2022 November FFL

Page 1

First Friday Letter The World Methodist Council

November 2022

Greetings from the General Secretary Greetings from the World Methodist Council Headquarters in the Great Smoky Mountains, where autumn has brought a riot of colors to celebrate the change of seasons. During the past few days, Kirby Hickey, the Chief Financial Officer, and I met with the staff to plan and budget as we brace ourselves to hit the reset button to ring in the year 2023 and see some of the issues we have been dreaming about coming to life. We were saddened to learn of the Halloween stampede in Seoul where 183 people lost their lives and scores were injured. I sent a letter on behalf of the WMC to express our condolences to the people of Korea (Read here). The People Called Methodists commitment to peace, justice, and care of creation is demonstrated by the articles in this edition of the First Friday Letter. After more than eight months in which there has been no stop to the war and violence in Ukraine, the General Board of Global Ministries, the United Methodist Committee on Relief, and many other Methodist bodies made it a top priority to assist the people of Ukraine (see page 7). The contributions of our World Methodist Council President and Vice-President at the Sant’ Egidio, International Meeting for Peace, Religions, and Cultures in Dialogue in Rome (see page 9), as well as our participation in the 10th anniversary of the Methodist Liaison Office in the Holy Land, all speak to our theology of public presence and commitment to walk alongside those who are marginalized in society (see page 5 and also the statement on Palestine/Israel). The article on Africa University and the voices of young children at Africa’s most prominent youth summit to countdown the Climate Clock all bodes well for Africa as the world’s fastest-growing continent, but also demographically. 40% of the continent’s population is under the age of 15, and the median age of 19.7. There is a new breed of educated and well-connected young people using technology to make a difference in the world God loves (John 3:16). While world leaders and climate activists gather for the 27th Convention on Climate Change, COP27, in Sharm el-Skeikh, Egypt, from 6 -18 November, I pray that we will pay more attention to the demands of young people as they work for climate justice to secure their future and the generations yet to be born. The Climate Clock is ticking for all of us who inhabit the earth. Mother Earth is our only planetary home and it is a Biblical imperative to care for it. On behalf of the WMC, we congratulate all newly elected leaders and look forward to working with them, as they give oversight in this challenging time. Blessings, Ivan Pictured (Left to Right) Rev. Dr .Jonathan Hustler, Secretary of Conference for the British Methodist Church, General Secretary Ivan Abrahams of the WMC and Bishop Hee-Soo Jung Resident Bishop of the Wisconsin Episcopal Area. World Methodist Council

First Friday Letter page 1


‘Africa University is in good hands’ “For this institution to be the beacon of pride and hope it is, it took the work of AU emeritus vice chancellors,” he said, referring to the late Rev. John Kurewa, the late Rukudzo Murapa, Fanuel Tagwira and the late Munashe Furusa. “Today, Africa University turns 30. The number 30 is in itself a blessed figure. Thirty was the age of our Lord Jesus Christ when he commenced his ministry here on earth. It gives us great faith to be walking resolutely towards the fourth decade,” Mageto said.

The Rev. Peter Mageto speaks during his installation service as the fifth vice chancellor of Africa University in Mutare, Zimbabwe. Mageto, who was born in Kenya, is the first non-Zimbabwean to lead the United Methodist-related institution. Photo courtesy of the Africa University Public Affairs Office.

Fireworks punctuated Africa University’s 30th anniversary celebration, accompanied by thunderous applause, whistling and traditional ululating by the women. Over 3,000 guests gathered under a massive tent on Oct. 22 and witnessed the inauguration of the Rev. Peter Mageto as Africa University’s fifth vice chancellor, becoming the first non-Zimbabwean to hold the position since the institution was established in 1992. “In my 38 years serving in higher institutions, I have never attended an inauguration like this,” said James H. Salley, Africa University associate vice chancellor. The Africa University choir, directed by Tendekayi Kuture, mirrored the celebratory mood with songs that honored the institution’s forefathers, from the visionary Bishop Joseph Crane Hartzell to all bishops who were instrumental in realizing the dream, as well as chancellors and vice chancellors. The installation of Mageto, a Kenyan, placed him at the helm of Zimbabwe’s first private university, an institution revered by United Methodists around the world.

