WORLD METHODIST COUNCIL STATEMENT ON VOLCANIC ERUPTION NEAR KINGDOM OF TONGA

The World Methodist Council (WMC), a body representing more than 80 million people called Methodist in 134 countries, pray with the WCC, other people of faith and no-faith, to respond to the needs of the people of Tonga and its surrounding islands as they seek to recover from the devastation and disaster of the tsunami and effects of the eruption of an underwater volcano, the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai. On 15th January 2022, the volcano erupted, spewing forth an ash plume almost 20km high. The eruption was the largest Tonga and the world has faced in 30 years, creating tsunami alerts as far as Australia and New Zealand.

The WMC affirms the World Council of Church’s assurance that our solidarity and prayers will be ongoing as the Kingdom of Tonga seeks to cope with the aftermath of the tsunami. The WMC affirms reports that the government of the Kingdom of Tonga has reacted swiftly, deploying a naval vessel to the Ha’api islands carrying the World Health Organization (WHO) trained Tonga Emergency Medical Assistance Team (TEMAT) to help treat any people who may have been injured. An advisory has been issued to the Tongan public to remain indoors, use masks if going out, and drink bottled water to avoid the consequences of the ash fall.

The WMC General Secretary, Bishop Ivan Abrahams, recognizes that the United Nations has been working to support the Tonga government’s response since the eruption occurred. “We give thanks that WHO’s Country Liaison Officer for Tonga, Dr. Yutaro Setoya, played a critical role in channeling communication between UN agencies and the Tongan government, and between the UN and their staff in Tonga,” said Abrahams. With international phone lines and internet connectivity downed, Dr. Setoya’s satellite phone was one of the few ways to get information into and out of the country. Setoya reported that around 100 houses had been damaged and 50 destroyed just on the main island of Tongatapu. Two deaths have been reported to date.

The WMC notes that the UN’s emergency response is coordinated via the Pacific Humanitarian Team (PHT), which brings together United Nations agencies, the Red Cross movement, and international non-governmental organizations to organize in-country and remote support to the Tongan government’s response efforts. The PHT’s initial focus is on supporting the re-establishment of communications, finding ways to bring in relief supplies, and providing technical advice on a range of issues, such as ensuring the safety of ash-affected drinking water.  While we remain thankful that all health facilities on Tongatapu are fully functioning and clean-up efforts have been initiated, we await information on the degree of destruction still being gathered. The Ha’apai and Vava’u island groups, for example, remain out of contact with the capital. There are particular concerns about the smaller and low-lying islands of Mango and Fonoi in the Ha’apai group.

GLOBAL PRAYER IN A TIME OF THE KINGDOM OF TONGA IN THE FACE OF VOLCANIC ERUPTION.

God of goodness and love, we have been taught to rely on you for our every provision in times of need: have mercy on all who are faced with fear, terror, and distress in this time of the volcanic eruption, flood, and ash poisoning in the Kingdom of Tonga.

We thank you for the work and help of the World Health Organization, organized by the United Nations Organizations and nations that have already given speedy service and assistance. Through its establishment of international relationships, we pray that global justice may be established, fear and suspicion be removed, and lasting peace may be ensured.

We pray through him who came to show humanity the ways of justice, peace and kindness, even our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer. And let our cries come unto You.

Amen

Statement on Voting Rights

The College of Bishops

Christian Methodist Episcopal Church

 January 8, 2022

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was hailed as a landmark piece of federal legislation in this country which sought to prohibit racial discrimination in voting. As landmark as that act was considered to have been, it has endured many reauthorizations, renewals, extensions, and amendments during its history. And here we are in 2022 and despite this act and its intent, the voting rights of persons, especially those of black and brown hue, is once again up for debate and vote. We are saddened and disappointed at both the need for such legislation as the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act in 2022 and the fact that their passage is dependent upon whichever way the winds of partisan politics blow. We believe it is important that these two significant pieces of voting rights legislation become law in this forthcoming session of Congress. To this end, we call upon President Joe Biden and senators of goodwill to do all in their power to move these crucial pieces of legislation to vote during the early days of the next session of Congress. The voting rights of many of this nation’s minority citizens are at risk the longer these pieces of legislation remain stalled in the United States Senate.  

