May 2022 First Friday Letter

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First Friday Letter The World Methodist Council

May 2022

Greetings from the General Secretary Dear Friends, Warm greetings as we look with great expectation to the change of seasons across the globe! Whether biological, adoptive, or foster, mothers hold a special place in our hearts. We honor and celebrate the dedication and sacrifices made by these extraordinary women in our lives and wish them every blessing on Mother’s Day! We also acknowledge that the past few months have not been easy for mothers who have seen their husbands, sons, and daughters trapped in situations of violence, war, and conflict, not of their own making. We think specifically of mothers in Russia, Ukraine, South Sudan, Palestine, the Holy Land, northern Nigeria, and other places affected by conflict. We remember mothers who feared as they saw their children leave home for alleged better prospects in towns, cities, or foreign countries, never to be heard of again. We acknowledge mothers who lost children through illness, addiction, miscarriage, or other circumstances. This Mother’s Day, we mourn with you. As I reflect on the effects of tornadoes, flooding, and drought in many parts of the world, I ask myself if we have become tone-deaf to the numerous reports on climate change. Chief Seattle once said, “We did not inherit this planet from our ancestors. We borrow it from our children.” I am glad the World Methodist Council identified Climate Justice as one of its strategic priorities in 2016. We supported the Climate Justice for All initiative by Methodist young people, but we need to do much more to prevent climate Armageddon. Diversity in its many forms is one of the World Methodist Council’s key asserts, but diversity alone does not serve as the conceptual anchor of the association. Member churches of the World Methodist Council are not uniform but instead unified by drawing upon our common Methodist/Wesleyan heritage and sharing a journey towards Christian Perfection. If the Council hopes to remain relevant, it has to wrestle with the challenges of our time by feeling the pulse and heartbeat of all creation, leading with compassion, and standing in solidarity with “the outcast of men” (sic) those marginalized and vulnerable in society. This issue contains stories of hope such as Methodists bring medical supplies to Odessa, Disaster Recovery & SHIP Program partner on $1.8 million grant, and more. Grace and Peace, Ivan World Methodist Council

Photo 244720792 © Serhii Hryshchyshen | Dreamstime.com

Loving mother holding her child in the bomb shelter. First Friday Letter page 1


Methodists bring medical supplies to Odessa Methodists in countries bordering Ukraine are bringing relief supplies to their neighboring country. A hospital in Odessa also received medical supplies. Some of the supplies come from other Methodist churches or organizations. A truck from Sweden, loaded with clothes, dry food, diapers, soap and shoes, arrived in Romania on April 20. The transport was organized by a woman who had worked as a Methodist pastor in Lithuania until her retirement. Church as warehouse “We will now have to sort and distribute all these goods.,” wrote the Methodist pastor in charge, Samuel Goia, on Facebook. The Methodist church in Comsesti is still under construction. Nevertheless, it can serve as a collection point for aid supplies for Ukraine, says his colleague Rev. Cristian Istrate on the Facebook page of the United Methodist Church in Romania. Time and again, Methodists from Romania bring relief supplies across the border. They do this in close cooperation with Methodists in Ukraine. In some cases, aid is delivered far into the country and close to the embattled areas. All the way to Odessa On Easter Monday, one such aid delivery from the Romanian Methodists in cooperation with the Methodist pastor Oleg Starodubets from Ukraine arrived in Odessa. “With the help of World Methodist Evangelism, we were able to send to the hospital in Odessa a medical transport of medicines and surgical equipment,” reports the Rev. Cristian Istrate. The hospital cares for wounded soldiers. “The chief doctor said that the help we gave was the most significant and practical that they had received so far.” Chief physician Artean Pashin also wrote about this on Facebook, “I would like to express my deepest appreciation and respect to the Methodist Mission project in Romania and its staff for helping us in this difficult time for us.” Not the last time The Methodists in Kielce, Poland, are also collecting supplies for another relief transport. Pastor Damian Szczepanczyk announces that they will bring “another and not the last time” relief supplies to Ukraine. What is needed are shoes, durable food, articles for children, hygiene articles, underwear and T-shirts. The destination of the aid transport is Vinnytsia, a city in the Ukraine with about 400,000 inhabitants. Even those who can give little, therefore, need not worry. “The one or a few products you can put in the basket while shopping with others in mind - it will really mean a lot to someone!” Author: Sigmar Friedrich, Zurich/Switzerland

