In January, the Revd Michaela Youngson, President Designate of the Methodist Conference [Methodist Church in Britain], visited the United Church of Papua New Guinea with her husband Sandy, and Steve Pearce, Partnership Coordinator for Asia and the Pacific.
The United Church of Papua New Guinea celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in true South Pacific style. Surrounded by beautiful landscapes and adorned in leas (floral tributes), we thanked God together for the life of the Church and its role within the life of its nation. Each region in PNG had its own celebrations. In Kwikila, people from the whole East Central Province gathered at ‘Miracle City’ (the region’s mission headquarters) to share in worship and celebration. New workers in pastoral and HIV/Aids care were inducted, and hundreds of people danced and sang.
A few days later, our group travelled up to Mendi, a community in the mountains of PNG, where almost 1,000 young people gathered for a rally. The mission station there had buildings that dated back to when it was under the care of the Methodist Missionary Society, and these buildings were definitely beginning to show their age. Local pastors are trained at the Bible School there and the Church runs
a primary school and lots of other projects.
The national celebrations of the Church’s anniversary took place in the capital, Port Moresby. It was a privilege to join the procession into the stadium, led by a police band and accompanied by the government minister for Communities, Religion and Youth. The celebrations began with a wonderful act of worship and, after lunch, many hours of wonderful performances from circuits
representing the whole country. Some had travelled by boat for two days to be at the event.
Shortly after returning home, we heard about a massive earthquake in Mendi. Julia Edwards, a mission partner, told us that 13 of the 15 buildings at the mission centre there were lost, there were casualties across the region and communities were cut off. In the midst of celebrations, we were reminded again of the fragility of life and the need to work in partnerships of love and generosity to ensure the well-being of all God’s people.
This story originally appeared at methodist.org.uk.