The World Methodist Council is a worldwide association of Methodist, Wesleyan, and related Uniting and United Churches. It engages, empowers, and serves the member Churches by encouraging Methodist unity in witness, facilitating mission in the world, and fostering ecumenical and interreligious activities. It promotes obedience to the Great Commandment of Jesus Christ to love God and neighbor and to fulfill the Great Commission to make disciples through vibrant evangelism, a prophetic voice, cooperative programs, faithful worship, and mutual learning.
The Council operates in a five years circle. The first meeting in this circle took place after the 2016 World Methodist Conference in Houston, Texas, September 4-5, 2016. The meeting in Seoul was the second meeting in the 2016 to 2021 quinquennium, and was held July 12-15, 2018 in Korea.
Currently 80 Methodist, Wesleyan and United or Uniting Churches serving in 138 countries and representing over 80 million Methodists affiliates and members are part of the Council family.
Following is a summary of the actions and decisions at the 2018 Seoul meeting provided by Bishop Rosemarie Wenner of Germany, WMC Geneva Secretary.
- Continued efforts to support of the Peace Process for the Korean Peninsula
Meeting in Kwanglim Methodist Church in Seoul, the delegates got aware of the high expectations for major progress in the peace process after the Inter-Korean Panmunjom Summit. At its meeting in Houston, USA, 2016 the WMC has established a Korean Methodist Church (KMC) – United Methodist Church (UMC) and World Methodist Council (WMC) Roundtable for Peace. The second meeting will take place November 9-11, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
In addition, the WMC decided to connect its work with the Ecumenical Forum for Korea (EFK) by sending WMC President JC Park to the EFK meetings.
At Sunday July 15, 2018 WMC delegates and Methodists of the Seoul congregations of the KMC met at 7 pm for a Peace Prayer at the Plaza “Hope” right before the KMC Head Office.
2 Report of the International Dialogue of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) and the World Methodist Council “Faith Working Through Love” was received
From 2013 to 2018 the WMC and the BWA engaged in a formal dialogue. The Report and a Study Guide were presented and received with gratitude.
The dialogue commission states: “While we have not come to full agreement in all issues in our dialogue, we do not consider points of difference to be insurmountable barriers to unity in mission and witness.” With regard to the different understandings of baptism it recommends that “Baptists and Methodists seek to find even more ways of encouraging their members to remember, reaffirm and rejoice in their own baptism regularly”.
- Review of Ecumenical partnerships and next steps
The WMC celebrated with the WCC the 70 th anniversary and seeks to engage in the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace. F.e. it affirmed the Arusha Call to Discipleship and the Resolution passed by the WCC Central Committee June 20, 2018 on Recent Events in Gaza and Jerusalem.
The current dialogue of the WMC with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity has started in 2017, the anniversary year of 50 years continued dialogue. The newly formed dialogue commission, together with the Steering Committee of the World Methodist Council and other stakeholders of the Methodist Ecumenical Office in Rome, were received by Pope Francis October 17, 2017. Our gift to Pope Francis was the Spanish translation of the last Dialogue Report “A Call to Holiness”.
We engage in the ongoing work in reception of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification in cooperation with the other four partners involved.
At the Seoul meeting the WMC agreed to intensify the work with the World Communion of Reformed Churches and the African Instituted Churches, starting dialogues that integrate concrete cooperation of partners.
- Thursday in Black Campaign
“Thursdays in black” is not new to the World Methodist family. The World Federation of Methodist and Uniting Church Women has been participating in the initiative since many years. Nevertheless the WMC reaffirmed the importance of the Campaign and encourages its member churches to speak up against violence in all forms and namely violence against girls and women.
- Consultation Process on Mission in New Areas and Diaspora Churches
Wesleyans and Methodists see themselves as a mission movement. The WMC member churches send missionaries from everywhere to everywhere. In the age of migration many Methodist people seek new homes in other then their home countries. Very often they build churches in the Diaspora, sometimes in areas where other member churches are present. The WMC decided to start a Consultation Process in order to listen and learn from the experiences, strengthen communication and cooperation and eventually draft a “covenant of mutual support”.
- Resolution “Religious Law in Bulgaria”
Listening to the report of a delegate from Bulgaria, we learnt that changes in the religious law in Bulgaria have been introduced to the Bulgarian Parliament that would hinder the work of f.e. the United Methodist Church in Bulgaria, being an international church. Churches would no longer be allowed to receive foreign funding and foreigners would no longer be accepted to offer religious services in Bulgaria. The WMC asked the General Secretary to express the WMC’s concerns about the violation of the Bulgarian Constitution that states a separation of Church and State and the independence of all religious groups.
- Youth and Young Adults Network
The WMC appreciated the lively work of its Youth and Young Adults Committee and approved concrete steps in achieving a better representation of youth and young adults in the WMC.
- Water and Peace Seminar in Jordan, Palestine and Israel October 8-13, 2018
In cooperation with Eco Peace Middle East and the Methodist Jerusalem Office, the Interreligious Committee of the WMC organizes a pilgrimage to Jordan, Palestine and Israel. This journey is designed to be a pilgrimage exploring the religious significance of the River Jordan for the Abrahamic faiths. It will serve as a fact-finding mission to learn about the present state of ecological devastation of the sacred river and the eco-system that it sustains. It will also be a spiritual exercise requiring much listening and understanding, solidarity and compassion, for those who find themselves deprived of water.
- 22th World Methodist Conference to be held in Gothenburg, Sweden August 18-21, 2021
The WMC approved the theme for the 22th World Methodist Conference: “On the Move” and received with great gratitude a report of the plan team. For the first time, the World Methodist Council and Conference will be hosted by a member church that is a Uniting Church, namely the Uniting Church Sweden.
10 Moving towards Consensus Model
Julia Kuhn Wallace from the United Methodist Church, USA and Terence Corkin from the Uniting Church in Australia led two training sessions for the introduction to a consensus based decision making process. Even though the decision whether to implement the process has to be made in future meetings, the WMC started to make use of the principles.
11 Migration, Racism, Poverty and Inequality
In this quinquennium we agreed to engaged in the topics migration, racism, poverty (namely through inequality and injustices). The Committees of the World Methodist Council took efforts to dig into the subjects; the Family Life Committee will cooperate with the WCC in the “Churches Commitment for Children”, the Theological Education Committee is working on “Theology of Migration” and the Social an International Affairs Committee reminded us of the interdependence between “global” and “local”, just to name few examples.
The work of the Council and its committees was nourished by inspiring worships designed by its Worship and Liturgy Committee under the leadership of Rev. Amelia Koh-Butler from Australia. The great hospitality of our Korean Methodist hosts enabled the officers and the delegates to achieve a lot in little time. The meeting was well prepared by General Secretary Ivan Abrahams, the staff in the Lake Junaluska Headquarter and the treasurer Kirby Hickey. President JC Park, South Korea and Vice President Gillian Kingston led the sessions with inspiration, grace and humor.
To God be the glory for this step in our journey as World Methodist Council.
President Jong Chun Park asks that we join in prayer:
“Dear People called Methodists, let’s join in the worldwide prayer for peace in Korea on August 12th 2018. ‘Behold, how good and pleasant it is for sisters and brothers to dwell together in unity!’ (Psalm 133:1)