Zimbabwe Pastoral Letter

Click here to read the Zimbabwe Pastoral Letter from the World Methodist Council, World Council of Churches, The Lutheran World Federation, and World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC). 

A call to a day of fasting, prayer, and acts of charity

Let your steadfast love, O God, be upon us, even as we put our hope in you. Psalm 33:22 (NRSV)

The Wesleyan and Methodist family have been invited respond to a call for a day of fasting, and of prayer. This call has been taken up by Pope Francis in his weekday prayer of 3 March 2020, to an invitation from the Human Committee of Human Fraternity, and furthered by the World Council of Churches; amongst others. The suggested day is 14 May, 2020.

John Wesley in suggesting fasting as a ‘means of grace’, fasting was not so much a question of whether Methodist’s did so, but ‘How do you fast?’. He commended a spirituality of fasting as much as a practice – to do so is to recognise the importance of loving God and of loving one’s neighbour.

 In words of Susanna Wesley:                                                                                                                                                                           Help me, Lord,                                                                                                                                                                                                     to remember that religion                                                                                                                                                                               is not to be confined to the church or closet,                                                                                                                                                 nor exercised only in prayer and meditation,                                                                                                                                               but that everywhere I am in your presence.                                                                                                                                                   So may my every word and action have a moral content.

(“Practising the presence of God” in Prayers and Meditations of Susanna Wesley by Michael McMullen. Methodist Publishing House, Peterborough: 2000.)

Fasting can be an experience of practising and being attentive to the presence of God. It can represent a struggle to feel God being present, and it reveal an acute awareness of God’s presence like never before. We can discover a realisation or a reaffirmation that God is in all of ‘this’, in all the diverse experiences of the Covid-19 pandemic – life, death, sickness, healing, isolation, physical distancing, struggle, despair, loneliness, solitude, looking out for your neighbour, personal sacrifices, economic sacrifices, awareness of others whether they are too close or too far away. We attune ourselves to both our own experiences, the experiences of our family friends and colleagues, and the experiences of a world of people. This involves the whole self because God wants your whole self to participate in his mission in the world.

Therefore, fasting is a time for extending prayer, for yourself and others. As Wesley concludes in his seventh sermon in his series on the Sermon on the Mount (which is focused on fasting), the only thing to remain to be said is that of adding good deeds to our fast – giving alms and helping those in need.

Fasting and prayer, whether structured, literal, spiritual, or however we feel we can mark the time, is most of all an attentiveness to others – being alert and making ourselves aware of the obvious, the surprising, the unexpected, the longed for presence and moving of God, in a world and in peoples so terribly impacted by the pandemic of Covid-19. This is a calling for all people of faith and goodwill.

A reflection by (Rev) Tony Franklin-Ross, Chairperson – Ecumenical Relationships, World Methodist Council

 Look kindly on our world, our God,                                                                                                                                                             as we suffer and struggle with one another.                                                                                                                                       Look kindly on your Church, driven by the same necessity;                                                                                                               and may the light we have seen in Jesus                                                                                                                                       illuminate and brighten all the world.   Amen.

 O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;                                                                                                                                                for his steadfast love endures for ever.                                                                                                                                                          Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,                                                                                                                                                     those he redeemed from trouble                                                                                                                                                               and gathered in from the lands,                                                                                                                                                              from the east and from the west,                                                                                                                                                            from the north and from the south.                                                                                                                                                               Psalm 107:1-3 (NRSV)

Risen and revealing God, you walked with us for a long time before we knew who you truly were. We talked about this world as if we were the ones who saw it clearly. Now that we more fully recognise your continued presence with us, give us eyes to see the beauty that surrounds us, as well as the problems we have too long ignored. And may our hearts then burn with your illuminating and catalysing fire that we might see the world that you envision.  Amen.                                    (© Community of Corrymeela – Ireland)

 Some wandered in desert wastes,                                                                                                                                                         finding no way to an inhabited town;                                                                                                                                                 hungry and thirsty,                                                                                                                                                                                   their soul fainted within them.                                                                                                                                                               Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,                                                                                                                                               and he delivered them from their distress;                                                                                                                                                     he led them by a straight way,                                                                                                                                                                 until they reached an inhabited town.                                                                                                                                                       Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,                                                                                                                                      for his wonderful works to humankind.                                                                                                                                                       For he satisfies the thirsty,                                                                                                                                                                        and the hungry he fills with good things.                                                                                                                                           Psalm 107:4-9 (NRSV)

