General Secretary’s response to the call to a day of fasting, prayer, and acts of charity

The World Methodist Council together with many other faith communities around the world will respond to an appeal from Pope Francis and Judge Mohamed Abdel Salam, Secretary-General of the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity to observe Thursday, May 14 as a “special day of prayer, fasting, and charitable work to implore God to help humanity overcome the Coronavirus pandemic.”

COVID-19 offers us an opportunity to stand together and push the reset/recalibrate button to work for a transformed world in which we share resources, walk softly on the earth, and affirm the dignity of all humanity.

As we navigate the future through unchartered waters, we need to tap into the spiritual resources of all religions and persons of goodwill.

Let us also express solidarity with the Thursday in Black Campaign against gender-based violence. Many women and children have to spend this time of lockdown with their abusers. Let us build a caring and compassionate Human Family as we cry for Divine Justice, Healing, Restoration, and Wholeness. (Matthew 5:21: Luke 18:3,7; James 2:6; 1 Corinthians 6:7)

In our Wesleyan tradition, it is customary to fast on Thursday evening through to Friday mid-day. John Wesley observed this practice most of his life. 

www.worldmethodist.org/connect/join-our-prayer-and fasting-community/

May this be a time of spiritual reflection, engaging in acts of compassion and justice as we together support each other to overcome the pandemic.

Together we can and will overcome.

A different world is possible.

Ivan M Abrahams

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

2021 Postponed to 2022

Postponement of The World Methodist Council and Conference

After a series of meetings with the Conference Host and Program Committees to evaluate the impact of the        coronavirus pandemic on General Conference schedules of member churches, the Steering Committee decided to postpone the Gothenburg 2021 Conference to August 10-14, 2022.

The Council, since its inception in 1881, has learned that we always need to be prepared for the unexpected. Whether it is the forces of nature, changes in the global economy, pandemics of other factors, we know that we will get through these challenges as we have before.

We are living through an unprecedented time in history. It is not the first time that a World Methodist Conference has been postponed. During World War II, the 1941 Conference was shifted to 1947.

We want you to know that the WMC values you. The coronavirus may not have infected you and your loved ones, but no matter where in the world we find ourselves, we are all affected. Our most important task is to work together to overcome the pandemic. The best way, according to the authorities, is to stay at home.

We continue to pray for your health and well-being, may God bless and keep you safe.

Yours in Christian love and service,

 

Ivan M Abrahams, General Secretary                                                                  JC Park, President

 

Nominate Speakers for Conference, note June deadline

Your help is needed! The Planning Team seeks to identify speakers and workshop leaders for the 2022 ‘On the Move’ Conference, particularly in relation to the three main themes: ‘Migration,’ ‘Pilgrimage,’ and ‘Illumination – lights that guide our way.’

Workshop Leaders and speakers should bring challenging and inspiring input to the Conference. Please share the names of people who can do this with us! The Conference should reflect and celebrate the World Methodist Council’s commitment to racial, age, gender, geographic and denominational diversity.

The deadline for potential speakers and leaders is 30 June 2020.

Please send any names to Dr. Martyn Atkins at the following email address: belvoirlodge1955@gmail.com

Come Spirit of Life and Breath on Us

Easter Message

Rev. Dr. JC Park, President of the World Methodist Council

May the peace of the risen Jesus be with you, my sisters and brothers in Christ!

In times like this when we have to face social distancing and empty churches how can we preach to the empty pews the message of the empty tomb? This question brings me back to the text of John 20. It begins with the story of the empty tomb. Mary Magdalene first discovered the tomb empty and reported it to Simon Peter who also went to the empty tomb with John. But they did not understand “the scripture, that he must rise from the dead” (John 20:9).

Jesus appeared to Mary first, and later in the evening of the Easter he came to his disciples who were forced to ‘social distance’ behind the locked doors of the house for fear of the Jews. Jesus stood among them and said, “Peace be with you” (John 20:19). Jesus’ ‘Shalom!’ on Easter evening resonates with his last words on the cross: “It is finished” (John 19:30). Thus, peace of reconciliation and life is fulfilled in Jesus’ victory over sin and death. Jesus’ ‘Shalom!’ is not so much a greeting of everyday life but the most merciful and consoling invitation for those who have the sickness unto death. We are ‘the patients’ who must willingly acknowledge our disease/sin and to receive with joy the healing/salvation from the one who surely “took our infirmities and carried our sorrows”, and the punishment upon him “brought us peace and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:4-5).

We remember that Jesus’ second ‘Shalom!’ for his disciples was when he said to them, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you” (John 20:21). This is rather a frightening call of the Lord for his servants to leave the private space of beautiful solaces and to face again the public sphere torn down by the empire of mammon. However, before they are called to be ‘the agents’ for the Kingdom of God, i.e., the peacemakers or the ambassadors of Christ for reconciliation, they ought to
be poured on by the power of the Holy Spirit.

As Jesus sent his disciples “he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’ (John 20:22). Jesus breathes into each of us the breath of life to become a new creature. At the same time, Jesus breathes into us all, as if we were those slain in Ezekiel 37. As the Jewish people in Exile whose lands had turned into the graves, returned to their own by the quickening of the Spirit, we are called by the authority of the Holy Spirit to be the Church, the body of Christ in the public sphere of our times.

