The chair of the ecumenical relationships committee, Reverend Dr. Tim Macquiban, Director of the Methodist Ecumenical Office Rome, represented the WMC as fraternal delegate to the Synod of Bishops meeting over three weeks to advise Pope Francis on the chosen theme, ‘Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment’. His summary of the meeting, which should be of general relevance to other churches, is linked here.
Members of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the World Methodist Council and the Roman Catholic Church assembled in Hong Kong from Friday 12 to Friday 19 October 2018 for their second plenary meeting of the present round of conversations. The sixteen members of the commission comprise Methodists and Roman Catholics in equal number from North and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. The Methodist co-chair is Rev. Dr David Chapman, Chair of the Bedfordshire, Essex and Hertfordshire District of the Methodist Church in Britain. The Roman Catholic co-chair is Rt Revd John Sherrington, Auxiliary Bishop in the Diocese of Westminster.
The commission met in the impressive surroundings of the state-of-the-art conference facilities at Wesleyan House, the new headquarters building of the Methodist Church in Hong Kong. On arrival, members shared together in evening prayer in the Sky Chapel on the twenty-second floor of Wesleyan House, with its panoramic views of the Hong Kong skyline by day and by night.
Continuing the conversation begun in Rome last year, the subject for dialogue was ‘God in Christ, reconciling’ as this relates in particular to the unity of the Church. Papers were presented on a range of topics, including reconciliation in the Old and New Testaments, Methodist and Roman Catholic practices of reconciliation, and the Church’s ministry of reconciliation in the world.
The commission agreed the structure of its eventual report and assigned members to preliminary drafting work ahead of next year’s plenary meeting in Nairobi. A final report will be presented to the WMC meeting in Gothenburg in 2021.
During the weeklong meeting, the joint commission hosted a dinner attended by representatives of the Catholic diocese of Hong Kong and the Methodist Church in Hong Kong, which led to a fascinating conversation about ecumenical and church-state relations in China and Hong Kong.
On Sunday, members of the commission attended worship at the Methodist International Church, led by Rev. Eden Fletcher, who kindly hosted a lunch afterwards at Wesleyan House. In its final session, the commission shared together in a Methodist celebration of Holy Communion in the Sky Chapel at Wesleyan House, joined by several local Methodists. Rev. Dr David Chapman presided and Prof. Lilian Siwila from the Methodist Church in Southern Africa preached a sermon.
On the final evening, the Methodist Church in Hong Kong hosted a dinner in honour of the joint commission. Afterwards, Rev. Dr David Chapman and Bishop John Sherrington led a well-attended seminar for local Methodists and Roman Catholics on the subject of Methodist-Roman Catholic dialogue before presenting copies of the commission’s most recent report, The Call to Holiness: From Glory to Glory (Houston, 2016), to representatives of the Catholic diocese of Hong Kong and the Methodist Church in Hong Kong.
At the conclusion, Rev. Dr David Chapman commented: ‘Meeting in Hong Kong has located our WMC dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church in a fresh context where Christians form a vibrant minority and where exciting opportunities for shared evangelisation underscore the need for deepening communion between Methodists and Roman Catholics.’
Rev. Dr David M. Chapman
Methodist Co-Chair, World Methodist Council-Roman Catholic Dialogue Commission