I have just returned from the Conference of Secretaries of Christian World Communions (November 2-6) hosted by the Old Catholic Church in Amersfoort, Netherlands in time to review the articles in this issue of the First Friday Newsletter and to write this covering letter.
I left Lake Junaluska just as the first snowfall of the winter season started hoping for some warmer weather in Europe but unfortunately winter had arrived there as well. The warm fellowship, dreaming together and open and honest sharing of the secretaries of other Christian Communions as well as the gracious hospitality of our host made up for the miserable weather. I was fascinated and deeply encouraged to see how the World Communions responded to the mission challenges of the day.
Some of these crucial mission challenges are; the Ebola crisis in West Africa, the Arab Spring which has morphed into a desolate Arab winter with major consequences for all in the Middle East, religious intolerance and the growth of extremism and fundamentalism, the seismic shifts in global Christianity from the Northern to Southern hemisphere, global migration, climate change and situations of conflict and violence. Among the highlights of our meeting was a report of the Centenary celebration of the Assemblies of God, Pope Francis’ apology to Pentecostals in Italy, the Global Christian Forum’s consultation on “Discrimination, Persecution and Martyrdom: Facing the Challenge Together” to be held in Tirana, Albania 3-5 November 2015 and the 125th Anniversary celebration of the Union of Utrecht on 24 September 2014.
Having listened discerningly to the stories of the secretaries of other World Communions, I was once again convicted and convinced that the World Methodist Council is a gift and a privileged instrument for the Methodists, Wesleyan, United and Uniting Churches.
The Conference Planning Committee is in the final stages of securing keynote speakers for the 2ist World Methodist Conference in Houston 2016 which promises to be the most inclusive and exciting event to date. In partnership with Perkins School of Theology the Conference will be offering continuing education credits. Registration opens in early spring.
This month’s letter covers news about some of the exciting things happening within our global communion; working for eco-justice, migration, responses to Ebola, agencies on the move within the United Methodist Church, bi-lateral dialogues, a birthday greeting to Rev. Dr. Billy Graham, new appointments and a major evangelical crusade within the Church of the Nazarene.
Please continue to pray for situations that require accompaniment of the peoples and churches in West Africa, the Middle East, Iraq, Nigeria, South Sudan, Ukraine and in other places of conflict.
Your partner in mission and ministry,