Anniversary of Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification Celebrated

Words are inadequate to describe the warmth of the welcome extended by the Methodist Church in Mexico with music, dance, many flavours of food, conversation and prayer. The Steering Committee where possible meets alongside member churches. Meeting in Mexico City the Committee was enriched by the life of the local Church and the dynamic vibrant historic centre of Mexico City. Bishop Dr. Moises Morales and Youth and Young Adults chair, Rev. Samuel Murillo extended a particular welcome before the meeting was constituted with worship and celebration of Holy Communion.

In his opening address President of the Council, Rev. Dr. J.C. Park, among many other concerns noted, “We are living in the ‘Walled World’ in which the 73% of world’s income is own by the 14% of world’s population in the global North while the 27% of world’s income is own by the 86% of world’s population in the global South. The six prominent walls are DMZ-Korea, Australian Northern Approach, The United States-Mexico Wall, The Melilla Border Fence/The Ceuta Border Fence in Northern Africa, Schengen Border in Europe and The Palestine Wall. It is time to move away from complacent Christianity.”

This meeting had a specific focus on climate change and environmental justice. General Secretary Ivan Abrahams quoted a United Nations report, “we risk a ‘climate apartheid’ scenario where the wealthy buy their way out of rising heat and hunger while the rest of the world is left to suffer.” Responses include the Creation Care Summit promoted by the Education Committee. This will result in on-line courses in creation care. Worship resources for the Season of Creation are being collated from member churches. These will be made available to enrich the liturgical response to climate change.

The Uniting Church in Sweden, will host the 22nd World Methodist Conference in Gothenburg with the theme, ‘On the Move’. It is time to begin planning to attend. The Council wants to encourage young people to attend and has given every member church an additional place on the Council for a Youth or Young Adult. Now is the time to think about how that person will be enabled to attend. Details of the Conference are being added to the website as they become available. https://worldmethodistconference.com

The Council has extensive relationships with other churches and ecumenical agencies. Rosemarie Wenner, Geneva Secretary, presented a very detailed report. Of special note was the Consultation on Migration. Forty people from the Methodist family worked together to discern how our churches might respond to the challenges and opportunities. Read the full report at https://worldmethodistcouncil.org/god-is-on-the-move-a-call-to-be-the-church-in-a-new-way/

Celebrations are encouraged to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (JDDJ) on Reformation Day – October 31st. Twenty years from the first signing of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, there is increased trust and openness as the five world communions (Roman Catholic Church, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Methodist Council, the World Communion of Reformed Churches, and the Anglican Communion) who signed it work more closely together, particularly as regards developing the link between justification and justice, and praying/worshipping together as people who share a common baptism.

The core message of the JDDJ is that “by grace alone, in faith in Christ’s saving work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while equipping and calling us to good works.”

The resignation of Rev. Tim Macquiban as chair of the Ecumenical Relations Committee was received with deep regret. The Steering Committee has appointed Rev. Tony Franklin-Ross to serve as Chair until the next Council Meeting.

World Methodist Evangelism and the Evangelism Committee reported that the Order of the Flame, a key programme to encourage young clergy, is to be launched outside the USA. The word ‘excited’ was used many times during the presentation as future opportunities were shared.
Theological Education shared the regional Initiative of the South East Asia Study Bible, which is in the process of being translated into regional languages.

Family life spoke of its commitment to ‘Child Friendly Churches’ in conjunction with the World Council of Churches and UNICEF. The report also spoke of a focus on children impacted by environmental justice issues.
The Inter-Religious committee reported on the Pilgrimage to Jordan, Palestine and Israel in conjunction with Eco-peace enabled participants to dialogue with local people and groups, with a particular focus on the use of water and inter-religious peace-making. The Committee is proposing the pilgrimage be repeated during United Nations Harmony week, February 2nd to 7th 2020.

The Council sent greetings, assuring the prayers of the Methodist family, to the Hong Kong Council of the Church of Christ in China and the Methodist Church in Hong Kong in the light of the ongoing protests in Hong Kong.
Four members of the Religious Affairs Department of the Mexican Government met with the Council for a productive dialogue. The focus: peace building, human rights and building tolerance between diverse groups in Mexico.

Council Affiliates Wesley Men and World Federation of Methodist and Uniting Church Women reported on their work. Wesley Men are updating their website, see www.Wesleymen.org . WFMUCW have conducted six Area Seminars since February 2018 (in Myanmar, Northern Ireland, Fiji, Hong Kong, Ghana and Brazil) with further seminars in the USA and Kenya planned for the remainder of this year.

The Methodist Ecumenical Office in Rome (MEOR) is currently filled with an interim appointee. The job description has been revised and the position will be advertised with a start date for the new appointee of September 2020.

— World Methodist Council Steering Committee Mexico City, August 28 – 30, 2019