He thanked the United Methodist General Conference for approving the establishment of the university, and the Zimbabwe Annual Conference for donating 1,542 acres of land and pledging consistent financial support for the institution. Mageto made special mention of people who had mentored him academically and in ministry saying they had prepared him for his role at the reins of Africa University. “Thank you for shaping me into the servant leader because leadership requires an excellent knowledge on one’s subject combined with collective action and hard work for which there is simply no substitute, for everything rises and falls with leadership,” he said. “I am prepared to undertake my core responsibility as vice chancellor of Africa University which is — and has to be — to ensure that the university realizes its enduring values and fundamental principles in the most powerful and lasting way possible.” Bishop Tracy Smith Malone of East Ohio, who serves on the Africa University board of directors, congratulated Mageto on behalf of Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton, president of the Council of Bishops. “As bishops of The United Methodist Church, we are extremely excited that a United Methodist will continue the tradition of providing leadership to our august institution of higher learning,” Malone said. “What a joy it is to call Africa University the crown jewel of Methodist education in Africa.”

In his inaugural address, he said people invest in the hope that the evolving project will bear fruit. He also paid tribute to the four vice chancellors who had gone before him.

Malone called on the nine United Methodist bishops who attended the inauguration to stand as she delivered the message from the bishops.

“As I stand here before you, the height you see is not only my own. I am standing on the shoulders of giants who cleared the path I am about to humbly follow,” he said.

“As deputy vice chancellor, Mageto demonstrated that he is rooted in the sure foundation which is Jesus Christ, and we believe he will provide effective leadership to the institution,” she said. Continued...

World Methodist Council

First Friday Letter page 2


‘Africa University is in good hands’ continued... Dwaun J. Warmack, president and chief executive officer of Claflin University in South Carolina, which partners with Africa University in several areas, encouraged the new vice chancellor.

“Indeed, God’s hand is in this place. From the beginning when Africa University started, we have seen the hand of God,” said Tagwira, who spent over 20 years at the institution.

“The partnerships we create are intentional, strategic and meaningful as we transform the world,” he said.

“In the time I have known Mageto, I have found him to be a man with a different spirit. I have found him to be a scholar, a good higher education administrator, a man who cares. I have no doubt Africa University is in good hands,” he said.

“This is an extremely rewarding position, but an extremely lonely position; everyone knows what you should be doing and how you should be doing it,” said Warmack. “You should lead with integrity, lead with passion and lead with compassion. You must remain student-centered and student-focused,” he said. Tagwira, Africa University’s third vice chancellor (2008-2014), spoke on behalf of the Zimbabwe government’s Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development, where he is now serving.

“This institution is the best example of private higher education, not just in Zimbabwe but on the continent. This is the best,” Tagwira said. Bishop Mande Muyombo of the North Katanga Area and chair of Africa University’s board of directors, said it had been a long journey to find the right leader who would move the university to the next level. Read more of this story at https://www.umnews.org/

Regional Asia Consultation and Committee Meets in Seoul The Global Christian Forum met in Seoul, South Korea, for its yearly International Committee meeting and an Asia Regional Consultation from October 1417 and was blessed by the extraordinary hospitality of Myungsung Church. Geneva Secretary Bishop Rosemarie Wenner represented the World Methodist Council. The Opening Dinner brought together local church leaders, amongst them several Korean Methodists, representatives of the government and participants of the Asia Regional. The Consultation made up of the representatives of the four pillars of the Global Christian Forum (World Council of Churches, Roman Catholic Church, Pentecostal World Fellowship and World Evangelical Alliance) and church leaders from various communions and ecumenical organizations from many Asian countries, including India, Nepal, Myanmar, Vietnam, Japan, Philippines, Malaysia and South Korea. Together, we explored the theme: “Faithfulness in a Multi-faith Context.” Asia is the world’s largest continent with a long history of peaceful coexistence between people of different faiths. Today, Christians represent 8.2 % of the population of Asia. Learning about the different trends of both the growth and decline of Christian traditions in Asia, we were encouraged by stories of God’s grace and hope as the Gospel spread organically, even in contexts of persecution. We also shared challenges and explored opportunities for ecumenical cooperation that reflects Asian cultures and traditions, offering a discerning holistic approach to discipleship that enhances and encourages construcWorld Methodist Council