220421 Humanitarian Transport to Odessa World Methodist Council

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Leadership in the Wesleyan Spirit: Ministry & Context What lessons can we learn from our Wesleyan tradition for the work of church leadership today? This four-week course invites participants to reflect on the nature of leadership within their own ministerial contexts. As the church faces a host of challenges, from declining membership to climate change, new intentionality is necessary for the work of leading God’s people, whether those leaders by ordained or lay. This course provides the resources and space to consider how Methodists might bring a particular charism to such leadership in different contexts. Designed for clergy and lay leaders alike, Leadership in the Wesleyan Spirit: Ministry and Context draws upon the work of seminal Methodist leadership scholar Lovett H. Weems, Jr. Weems offers a vision of Methodist leadership within the American context. Our course will use his work as a jumping-off point for adapting his insights to different cultural and ministerial contexts. Participants will, therefore, be asked not only to engage the course material but to bring their own experience and expertise into conversation with others as we work together to construct multiple visions of Wesleyan leadership relevant for the rich diversity of God’s world and God’s people. Adam Ployd is Vice Principal and Director of the Centre for Leadership and Ministry Development at Wesley House, Cambridge. An ordained Deacon in the United Methodist Church, Adam is trained as an historical theologian and seeks to make the resources of the past relevant for the contemporary church. While Adam’s published scholarship focuses on early Christian thought, especially that of Augustine of Hippo, he has taught Wesleyan and Methodist history and theology for almost a decade. He believes that the origins of Methodism in the work of John and Charles Wesley have much to teach us even as we must always look to the future in an effort to follow God’s ongoing work in the world.

Class Format & Structure •

Four Wednesdays from 6 July to 27 July

Virtual Class via Zoom, 4:00-5:30 p.m. (UK time)

Zoom link, class schedule, and outline will be provided following registration

Early Bird Registration: £100 (Ends 4 June 2022)

The text for the class, Weems’ Leadership in the Wesleyan Spirit, will be made available digitally to all registered participants.

Regular Registration: £120 (Ends 4 July 2022)

Please read the Introduction of the book prior to the first class on 6 July

Four weekly sessions of 90 minutes including: Opening scripture and prayer, presentation about that week’s reading, small group conversations in breakout rooms and large group gathering for shared reflection and closing prayer

The course entails approximately 2 hours of reading and study per week outside of class time

A certificate of completion is available for those who complete a brief summative reflection (1500 words)

Cost

Book nowdeat: https://wesleyanspirit.eventbrite.co.uk Dr Fernand Varennes World Methodist Council

