STATEMENT ON THE ST. FRANCIS CATHOLIC CHURCH MASSACRE IN OWO, NIGERIA

The World Methodist Council (WMC) joined religious leaders, civil society organizations, and
governments in condemning the coordinated attack on worshippers at St. Francis Catholic Church.
According to the latest reports, as many as 50 may be dead, including children, and scores are wounded.


Bishop Ivan Abrahams, General Secretary of the WMC, said: “Gunning down innocent people
celebrating the Feast of Pentecost is a cowardly and sacrilegious deed.” He further expressed
condolences to the bereaved families and called for prayers for those wounded in the attack.


The WMC notes the increased number of attacks and kidnappings by armed groups, especially in the
northeast of Nigeria, where more than 40,000 have been killed and more than a million people
displaced.


We urge the Nigerian authorities to act decisively in apprehending the perpetrators to see that
justice is done through the courts


Prayers answered, Nigerian Methodists released

Bishop Michael Stephen of the World Methodist Council Steering Committee and former Archbishop of the Methodist Church Nigeria shares the following from the latest news of the kidnapping of the Prelate alongside the Bishop of Owerri Diocese Dennis Mark and the Prelate’s Chaplain, The Very Rev. Shittu, which was received with great shock and sadness when it happened.  

“We are thankful that God heard the prayers of the people that went out across the country. After about 24 hours, the news of their release rent the airwaves. 

We all are thankful to God for his intervention. This incident points to the state of insecurity that has enveloped our country and the need to request the prayers of the people of God all over the world for divine intervention in the affairs of Nigeria. 

We are grateful for the prompt statements and concerns from the World Methodist Council, Africa Methodist Council and other Ecumenical partners.”

President of the World Methodist Council, the Rev. Dr. JC Park, added, “Let’s praise God who rescued the beloved Prelate just as King David praised God when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies. ‘I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, so I shall be saved from my enemies.’ (Psalm 18:3) We want to join the joyful praise of our Nigerian people called Methodists: Worthy is the Lamb!”

 

Statement on mass shooting – Uvalde, Texas

The General Secretary of the World Methodist Council called on Methodists to join prayers with the
community of Uvalde, Texas. He expressed his deepest condolences with the bereaved families and
those injured in the shooting rampage at Robb Elementary School.

According to the Washington Post more than 311,00 students experienced gun violence at school since
the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School.

The shooting on Tuesday comes only 10 days after 10 people were killed in a hate crime in Buffalo, New
York. (See statement of AME – Council of Bishops) Abrahams called for “decisive action to protect the
innocent and curb gun-violence”.

The World Methodist Council join with all people of goodwill calling for an end to violence, especially against children.

Put away violence and destruction, and practice justice and righteousness

              Ezekiel 45:9

Council of Bishops Statement on the Shooting at Tops Friendly Supermarket in Buffalo, New York

The Council of Bishops of the African Methodist Episcopal Church stands in solidarity with the families of the Buffalo 10 and the grieving community as we raise your lament and demand justice. We are outraged. We are grieved. As we move out of Easter, into the Ascension, and onward to Pentecost, we will not continue to be snuffed out in silence. Things must change.

Once more, the Black community in the United States has been the target of murderous terror. On May 14, 2022, a hate-filled man set out to execute a premeditated white supremacist plot to “shoot all Blacks” at the Tops Friendly Markets grocery store on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo. Before he was apprehended, this man killed ten people: Aaron Salter, Katherine “Kat” Massey, Pearly Young, Heyward Patterson, Celestine Cheyney, Roberta Drury, Margus D. Morrison, Andre Mackneil, Geraldine Talley, and Ruth Whitfield. Ruth Whitfield was a former member of Union AME Church, Warwick, New York before moving to Buffalo, New York.   Gunfire and the direct aftermath of this rampage injured three others: Zaire Goodman, Jennifer Warrington, and Christopher Braden.

Today, we pray that the families of those killed, the Buffalo community, those ministering directly to the community in this season, and all of us now grieving would be comforted. We thank the members of the Connectional African Methodist Episcopal Church who have supported Bishop Julius McAllister and Presiding Elder Paul Thomas. Since Monday, the Connectional Health Commission, the Bishop Henry McNeil Turner Connectional Chaplains Association, and the Council of Bishops have provided ground support, counseling, medicine, and other provisions for the residents of Buffalo.

