During the month of June, I had the extraordinary privilege to attend the France, Switzerland and North Africa Annual Conference in Aarau, Switzerland as well as the British Methodist Conference in Southport, England. At both Conferences, I once again experienced the profligate compassion and extravagant generosity of the people called Methodists as they responded to the issues of the day. Migration, secularization and the challenge of living in a plural society all found a place on the agenda.
At the Presbytral Session of the British Methodist Conference, I was able to share my spiritual journey and the vision of the World Methodist Council as we chart a new course into the future. While the Vice President of the World Methodist Council and I were travelling to present the World Methodist Peace Award we were shocked and outraged by the news of the mass shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. We immediately released a statement and joined other religious communities in prayer and solidarity with the families and friends of those killed and the wider community of Charleston.
Since the Charleston killings, seven black churches have been burnt. These burnings bring back images of America’s dark past and further stains race relations. Wherever we encounter racism and bigotry, it should be stamped out. I urge the global Methodist family to support the African Methodist Episcopal call for action, “And Justice for All” to be launched on 2 September 2015.
The acts of violence over the last few days in the continuing war in Syria and Iraq, the execution of children by ISIS, the cowardly attack on holiday makers in the Tunisian resort of Sousse and the killing of forty people after prayers by Islamist militants in Monguno, Northeastern Nigeria, all seem so senseless. Our world needs healing and reconciliation. For this reason, we need the spiritual resources of every religious community as we draw from the deep well of our faith traditions to offer hope and healing.
It is my sincere hope that we will be inspired by the stories in this edition of the Frist Friday Letter. I pray that the second half of this year is filled with excitement and challenge as we work towards a more just world.