Methodist Delegation Sees ‘Bitter Fruits’ of Palestinian Occupation

After a visit to the region, a delegation of Methodist representatives expressed horror at the military occupation of the Palestinian people.

“We witnessed the bitter fruits of military occupation that have fallen disproportionally upon the Palestinian people,” said a statement of the delegation, which was made up of leaders of the World Methodist Council, the British Methodist Church, and the General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church. “We heard stories of families being separated, the denial of basic human rights, inequality of treatment, and the need for the Palestinian people to have a voice in the process of governing their own lives and future.”

The group’s visit marked the seventh anniversary of the opening of the Methodist Liaison Office in Jerusalem, jointly sponsored by the three organizations. The delegation visited with individuals, churches and partners. Their goal was to further the office’s mission of engaging the world Methodist family in Christ’s ministry of peace, truth, justice and mercy among all peoples living in the land, in partnership with the Palestinian Christian Community.

The text of the full statement follows:

 

 

 

 

 

STATEMENT ON OCCUPATION OF PALESTINE

We witnessed the bitter fruits of military occupation that have fallen disproportionally upon the Palestinian people. We heard stories of family separation, the denial of basic human rights, inequality of treatment, and the need for the Palestinians to have a voice in the process of governing their own lives and futures. In Gaza, the lack of provision of basic services such as electricity and clean water have reached a point of crisis.

We understand that this is a critical time in history and for the pursuit of a just peace between Palestine and Israel. Global generational shifts, economic changes, issues of climate justice, and the current international political discourse churn on the horizon like a great storm.

We see the beauty and resilience of the people of the land, even in a time where it feels that all optimism could be lost. Despite this feeling, many look toward the future with hope, and they appeal to the world to stand with them in solidarity.

We have seen the suffering of the indigenous Christian community. We join their call to everyone to act decisively to support nonviolent actions for peace and justice for all – Palestinians and Israelis.

We will continue to pray for all people in the region, and to remain there, through our Methodist liaison office, in order to walk in solidarity with those of all faiths who seek justice, peace and equal rights through nonviolent actions.

Blessed are the peacemakers.

Bishop Ivan Abrahams, General Secretary, The World Methodist Council

Rev. Dr. Jong Chun Park, President, The World Methodist Council

Thomas Kemper, General Secretary, General Board of Global Ministries, The United Methodist Church