While we express our heartfelt condolences to the families of those massacred, we also grieve, sharing in the deep sorrow and anger of the families and the Buffalo community that are changed forever through this horrific act of violence. This despicable act causes us to relive our collective pain of the massacre at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Given the killer’s detailed preparation and documentation, we know that all of us who are “Blacks” by his standards would have been suitable targets. We also know that this killer acted according to a virulent form of white supremacy rapidly shapeshifting to remain endemic and meet white Americans’ interests. Consequently, we respond to this violence as those who are under attack. Therefore, today, we pray that God will dismantle every act of antiblackness in whatever form it may come and give us the wisdom and courage to fight and win in this cause.

As we gird ourselves for this cause, we highlight the following aspects of the Tops massacre:

  • The shooting took place in Buffalo, a city that was a beacon of light for that fleeing enslavement before the Civil War and lynchings and economic exploitation in the 20th Century through the Great Migration. 
  • The internet provided the shooter with a radicalizing white supremacist community; the shooter publicized his hateful beliefs and actions using public platforms. The shooter is one of a growing number of people in the United States who believe in a conspiracy called ‘the great replacement theory.’  

Finally, we call on anyone with a moral conscience to respond to this call to acknowledge and dismantle white supremacy. We no longer live in a time when it is considered shameful to be racist. White supremacist fringe groups have risen to the mainstream of the Republican Party, and media outlets have normalized hate. Certain parts of the “Christian” church have been used to promote a so-called Christian Nationalism or Supremacy that promotes hatred in the name of God and suggests that a concern for the least of these is antithetical to the gospel. The time is now and must be used creatively to do right and tear down the cathedrals built for the worship of antiblackness and all forms of hatred.

The Council of Bishops
Bishop E. Anne Henning Byfield, President of the Council of Bishops and Chair of the Social Action Commission
Bishop Adam J. Richardson, Senior Bishop
Bishop Paul J. M. Kawimbe, President of the General Board
Bishop Francine A. Brookins, Chair of the Public Statement Committee
Mrs. Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker, Director/Consultant of Social Action 

World Methodist Council Statement on Ukraine/Russia

The World Methodist Council (WMC) views with deep concern reports of mounting tension on the borders of Ukraine and Russia, including the threat of a buildup of armed forces on both sides. Many political commentators consider the recent events “a new Cold War” and “a threat to global peace.”

The Council calls on ‘the people called Methodists,” and those who respect human life, rights, and dignity to pursue a “just peace” for all in the war threatened region. 

The Council recognizes the region’s long and complex history but is concerned only suffering and destruction would result from armed conflict. 

The Council is committed to promoting peace, reconciliation, and justice. It believes that intentional diplomacy, dialogue, and negotiations are the only paths to peace. It encourages all parties to de-escalate this dangerous situation. 

The Council encourages prayer for the people of Ukraine and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. It especially remembers Bishop Eduard Khegay of the Eurasia Central Conference of The United Methodist Church and all local and regional church leaders as they minister against a backdrop of an armed standoff. 

While the Council is cognizant that Methodists and other Christians are on each side of this potential conflict, it prays that they may all be peacemakers.

WORLD METHODIST COUNCIL STATEMENT ON NASSAR FAMILY

The World Methodist Council (WMC) condemns the recent attack on the Nassar family by 15 masked men from Nahaleen, an Arab village. Last week, Rabbis for Human Rights (RHR) and their staff were violently assaulted by settlers while accompanying Palestinian farmers planting “trees for peace” near Burin, east of Nablus in the West Bank.

On Friday, 28 January, the Nassar Family recipients of the World Methodist Peace Award for their work with the globally recognized Tent of Nations project hosted on their 100-acre farm were victims of an attack. The Nassar brothers Daud and Daher required medical attention at the local hospital and are recuperating at home.

The WMC condemns all acts of violence and stands in solidarity with the Nassar family and all Palestinians who experience systemic violence, discrimination, and land expropriation.

For the past 70 years, the WMC has issued declarations and resolutions to bring about peace in this troubled region. We reaffirm our commitment to work with all parties to secure a just peace in Palestine and Israel.