           Therefore, we the members of the College of Bishops of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church urge all members of our Zion to do all in your power to push for the passage of these legislations. In addition, we are encouraged by the various efforts we are seeing in this regard. We are pleased to stand in solidarity with faith leaders, media personalities, college students, and others who have committed themselves to engage in a hunger strike as an effort to push lawmakers to pass federal legislation to protect the vote. We encourage members of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, who feel called to this form of social activism to consider joining the hunger strike efforts of others. In addition, whatever form of social activism one feels called to engage in, we encourage you to do so in efforts to push lawmakers to pass these legislations designed to protect the sacred right to vote by all citizens of this nation.

           In addition, as we embark upon the 2022 observance of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., let us use this day to recommit ourselves to doing whatever we can to raise the awareness of the need to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Bill and the Freedom to Vote Act in this forthcoming Congress. We recommend the following actions to the members of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church:

a.    Pray for those who have committed themselves to engage in a hunger strike and other forms of social activism in support of the passage of these legislations.

b.    Send an email or some form of a message to members of your legislative delegations encouraging them to bring these bills to the floor of the Congress and for its passage in this Congress.

c.     Post on social media that as a member of the CME Church, you stand in support of the passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Bill and the Freedom to Vote Act in this January 2022 session of Congress.

d.    Participate to the extent that you are able in public forms of activism in support of the passage of this legislation.

e.    Make plans now to participate in the 2022 Mid-Term Elections. This is not an option, it is essential that we vote in these elections.  

Thank you very much for your support and activism, with best wishes for the passage of this legislation, we the undersigned members of the College of Bishops remain

Sincerely,

Lawrence L. Reddick, Senior Bishop

Henry M. Williamson, Sr.

Thomas L. Brown, Sr.

Kenneth W. Carter

James B. Walker, Chair

Sylvester Williams, Sr.

Teresa Jefferson-Snorton

Godwin T. Umoette

Marvin Frank Thomas, Sr.

C. James King, Jr.

Paul A. G. Stewart, Sr.

Othal H. Lakey

Marshall Gilmore

 

Statement on Voting Rights by the College of Bishops – Christian Methodist Episcopal Church (thecmechurch.org)

Global religious leaders representing half a billion Christians urge G20: “climate emergency demands deep-seated transformations”

In a letter to G20 leaders, global religious leaders representing half a billion Christians in over 100 countries warned that rising global temperatures will have increasingly disastrous consequences on impoverished and vulnerable communities that contribute least to the climate crisis.

Hurricane Eta hit hard on the north coast of Honduras on November 2020. Before the local population has been able to begin recovery hurricane the population is braced for hurricane Iota, now entering the region.

 Photo: Sean Hawkey/WCC

Many of our congregations are already experiencing devastating and intensifying climate impacts and many are also responding with concrete actions and proposals,” reads the letter. The root cause of the climate emergency is the current development model and ideology that is founded upon fossil fuel-driven economic growth.”

The faith-based groups note that, as some economies have grown wealthier, the climate and frontline communities have paid a heavy price. Unless a radical change is made to the current economic model, the goals of the Paris Agreement will not be met, and the climate crisis will not be averted,” the letter reads. Today, humanity is at a turning point. The climate emergency demands deep-seated transformations towards net-zero economies by the middle of the century, within a framework of justice and solidarity.”

And, the letter further notes, these changes must happen within a rapidly closing window of opportunity.

The path to a just and sustainable future and flourishing earth community is to be found in bold economic policies that re-embed economics in society and ecology, account for social and ecological risks and costs, as well as promote the redistribution of resources to allow space for low- and middle-income countries to combat poverty aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic and to respond to the existential challenge of climate change,” the letter urges. Economic policies should be directed towards improving the health and wellbeing of communities and the planet as captured by alternative measures including decent work, health, and ecological sustainability, rather than merely increasing income and production.”