Doug Swanney, The Connexional Secretary, The British Methodist Church

God Is On The Move: A Call to Be the Church in a New Way

We believe, at this particular time, God is calling us to be the church in a new way.
In the spirit of Pentecost, churches of the Methodist tradition gathered recently outside
London. We were called together by the World Methodist Council to explore concerns among
churches that were being formed by migrants in their new lands and concerns of longstanding churches in the host countries. In essence, we were called to explore what John
Wesley really meant when he said “The world is my parish.” Together, this unlikely group of
people from the global Methodist family with different roles from different countries came to
be open to the movement of the Holy Spirit. We cried together, laughed together, and
listened together to our stories of migration.
We soon realized that we all had migration stories. And we realized that we all had stories of
ministry with migrants. We affirmed that migration is difficult, but that migration also brings
new ideas, possibilities, and opportunities, for migrant and host alike. The pain and suffering
and loss that everyone in migration feels can also become healing and hope and even joy. In
our time together, we recognized that everyone, even if we have never left our country of
birth, has a longing for home – the place we left, the place we are now, or a new safe place.
We realized that the stories we were telling were stories of transformation by the Holy Spirit.
We recognized that discipleship happens from everywhere to everywhere; that migrants can
minister to settled people; that the church can and is being called to let itself be transformed
into something new; something like the church of Acts, where people from all around the
world were able to communicate with one another when they opened themselves to the
movement of the Holy Spirit.
We are concerned that migrants, to the extent that they wish, not lose contact with their faith
traditions and expressions of worship, but that they also have connection with the faith
communities in their new neighborhoods. We are concerned that rigidity of form, either from
old church structures or from the church in the new country, will mean that neither
expression of faith will be truly transformed by the Holy Spirit. Thus, we have committed to
be the church in a new way. We have committed to go back to our ministry settings with a
new attitude about migration and church.
We recognize that migration is not a disaster to which we respond for a short period, but a
phenomenon that will always be with us. The world is constantly on the move and the pace of
movement in this world is unlikely to slow down. Migration and migrants will not go away.
They cannot be walled out or banned. And without them, someone is missing from God’s
table of grace.
How the church works with the phenomenon of migration matters. If the church welcomes
the stranger among us – not to be like us and do things our way- but if we truly welcome the
stranger with radical hospitality, then, maybe the world will have an example and will begin to
adopt migration policies and practices that are more dignified, transparent, and predictable.
Likewise, only if we, as migrants are willing to change and be transformed, will we be able to
live fully into the discipleship to which God has called us and our transformation of the world
will not be limited. If we, as the church, reject the other, we cannot expect the world to
engage those who are different.
The group that gathered in London agreed to go home with a new way of looking at the
relationship between church and migration. Those principles are listed below. This is a
living document, not a prescription. We believe these principles are a starting point. They are
not a program or a solution. They are the first stanzas of a new song we believe the church is
being taught to sing. It is our hope that these principles will be shared and incorporated into
practice by churches everywhere working with migrants and by migrant congregations
establishing themselves in new places. It is our hope that churches will, as one participant
said, “feel the gentle breeze of Pentecost and the people we serve will be refreshed.” It is our
prayer that this document inspires local churches to engage in migration ministry in a new
way so that we might more fully live into the reign of god’s justice and peace.
This is our call….
MISSION TOGETHER MEANS:
Reclaiming our Christian identity with theological and biblical foundations such
that we focus on our citizenship in the reign of God; and,
Working together between migrant and host churches on understanding of
mission and mission priorities.
Expressed by:
1) COLLABORATION THROUGH PARTNERSHIP AND MUTUAL ACCOUNTABILITY
A. Intentionally practice hospitality between migrant churches and host country
churches.
B. Host and migrant church work together to enable new migrant churches to be
supported by, and included in, the structure of accountability of the host
Methodist connection.
C. Practice effective communication, mutual understanding, and a spirit of inclusion
so that existing connectional and denominational structures, agencies, and
agreements are utilized as much as possible.
D. Design and implement jointly all development and fundraising strategies related
to migration ministries.
E. Utilize existing resources and documentation from World Council of Churches,
World Methodist Council, and their member churches, and other ecumenical
agencies.
2) INTERCULTURAL AWARENESS:
A. Sensitize host churches and migrant churches alike to language and cultural
differences and equip them to bridge gaps of communication and understanding.
B. Increase communication and points of contact so that migrant and host churches
have a greater chance of connecting early in the development of new
congregations.
C. Expand awareness of, and sensitivity to, the root causes of migration.
D. Develop ministries with special attention on caring for future generations.
3) ADVOCACY AND HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE:
A. Intentionally develop joint understandings and implementation of advocacy efforts
around justice and peace for migrants.
B. Conduct shared assessments between migrant churches and host churches to
identify humanitarian needs and respond together.
C. Commit to being a prophetic voice that affirms the human dignity of all God’s
children and denounces the violence and injustice inflicted against migrants.
London, June 6, 2019

WMC Statement on Easter Attacks in Sri Lanka

The World Methodist Council (WMC) strongly condemns the terror attacks on worshippers gathered for
Easter Sunday Services on the holiest day of the Christian calendar in Sri Lanka. Churches in Kochichika,
Negombo, and Batticaloa as well as hotels in the capital, Colombo were targeted.

The General Secretary of the WMC, Bishop Ivan Abrahams said; “these attacks at Easter is a cowardly
deed against innocent civilians. The WMC stands in solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka.” He further
conveyed sincere condolences to the families who lost loved ones, wished all injured a speedy recovery
and called for prayers for all those affected by these senseless acts of violence.

Statement of the WMC on the shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand

The officers and members of the World Methodist Council condemn
unequivocally the shootings at Masjid al Noor and at the Linwood
mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand. It is appalling that believers,
gathered for worship, should be gunned down in such a deliberate,
callous and calculated manner.

As those who follow a God whose name and nature is love, we offer
our love and support to all affected by this tragedy. We further offer
heartfelt prayers for those who have been bereaved and injured in
this atrocity, praying for their healing and comfort.