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Lead and Connect through Metanoia What is your strategy for developing emerging leaders? Jesus was 30 years old when he officially began his ministry. Yet, when it came to calling his disciples, Jesus chose young men to walk with him. Now, the idea of young men following an older Rabbi is nothing new. In ancient Jewish tradition, young men who stood out in the study of the law would be selected to follow prominent Rabbi’s. The rest of the boys would usually follow in the footsteps of their fathers, continuing to learn the family trade. What was indeed “new” was Jesus’ decision to pick disciples who would not have otherwise been chosen. Jesus saw something in those young men that others had failed to see. Those disciples “emerged” three years later as a courageous group of leaders who would all give their lives to the cause of their Rabbi. It happened then, and it continues to happen today! I am continually amazed at the wonders God can do through the lives of ordinary people who decide to say yes to following Jesus wholeheartedly. I am also grateful for wiser women and men who walked alongside me, teaching and challenging me, leading me to a deeper walk with Jesus. But now as a 40-year-old, I am burdened for the generation of young women and men emerging after us. I began this article with a question: What is your strategy for developing emerging leaders? Would you prayerfully consider that question as a leader in the Wesleyan Methodist movement? In the place God has placed you right now. Would you ask God to give you eyes to see what others have missed? At World Methodist Evangelism, we are committed to partnering with you in the journey of developing emerging leaders. To that end, over the next 3 years we will host gatherings around the world focused on helping young adults discern what’s next for them as they grow closer to Christ and to each other. We call these events “METANOIA.” Metanoia is a unique opportunity for young leaders across the global Wesleyan Methodist family to connect with each other and with God in worship, study, training, and encouragement to live more fully as committed disciples of Jesus Christ, to share their faith with boundless love and boldness, and to lead their generation to impact the world with greater courage and integrity on behalf of Jesus Christ. Would you consider how we might partner together through Metanoia? Here are a few ways you can get involved: • If you are an emerging leader who is interested in Metanoia, click HERE to connect with us; https:// worldmethodist.org/gatherings/metanoia/i-am-an-emerging-leader/ • Pray for this new season of ministry for Metanoia and our global emerging leadership initiatives. This kind of work can only be done with persisting prayer; • Give generously to enable a global new generation of high-capacity Christian leaders to participate in this life-changing journey. https://worldmethodist.org/donate/ • Share Metanoia Europe info with Emerging Leaders in your ministry https://worldmethodist.org/ gatherings/metanoia/metanoia-2022-2/ Written by Paulo Lopes, Director of Emerging Leadership for World Methodist Evangelism contact paulo@ worldmethodist.org for more details. World Methodist Council

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New EarthKeepers focus on island communities The Rev. Logan Jackson is the pastor of Ocracoke United Methodist Church on Ocracoke Island, but he grew up much further inland, in Tennessee. Duke Divinity School brought him to North Carolina. His appointment to the Outer Banks coincided with a time of transition. Most of the island suffered major damage from Hurricane Dorian back in 2019, and its residents are still trying to recover. This is a challenging time, but Jackson also sees it as a time full of opportunity. His congregation and other people on the island have been rudely pushed out of their comfort zones as the realities of climate change and environmental hazards hit them with physical and psychological force. People lost property, their livelihoods; some lost everything they had. As the world celebrates Earth Day, participants in the most recent Global Ministries EarthKeepers training consider ways to conserve and protect the Atlantic Ocean’s barrier islands. Thea Becton of Baltimore, Maryland, and Logan Jackson, of Ocracoke Island, North Carolina, may never have met had it not been for the recent Global Ministries EarthKeepers’ spring training session. “I think that is a bonus that can come from EarthKeepers,” noted Becton in a recent interview. “I would never have known there was a Logan somewhere in the world – someone who can share my struggles and feed me information to help make my load lighter.” Though the two have never met in person, they are connected online by their faith and their passion for improving life and survival on the Atlantic barrier islands they love. Island communities on the brink While Becton lives in Maryland, she has established a working relationship with a nonprofit on Sapelo Island, one of Georgia’s barrier islands and home to the Saltwater Geechee, descendants of slaves from West Africa shipped to the island to plant and harvest coastal rice, sea island cotton, sugar cane and indigo. Sapelo has one community left, Hog Hammock, down from five after the U.S. Emancipation Proclamation ended slavery. The Gullah Geechee, as they are known from North Carolina to Florida, developed distinctive language, foods, crafts and faith practices that retained much of their African culture, because of the isolated islands they inhabited.

World Methodist Council

“They just suffered so much damage and trauma, they realize that things cannot work the way that they used to, but they also have a clean slate,” Jackson noted. EarthKeeper projects address human needs and environment EarthKeepers who participate in Global Ministries’ training sessions start with projects they wish to develop and collaborate on, improving their plans and chances of success. Training also includes resources and information, a theological grounding in faith and environmental concerns and an introduction to the growing network of United Methodists who have a passion for this ministry. Becton is a lay member of the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference and relatively new to environmental justice and creation care ministries. She works part-time with the conference and oversees volunteer ministries and connections with UMCOR and Global Ministries. She is also active in Urban Waters, an organization to preserve and restore the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. “I think I learned a great deal just about creation care in general and the connection between faith and how we garden or engage in climate justice issues. Just being able to have an awareness of that faith connection was the most incredible takeaway for me,” said Becton. As clergy, Jackson became an EarthKeeper with the support of his church. He says his congregation has been thinking about some very big ideas in all kinds of directions: solar, hydroelectric, even ocean farming. Part of his work is to help them focus on realistic and obtainable goals and develop a plan to move from one project to the next. Continued... First Friday Letter page 5