The letter urges G20 leaders to release countries, especially those at the forefront of climate change effects, from their onerous and historic external debts. Debt cancellation would enable indebted climate disaster-stricken countries to break free from costly build-rebuild cycles that force them further into debt,” the letter notes. It would make available resources for transitioning to a decarbonised economy.”

The letter also urges G20 leaders to implement progressive carbon and pollution taxes at various levels, and to invest heavily in climate protection and the restoration of ecosystems. In particular, we must privilege such areas as agro-ecology, reforestation and community-based renewable energy systems in our COVID-19 recovery strategies and longer-term plans,” the letter reads. Now is the time to incentivise a rapid and just transition away from fossil fuels toward clean, renewable energies like solar and wind.”

Read the full letter

Religious leaders urge US president Biden to end embargo against the Cuban people

In a 15 October letter to US president Joe Biden, leaders from the World Council of Churches, ACT Alliance, Council of Churches in Cuba, and other faith-based groups urged an end to nearly 60 years of embargo against the Cuban people, who are facing an appalling humanitarian situation.

Havana, Cuba.

Photo: Marcelo Schneider/WCC, 2013.

The Obama administration, with your support, sought to rethink the policy and pursue re-engagement with Cuba, by relaxing sanctions, allowing direct flights between the two countries, and easing restrictions on US citizens traveling to and doing business in Cuba,” the letter reads, adding that former president Trump reversed that strategy, leading to severe economic repercussions for the Cuban people.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the problems in Cuba,” reads the letter. We ask you to take a bold choice and end the embargo against the Cuban people.”

The letter also acknowledges the significant political pressures and obstacles to this course of action. 

We do not see real public evidence to believe that Cuba has the will, means and capacity to sponsor global terrorism,” reads the letter. We strongly believe that there are other ways to engage with the Cuban authorities to discuss and overcome disagreements on issues and legacies, without affecting the people who want to live in human dignity.”

Read the full letter

UN maintains pressure on Philippine human rights, ICHRP calls for independent investigation

October 7, 2021 – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Michelle Bachelet, presented her oral report on the Philippines to the UNHRC today, one year after the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) passed a resolution to provide “technical cooperation and capacity-building” to the Government of the Republic of the Philippines for the protection of human rights.

Ms Bachelet noted the progress of the UN Joint Program for technical assistance and capacity-building on human rights, adopted only on July 22 this year. She also noted the ongoing lack of accountability for the killings and rights violations in the counterinsurgency program; continuing harassment, threats and killings of human rights defenders, church workers, environmental and land rights defenders, journalists, trade unionists, farmers and lawyers. She singled out the killing of 9 indigenous Tumandok leaders on Panay on December 30, 2020, and the killing of 9 community leaders during the Bloody Sunday operation on March 7, 2021. She maintained her criticism of the government’s red-tagging against activists, media and other actors, and called for an end to the hate language during the unfolding national election campaign. 

The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) fully endorses High Commissioner Bachelet’s comment that the decision of the International Criminal Court Pre-Trial Chamber to open an investigation in the Philippines is a significant indication of the inadequate, if not non-existent, domestic remedies in the country. 

The formal response of the Philippine Delegate demonstrated that the Duterte government continues to reject any criticism of its human rights record, doubling down on its use of red-tagging to terrorise any critics by alleging without evidence that they recruit fighters for the New People’s Army.

The Duterte government continues to use the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), created at the end of 2018, as the government framework to repress civilian dissent.  Human rights violations will continue unless the NTF-ELCAC is declared unconstitutional and dissolved. ICHRP Chairperson Peter Murphy calls  “The Duterte government’s claims to uphold human rights and respect the UN Human Rights Council shamelessly hypocritical”.