Issued by the WMC General Secretary,

Ivan Abrahams

NIFEA E-Conference: Degrowth – Living Sufficiently and Sustainably

Organised by the Council for World Mission (CWM), Lutheran World Federation (LWF), World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC), World Council of Churches (WCC) and World Methodist Council (WMC) under the New International Financial and Economic Architecture (NIFEA) initiative, the NIFEA E-conference on “Degrowth – Living Sufficiently and Sustainably” will be a space to discuss and unpack various visions of “de-growth” or “post-growth” with a view to addressing the urgent eco-crisis and pandemic of inequality besetting the planet today.  

Photo: Marcelo Schneider/WCC

1 October 2021 (Friday)

 

Session 1: 10:00 – 12:00 CEST
Click here to register for session 1

 

Session 2: 14:00 – 16:00 CEST
Click here to register for session 2

 

How do we address the contradictions between modern society’s obsession with limitless economic growth and the ecological limits of our only planetary home? Are there models of the good life that meet the needs of all people, share wealth and power, whilst nurturing the environment? What resources do we have and what strategies can we employ as faith communities to empower a just and sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic as well as a just transition from a growth-oriented, extractivist economic paradigm to a life-affirming economy where all of God’s creation can flourish?

The NIFEA E-conference takes the 6th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as a vital backdrop for reflections and aims to promote discussions towards developing a short ecumenical message directed to the G20 Leaders’ Summit taking place in Rome from 30-31 October 2021 on theme of “People, Planet and Prosperity”.

Session 1, 10:00 – 12:00

Moderator:
Dr Rogate Mshana, moderator (Tanzania, Oikotree)

Speakers:
Lemaima Jennifer Vai’i (Fiji, Pacific Conference of Churches)
Dr George Zachariah (India and New Zealand, Trinity College)
Dr Martin Kopp (France, Federation of Protestant Churches in France)
Prof Lalrindiki Ralte (India, Aizawl Theological College)
Rosario Guzman (Philippines, Ibon Foundation)

Summary of the discussion:
Rev Dr Peter Cruchley (CWM), Rev Dr Sivin Kit (LWF), Rev Philip Peacock (WCRC), Athena Peralta (WCC), and Bishop Rosemarie Wenner (WMC)

 

Session 2, 14:00 – 16:00

Moderator:
Rev Dr Gordon Cowans, moderator (Jamaica, Ecumenical Panel on a NIFEA)

Speakers:
Rev Chebon Kernell (USA, Native American Comprehensive Plan, United Methodist Church
Dr Arnie Saiki (USA-Hawaii, Imipono Projects)
Dr Fundiswa Kobo (South Africa, University of South Africa)

Dr Priya Lukka (UK, Goldsmith University)
Rev Rozemarijn van’t Einde (Netherlands, De Klimaatwakers)

Summary of the discussion:
Rev Dr Peter Cruchley (CWM), Rev Dr Sivin Kit (LWF), Rev Philip Peacock (WCRC), Athena Peralta (WCC), and Bishop Rosemarie Wenner (WMC)

Interpretation into Spanish will be available for this session.

Panelist bios:

Lemaima Jennifer Vai’i is a young person from the Methodist Church in Fiji and the Pacific Conference of Churches. She is passionate about climate justice and is part of the Reweaving the Ecological Mat Youth Team.

Dr George Zachariah is from India and is currently the Wesley Lecturer in Theological Studies and Coordinator of the Research Committee at Trinity College in Auckland, New Zealand.

Dr Martin Kopp chairs the Commission on Ecology and Climate Justice of the Federation of Protestant Churches in France and holds a doctorate in Protestant theology from the University of Strasbourg.

Prof Lalrindiki Ralte is an Indigenous person from Mizoram, India and teaches theology and ethics at the Aizawl Theological College.

Rosario Guzman is the executive editor and head of research at Ibon Foundation – a non-profit research, education and information-development institution based in the Philippines.

Rev Chebon Kernell serves as executive director of the Native American Comprehensive Plan of the United Methodist Church in the USA and a member of the WCC’s Ecumenical Indigenous People’s Reference Group.

Dr Arnie Saiki is from Hawaii, coordinates Imipono Projects and authored the book, “Ecological-Economic Accounts: Towards Intemerate Values.”

Dr Fundiswa Kobo is a senior lecturer on Christian Spirituality, Church History and Missiology at the University of South Africa.

Dr Priya Lukka is a lecturer in economics at Goldsmith University in the UK. Previously she worked with ChristianAid.

Rev Rozemarijn van’t Einde is a pastor in the Netherlands and co-initiated and is a spokesperson for De Klimaatwakersor Climate Watchers.

