By Mr. John Thomas III, Ph.D. Student, Department of Political Science, University of Chicago
From July 11-13, 2016 a delegation from the African Methodist Episcopal Church visited the 2 Comunidade Cristã Metodista (CCM) – Christian Methodist Community – in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
‘The Comunidade Cristã Metodista (Christian Methodist Community – CCM) is pastored by the Rev. Paulo Mudesto and his wife the Rev. Mirian Mudesto.
The following persons formed the AME delegation: Bishop John F. White (Presiding Prelate, 16th and 18th Episcopal Districts); the Rev. Dr. George F. Flowers (Executive Director, Department of Global Witness and Ministry); the Rev. Mashod A. Evans (Pastor, St. John AME Church–Birmingham, Alabama) and Mr. John Thomas III (General Board Member, At-Large). The group was also joined by Ms. Kiratiana Freelon, a Chicago native and AME member currently working as a freelance journalist in Brazil.
Efforts to establish an AME presence in Brazil date back to the 1996 World Methodist Conference in Rio de Janeiro when several persons approached the AME delegation about the possibility of starting an AME Church in Brazil. Bishop Carolyn Tyler Guidry and the late Bishop Sarah Frances Davis both met with members of the Methodist Church in Brazil who were interested in joining the AME Church. In February 2016, the Rev. Paulo Mudesto and the Rev. Mirian Mudesto were invited to attend the Dominican Republic Annual Conference. Upon their return to Brazil, the Congregation voted to formally petition the AME Church for membership the delegation visit is a response to this petition.
The team met with the clergy and lay leaders of the congregation as well as attended a specially convened church conference. The delegation was warmly and genuinely received by the membership and ministerial staff. Bishop White preached the Sunday Service after the Church Conference. The team also visited the outreach programs of the church including an urban youth outreach program and a relationship with a chemical dependency treatment center.
The delegation will present its report to the Council of Bishops after the General Conference to determine the next steps regarding admission of the Christian Methodist Community (CCM) to the denomination.