In condemning these violent actions on innocent and vulnerable
persons in Christchurch, we also condemn any acts of violence on
any persons, perpetrated in the name of religion, ideology or political
stance, in any place.

An attack on persons of any faith is an attack on us all. We pray that
all may recognize that God-given diversity is a gift, not a threat; an
enrichment, not a challenge.

We urge the people called Methodist, wherever they may be found, to
offer support and solace to their Muslim neighbours at this critical
time.

World Methodist Council Statement on Terror Attack in Kenya

On Tuesday, January 15 the world witnessed a cowardly attack by Al-Shabaab, an affiliate of Al-Qaeda on holidaymakers and office workers at the DusirD2 hotel complex in Nairobi, Kenya that claimed the lives of 14 people.

The terrorist assault comes three years to the day after the attack on an African Union base at El Adde, Somalia in which an undisclosed number of Kenyan soldiers were killed and a day after a Kenyan court ordered three members of Al-Shabaab be tried for a raid on a Nairobi shopping mall in September 2013 in which 67 people died.

The Officers and members of the World Methodist Council express solidarity with all peace-loving Kenyans, convey sincere condolences to the families of those killed and continue to pray for a full and speedy recovery of the injured. The Council members further condemn all forms of religious extremism and renew its commitment to Global Peace.

Statement on the Pittsburg Synagogue Shooting

The General Secretary of The World Methodist Council (WMC), Bishop Ivan Abrahams expressed shock at the Pittsburgh Synagogue shooting which claimed the lives of 11. He strongly condemned the attack on unarmed civilians gathered for worship. “There is no place for hate speech and ant-Semitism in a society which espouses democratic values,” said Abrahams.

On behalf of The WMC, Abrahams conveyed sincere condolences to the family and friends of those killed and pledged support and continued prayers for a speedy and full recovery of those injured in this cowardly act of violence.

Statement on Indonesia

Four days after an earthquake and tsunami destroyed major parts of Sulawesi, in the Indonesian archipelago, the death toll exceeds one thousand with many more injured. Indonesia lies on the Pacific “Ring of Fire” and is prone to natural disasters.  

The General Secretary of the World Methodist Council, Bishop Ivan Abrahams, expressed condolences to the people of Indonesia and called on the Methodist community to pray and support those affected by the recent catastrophe.

Statement on the Death of Kofi Annan

The World Methodist Council (WMC) joined leaders from around the world to pay tribute to Kofi Annan, who died aged 80 after a brief illness.

Kofi Annan was the first sub-Saharan African to lead the United Nations (1997-2006). His deep commitment to justice, human rights and championing the fight against HIV and AIDS earned him the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1998, the WMC recognized his contribution and honored him with the Methodist Peace Award. Former WMC President, Dr. Francis Alguire recalls Kofi Annan’s acceptance speech at the ceremony in the Chapel of the United Methodist Women across from the United Nation in New York. He related a story about a teacher in a Methodist School in Ghana who held up a piece of paper and reminded them that while they were small dots in a great big world, there were many opportunities for them.

In 2012 Annan was appointed Chair of The Elders, a peace and advocacy group started by Nelson Mandela. Until the last, he was a tireless worker for peace. Last month, he attended an event to mark the 100th Birthday celebration of Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg and witness the first post Mugabe elections in Zimbabwe.

Ivan Abrahams, the General Secretary of the WMC said; “While Kofi Anan’s voice will be missed, he will continue to inspire us to build a more just world for all God’s people. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Annan family.”

WMC Statement on Attacks in Northeastern Nigeria

The World Methodist Council condemns the deadly attacks in Damboa in Borno State, Nigeria where suspected Boko Haram jihadists targeted people celebrating the Eid al-Fitr holiday. At least 32 people were confirmed dead and 84 were reported injured.

World Methodist Council General Secretary Ivan Abrahams expressed condolences to the families of those killed and called on all peace-loving people to pray for them and for those injured. He said, “Once again we see innocent civilians bearing the brunt of an indiscriminate attack at a religious celebration.”

The United Nations humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria, Myrta Kaulard, says that 1.7 million people have been displaced by the Boko Haram conflict since the insurgency began.