World Methodist Council (WMC) and all the world regions gathered in Manila, Philippines. Hosted
by the Global Ministries Regional Office and The United Methodist Church in the Philippines and
meeting in Shalom Hotel in Malate, Manila, owned by the United Church of Christ in the
Philippines, also a member church of the WMC, the participants engaged in migration matters in
preparation for the World Methodist Conference August 13-18, 2024, in Gothenburg, Sweden under
the theme “On The Move.” WMC Rev Dr Jong Chun “JC” Park stated in his welcome speech: “The
World Methodist Conference will gather next year with the theme ‘On the Move: Migration,
Pilgrimage and Guiding Lights.’ Many people from the global South have been already crossing the
abyssal line dividing metropolitan and colonial societies. They are on the move. Therefore, God is
on the move with the people of God. Yes, the Church has to be on the move, too. This is the Kairos
moment for a call to be the Church in a new way.”

Discussions at the Consultation were grounded in prayer, bible studies and theological reflections.
In an interactive learning environment, participants listened to migrants and shared experiences of
ministries with migrants and refugees in various parts of the world. Meeting in Asia, reports of
advocacy and accompaniment of Filipino migrant workers, information on a Christian presence in
the Middle East, on the tripartite network Churches Witnessing with Migrants and the situation of
North Korean Refugees were received. An interactive map was created to capture challenges and
opportunities for cooperation. Reports dealt with root causes like climate change, economic
injustice, and armed conflicts.

WMC General Secretary Bishop Ivan M. Abraham summarizes his experiences: “The second
consultation on Migration once again reaffirmed the people called Methodists were “on the move”
in their response to migration wherever it occurs as a result of food insecurity, drought, violence or
climate change. It was inspiring to hear what is happening in the ‘global parish’ – stories of struggle
as well as some victories. The most heart rendering was listening to Methodists from the small
island states who are not able to mitigate the effects of climate change and are forced to migrate.
What emerged from the consultation following the global pandemic is that everything in the world
is interrelated; ‘if one nation sneezes we are all bound to catch a cold’. For this reason, ‘we must act
and we must act now’”.

In a statement (https://worldmethodistcouncil.org/2023/09/18/a-statement-of-the-second-
) the Consultation urges the World
Methodist Council and its member churches to dismantle past and present complicity in causing
forced migration, to reimagine the Scriptural calling in which all welcomed as strangers, to live in
solidarity with migrants and refugees and to actively engage in prayer and discernment in
preparation for the 2024 World Methodist Conference.

The Consultation also sends a resolution to the World Methodist Council, to keep global migration
as a primary focus of learning, reflection, and action during the coming quinquennium.

Nussloch, Germany, September 18,2023

Rosemarie Wenner, World Methodist Council – Geneva Secretary

A Statement of the Second Consultation on Migration of the World Methodist Council

“I was hungry and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” (Matthew 25:35, CEB)

“He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata, he tangata, he tangata.” (Maori proverb)

Translation: “What is the most important thing in the world? It is the people, it is the people, it is the people.”

People from Methodist churches and organizations representing all the corners of the earth gathered in
Manila September 4-7, 2023 for the Second Consultation on Migration to learn more about migration
and to explore together how the people called Methodists can best work in solidarity on migration

The theme of the consultation was “On The Move” and built on the First Consultation on Migration in
London, England in 2019, which had focused on diaspora Methodist congregations in contexts of
previously existing congregations. That Consultation produced a statement: God Is On The Move: A Call
to Be the Church in a New Way – World Methodist Council.

The Manila Consultation heard the testimonies and challenges of migrants and looked at root causes of
migration and how best to support migrants, learning that the so-called migration crisis is primarily a
crisis of welcoming. Theologically grounded in scriptural calls to love the foreigner and welcome one
another as strangers (Leviticus 19:34 and Matthew 25:35), as well as John Wesley’s example of
intentional presence with the poor, sick, and imprisoned, the 2023 World Methodist Council
Consultation on Migration:

 Confesses the sins of past and present complicity of churches of the Methodist tradition in causing,
or contributing to, the forced displacement of people and strives to move on to perfection in living
into de-colonizing ways of respecting and standing in solidarity with the migrants of this world.

 Declares, with hope, that migration is timeless, that it always happens, and it does so by bringing
different benefits to our congregations and communities, such as interculturality and diversity in
different forms of expressions, transforming them into more conscious and more similar to the image
of God.

 Acknowledges the right of all people everywhere to migrate freely, and that people forced to migrate
experience suffering or loss prior to migrating, during the journey, or after arrival at their destination
and that the church is called to alleviate that suffering.

 Recognizes that the challenges facing migrants are dramatically rising in correlation with increased
human rights violations, religious and political conflicts, poverty, climate change, xenophobia,
nationalism, racism and various racial and ethno-regional phobias, labor rights violations, and
implementation of harmful immigration policies. Therefore, the Consultation sees the potential of
Methodist churches to respond to these root causes of migration, as well as to assist those who have
been forced to migrate, using the capacity of the Methodist connection, the traditions of holy
conferencing and holistic discernment, and the imperative to express personal piety through social

 Urges Methodists everywhere to stand in solidarity with migrants, listening well and providing
requested assistance, treating migrants with the dignity of fellow travelers on a journey by protecting
migrants’ agency and freedom to make small and large life choices without encumbrance or
conditions. The church makes the most faithful witness to migrants when its actions speak as
outward signs of God’s love.

 Asks Methodist churches to reimagine our Scriptural calling in which we are all welcomed as
strangers in a way that centers on a holistic inclusion into the locality, rather than merely inviting
newcomers into our churches, our way of worshiping, or our way of being in the world. Creative
collaboration with migrant-led organizations and other community resources with existing capacity to
support migrants will be key. The church only does this work well through the power of the Holy
Spirit and the participation of migrants.

