In the light of the increased interest expressed in the 21st World Methodist Conference in Houston, August 31- September 3, 2016, we publish a Special edition of the First Friday Letter to share something of the work and witness of the World Methodist Council.
This year marks the 131st birthday of the Council. When the first Ecumenical Methodist Conference of four hundred delegates convened in 1881 for twelve days at Wesley’s Chapel in London, little did they know that the proverbial mustard seed planted would grow to become “home” to 82.5 million people of 82 Methodists, Wesleyan and related United and Uniting Churches in 134 countries around the world.
The Council is the only body that brings the global Wesleyan family together every five years at a Conference with a set number of delegates from member churches but open to all who seek to follow Jesus in the company of the Wesley’s.
The Council is one of more than thirty “families” of churches known as “Christian World Communions” (CWC). While these communions share a general tradition common to all Christians, each “family” is held together by a common heritage, creed or confession. Since 1957, the secretaries of CWC have met annually for fellowship and to share mutual concerns. The World Methodist Council, as one of these world communions, seeks to engage, empower and serve the member Churches by encouraging Methodist unity in witness, facilitating mission in the world, and fostering ecumenical and inter-religious activities. The Council “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”.
This is a year of celebration. As we share in the 21st World Conference, it has “come of age” and where better to throw a party and reach for the stars to marvel at the majesty of God than in Houston, the home of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Two other bodies have 60th Anniversaries, the World Federation of Methodist and Uniting Church Women and the Methodist Museum, while the World Methodist Evangelism Institute celebrates 35 years and the Order of the Flame its 20th Anniversary.
Whether you can make it to Houston or not, it is my hope and prayer that this special issue of the First Friday Letter will inspire you to participate actively in this 21st Conference through your support and prayers.
Wishing all Conference participants a spiritually rewarding experience as you renew friendships, participate in worship, engage in debate and pray together.