God of tumult, God of peace: more will change in the weeks and months to come. Further landscapes of our normal will be shaken to the ground. Gradual movements will accelerate, market trends will shift, and they will sweep away much of what we know. And so we pray for what we need: the reassurance of your strength in the midst of our community; and the life that returns in fuller resurrection after what we love is laid to rest.   Amen.                                                                    (© Community of Corrymeela – Ireland)

 When they are diminished and brought low                                                                                                                                   through oppression, trouble, and sorrow,                                                                                                                                                 he pours contempt on princes                                                                                                                                                                   and makes them wander in trackless wastes;                                                                                                                                         but he raises up the needy out of distress,                                                                                                                                               and makes their families like flocks.                                                                                                                                                        The upright see it and are glad;                                                                                                                                                               and all wickedness stops its mouth.                                                                                                                                                          Let those who are wise give heed to these things,                                                                                                                                and consider the steadfast love of the Lord.                                                                                                                                     Psalm 107:39-43 (NRSV)

God of the protective fold, God of the abundant life: you did not form us to live in fear of others or in want of simple joys. In your keep may we find the abundance you came to provide: a constant supply of the love we need and an ever-opening expanse of a life that is ours to explore.   Amen.                                                                                                                    (© Community of Corrymeela – Ireland)

 In the commissioning words of Jesus:                                                                                                                                                   And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.                                                                                                             Matthew 28:20b (NRSV)

 God of opportunity and change,                                                                                                                                                                     praise to you for giving us life at this critical time.                                                                                                                                   As our horizons extend, keep us loyal to our past;                                                                                                                                 as our dangers increase, help us to prepare the future;                                                                                                                           keep us trusting and hopeful, ready to recognise your kingdom as it comes;                                                                                     through the love of Jesus Christ our Lord, and in the power of the Holy Spirit.   Amen. 

Click on the buttons below to read letters from Cardinal Kurt Koch from the Vaticana, and from Judge Mohamed Abdelsalam from the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity

In Memoriam of Geoffrey Wainwright

The Rev. Dr. Geoffrey Wainwright, 80, who was a current resident of Chapel Hill is mourned by his many friends and colleagues of the World Methodist Council.  Well loved for his leadership and work in many areas, Wainwright served as chair of the Council’s Ecumenical Relationships Committee.

The Council joins many around the world in mourning the death and celebrating the incredible life and witness. A significant contributor to theology and ecumenism, he taught at Duke Divinity School, contributed greatly to the drafting of the “Baptism, Eucharist, and Ministry” (BEM) convergence text as he served as a member of the World Council of Churches Faith & Order Commission, and co-chaired the International Commission between the World Methodist Conference and the Roman Catholic Church. A preeminent scholar, he authored and edited multiple volumes, including Doxology: The Praise of God in Worship, Doctrine, and Life.

Dr. Wainwright died on March 17, 2020 and his arrangements: Cremation Society of the Carolinas of Raleigh. For more details click on the link: https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/newsobserver/obituary.aspx?pid=195758063

Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family and friends.  

The Lord is near to those who mourn; he lifts up those whose spirit is crushed.  Ps 34:18

Statement by The World Methodist Council – COVID-19

The World Methodist Council joins the world in prayer. It seeks ways to offer comfort to
people who are dealing with the Coronavirus, which the World Health Organisation has
declared a global pandemic.


“Our prayers are with the many people around the world who are affected directly or
indirectly because of this pandemic,” said Council General Secretary Ivan Abrahams. He
reminds us that in 1 Thessalonians 5:11, we are encouraged to build each other up. “We ask
everyone in the Methodist and Wesleyan family to pray and to offer support in ways that fit
the needs of their local area. Physical and mental health is affected as people are ill,
isolated, and uncertain,” he said.


The Council is and will continue to make adjustments, cancel meetings, and reach out to
others. The prestigious Annual Peace Award Ceremony planned for 27 March at Central Hall, London,
UK, for the Rev. Dr. Inderjit Bhogal has been postponed. May we continue to pray for peace
in the world and people’s lives at this time of uncertainty and insecurity.


As the Council receives communications and information regarding the COVID-19, we are
aware of the significant challenges arising daily.  The virus is spreading rapidly, and there are
announcements of an increasing number of cases reported throughout the world.    