STATEMENT FOR INTERFAITH VIGIL WASHINGTON D.C. 20 JULY 2021

With its horrible human harvest, the COVID-19 pandemic has instilled fear, extreme anxiety, and confusion like no other natural calamity in recent history. The pandemic forcefully reminds us that we are one world, one humanity, and more interdependent than we imagined. It has also exposed the fault lines of global inequality in access to health care and other basic needs.

COVID-19 offers us an opportunity to stand together and press the reset, revision, and recalibrate button to work for a transformed world in which we commit to sharing resources, walking softly on the earth, and affirming dignity of all humanity. We note with gratitude the work of the World Health Organization, the United Nations, and other international organizations.

We commend the bold initiative by President Biden to remedy vaccine apartheid globally through the purchase and donation of half a billion vaccines to 92 low and lower-middle-income countries and the African Union. We, however, note that more needs to be done, like the approval of the TRIPS waiver to remove the legal barriers to cooperation in generic manufacturing of Covid-19 medical products.

As we navigate unchartered waters, the World Methodist Council stands in solidarity with inter-faith leaders. We tap into the spiritual resources of all religions and people of goodwill to work towards a substantial structural and systemic change that will allow the poor greater access to healthcare.

Together we can do more and make a difference!

 

                                                                                                                                                          Ivan M Abrahams                                                                                                                                                                                  General Secretary

Archbishop joins Red Cross Red Crescent, UNHCR and global faith leaders in urgent call to end vaccine nationalism

Worldwide Christian and other faith leaders have joined with the Archbishop of Canterbury, the International Committee of the Red Cross President and humanitarian groups urging global leaders to ensure equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines around the world. 

On the opening day of the World Health Assembly, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have said that global leaders must choose between “vaccine nationalism or human solidarity”. 

In a joint Declaration co-signed on May 24 by international faith leaders and humanitarian groups, Archbishop Justin Welby and ICRC president Peter Maurer said that equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines is a humanitarian imperative. 

The statement is signed by Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders, as well as the International Committee of the Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies (IFRC), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The faith leaders include senior representatives from all the major Christian denominations, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, and Azza Karam and Rabbi David Rosen of Religions for Peace. 

The Declaration, which calls for decisive leadership from countries and organizations across the world, states: “There is a choice. The world of the next 10 years can be one of greater justice, abundance and dignity. Or it can be one of conflict, insecurity and poverty. We are at a turning point.”

The catastrophic impacts of the pandemic, combined with existing issues of conflict, disaster and famine, mean that the world is facing the challenge of reversing “devastating dynamics”, the leaders say. 

“People not only need vaccinations – they need access to healthcare workers who are skilled and equipped to deliver adequate medical support. We need to build a world where each community, regardless of where they live, or who they are, has urgent access to vaccinations: not just for COVID-19, but also for the many other diseases that continue to harm and kill. As the pandemic has shown us, in our interdependent world no one is safe until everyone is safe.”  

The Declaration calls on world leaders to: 

  • Ensure equitable vaccine access both within and between countries by providing vaccines and funding as well as sharing knowledge and expertise.
  • Leave no one behind, including stigmatised and marginalised communities for whom access to healthcare is already a challenge.
  • Focus on the broader health picture for vulnerable populations – so that people aren’t protected from Covid only to die from Polio.

The full text of the Declaration and signatories can be found below. 

COVID 19 Treatment Centre in Aden, Yemen. (Picture: ICRC)

No-one is safe until everyone is safe – why we need a global response to COVID-19  

Equitable vaccine distribution is a humanitarian imperative 

There is a choice. The world of the next 10 years can be one of greater justice, abundance and dignity. Or it can be one of conflict, insecurity and poverty.  

We are at a turning point. COVID-19 has been a truly global crisis in which we all have shouldered a burden. In many cases this has caused us to reflect on those longer injustices that have perpetuated in parts of the world where the pandemic is yet another layer of misery, instability and unrest. These inequalities have been exposed and exacerbated by the impact of the pandemic, both between and within countries. The effects will be felt on a global scale for years to come.  

The impact of a catastrophe like the COVID-19 pandemic is measured in the tragedy of individual loss and death, as well as the national and global disruption to almost every part of life. No country in the world has been untouched.  

Variants of the virus, potentially more infectious and resistant to vaccines, will continue to threaten us if they are not controlled now.  