Surely, I am not the only one who has been shocked by a recent photo of the inside of a refrigerated truck full of the bags of the dead Americans. Indeed, we are now passing through the dark valley of death in these trying times. Recollecting the tragic image of the corpses in my mind, I overhear the challenging question of God: “Son of man, can these bones live” (Ezekiel 37:3a)? The prophet’s answer, “O Sovereign Lord, you alone know.” (Ezekiel 37:3b), leads me into a profound insight that the hope of the resurrection of body and life everlasting is not the inner-worldly possibility of evolutionary process, but solely the eschatological grace of God’s sovereignty and His eternally faithful love. Therefore, Paul boldly proclaims: “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you” (Romans 8:11).

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Do not be afraid of facing the rebellious world estranged from the origin of life, our triune God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. First and foremost, we need to recover the fundamental sense of fear of God in the form of ‘public vigilance’ over the idolatry of money in the name of free market which has thrown our healthcare system into shambles. Let’s “lay the sick in the marketplaces” where the living Christ is present (Mark 6:56). We should be part of ‘a Great Reset’ after the storm of pandemic has passed in order to celebrate Easter in the public sphere of our life.

Ironically, human social distancing has allowed birds to thrive and brought people together in love, though separately clapping, singing, and dancing. Let’s repent our sins of self-interest, privatizing every corner of public lives and services, as well as destroying the precious habitat of wild animals which might have caused the spread of viruses unheard of previously. Resist cold xenophobia and hot racism blaming the innocent for the pandemic. Instead, let’s be in cool solidarity and remain with warm human bond in taking global ethical responsibility to stop the vicious cycle of pandemic spread from the global North to the global South and again to the global North and so on.

Finally, people called Methodists from everywhere to everywhere, do not forget the risen Christ’s empowering admonition: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (John 20:22b-23). If you believe that Jesus’ resurrection restores a dead person to life, take sin in deadly earnest and commit yourselves to the evangelical ministry of forgiveness with all your heart and might for “a dead person can only be raised, resurrected, and grave sin can only be forgiven.” (Karl Barth) Let’s praise God “for as by a man came death, by a man also has come resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:21-22).

Therefore, I solemnly ask you on behalf of the almighty God who raised Jesus from the dead to witness to all people in fear and trembling: “Come from the four winds, spirit of life, and breathe on these slain so that they come to life again” (Ezekiel 37:9). Let them come back to life and rise to their feet, a mighty host.

Jesus is risen! Happy Easter!

Global Easter Worship to be April 13

Follow the link below: 

https://www.facebook.com/NAFAUM/

Sacrament of Empty Hands

 The Liturgy to this link follows the pattern of the Mass, Holy Communion, Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, Eucharist, and allows for the absence of consecrated bread and wine/juice – while retaining familiar foundations, in uncertain times…

This is not a replacement for Gathering as God’s People, embodied in community, but provides a way of people gathering around stories of hope from despair and resurrection after death.

It is envisaged this material could be used for people in homes, possibly connected digitally or across distances. Some planned gathering in Australia will use the material over internet, by phone or from balconies across courtyards.

This liturgy is offered, as a gift of prayer and solidarity from God’s People in Australia to the rest of an anxious and hurting world. Together, may we be God’s Humanity.

http://worldmethodistcouncil.org/worship-and-liturgy/sacrament-of-empty-hands/

Setting:

  • An empty cup or glass and An empty plate are place on a celebratory cloth (either white or many coloured).
  • A handkerchief or tissue covers both the cup/glass and plate.

Any or all of the following symbols may be added from week to week, or you may build these up to a collection over time:

  • Symbol 1 – An unlit candle is placed inside a glass or transparent vase or holder. It is also on the cloth or nearby.
  • Symbol 2 – A symbol for prayer is placed alongside the other symbols. This may be a cross, a stone with a heart drawn on it, or a wooden heart.
  • Symbol 3 – Photos of absent friends or loved ones or a regular place of worship.
  • Symbol 4 – A Globe or small map of the world.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Sources:

A Call to Worship for a Dispersed Community – © Craig Mitchell, 2020, Used with permission.

A Call to Worship for an Online Community – © Amelia Koh-Butler, 2020, Used with permission.

Sections of the Great Prayer of Thanksgiving (Sharing and Invocation) – Claire Wright, based on Uniting in Worship 2, Used with permission.

Suggested Song –  Peace, Salaam, Shalom https://youtu.be/lBQ-KsGo_BI

(Emma’s Revolution. Note: several versions can be sourced on Youtube)

Scripture texts are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, © 1989, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

Yarta Wandatha (The Land is Speaking. The People are Speaking), © 2014, Denise Champion and Rosemary Dewerse

Remaining Sections – © Amelia Koh-Butler, 2020, Used with permission.

Notes:

These resources are able to be used for Worship and Devotion, with appropriate acknowledgement.

Some communities may choose to reduce the test of the provided Prayer of Thanksgiving. It may be suitable to substitute the inclusion of the Nicene Creed as a way of proclaiming the Gospel story in words familiar to those who are then connecting with other faithful of many times and places.

A Resource: Worship and Devotion during Social Distancing

These attached guidelines and liturgies for worship and prayer during the pandemic are offered by a group of scholars, teachers, and worship leaders in The United Methodist Church. Click on the following link: 

https://www.ministrymatters.com/pandemic/165/christian-worship-and-devotion-during-social-distancing-a-resource-for-united-methodists

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.