Everyday life, including church services and meetings, have and will continue to be cancelled
and rescheduled to slow down the rate of infection. While it is unfamiliar territory, health
care professionals advise that these precautions are necessary.


The WMC General Secretary further encouraged member churches to seek creative ways of
dealing with the pandemic, which presents new opportunities for service. He challenged us
to spread the love of God through sharing resources during these trying times. He stated
that the only way to overcome this pandemic is for all sectors of society (government,
private, civil, religious) to work together.


With the awareness that so many are dependent on church ministries, the Council hopes
you will continue to support these ministries and missions in new and unique ways.


It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. Deuteronomy 31: 8

2019 World Methodist Peace Award Recipient

Dr. Laney reminded those gathered in his honor that “peacemaking is not possible if we demonize the other” and that “we have to move in peace, stage by stage.”

Churches Week of Action on Food is October 13-20

Christians of all denominations and traditions are encouraged to rejoice and give thanks for God’s abundant provisions and to think of ways to share God’s gifts, so that all have enough. Jesus’ parable of the Great Banquet (Luke 14: 15-24) is used for inspiration and reflection. The image of a banquet refers to abundance, fellowship, joy and hope. All are invited.

But in today’s world, far too many people have no access to healthy nutrition. This is not because there is a lack of food, but because people fail to share so that all are able to partake in the feast of life.

The World Methodist Council family and ecumenical partners joined in producing liturgical materials and reflections for the 2019 Churches’ Week of Action on Food. This initiative of the World Council of Churches and the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance offers support to churches in their ministries for food justice, equity, sustainability, and the alleviation of hunger and poverty around the globe.

Authored by people from around the world, it offers a taste of how differently we look at food security, healthy nutrition and a fair process of sharing earthly resources. There are examples of how churches might feed the hungry and expand love and hope. These reflections and liturgy for Holy Communion can be used in worships, prayer meetings and Bible study groups throughout the Churches Week of Action on Food and beyond. The material is available at:
https://www.oikoumene.org/en/press-centre/events/churches-week-of-action-on-food-2019

Director of the Methodist Ecumenical Centre in Rome

Could this be you?

 

We are seeking an ordained person from a Methodist, Wesleyan United or Uniting Church to serve the World Methodist Council as Director of the Methodist Ecumenical Centre in Rome (MEOR).

The person appointed will develop and build on the work of MEOR on behalf of its partners, the World Methodist Council, European Methodist Council, the Methodist Church in Britain (MCB),the Methodist Churches in Italy (OPCEMI) and others, as a resource for the global Methodist family in order to help facilitate Methodist relationships with the wider ecumenical community, in particular with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity of the Catholic Church (PCPCU).

 

The Director of MEOR will be someone who:

  • is fluent in English and is able to speak or willing to learn Italian,
  • holds a post-graduate qualification in theology,
  • has good knowledge and sensitivity about the world-wide family of Methodist and Wesleyan churches,
  • has a proven track record in ecumenical relations,
  • is able to work as part of a team and is also self-motivated,
  • has good verbal and written communication skills,
  • is IT literate.

 

For further information and application pack please visit: www.methodist.org.uk/jobs

 

The closing date for applications is 29th November 2019.

Interviews will take place in London on January 27 and 28, 2020.

Applications should be sent to recruitment@methodistchurch.org.uk

 

Further information about MEOR can be found at: www.methodistecumenicalofficerome.com and
www.methodist.org.uk/our-work/building-relationships/relationships-with-other-denominations/ecumenical-office-rome

Steering Committee expresses solidarity with Hong Kong Methodists

The World Methodist Council Steering Committee meeting in Mexico City 28-30 August greets you in the name of Christ our risen saviour.

We are deeply conscious of the unrest in Hong Kong and we write to you, our sisters and brothers in the Methodist Church Hong Kong and the Church of Christ in China Hong Kong as fellow members of the WMC, to assure you of our love and solidarity in these difficult times. We greatly respect the ongoing peace building work in which you are engaged.

Our hearts are burdened by the continuing protests in Hong Kong and the conflict this is causing in your society. It is our constant desire that all people live in safety so that we can flourish and fulfill our God-given potential.

We know that we join our prayers with those of the whole global Methodist, United and Uniting Church family as you seek to show God’s love and compassion and seek the way of righteousness.
We are reminded of these words from Colossians 3:12-15 and they are our prayer for you;

“Therefore as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone.

Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

And, over all these virtues put on love, which binds all together in perfect unity.” (NIV)

Amen.

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