Those of us who have signed this declaration represent organizations with roots in communities across the world. We work closely with those affected by conflict, disaster and famine, and know the immense challenges they face – but also of their resilience even in the worst of situations.  

In 2021, the world economy is facing the worst downturn since 1945. For some countries this will sharply increase poverty and suffering. For others it means hunger and death. The fallout from the pandemic will be with us for a long time to come. There will be a continued economic impact, with all the human suffering that brings. A generation of children, especially girls, have left school and will not return. 

The world is facing the challenge of how to reverse these devastating dynamics with health being a key part of such a response.  We advocate here for ‘Health for All’, where each person’s life is valued, and every person’s right to healthcare is upheld. People not only need vaccinations – they need access to healthcare workers who are skilled and equipped to deliver adequate medical support.  

We need to build a world where each community, regardless of where they live, or who they are, has urgent access to vaccinations: not just for COVID-19, but also for the many other diseases that continue to harm and kill. As the pandemic has shown us, in our interdependent world no one is safe until everyone is safe.  

We have a choice: vaccine nationalism or human solidarity.  

Thanks to effective international action, several vaccines have been produced. The World Health Organisation, GAVI and CEPI are leading the COVAX initiative, which is currently the best effort we have to ensure that vaccines reach people around the world. However, COVAX is only intended to cover 20% of the global population– the most vulnerable in lower-income countries – by the end of 2021 and it is not yet clear if it will meet this target. Meanwhile studies show that if we focus only on vaccinating our own populations, the world risks global GDP losses of up to $9.2 trillion (with half of that cost being incurred by high income countries) this year alone.  

But it is not just a matter of money. In order to achieve wider global vaccination, complex logistical, infrastructure and scaling issues must be addressed. The Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator is focused on providing a means to accelerate the development, manufacturing and distribution of COVID-19 diagnostic and treatment products. The ACT recognizes and aims to address the requirement for information sharing – whether about technology, intellectual property or manufacturing.  

However, more needs to be done. The sharing of information, the transfer of technology and the strengthening of manufacturing processes, to name a few, require the active involvement of States and the private sector. 

We therefore call on world leaders to: 

  1. Ensure equitable access to vaccines between countries by providing vaccines, sharing knowledge and expertise, and fully funding the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, which is working to provide equitable access to and implementation of COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines.  
  2. Ensure equitable access to vaccines within countries by ensuring all sectors of the population are included in national distribution and vaccination programs, regardless of who they are or where they live, including stigmatized and marginalized communities for whom access to healthcare might not be straightforward. 
  3. Support countries financially, politically and technically to ensure that curbing COVID-19 is not a standalone goal, and instead is one important element of a broader health strategy, implemented alongside communities to bring longer-term improvements to people’s health and access to healthcare. We are committed, in our different institutions, to offering all the help we can to support actions by communities and authorities. 

It is time for decisive leadership. Countries and organizations across the world have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to address global inequality and reverse some of the fallout from the past year. In doing so, they will bring hope not only for the poorest in the world, but for us all.   

Signatories: 

The Most Reverend Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury  

Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross  

Bishop Ivan M Abrahams, General Secretary of the World Methodist Council 

HE Elder Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon, Ecumenical Patriarchate 

The Reverend Dr Chris Ferguson, General Secretary of the World Communion of Reformed Churches 

Henrietta H. Fore, Executive Director, UNICEF

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General

Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees 

The Reverend Dr Martin Junge, General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation 

Dr Azza Karam, Secretary-General, Religions for Peace  

Francesco Rocca, President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies 

Rabbi David Rosen, Co-President, Religions for Peace 

Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, The Grand Imam of al-Azhar 

HE Cardinal Peter Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Rome

International Day of Families

Although families all over the world have transformed greatly over
the past decades in terms of their structure and as a result of global
trends and demographic changes, the United Nations still recognizes the
family as the basic unit of society. The International Day of Families
provides an opportunity to promote awareness of issues relating to
families and to increase knowledge of the social, economic and
demographic processes affecting them.It has inspired a series of
awareness-raising events, including national family days. In many
countries, this day is an opportunity to highlight different areas of
interest and importance to families.

The International Day of Families is observed on the 15th of May
every year. Activities include workshops and conferences, radio and
television programmes, newspaper articles and cultural programmes
highlighting relevant themes.