New EarthKeepers focus on island communities continued... “I will support them however far they want to go,” Jackson said. “If they are truly interested in some of these bigger projects, then we can look at grants or other organizations that can assist us in getting some of these projects installed and completed, but I’m encouraging them to start small before we invest thousands of dollars.” First steps include a recycling program and new landscaping. Since Ocracoke UMC was left partially submerged in saltwater from the hurricane, the church building had to be raised off the ground a few feet. They just got back into the building this year. To replace the landscape, they invited the Lumbee Nation, Indigenous North American people of North Carolina who once lived on the island, to help them choose native, resilient plants, shrubs and trees. They’re looking for those that once flourished on the island.

Marine Institute makes its home there. Becton started volunteering with SOLO in 2019 and has returned every year since. Working with UGA professor Nik Heynan, Bailey has developed agricultural products such as sugar cane syrup, peppers and red peas, improving economic opportunities to help the Saltwater Geechee community stay on and return to the island. “We need the commercial kitchen to refine the heritage crops on the island to reduce the amount of volunteer labor required,” Becton explained. “Currently, they have to take much of the harvest off the island by barge for production.” The Cornelia Walker Bailey Cultural Center will provide dormitory space for volunteers that can double as retreat space for groups coming to learn more about Sapelo Island’s history and heritage. Becton believes the need to save the food and cultural traditions of this last remaining Geechee community is urgent. By returning to more traditional agriculture, the sea island habitat may also be protected. Roland Fernandes, Global Ministries’ general secretary, spoke to the EarthKeepers during their online training: “Not everybody believes in the urgency of the need to take steps to save the environment, but the environment is at the heart of so many of the crises we have today. The work that you are doing today contributes to the larger good, and what you do as individuals and communities is vitally important.”

Ocracoke UMC on Ocracoke Island needed a considerable “lift” after flooding from Hurricane Dorian. PHOTO: OKRACOKE UMC Building new communities Becton plans to build a cultural center and industrial kitchen on Sapelo to enhance and further the work of a nonprofit called Save Our Legacy Ourself (SOLO). SOLO was founded by Maurice Bailey, whose mother, Cornelia Walker Bailey, was a tireless advocate for Gullah Geechee culture and the rights of descendants to retain their land. SOLO is finding ways to make the land productive by rediscovering foods and traditions their ancestors brought to its shores.

Toward the end of the interview, Becton and Jackson were already brainstorming on future possibilities. Becton wondered out-loud: “One of the crops local to Ocracoke is figs. Could we get together and create a product? Could we create a jam or preserve that infuses figs with peppers, or fig-flavored syrup?” The friends pondered that possibility. Figs in the Outer Banks of North Carolina – who knew? Turns out the climate is similar to Greece’s, one of the many natural wonders of the Atlantic coastline. Christie R. House is a consultant writer and editor with Global Ministries and UMCOR. Are you interested in learning more about the EarthKeepers program or attending a training? The application for the summer 2022 training is open now. Learn more at https://umcmission.org/earthkeepers/.

About 97% of the land on the island is now owned by the state of Georgia, acquired when the last white owners sold their estates. The University of Georgia World Methodist Council