High Commissioner Bachelet detailed some of the many human rights violations which have taken place since last October. INVESTIGATE PH, an independent international civil society initiative, reported extensive violations of economic, social, and cultural rights of the Filipino people, as well as violations of the rights to development, self-determination, and peace. The Duterte administration’s war on dissent is now using mechanisms and tactics which were previously used in the notorious war on poor people to target alleged drug users (such as tokhang-style killings by police) to maintain its state terror to control the people. 

High Commissioner Bachelet’s report clearly demonstrated the lack of domestic mechanisms in the Philippines to end such human rights violations. In the wake of the worsening human rights situation, ICHRP reiterates the recommendations of INVESTIGATE PH, including the authorization of an international independent investigation of human rights violations in the Philippines. ICHRP also calls on the UNHRC to maintain its efforts to hold the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and its officials accountable for the thousands of violations of human rights carried out as official state policies.###

For comment: Peter Murphy, Chairperson, ICHRP Global Council +61 418 312 301 chairperson@ichrp.net 

The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines is a global network of organizations, concerned about the human rights situation in the Philippines and committed to campaign for just and lasting peace in the country.

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.

Alert! WMC Conference further postponed

Due to the continuing challenging times from the COVID-19 Pandemic, the twenty-second Conference of the World Methodist Council was further postponed.

At the two-day virtual meeting of the Steering Committee in August, it was unanimously agreed that the global WMC family from around the world could not safely gather in Gothenburg, Sweden in August of 2022. President J.C. Park announces that a new date for the Conference will be set in the Spring of 2022.

WMC Program Chair Rev. Dr. Martyn Atkins and members of the host committee including Bishop Christian Alstead, Uniting Church President Lasse Svensson and others were consulted. Everyone agreed that a more meaningful Conference could be held at a later date. On the Move will continue to be the theme, and the issues of Migration, Justice and Hospitality are evident to be more pertinent now than when the theme was initially chosen.

More information on the Conference will be published as available in this newsletter, on the web pages of the Council and Conference, and Twitter.

Thank you for staying with us in partnership, as we the Methodist, Wesleyan and United church family, continue together On the Move.

In letter to President Biden, WCC appeals for reconsidering sanctions against North Korea

While we share many of the concerns upon which these sanctions are based, they have failed to resolve those concerns, despite being among the most rigorous, systemic and longest-standing sanctions regimes ever imposed,” reads the letter. Moreover, the direct and indirect effects of the current sanctions have had very serious negative impacts on humanitarian access and action in North Korea.”

Though it is often affirmed that sanctions are not intended to harm ordinary people or to prevent humanitarian assistance, in practice the sanctions have presented major obstacles to such efforts, notes the letter.

In addition to food shortages, reported health crises, and recent floods in North Korea represent a heavy toll of suffering for the people of the country,” reads the letter. Several of our organizations are ready and standing by to offer needed humanitarian aid and services as soon as circumstances permit.”

Sauca also called for a new general license for humanitarian goods and services, and an approved banking channel for these purposes. Furthermore, we consider that the current sanctions regime and travel ban are counterproductive to the pursuit of peace in the region and to the reduction of the risk of potentially catastrophic conflict,” continues the letter. In our view, the failure to consider even incremental relaxation of sanctions was a key factor in the collapse of recent efforts at political engagement for peace.”

The rigid maintenance of ‘maximum pressure’ sanctions has only served to poison the political environment for dialogue and reduction of tensions, notes the letter. A more flexible policy is needed to create new possibilities for constructive engagement,” the text reads. We believe that people-to-people encounters are essential for building peace.”

Policies that prevent such encounters can only entrench conflict and division, the letter concludes. Accordingly, we also urge you to bring to a permanent conclusion the travel ban that prevents US citizens from meeting and providing assistance to North Korean people in their country,” the text reads. We hope that these concerns can be taken into account in the current review of US sanctions policy mandated by your Administration.”

 

Read the full story here