by Ivan M. Abrahams
After a busy August and beginning of September, autumn is upon us in Lake Junaluska, North Carolina. Here the seasonal change begins slowly, with the heat of summer still in the air, but cool air and the end of summer is a few weeks away. As the fall foliage begins to appear it is a beautiful time to be in the mountains, as we see the vibrant colors that make this region so well-known.
From September 2nd– 5th the Personnel, Nominations and Steering Committees of the World Methodist Council met in Atlanta, Georgia. It was a productive week, with each committee doing their best to fine-tune the World Methodist Council into a more-efficient and transparent organization. To see people from all over the world come together to work on something that I believe in so much affirms my work with the Council.
But despite all of the hard work, there have been moments in the past month that remind me that although we are doing the best we can as servants of God, that we cannot do it alone. We need God’s presence to heal our fractured world.
As I sat and watched the events in Ferguson, Missouri I have been shocked and horrified by the response of local and state law enforcement. Growing up in South Africa under the oppressive apartheid government, I remember similar sights of disproportionate responses by law enforcement, but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine seeing anything similar in the United States of America.
I am also troubled by the rising tide of extremism, and often ask what does it mean to make peace, especially in the context of unspeakable atrocities like those committed by Islamic State in the Levant (ISIL or sometimes known as ISIS). As the saber-rattling continues in the region and Christians alongside other minorities bear the brunt of oppression we need to renew commitment to stamp out tyranny and aggression through peaceful rather than military means.
Migration continues to be vexing challenge throughout the world. As our respective churches respond this issue, let us make sure that the approaches to dealing with those trying to find a better life for themselves are rooted in the Christian ideal of offering radical hospitality to the stranger. Deuteronomy 10:19 commands the Israelis to welcome strangers because they were strangers in Egypt.
Through the change of seasons we see God active in the world. As autumn begins in the global north, spring begins in the global south. A time of renewal is upon us. To examine and refine our work. This is exactly what the committees of the World Methodist Council did in Atlanta – to bring some fresh air and new perspectives into our organization.
The Steering Committee agreed to explore a virtual office for the General Secretary. This decision will allow me the opportunity to connect with our global constituency and be more accessible to our member churches. I am quite excited about this ability to build stronger partnerships with our global family.
In the midst of a world that is often troubling and where change is happening at a frightening pace, we have to remember that God is ultimately in control and you and I are invited to be co-partners in God’s mission.