March 2024 First Friday Letter

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First Friday Letter

The World Methodist Council

Greetings from the General Secretary

Warm Christian greetings during this holy Lenten Season!

March 2024

When you open this edition of the First Friday Letter, I will be on my way to Gothenburg for my final meeting with our host committee. I am very excited to see our plans come together for Conference22, On the Move – Migration, Pilgrimage and Guiding Lights. I am confident that the Conference will be an opportunity to engage in fellowship, to hear stories from around the globe, to learn and to stand in solidarity with each other.

There is no way that we can undertake our Lenten journey without reflecting on the war in Ukraine now in its second year, the conflict in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the war on Gaza.

The war on Gaza continues unabated despite the International Court of Justice (ICJ) finding that there was a sufficiently plausible case of genocide by Israel. The ICJ ruling has also opened the door to legal action against countries that may be aiding and abetting genocide in Gaza and the occupied Palestinian territories. Palestine and Israel has a special place in our faith tradition and we cannot remain silent. We commend the stance taken by the Council of Bishops of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and other world leaders.

In a communique from Bishop Christian Alsted, he shares about his recent visit to Kyiv and his collaboration with Dr Ivan Rusyn of the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Ukraine, “to deal theologically and pastorally with the experience of war.” Bishop Alstead will invite Dr. Rusyn to share his experience with delegates to Conference22 in Gothenburg.

Bishop David R. Daniels of the 17th Episcopal District of the African Methodist Church has made an urgent request to support displaced members in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The conflict in the Congo is due to complex war issues in the mineral rich eastern part of the country. (see page 5)

During this Lenten Season when the guns of war sounds loudly and injustice seem to engulf us like a tsunami we need to put our trust in the resurrection hope in Christ and hear the words of the prophet again;

The Lord says, here is my servant whom I strengthen, the one I have chosen, with whom I am pleased. I have filled him with my spirit, and he will bring justice to every nation. He will not shout or raise his voice or make loud speeches on the streets. He will not break off a bent reed or put out a flickering lamp. He will bring lasting justice to all. He will not lose hope or courage; he will establish justice on the earth. (Isaiah 42:1-4)

Our hope is in the Crucified and Risen Lord Jesus Christ.

Yours in mission

Ivan M Abrahams

World Methodist Council First Friday Letter page 1 Photo 136007839 © Kabayanmark |

Register to hear world renowned speakers

Kimberly Reisman, PhD, is Executive Director of World Methodist Evangelism, a ministry that equips the global Wesleyan Methodist family for evangelism.

An author, pastor, teacher and theologian, Dr. Reisman is a frequent speaker, focusing on evangelism, spiritual formation, leadership development and the intersection between faith and culture. She has written numerous books and articles, most recently, Embrace: Showing and Sharing the Love of Jesus.

Embrace: Showing and Sharing the Love of Jesus offers a way to think about evangelism that can help people become more comfortable showing and sharing the love of Jesus in a way that is authentic and natural. Using the metaphor of an embrace, this workshop will explore the Wesleyan understanding of salvation as a model for the way in which we reach out to others with the love and grace of Jesus Christ.

Revd. Dr. Martin Mujinga is the General Secretary of the Africa Methodist Council and the Former General Secretary of the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe. He has published widely on Methodism, taught at many institutions in Zimbabwe and South Africa, and is a Research Fellow for UNISA and Stellenbosch University.

Rev. Dr. Mujinga says historical facts show that Asia is the ground where Christianity was born and nursed, while the theological foundations of Christianity are found in Africa. Christianity suffered setbacks from the Islamic onslaught, leading to the Islamization of Asia and some parts of Africa. This process led to Europe being the center of Christianity. During the colonial era, Europe replanted the seeds of Christianity in Africa, thereby making Africa the home of Christianity.

The surge of globalization, migration, and human trafficking saw most Africans in Europe using their style and forms of worshipping. As Africans continued to infiltrate the European pews and ecclesiastical spaces, most European churches assimilated the new forms of worship brought by the former converts. The acceptance of Africans and their style of worship in the traditional Western form of worship gave birth to hybrid Christianity. This hybridity of Christianity is characterized by a symbiosis of Euro-African worship styles. Dr. Mujinga invites participants to share the religio-cultural impact of migration in the 21st Century and the future of hybrid Christianity.