tive ecumenical and multi-faith encounters. The questions often asked within the Global Christian Forum, such as “Who sets the table and who are we missing at the table?” led to the conclusion: If we are to be faithful in multi-faith and multi-generational contexts, we must be taught new ways to listen, learn and watch. As a younger generation participates in setting the table, the agenda changes and we will explore new ways of ecumenism simply by being together, struggling with life’s challenges, and showing Christ in our care for each other. On the final day of the meeting, the Global Christian Forum international committee worked on plans for the 25th anniversary of the Global Christian Forum 2023 and the 4. Global Gathering from April 14-19, 2024, in Accra, Ghana. The history and context in Ghana will provide opportunities to intensive learning how slavery has shaped Christianity, as we are facing present realities of racial injustice and colonial mindsets. Deep listening to the faith stories of those who come, will hopefully lead to confession, reconciliation and action. Under the leadership of Global Christian Forum secretary Dr. Casely Essamuah, a Methodist from Ghana serving many years in the USA, the meetings in Seoul once more proved the capacity of this unique ecumenical network to create space where participants from a broad spectrum of expressions of Christianity all meet on an equal basis to foster mutual respect and to explore and address together common concerns. Submitted by Bishop Rosemarie Wenner First Friday Letter page 3


Do We Really Want Jesus To Show Up? “When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.” (Mark 5:15-17) It’s one of the hardest questions I have learned to ask over the years. It’s hard because it keeps me honest in ministry. Here it is: “Do I really want Jesus to show up in … (this situation, this challenge, this relationship, etc.)?” The truth is that as exciting as it can be to look forward to what God wants to do in us and through us, sometimes it makes us a bit anxious, nervous. Sometimes, it goes beyond that, even turning into fear. This is precisely what happened to the community in the fifth chapter of the gospel of Mark. When Jesus showed up in this community, they suddenly lost a huge part of their livelihood. Yes, He had done a great thing for a demon-possessed man living by himself in a cave. Yes, something had to be done about that situation. However, in doing so he was messing with things they cared deeply about. So, they asked Him to leave. The truth is we are more like those people than we care to admit. Most of us want Jesus to show up and to make things better. Fair enough. Jesus said he came to bring us abundant life, and that’s what his presence brings. The problem is that in addition to wanting an abundant life, we usually want everything else to remain the same. We want business as usual. Status quo intact. This is true for us on personal levels, but also when it comes to our communities, our cities, and our nations. We want Jesus PLUS economic prosperity. We

want Jesus PLUS safety. Jesus PLUS our jobs. Jesus plus ____________ (fill the blank with the things you think you need). Jesus doesn’t always work like that, though. It’s not that safety, security, and prosperity cannot coexist with Jesus and his movement among us. It’s just that our desire for safety, security, and prosperity at the expense of Jesus cannot coexist with Jesus and his movement among us. It may just be that what stands between us and the powerful manifestation of the presence of Jesus in our life is the very thing we believe MUST coexist alongside him. Big things like the economy and politics. Or smaller things like our friends, or our schedules. But in order to give us what we need – abundant life – sometimes God has to take away some things we think we really want. The things we hold onto most tightly are often those which we need to let go of most desperately. In the gospel of Luke chapter 19, we read the story of Zacchaeus who instead of hesitating, put everything he owned on the line to ensure that Jesus would come to his house. After Jesus invites himself, verse 7 tells us the people began to mutter “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner”. Zacchaeus promptly offers to give away much of his possession in order to make things right and hopefully guarantee that Jesus would not change his mind. Jesus’ response was “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (vs. 9-10) On the other side of the risk Zacchaeus decided to take, was the abundance of life that comes with Jesus’ presence. May you and I be willing to take risks for the sake of God’s manifest presence in our lives. Article written by Paulo Lopes - Director of Emerging Leadership

