Grace and Peace to you from the World Methodist Council Headquarters in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina!
Last month I had the privilege to attend the Free Methodist Church General Conference in Orlando Florida where I had the opportunity to network with church leaders, be inspired by meaningful worship and featured speakers and participate in one of nine strategies identified by the bishops to achieve the vision; “to bring wholeness to the world through healthy biblical communities of holy people multiplying disciples, leaders, groups and churches.” It was wonderful to be part of the Wesleyan family who are passionately committed, “to love God, love people and make disciples.”
We have a bumper edition of the First Friday Letter filled with many exciting articles but before commenting on these let me share that I have just completed the new provocative publication of renowned scholar, astrophysicist and theologian David Wilkinson entitled, When I Pray, What Does God Do? In this book, Wilkinson answers the challenging question about prayer with humility, honesty and humour. He contends that prayer “does change us, but it can also truly change the world. Incidentally, David will be one of our keynote speakers at the 21st World Methodist Conference next year (2016) in Houston, Texas. If this latest publication by only one of our speakers is anything to go by then, we are in for an exciting time at the Conference! Make sure to register early for a discounted rate, as space is limited!
As people in the United States come to terms with the recent incidents of gun violence in Charleston, Chattanooga and Lafayette, and grapple with seething racial tensions in many places, we can all learn something from the global icon for peace and Justice, Nelson Mandela who believed that each of us has the power to transform the world. In 2009, the United Nations declared his birthday, 18 July International Mandela Day. In an insightful article, Dion Foster gives us an insight to Mandela’s spirituality and Methodist heritage.
This issue covers news about some of the exciting things happening in our global communion. I hope that you will read each one and be inspired to action and prayer as we prepare for the 21st World Methodist Conference next year! This year marks the 150th anniversary of the founding of The Salvation Army. The Celebration culminated in a global congress held in London. We hope you will join with us in congratulating our brothers and sisters in faith as they mark this special occasion. On the 70th anniversary of the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Bishop Mary Ann Swenson, ecumenical officer for The United Methodist Council of Bishops, took part in a World Council of Churches pilgrimage to the locations. The Methodist Church in Chile celebrates 30 years of its publication Vida y Mision in 2015. A special edition of this communication piece is available to commemorate what has happened in the church during the publication’s time.
Finally, we are overjoyed to announce that registration is open for the 21st World Methodist Conference to be held 31 Aug.-4 Sept. 2016 at the Hilton Americas – Houston. Please continue to pray for the Programme and Host Committees of the WMC as they meet to review and make final preparations for the 2016 Conference.
Your partner in mission and ministry,