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Register and Book your hotel today!

The 22nd World Methodist Conference of the WMC will be held 13-18 August 2024 in Gothenburg Sweden. Be part of this historic event. This is an opportunity for all Wesleyan, Methodist and Uniting Churches to come together. The WMC is the only place for all of John Wesley’s family to join at one table in a common bond.

Register NOW to join this worldwide celebration of cultures, music, and learn from people who will share their knowledge, allowing you new experiences.

Reserve your hotel room at Gothia Towers so that you are conveniently located where all Conference activities are being held. Council Meetings, Seminars, Worship and more will take place in Gothia Towers, where rooms are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. (If you have registered for the Conference, you may access the lodging link by using your Confirmation Code in the confirmation email.) WMC Booking Reservations!

A Call for Urgent International Intervention!

Despite the International Court of Justice ruling that Israel is plausibly committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza and despite the provisional measures the court issued—including the demand that Israel take all measures within its power to spare the lives of the civilians— Israel has intensified its genocidal war on the Gaza Strip and is planning for a horrific assault on Rafah.

On 9 February 2024, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the Israeli army to submit a plan to his Cabinet for “evacuating the population” from Rafah before the army invades.

In addition to the 270,000 Palestinian residents of Rafah, there are around 1.5 million Palestinians taking refuge in the city. Residents and refugees alike live in desperate and inhumane conditions under continuing Israeli bombardment and lack of sufficient humanitarian aid. These displaced people moved from across Gaza to Rafah following the instructions of the Israeli army which designated Rafah as a safe zone for civilians. But Palestinians there have not experienced any safety or security from Israeli carpet shelling targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure.

There is no safe place in Gaza!

Israel’s impending siege of Rafah will leave the Palestinians there with only two options: be killed, or leave Gaza “voluntarily” or forcibly to Egypt or any other place of their “choice.” This is genocide and

ethnic cleansing. This is not the time for people of the civilized world to be silent!

In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” We urgently appeal to the churches, to His holiness Pope Francis, to the World Council of Churches, to the international community to take up the work of active peacemaking to stop this genocide and ethnic cleansing. You cannot later say, “We didn’t know.” You know. Your failure to act makes you complicit in the crimes Israel is committing. The Prophet Isaiah foresaw the day when peoples “shall beat their swords into plowshare, and their spears into pruning hooks.” We plead with you to act today and tomorrow to bring Isaiah’s vision to fulfillment:

• Call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire and to protect the Palestinian people from forced displacement and destruction.

• Insist on a diplomatic solution.

• Put pressure on the countries which are supporting the Israeli actions in Gaza or are remaining silent to demand from Israel an immediate implementation to the provisional measures ruled by the International Court of Justice.

Read more of this statement here

Story Provided by Kairos Palestine

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Photo 99366163 | Gothia Towers © Andrei Hrabun |

World Day of Prayer

Ephesians 4:1-7 I beg you…bear with one another in love…

By an extraordinary God-incidence, the worship service for the World Day of Prayer this year comes from women of a number of Christian traditions in Palestine. Some four years ago, they came together to create a wonderful act of worship with the theme, I beg you…bear with one another in love… they cannot possibly have known then how prophetic and timely their choice of theme and their thinking would be. Our hearts and prayers continue to go out to them and their compatriots at this time of emergency and violence.

RTE, the Irish national television and radio service, is unique (we think!) in that, every year, they pre-record this ecumenical service of worship at the end of February and televise it to the nation on the first Sunday of March.

It was deeply moving to watch and hear a choir of primary school girls and boys (aged 10- 12) lead the music, singing, with clear and sweet voices, hymns like ‘Make me a channel of your peace…’ and the traditional WDP hymn, ‘The day thou gavest, Lord, is ended…’. And their attentiveness to the prayers, readings and meditation was exemplary!

Invited to present the short meditation at this event, these were my thoughts…

The chosen text is from the letter to the Christians at Ephesus and it conveys a tone of real urgency… I beg you - bear with one another in love - make every effort

And, then, we are reminded that each of us has been given grace ‘according to the measure of Christ’s gift’ - and the measure of that gift is nothing less than the self-giving and sacrificial love that

Christ has extended to us...