Apply for Youth and Young Adult Scholarship Scholarship opportunities for the 22nd World Methodist Council Conference are open now. Register by clicking on the link below. https://worldmethodistcouncil.org/what-we-do/ youthandyoung-adult-scholarship/ 1,000 US Dollars available for Conference lodging. World Methodist Council

First Friday Letter page 4


Cry for Hope: Justice and Peace in the Holy Land Greetings in faith filled with the energy of love! I have visited with Bishop Abrahams Israel and Palestine from 11 to 26 October for celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Methodist Liaison Office (MLO) in Jerusalem. There were 10 other persons of the delegation representing the three mission partners for the Holy Land. The World Methodist Council, the Methodist Church in Britain, and the General Board of Global Ministry of the United Methodist Church have been serving the people of the Holy Land through the presence of the MLO. I am grateful for Ms. Angleena Keizer and Ms. Samar Hashweh of the MLO, and let us keep them in our prayer for their ministry of peace. The MLO has been working with and for the Palestinian Christians in the ministry of peace for all people in the Holy Land. Having visited the market place torn down by the Israeli soldiers and settlers in Hebron, the delegation revisited the Tent of Nations, recipient of the World Methodist Peace Award in 2018. For the last 100 years of farming and the last 32 years of struggle to remain in their own land, Mr. Daoud Bishop Ivan Abrahams (left) and Nassar and his family President JC Park (right) pictured with the multinational ecumenical friends of in front of the lemon tree. deep solidarity have been practicing non-violent resistance, refusing to be enemies against anyone. We had a holy conferencing on the hope against hope among the Palestinian young people. Without being

judgmental against either desperate armed resistance of the extremists or collaboration of the common people through the Israeli labor market, we should rather focus on our own repentance of sin to bear its fruits of justice and peace in the Holy Land. (Luke 13) It was revealing to me that the small lemon tree we planted three years ago did bear more than 10 lemons! This is our Wesleyan imperative for the perpetual repentance of believers who commit sin of either commission or omission. Our sin of commission is caused by being uncritically coopted by Christian Zionism. “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain.” (Isa 11:9) Only the true vision of Zion can overcome the abused ideology of Zionism. Our sin of omission is our silence about the injustice of occupation causing a new form of apartheid. We are obliged to discern the difference between antisemitism and Jewish ultra-nationalism. Since I last visited the Holy Land in 2019, the space of freedom and human rights of Palestinian people has dramatically shrunk. The COVID-19 Pandemic has further damaged the conditions of health, education, and livelihood and economy. We should never shy away from and be ashamed of telling the truth to the power. As I preached outdoor under the wall of Bethlehem at the MLO’s evening party with Palestinian Christian leaders, everyone listened to the Word of God while smelling the tear gas brought by the wind from the nearby refugee camp. Though Isaiah had prophesied the vision of the walls of salvation and the gates of praise (Isa 60:18), I felt indignant in the depth of my soul because of the sheer reality of the ugly walls and the cursed checkpoints in the West Bank. Then, the voice of God came to me: “Shrinking space for Palestinians will bring about shrinking of your time for the Day of the Lord. Repent! The reign of God is at hand!” Blessings, Rev Dr J. C. Park

Climate Clock Makes Headlines Around the World “OUR VOICES CAN ONLY BE HEARD BY YOU, AND NOT BY ANY OTHER PERSON. WE DEPEND ON YOU.” At Africa’s largest youth summit, Youth Connekt Africa, 16-year-old climate activist Rahmina Paulette from Kenya, delivered the Climate Clock to the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, and highlighted Climate Clock’s newest Loss & Damage Lifeline. Watch the video here https://drive.google.com/ file/d/1KyQHAXALK7qGHQcc-1BbJAitap7gTtlu/view World Methodist Council