 Calls for the church to be a prophetic voice for and with migrants. Goals of protection and welcome
must include all migrants. Advocacy for related migration policy change should originate from a
trusting relationship with the persons affected by the policy or practice.

 Encourages gender-responsive approaches to the needs of migrants that account for differentiated
vulnerabilities in certain migration situations based on age, gender, sexuality and diversity. Churches
should stand with migrants in solidarity in opposition to gender-based violence and against
immigration policies that detain children or separate families.

 Pleads with all churches to assume their responsibility regarding climate crisis, uncontrolled
utilitarian approach to creation through war, movement of armament, and exploitation of natural
resources. This means paying particular attention to enforced displacement from climate-threatened
nations in the Pacific and low-lying nations elsewhere. Churches from the global north are called to
do all within their power to rapidly reduce carbon emissions, to demand immediate action by their
governments, to insist that governments develop climate-related categories of asylum, and to revive
their calling as co-caretakers of creation.

 Admits the need to continue to learn with humble hearts, open minds, and a willingness to take
action, more about our Methodist colonizing heritage and its past and present contributions to the
root causes of migration.

 Advises members of the World Methodist Council considering planting diaspora congregations to do
so in conversation with host conferences in the same country. Methodist congregations in host
countries are encouraged to be welcoming in their approach to new congregations. Both
denominations should engage in open conversations in order to ensure the viability and sustainability
of both entities. A first step towards decolonizing mission would be engagement in mutuality in
missionary-sending practices.

 Commits, as individuals, to maintain intentional prayer, scriptural reflection, and conversation
regarding migration through regular online monthly devotionals between now and the next World
Methodist Conference, “On The Move,” to be held August 13-18, 2024 in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Submitted by Geneva Secretary, Bishop Rosemarie Wenner

Lifting Libya up in prayer

The WMC General Secretary Bishop Ivan Abrahams calls on Methodists and all people everywhere to lift Libya up in prayer, following the very devastating flooding and dam breaks there. We urge prayers not only for injured and those mourning the loss of their loved ones but also a way forward for this hurting country and its people.  

Morocco earthquake – General Secretary offers condolences and solidarity

The powerful 6.8 magnitude earthquake near Marrakech late Friday night caused significant
devastation. The death toll has now surpassed two thousand, with thousands more injured.

Bishop Ivan Abrahams, General Secretary of the World Methodist Council, offered heartfelt
condolences to the bereaved families and solidarity with the people of Morocco. “I am
deeply saddened, and my heart goes out to all affected by this catastrophic event.”

Abrahams thanked those on the frontline of humanitarian response and called on the
Methodist people to pray for all killed, injured, and affected by the disaster. We pledge to
support those who have lost their homes and livelihoods.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)

Working towards an Economy of Life – Ecumenical School on Governance, Economics and Management

Aptly set in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – a city of socio-economic contrasts – from 21 August to
01 September 2023, the 6th edition of the Ecumenical School on Governance, Economics and
Management for an Economy of Life (GEM School 2023) gathered 24 participants to
collectively re-think economics for a more equitable and sustainable planet. For the second
time the World Methodist Council represented by Geneva Secretary Bishop Rosemarie
Wenner was amongst the organizers.

Participants came from more than 20 countries in Africa, Asia, Caribbean, Europe, Latin
America, Middle East, North America and the Pacific and included church leaders, pastors,
theological students, as well as finance experts and economic justice advocates and eco-
activists with a view to promoting intergenerational and multidisciplinary dialogue and
learning. Four of are members of Methodist churches.

The ten-day programme explored the intersections between faith and economic justice
through bible studies, equipped participants with basic economics training and advocacy
tools, as well as discussed alternative economic thinking and policy recommendations.
“GEM School reflected on the interrelated issues of gaping socio-economic inequalities as
well as the pressing question of sustainability. Among others, the lectures and discussions
focused on the roots of inequality, the complex relationship between economics and the
environment, and how new economic visions, indicators, policies and economic governance
structures are urgently needed and essential for co-building a more just and sustainable
planet,” said Athena Peralta, WCC Program Executive for Economic and Ecological Justice.
Bishop Rosemarie Wenner stated: “GEM School is a unique learning opportunity for
Methodists to discern how the Christian faith directs our actions in economy and finances,
so that all humans can life in dignity within the planetary boundaries. The intersectional
approach helps to discern systemic change and the emphasis on practical steps encourages
to bring faith into action.”

At the end of the programme, participants, building on their exchanges and learnings over
nearly two weeks, presented a range of project proposals. Here are three examples: Rev
Karthik Sibanayam shared a plan for theological seminaries in Malaysia to reflect on issues
of economic justice as part of the curriculum. Ampri Samosir, Patricia Mungcal, Rev Chi-Kang
Chiang and Rev Vavauni Ljalgajean presented a joint idea focusing on network building,
mutual learning and advocacy on the intersections between climate and economic justice in
Indonesia, the Philippines and Taiwan. Bruno Reikdal Lima shared a proposal for a
communications project to overcome negative perceptions about tax, link tax justice to
people’s daily lives, and deepen the Zacchaeus Tax campaign for global tax justice in Brazil,
one of the most unequal countries in the world.

GEM School was hosted by the Council of Churches of Malaysia and convened by the World
Council of Churches, World Communion of Reformed Churches, Lutheran World Federation,
World Methodist Council and Council for World Mission as part of the New International
Financial and Economic Architecture or NIFEA initiative.

Photo: Emanuele De Bettini. GEM School is an ecumenical economics training programme co-organised by the WCC, WCRC, LWF and CWM as part of the NIFEA initiative.