But how do we bear with one another in love? What is required of us - from wherever we come, whoever we are?

The prophet Micah poses that very question - What does the Lord require of you?

…and, helpfully, he proceeds to answer it - to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with (y) our God (6:8b)

Scripture makes it utterly clear that, without justice, there can be no peace…

By justice, a king gives a country stability, observes the writer of the Book of Proverbs cogently (29.4). And Isaiah of Jerusalem notes definitively that the fruit of righteousness will be peace (32.17).

Our prayer is - and must continue to be - that there may be justice and peace in the land and the region where the Prince of Peace was born and lived, died and was resurrected, and from where he ascended to the right hand of God, the Father.

And that there may be justice and peace in the many places round the world where there is ongoing conflict - Ukraine, Sudan, Myanmar, to name but a few…

Jesus told his followers that those who are peace-makers are blessed; it is not enough to be a peace-lover – we must make every effort to bear with one another in love and in the bond of peace.

Peace-making is a daunting and arduous task, but the prophets Isaiah and Micah had the audacity to dream of a time when swords would be beaten into ploughshares and spears into pruning

hooks, where people would sit at peace under their own fig trees and vines (Isaiah 2:1-5 and Micah 4:1-5).

This is our dream too…and it can become a reality if we bear with each other in love – whoever and wherever we are…

…so, in words from Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury…

We pray for the people of the Holy Land:

Israeli and Palestinian, Jew, Christian and Muslim.

We pray for an end to acts of violence and terror.

We lift to you all who are fearful and hurting.

We ask for wisdom and compassion for those in leadership.

Above all, we ask that Jesus, the Prince of Peace, would bring lasting reconciliation and justice for all. Amen.

The final hymn the children sang includes the verse

As o’er each continent and island, The dawn leads on another day

The voice of prayer is never silent Nor dies the strain of praise away.

…an inspiring thought for the world family of Methodist, Wesleyan and Uniting churches!

Submitted by: Gillian Kingston Vice President, WMC

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Urgent Requests for Displaced People

Please see the following message shared by Bishop David R. Daniels, Jr., Presiding Prelate of the 17th Episcopal District from Presiding Elder Mutabazi Kamutera Seraphin, Pastor of Enaim AME Church in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo.

Hello Bishop, I greet you in the Name of Jesus Christ.

I would like to request a Zoom meeting with you to provide more information on the handover activities we had last January. I am available at your convenience.

Also, we need your prayer support as the security situation is becoming worse and worse since last month. It has been almost 2 years that M23 rebels are fighting with the Congolese army. This situation has worsened the lives of residents, leading many people to evacuate to Goma and other neighboring cities for their safety. Until now, there are ongoing clashes causing so many people to evacuate to Goma. They are living in difficult situations. I have just come from the displaced camp. My goodness!!! People are suffering a lot.

I had a conversation with the AME Church leaders who are in the camp, and we agreed that church members who are living in displaced camps will move to ENAIM Church to be sleeping there. Almost every ENAIM Church member has a displaced person they are hosting. So, those who don’t have someone to host them will be sleeping inside the church. We still need your prayers and support to help these people. Because of clashes, many have moved to Goma without having anyone to host them or anything to eat. I am planning to contact other members of the AME CHURCH in Goma to urge them to host at least one or two displaced people.

In the same regard, I thank you for the efforts you made the last time you provided food to displaced AME Church members. Your support made an impact in their lives. I will be in the displaced camps again next Saturday, I will share some updates with you.

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AME Council of Bishops Calls for Withdrawal of Israeli Support

Today as we celebrate the birth of Richard Allen, the apostle of freedom, Israel has trapped 1.6 million desperate Palestinians in the southern Gaza city called Rafah. Most of them are women and children. They have denied them access to food, water, shelter, and health care. After this torture, they plan to murder them. The United States of America will have likely paid for the weapons they use. This must not be allowed to happen.