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Bishop Daniels Visits Rwanda First Visit by an AME Bishop in over 10 Years This week, Bishop David R. Daniels, Jr. Presiding Prelate of the 17th Episcopal District, visited Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Bishop Daniels arrived on April 6, 2022, on his first visit to the District since the 2021 General Conference where he was received in Lusaka, Zambia. He is the first bishop to visit this area in over a decade. In 2019, after years of not being visited by a Bishop, a sizeable number of AME Churches in Rwanda and the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo left the denomination to join the AME Zion Church. Bishop Daniels presided over a historic meeting on Wednesday at Enaim AME Church in Goma, the Democratic Republic of Congo with hundreds in attendance from AME Churches throughout Eastern Congo, followed by a meeting in Gisenyi, Rwanda on Thursday with pastors and members of AME churches in that country. Gisenyi is located in the westernmost part of Rwanda. On Friday, he visited the members of Mt. Hermon AME Church and presented US$1000 (1 million Rwandan francs) to the congregation. He retired to Zambia late Friday to continue his work in the District. Rev. Dr. Jonathan Weaver, pastor of Greater Mt. Nebo AME Church, Bowie, Maryland joined him on the visit. Dr. Weaver has conducted multiple mission trips to the region and assists with sponsoring a primary school as well. Please continue to be in prayer for the ministry of the 17th Episcopal District.

Article and photos by https:// www.thechristianrecorder.com/ World Methodist Council

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Disaster Recovery & SHIP Program partner on $1.8 million grant It has been 3 ½ months since an F2 tornado with 118 miles-per-hour wind devastated the Iona area of South Fort Myers, Florida. It brought devastation to a location with few resources people could use for recovery.

als increasing steeply, finding sufficient funding has been a top priority.

Although significant long-term challenges remain, the United Methodist Church, in coordination with other relief agencies, just received a $1.8 million in aid through the State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) Disaster Assistance Grant Agreement.

While the $1.8 million, Warren said, “is not nearly enough” to meet all the need, it will allow some residents to receive needed help.

“We’ll probably be able to assist about a hundred households through this partnership and other donated funds”, Florida Conference Disaster Response Coordinator Trish Warren said. “Some may not qualify for our services, and we’ll refer them to other agencies.” The storm left up to 74 destroyed homes and many others with significant damage. In the days after the storm, a $10,000 grant from the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) allowed the Conference to provide some residences with short-term help in the form of roof tarps and debris removal. They also provided temporary housing in some cases. That gives time to determine what the long-term needs are. “We’re looking at about a two-year recovery,” Warren said.

A grant from UMCOR allowed Warren to hire two people to monitor cases and recovery.

Working with other partners to help fund some of these repairs and replacements has helped. A mobile home manufacturer, for instance, agreed to provide 30 new residences for the reduced price of $90,000 each. There’s also an estimated $11,000 setup charge per unit. That partnership alone would more than exhaust the SHIP grant money, but that’s where working with those other partners helps bridge the gap. “Mobile homes have gotten significantly more expensive,” Warren said. After Hurricane Irma in 2017, replacement units cost $75,000 each and that included the setup. She also said the Conference hopes to partner with roofing companies to make those repairs. While volunteers can handle much of the work, Warren said she won’t ask a volunteer to climb on a roof. Joe Henderson is the News Content Editor for FLUMC. org.

There are multiple complicating factors. Many homes need new flooring and roofs, but there are supply chain issues with those materials. And the official start of hurricane season is about a month away. “There was a lot of damage in mobile home communities,” Warren said. “Most of those residents are over 55 and live on a fixed income. Often in that situation, insurance is not a priority.” The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) determined that it won’t provide recovery assistance. “They said this disaster did not meet the criteria,” Warren said. With no federal aid and the cost of building materiWorld Methodist Council

Destroyed homes in result of the F2 tornado First Friday Letter page 8


Photo credits: Perkins School of Theology/ R. Hipps

Please send press releases, articles and resources! Submissions should be a page or less (450-650 words), edited and ready to publish. Contact us by Monday, May 23 at communications@worldmethodistcouncil. org if you would like your story to be included in the June edition of the First Friday Letter.

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About the First Friday Letter

This and past First Friday Letters can be found online at FirstFridayLetter.worldmethodistcouncil.org.

The First Friday Newsletter is a monthly publication of the World Methodist Council.

The World Methodist Council’s website may be found at worldmethodistcouncil.org.

Publisher: Bishop Ivan Abrahams, General Secretary

The World Methodist Council’s Conference website is at worldmethodistconference.org.

Communications: Michaela Bryson

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