I appeal to you to remember the many people affected by the devastating land- and mudslides in DR Congo and Sierra-Leone, and the flooding brought by Hurricane Harvey in Texas. It was exactly a year ago that the World Methodist Conference was held in Houston, Texas.
During the past month, we witnessed terrorist attacks on unarmed civilians in many places around the world. We also experienced acts of bigotry that triggered a wave of protest in many cities in the United States of America. The World Methodist Council (WMC), in a recent statement, expressed anger at these senseless acts of violence, conveyed condolences to the families affected and appealed to all to follow the way of love and grace. The many statements on these events from the Methodist family show that we will never be complacent in the face of discrimination and injustice and that we are committed to use all effective means to work towards healing, peace, and transformation in our world.
I was privileged to be the visiting preacher at Lakeside Chautauqua, Ohio. It was good to be reunited with Norman (Ned) and Shirley Dewire who faith fully served the Council for many years. Ned was part of the WMC team to persuade the apartheid regime that its policies were incompatible with the teaching of the Gospel. At Lakeside I was also introduced to a large and diverse community of faithful followers of Christ who keenly participated in the worship and lecture series during their summer vacation in the beautiful town established by Methodists pioneers. I am glad to report that the Chautauqua Movement started by John Vincent and Lewis Miller in 1874 is still in good health. I was deeply inspired by the many personal stories I heard and am once again convinced that churches have a transformational role to play in securing peace and stability on our one and only planetary home, earth.
Later in the month, it was a joy and honor to be invited to present the charge at the induction of Rev. Dr. Jongikaya Zihle, a fellow South African elected as the Chair (Bishop) of the London District of the Methodist Church in Britain. This event was very special since it was the first South African to be elected as Chair and because forty years ago Jongikaya’s father and I offered for the ordained ministry in the Methodist Church of Southern Africa. God is good!!!
This edition of the First Friday Letter has many stories of what God is doing through the work and witness of the people called Methodist throughout the world.
Remember, “A Methodist is one who ‘loves the Lord with all [their] heart, with all [their] soul, with all [their] mind, with all [their] strength’…. it is [their] daily crown of rejoicing, “to do the will of God on earth, as it is done in heaven.”