The Council of Bishops of the African Methodist Episcopal Church calls on the United States Government to immediately withdraw all funding and other support from Israel. Since 1954, Israel has shown a willful disregard for the human dignity of Palestinians. Since October 7, 2023, in retaliation for the brutal murder of 1139 Israeli citizens by Hamas, Israel has murdered over 28,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children. The United States is supporting this mass genocide. This must not be allowed to continue.

There must be an immediate and permanent ceasefire between these two communities. We call for a solution to be negotiated by genuine representatives of the people of Israel and Palestine and condemn all violence as a means of resolving this conflict. Surely there is a grassroots solution that affirms the dignity and humanity of all God’s people in Palestine and Israel. The tools of empire, colonialism, and domination will not solve the problems they created. The cycle of violence between historically wounded peoples will not be dissolved by the creation of more wounds or through weapons of war. We remain in solidarity with Jesus Christ of Nazareth, a Palestinian Jew, and the Prince of Peace.

We weep for the suffering being inflicted upon the children of God in the Holy Land and all the earth. We cry for freedom and implore those who say they love God to demonstrate a tangible love for their neighbors. We will travail in prayer and pursue justice until freedom reigns for all.

A Call for Urgent International Intervention: Stop the genocide in Rafah and the forcible displacement of the Palestinians!

The Prime Ministers of Australia, Canada and New Zealand today issued the following statement on reports of Israel’s planned military operation in Rafah.

We are gravely concerned by indications that Israel is planning a ground offensive into Rafah.

A military operation into Rafah would be catastrophic. About 1.5 million Palestinians are taking refuge in the area, including many of our citizens and their families. With the humanitarian situation in Gaza already dire, the impacts on Palestinian civilians from an expanded military operation would be devastating. We urge the Israeli government not to go down this path. There is simply nowhere else for civilians to go.

There is growing international consensus. Israel must listen to its friends and it must listen to the international community. The protection of civilians is paramount and a requirement under international humanitarian law. Palestinian civilians cannot be

made to pay the price of defeating Hamas.

An immediate humanitarian ceasefire is urgently needed. Hostages must be released. The need for humanitarian assistance in Gaza has never been greater. Rapid, safe and unimpeded humanitarian relief must be provided to civilians. The International Court of Justice has been clear: Israel must ensure the delivery of basic services and essential humanitarian assistance and must protect civilians. The Court’s decisions on provisional measures are binding.

We are clear that a sustainable ceasefire is necessary to finding a path towards securing lasting peace for Israelis and Palestinians. Any ceasefire cannot be one sided. Hamas must lay down its arms and release all hostages immediately. We again unequivocally condemn Hamas for its terror attacks on Israel on October 7.

Read more of this statement here.

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National-level Training Held in Theological Affirmation

Dili, Timor Leste: The Christian Conference of Asia (CCA), along with its member church in Timor Leste, the Igreja Protestante iha Timor Lorosa’e (IPTL), jointly organised a national-level training programme on ‘Christian Theology on Good Governance and Transparency’.

The training programme, which was attended by over 40 pastors, evangelists, lay leaders, and youth leaders hailing from five districts, was held from 19 to 23 February 2024 at the IPTL Synod Headquarters in the capital city of Dili.

Employing modules developed by the CCA on good governance and stewardship, the programme was contextualised for the specific needs of the CCA’s member church in Timor Leste, the IPTL.

Rev. Levi Vasconcelos Pinto, CCA Executive Committee member and Secretary of the IPTL’s Theological Learning Centre, said, “Good governance is central for the church, and good stewardship is the responsibility given by God to humankind. It is hoped that this training programme and formation will enable the congregation leaders of the IPTL to play greater roles in their local communities.”

“Co-organising this programme with the CCA demonstrates the IPTL’s commitment to being more accountable, transparent, and effective in carrying out our mission in sustainable and productive ways,” added Rev. Pinto.

Key sessions facilitated by the CCA included ‘Biblical Foundations of Good Governance and Stewardship’, ‘Church as Christian Organisation and Analysis of Resources’, ‘Models of Christian Leadership, Ensuring Accountability and Monitoring Mechanisms’, and ‘Resources and Assets Management’.

Other themes discussed included ‘Church and Good Governance in the Synodal System’, ‘Leadership and Policy in Service’, ‘Theological and Philosophical Bases and Applications in Church Systems’, ‘Managing Church Finances’, and ‘Church Resource Management and Diakonia’.