First Friday Letter page 5


Nazarenes respond to Hurricane Fiona in Puerto Rico

The Church of the Nazarene is actively responding in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic after Hurricane Fiona caused destruction on both islands in September. The hurricane, with winds of 140 kilometers per hour (87 mph), caused heavy flooding in southwestern Puerto Rico. Many streets were blocked by falling trees and several neighborhoods were cut off. Many houses were completely underwater. As a result, thousands of people were evicted and moved to shelters. In addition, a large percentage of the island was without electricity and water for several days, and residents did not have access to gasoline and food stores. Ivelisse Valentín, a Nazarene pastor, reported that in Toa Baja, 2,000 families lost all their belongings. The church in Puerto Rico mobilized to gather water, clothing, food, and other basic necessities to take to the communities that were most affected by the hurricane, such as Cabo Rojo, where a Church of the Nazarene is located. They worked with government leaders to get to know the most affected families first-hand, and some churches opened their buildings so that people could wash their clothes. The church in Aguada saw a great need in a low-income public housing development. Bans on using gas stoves meant people could not cook their food until electricity was restored. So, the church adopted these families, cooking food for hundreds of people for four days until the power service was restored. In addition to cooking and caring for them, the church World Methodist Council

also defrayed the cost of groceries. “Pastor Eddie Pérez and his team have done an excellent job,” said Dhariana Balbuena, Mesoamerica regional coordinator of Nazarene Compassionate Ministries (NCM). Through NCM, 450 gift cards were purchased so that 450 of the most vulnerable families could buy basic items they needed. Also, the South Florida district joined in sending a donation to support the church’s response. In the Dominican Republic also, Hurricane Fiona brought strong winds and rains, particularly in the east and northeast of the country. This caused flooding, trees and downed power lines, resulting in power outages. Many people moved to safer areas after damage to their homes. Five Nazarene churches were heavily damaged and rendered uninhabitable, but their congregations continue to hold their meetings elsewhere. After assessments to determine the most affected cities, the Church of the Nazarene collected essential items such as clothing, food, water, and personal hygiene necessities. Through NCM, 500 families received mattresses, sheets, towels, and food. In addition, some of the families also received gas tanks. Continued prayer is requested as the church continues to mobilize help and work among communities that are affected. To learn more about how you can support the recovery efforts, click here. --Church of the Nazarene Mesoamerica First Friday Letter page 6


Ukraine a top priority for Global Ministries The United Methodist Committee on Relief has processed more than $17 million so far to help the people of Ukraine cope with the invasion by Russia, said its top executive during the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries’ fall board meeting. At the meeting, held virtually Oct. 18-21, the agency announced plans for additional assistance for partners working in Ukraine and a $3.9 million increase in funding for U.S. conference disaster ministry programs in 2023. The last day’s agenda was devoted to reports to the board from various committees. A name change for National Justice for Our Neighbors also was revealed and participants heard passionate speeches touting the global mission of The United Methodist Church. “The response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine (including) funding from the UMC and other donors has been phenomenal,” said Roland Fernandes, top executive of Global Ministries and the United Methodist Committee on Relief. Through the end of August, he said, $23.2 million had been received. More than $640,000 in additional aid was approved during the meeting for expenses including providing legal representation to refugees from the war who are now in Poland, construction of “tiny homes” for people living in shelters in western Ukraine and providing food, hygiene, winterization kits and evacuation assistance. About 1.4 million people have asked for temporary protection in Poland, where many of the 7.1 million refugees from the Ukraine war have fled. More than $192,000 in grant money will go to the European Lawyers in Lesvos organization.

• •

ministries, including a grant to Philander Smith College; $99,975 to provide food, hygiene items and other supplies to people affected by displacement in Kananga, central Congo; More than $64,000 to promote global mission relationships in Venezuela, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Argentina, Congo, Bolivia, Côte d’Ivoire, Colombia, Chile, Mexico and Angola; and More than $45,000 for support of Korean United Methodist churches.

