Grace and Peace to you in the name of our Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit!
Despite our well-intentioned resolutions, busy schedules, plans and programs, 2018 is moving full steam ahead and has catapulted us into February.
Last month presented us with many challenges to which churches and faith communities were able to amplify their voices. The disparaging remarks of President Donald Trump about Africa, Haiti, and El Salvador still linger at a time of celebrating pan-African solidarity. Indeed, there is hope that Africa, a millennial continent where more than 50% of the population is under 20 years old, will be a key center to the Fourth Industrial Revolution. We thank our bishops and theologians for their swift responses affirming the dignity of all people.
On 29 January, we remembered that the Berlin Wall, a symbol of division between East and West Germany, has been gone for as long as it stood – 28 years, two months and twenty days. In unison with people around the world we say, never again will we allow walls – physical or psychological – to divide people who are made in God’s image and are the signet of God’s creation. The Fourth Industrial Revolution has the potential to reduce inequality and shrink the global family, making us even more conscious that we are one another’s keepers and the guardians of our one and only planetary home. At the 48th World Economic Forum in Davos under the theme; “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World”, a report on The State of Global Democracy concluded that for the past twelve years democracy has declined and civil liberties eroded around the world. George Soros in a keynote address stressed that, “Open societies are in crisis, and….dictatorships and mafia states….are on the rise”. Do we need to be reminded, “Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends than that good men should look on and do nothing.” 1
In January, the Officers and staff of the World Methodist Council visited the headquarters of the Korean Methodist Church and Kwanglim Methodist Church to finalize arrangements for the Council meeting in July. We will provide updates on our website and in the First Friday Letter as plans are finalized and registration and reservation systems come online.
On the 23rd of February, please remember the Day of Prayer for South Sudan and the Congo. The organization, Solidarity with South Sudan (http://www.solidarityssudan.org), is headquartered across the road from the Methodist Ecumenical Office in Rome. Just last month, roundtable discussions were held at the request of Pope Francis on the theme “building peace together”.
We hope you will enjoy this issue featuring news from the Methodist-Wesleyan family around the world. You’ll also find an interactive post on Facebook to review and share resources for Ash Wednesday.
James Baldwin, the American writer said; “History is not the past. It is the present…. We are our history.”2 With this in mind let us go into the rest of this year empowered by the Spirit in the knowledge that God is greater than the giants and storms that might confront us on our journey.
Ivan M Abrahams
2. Arica L. Coleman “James Baldwin Documentary I Am Not Your Negro Is the Product of a Specific Moment in History” Times.com, February 24, 2017