Sharing feedback on the programme, Rev. Pinto from the IPTL stated, “The biblical foundations of good governance have inspired us to reimagine our calling, pay serious attention to our experiences, and appreciate the resources we have. Although we may face problems relating to the management of assets and resources, we have learnt that being stewards is not the job of pastors alone but is the responsibility of the whole community.”

For more photos (Photo Gallery), please click here: Dili, Timor Leste: national-level training programme on ‘Christian Theology on Good Governance and Transparency’ 2024

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Dili, Timor Leste: national-level training programme on ‘Christian Theology on Good Governance and Transparency’ participants 2024

Join On The Move Online Monthly Prayer Meetings

“We need decisive action – now!” At the recent Online Prayer with and for Migrants February 13,2024, Dr Elisapesi Havea from New Zealand gave an impressive report on Climate Induced Migration, highlighting the situation of people living in the Pacific region. She shared that the Methodist Church in New Zealand works on a policy to take action to preserve mother earth and to advocate for a recognition of those who seek asylum because of climate change. The recording of the presentation is available for those who are interested. Please contact Geneva Secretary Rosemarie Wenner ( ).

The 3rd Online Prayer will take place March 12, 2024 at 6 pm GMT. Rev Jack Amick, director of United Methodist Committee on Relief’s Global Migration program for Global Ministries, will be sharing what UMCOR has been doing in service with people on the move.

Please register at:

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dates: Tuesday, March 12, 2024 6:00 pm GMT Tuesday, April 9, 2024 7:00 am GMT Tuesday, May 14, 2024 6:00 pm
Tuesday, June 11, 2024 7:00 am
Tuesday, July 9, 2024 6:00 pm
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Photo from February Zoom Meeting

A story of welcomes: Dublin Mission offers safe spaces

In 1893 the Methodist churches around the city of Dublin in Ireland established the Dublin Central Mission. At that time much of the inner city population of Dublin lived in large tenement buildings which were overcrowded, damp and cold. Many lived in great poverty in these inner city slums. The establishment of the mission was an attempt to offer support and solidarity with those who lived in poverty. From the beginning there was an open door policy of welcome in the mission building.

After about half a century there was a growing awareness of the very difficult living conditions for people who had come to an age where they could no longer work. This led to the establishment of a sheltered housing complex, the first of its kind in Ireland. Again welcome was at its heart.

Today Dublin Central Mission continues to offer a space of welcome and support in the city centre as well as two sheltered housing centres and a nursing home. Our vision statement is, “To offer safe spaces where anyone can experience fullness of life” and our mission has recently been defined as, “To create inclusive, compassionate communities that make a positive difference in people’s lives by providing shelter, support, space to worship, and an open door to all.”

However we faced a major drama in September last year. We were planning essential renovations and upgrades to our aging city centre building when we suddenly had to close it overnight for safety reasons. The building is still closed as we explore our options for the future. We are determined to stay in the city centre but we have to explore every option regarding the best way to make that happen given the financial constraints which we face.

Yet, while our own building has been closed we have received welcome from other churches in the city centre of Dublin. Our Sunday morning congregation has been warmly welcomed and given the use of St Kevin’s Oratory which is located at the back of the central Roman Catholic Pro-cathedral of Dublin. In the meantime a local Presbyterian Church has facilitated us with using some of their meeting rooms so that we can continue to offer space to the many addiction support groups whom we support and so that we can continue the English conversation classes which we offer to people who have migrated to Ireland but are vulnerable because struggling with the language.

So Dublin Central Mission, which has welcomed everyone for over a century, has now received welcome from others while continuing to welcome

many people who benefit from our work. We thank God for the welcome we have received and we ask you to pray for us as we work through these practical difficulties that God would guide us to the right building that he has in mind for us which will provide a continuing open door of welcome to all.

Abbey Street Methodist Church

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22nd World Methodist Conference

Gothenburg, Sweden 13-18 August

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Publisher: Bishop Ivan Abrahams, General Secretary Communications: Michaela Bryson

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World Methodist Council First Friday Letter page 10
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