I write this greeting from Delhi where I am incredibly privileged and blessed to share in the 16th Ordinary Meeting of the Synod of The Church of North India (CNI) from 30th September to 3 October.
The CNI is a United and Uniting Church was established in 1970 by six churches, the Council of Baptist Churches in India, the Church of the Brethren, the Disciples of Christ, the Church of India (Anglican), the Methodist Church (British and Australasian Conferences and the United of Northern India. Together with The Church of South India (I attended their 70th Anniversary celebration earlier this year) they are models of Christian unity witness and service and committed towards the dream of establishing one Church in India.
In the wake of Hurricane Katia, Jose, Irma, and Maria as well as the earthquake in Mexico and mudslides in Cote d’Ivoire and other natural disasters around the world, my reflection at the Synod focused on, “reading the signs of the time” in relation to climate change. Unless we transcend our narcissism and give up the idea of unlimited growth immediately or in the near future, the projected outcome is a loss of life support for future generations and ultimately death. Richard Leakey and Roger Lewis argue convincingly that human selfishness will lead to the sixth extinction. The 2009 World Methodist Council resolution on Climate Change is instructive: We are dependent on the earth & must take care of it. If we do so, the land & oceans will yield bounty sufficient for all. Conversely, if human societies damage the earth, people suffer. Let us faithfully steward the resources of this our one and only planetary home, the earth.
Later this month, we hold our first Steering Committee Meeting of the new quinquennium (2016-2021) in Rome. We will also mark 50 years of dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church. The dialogue in 1967 at Ariccia started with a critical question, “why are we here?” and the subsequent answer “in expression of ‘one ecumenism’ of the Holy Spirit seizing the Kairos, the Lord’s moment for full frank discussion” defined the gathering. The Steering Committee will participate in the Golden Jubilee celebration which will conclude with worship and an audience with Pope Francis.
Not a month has passed without the Council issuing statements conveying condolences to families who lost loved ones in senseless killings due to gun violence and random acts of terror. This month we mourn the loss of 58 innocent lives and injured hundreds in the city of Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, after an armed gunman shot into a crowd of concert-goers from the 32nd floor of a hotel. We also continue to pray for an end to such violence and for lawmakers to ensure that these weapons do not get into the hands of violent or mentally unstable persons.
In this month’s First Friday Letter, you will find information on the meeting of the European Methodist Council from the WMC’s Geneva Secretary, updates from churches still recovering from recent natural disasters including Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria’s devastation, new leadership of the Evangelical Methodist Church in Argentina, stories of member churches who are taking their mission to the street such as a congregation of the Methodist Church in India ministering to the needs of all regardless of socio-economic status, and the AME Church’s participation in the Ministers March for Justice in the USA. We are connected by the many threads of faith, concern, love, and hope. I pray that we will do all in our power to support each other and minister to those we meet each day.
Yours in Christian Love and Service,
 Leakey R and Lewis R, The Sixth Extinction and its Survival, London; Weidenfeid and Nicholson, 1996