Individual grants were as low $1,500, to help fund a national coordinator for ministry of justice and social rights position in Colombia. Other grants were worth much more, such as a $1.4 million grant to support long-term recovery from March tornado damage in the North Texas Conference. During the board meeting, the new name of National Justice for Our Neighbors was revealed by co-executive directors Melissa Bowe and Alba Jaramillo. The United Methodist immigration ministry will now be the Immigration Law and Justice Network. “It captures precisely what we do,” Bowe said. “The concept here is a new day. We want to feel like this is a new day for our clients. When you walk into our door, there’s possibility, there’s hope, there’s joy.” The ministry provides free or low-cost immigration legal services to low-income immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers. It also advocates for immigrant justice and offers education to communities of faith and the general public. Read more of this story at https://www.umnews.org/

“The purpose of the project is to provide high-quality legal information and assistance to refugees arriving from Ukraine in order to help them obtain temporary protection, answer their legal queries and navigate the legal procedures in Poland,” according to the grant request. Other grants approved during the meeting include: •

$2.5 million for U.S. conference disaster ministry programs in the North Georgia, Pacific-Northwest, Texas, North Texas and California-Nevada conferences. Nearly $1.1 million for the Bishop John K. Yambasu Agriculture Initiative that is working to launch self-sustaining food production in African countries including Nigeria, Mozambique, Liberia and Sierra Leone. More than $2.8 million to support multiethnic World Methodist Council

The Rev. Joel Hortiales (center) prays with migrants Darwin (left) and Santiago as they wait for a southbound train to pass behind the Oasis en el Medio del Camino migrant shelter in Apaxco, Mexico. File photo by Mike DuBose, UM News.

First Friday Letter page 7


President and Vice President Visit to Rome President JC Park and Vice President Gillian Kingston arrived in Rome late on Wednesday, October 21st , to be met by the Director of the Methodist Ecumenical Office, Rome (MEOR), the Revd Matthew Laferty. A full programme of visits and events awaited them in the Eternal City. They are both grateful to Matthew, and his administrative assistant, Stefanie Gubayo, for the work involved in getting this together. On Thursday, following a time of prayer and reflection at the Anglican Centre with local clergy, they met with the Revd Luca Anziani, recently appointed President of OPCEMI (the Methodist Church in Italy), and then with Revd Luca Baratto, Fiona Kendall and Marta Bernardini from FCEI (Federation of Evangelical Churches in Italy) and Mediterranean Hope. Mediterranean Hope works from a number of locations in the Mediterranean basin, helping those fleeing from civil unrest, famine and drought. (https://www.mediterraneanhope.com/ en_en/)

A short walk led to the offices of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, where JC and Gillian met with Cardinal Michael Czerny and two of his senior staff. The Dicastry covers a wide range of matters relating to development, including issues of the availability of water, critical in times of drought. The weaponisation of water was also touched on. Later in the afternoon, the group travelled out of the city to the beautiful residence of the Ambassador of South Korea to the Holy See, His Excellency, Choo Kyu-Ho. His Excellency is a senior diplomat who has served before at the Holy See. Conversation focussed on peace on the Korean Peninsular and the Council’s involvement. Saturday was something of a day of rest and re-creation, which included a visit by some of the group to the home of Archbishop Ian and Mrs Kamla Ernest at the Anglican Centre.

That afternoon, the Centro Pro Unione, together with MEOR, hosted a colloquium in honour of the late Revd Prof. Geoffrey Wainwright. Notable scholars spoke to Dr Wainwright’s prowess as a theologian, liturgist and ecumenist. Others, including Gillian, spoke of him as a friend and a colleague. It was good to meet with Bishop Brian Farrell, Secretary of the Dicastry for Promoting Christian Unity (DPCU), and with Frs Tim Galligan and Martin Browne, past and current DPCU staff persons responsible for relationships with the Anglican Communion and with the World Methodist Council.

Sunday saw the joy-full Harvest Thanksgiving Service at the Ponte Sant’Angelo Church. This congregation is made up of people from many countries and continents who worship through the medium of English. It was lovely to see people bringing their gifts to the communion rail and leaving them there for future distribution. One man brought a bottle of wine and a huge avocado pear; others brought grapes. Gillian preached on our responsibility under God for the created world and JC offered prayers of blessing on the harvest gifts.

Friday morning saw a quick visit to San Paolo Fuori Le Mure (St Paul’s Outside the Walls). The group joined in prayer at the spot where the apostle is believed to be buried. JC is engaged in work on the Letter to the Romans so this church was of particular interest to him.

On the way to the Sant’Egidio conference, there was a speedy visit to Tre Fontane, a group of churches at the site where St Paul is said to have been beheaded. The name derives from the belief that, at each place where the head of the saint touched the ground, a spring gushed forth.

This was followed by a meeting at the offices of DPCU with Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Dicastry. In conversation, he expressed his appreciation both of the work of MEOR and of the recent document of the Methodist-Roman Catholic International Commission, God in Christ, Reconciling: On the Way to Full Communion in Faith, Sacraments and Mission. The next visit was with Her Excellency, Frances Collins, newly appointed Ambassador of Ireland to the Holy See. She comes from a town in the south of Ireland about ten miles from Gillian’s home town! Ambassador Collins has done significant work with Irish Aid in the Horn of Africa and elsewhere in Africa. Before coming to Italy, she was working on foreign policy issues related to nuclear weapons, missiles and space. Conversation centred round peace issues, with particular reference to peace on the Korean Peninsular. Outside San Paolo Fuori Le Muri World Methodist Council

First Friday Letter page 8


President and Vice President Visit to Rome The Sant’Egidio event, Il Grido Della Pace (The Cry for Peace): an International Meeting for Peace, Religions and Cultures in Dialogue, took place over three days at the La Nuvola Auditorium of the Rome Convention Centre. JC was the official World Methodist Council representative, and Gillian had received a personal invitation. Each was invited to make a presentation during the conference - Gillian at Forum 1 on Mother Earth: One Planet, One Humanity and JC at Forum 7 on The Word of God Generates Visions. The formal opening session was addressed by President Sergio Mattarella of Italy and by President Emmanuel Macron of France, among others. Over the three days, there were leading speakers from many parts of the world, representing many world faiths and cultures. What was so significant was the degree of agreement among them as to what makes for true peace. Peace is a multi-faceted matter. It is not simply the absence of war, it is positive well-being for all, God’s shalom. Noting the presence of hundreds of young people at the Forum on Mother Earth: One Planet, One Humanity, Gillian reminded those present that what we are doing to the world which is our home will radically impact how they - and their children - are able to live. At the Forum, The Word of God Generates Visions, JC appealed to the audience to understand the theme “Cry

continued...

for Peace” as the cry for Abba/God, a form of prayer. He also reminded them of the historical significance of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine Justification because the word of God that generates visions is Jesus Christ who is the perfect embodiment of faith filled with the energy of love. On Tuesday, the faith communities met at various locations in Rome for prayer. The Christian event took place at the Coliseum, where Pope Francis addressed those present. JC, as President of the World Methodist Council, sat on the platform with the Pope and other world church leaders. JC was deeply moved by being at the place of martyrdom to pray for peace in the name of the Lamb of God whose Kingdom, not the Empire, will reign forever. In greeting Pope Francis, JC thanked him for his prayer for the people of North Korea. This was a fruitful visit, with maximum use made of the few days involved. JC and Gillian were glad to meet with so many people in different areas of life and influence and to play a part in raising the profile of ‘the people called Methodist’ in this part of the world which is ‘our parish’. Gillian Kingston, with JC Park.

The Church leaders with the Pope at the Coliseum.

With the Federation of Evangelical Churches in Italy and Mediterranean Hope. World Methodist Council

First Friday Letter page 9


Photo credits: Perkins School of Theology/ R. Hipps

Please send press releases, articles and resources! Submissions should be a page or less (450-550 words), edited and ready to publish. Contact us by Monday, 21 November at communications@worldmethodistcouncil. org if you would like your story to be included in the December edition of the First Friday Letter.

On the Web

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. The World Methodist Council’s Conference website is at worldmethodistconference.org. To subscribe to this newsletter, please email communications@worldmethodistcouncil.org.

Publisher: Bishop Ivan Abrahams, General Secretary Communications: Michaela Bryson All stories and photos, unless otherwise stated, are protected by their respective copyrights. Please do not copy without expressed written permission from the Council.

Follow the Council on social media!! Twitter @WMCouncil

World Methodist Council

Facebook @World Methodist Council

Instagram @wmcouncil

First Friday Letter page 10