First Friday Letter The World Methodist Council
Greetings from the General Secretary Dear Friends, Warm Christian greetings from Cape Town after a rollercoaster few weeks of travel to the Lambert Conference in Kent, the World Methodist Council Steering Committee in Stuttgart, and the 11th General Assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC) in Karlsruhe. With all these significant gatherings behind us, it is an excellent time to reflect on the impact of our ecumenical witness on what commentators refer to as an “omnicrisis” akin to the great crash of 1929, which followed a pandemic and geopolitical rivalries. Despite the calls by churches for reconciliation, justice, peace, and the “healing of our living planet,” we are under no illusion that violence and war have ceased. The United Nations recently identified fifty-one places where violence and war continue unabated. We must go beyond calls and be actively involved to be agents of peace and reconciliation in our local communities. Peace does not happen by chance; it requires us to do what we can with what we have and recognize that working for peace can often be messy. The prestigious World Methodist Peace Award recipients all embody courage, creativity, consistency, and “soft power.” Their influence comes not from military or economic might but their humanity and elegance of spirit. As Wesleyans, we believe that piety is not an internal personal matter but needs to translate into acts of goodwill. I am confident that the “omnicrisis” will speed up innovation and transformation regarding climate change. Without being alarmist, we have to change or face a climate Armageddon. We will follow the 27th United Nations Convention on Climate Change (COP27) to be convened in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, from 6-18 November 2022 to deliver on the landmark Paris Agreement for people and the planet. The WMC offers condolences and support to the people in Pakistan and those in Florida who lost loved ones and homes to storms and hurricanes (see article on page 3) We celebrate the work of the Methodist Roman Catholic Commission, God in Christ Reconciling; On the Way to Full Communion in Faith, Sacraments, and Mission, and look forward to the new round of dialogue on the theme; Mission and Unity, which started in Rome this week. During the next few days, the WMC President, Dr. JC Park, and I will join our partners in the Holy Land to share in the 10th Anniversary celebration of the Methodist Liaison Office in Jerusalem, after which the President will travel to Rome at the invitation of Sant’Egidio Community to participate in an International Meeting of Prayer for Peace of world religions while I head to our administrative headquarters in Waynesville, USA. We will cover these events in the next edition of the First Friday Letter. Happy reading.
Bishop Ivan M. Abrahams, General Secretary of the World Methodist Council, gives the sermon during morning prayer at the United Methodist Church of the Redeemer in Karlsruhe, Germany during the World Council of Churches’ 11th Assembly.
Photo by Mike DuBose/WCC
Ivan World Methodist Council
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Korea Peace Appeal • End the Korean War and establish a peace agreement • Create a Korean Peninsula and a world free from nuclear weapons and nuclear threat • Resolve the conflict with dialogue and cooperation instead of sanctions and pressure • Break from the vicious cycle of the arms race and invest in human security and environmental sustainability It is time to End the Korean War. Soon after achieving liberation from Japanese colonial rule, the Korean Peninsula was divided into North and South as an effect of the Cold War and experienced the tragedy of the Korean War. The Korean War left millions of casualties, countless separated families and has not formally ended since the signing of the Armistice Agreement in 1953. Decades of political and military confrontation and hostile relations from the Cold War have led Koreans, both on the Korean Peninsula and in the Korean diaspora worldwide, to endure an interminable period of pain. It is time to end this pain.
We imagine a future where the people of the Korean Peninsula, East Asia and the world cooperate and coexist peacefully. We hope our resources will be used for people’s safety and happiness, for environmental sustainability and a society without discrimination instead of preparing for war. Now, let’s end the Korean War now with our own hands and let’s make a future that could not be achieved for the last 70 years. Let’s shout out loudly together so that our desperate wish for peace reverberates around the world. + Collected signatures will be delivered to the UN and to the governments of the countries involved in the Korean War including the Republic of Korea, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the United States, and the People’s Republic of China. Korea Peace Appeal is now available in Korean, French, Spanish, Dutch, and Russian. Download Korea Peace Appeal signature sheet here. Submitted by Korea Peace Appeal
We must not go back to the days dominated by hostility and anxiety. In 1991, after the global Cold War ended, the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) agreed upon mutual respect and non-aggression. In 2000, the two Koreas held their first summit which opened an era of comprehensive exchange and cooperation. In 2018, the first-ever DPRK-US summit took place along with three inter-Korean summits. Since the war has not officially ended, however, a vicious cycle in which trust easily turns into distrust leading to rising tensions has repeated over and over again for the last 30 years. History has proven that hostile policies aimed at discrediting and forcing one side to yield have failed to resolve the conflict on the Korean Peninsula, instead only aggravating it. The Korean Peninsula under the unstable armistice system has suffered from threats of nuclear war and has fueled a global arms race and nuclear proliferation. Without a formal end to the Korean War, the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula will not be achieved. We call upon the governments involved to take sincere and responsible action: End the Korean War Now. Let’s change the Korean Peninsula from a symbol of confrontation and conflict into a birthplace of peace and coexistence together with peace-loving people around the world. World Methodist Council
Bishop Ivan Abrahams at the Korea Peace Appeal Campaign First Friday Letter page 2
Wesley House - Michaelmas Term Courses Starting in October Singing the Faith is an extended online short course based on Paul Chilcote’s book of the same name. Paul offers the best of historical and global Methodist hymnody along with theological reflections on what it means to sing our faith. Other presenters will be: Swee Hong Lim, Associate Professor of Sacred Music & Director of the Master of Sacred Music at Emmanuel College, Toronto Anthony G.Reddie, Director of the Oxford Centre for Religion and Culture at Regent’s Park College, Oxford Martin Clarke, Head of Discipline (Music) at The Open University. Further details may be found on the attached flyer and to register CLICK HERE. The first class on Thursday 27 October is FREE TO ALL so register now! Adam Ployd, Vice Principal and Director of the Centre for Leadership and Ministry Development at Wesley House is running this online short course - Incarnational Ministry for Lay and Ordained. This four-week course seeks to equip church leaders with or without collars to engage their congregations and their communities in pastoral practices that not only respect but also learn from and thrive within the diversity of God’s good creation. Using Emmanuel Y.Lartey’s Pastoral Theology in an Intercultural World as a jumping-off point, we will gather together to reflect upon the ways in which cultural competency might shape the way we serve our churches and communities. Further details can be found on the attached flyer and to register CLICK HERE. There is an early bird registration discount for the course that ends 1 November.
World Methodist Council
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WCC General Assembly closes with call to ‘act for justice’ The 11th General Assembly of the World Council of Churches is now history. At the ecumenical summit in Karlsruhe, Germany, around 3,000 participants from 120 countries met Aug. 31-Sept. 8 to discuss the future direction of ecumenism. The meeting ended with a worship service. The World Council of Churches is a community of 352 churches that together represent over 580 million Christians worldwide. The Roman Catholic Church is not a member but has observer status. This large, ecumenical, worldwide association is headquartered in Geneva and was founded Aug. 23, 1948, in Amsterdam; its General Assembly meets every eight years. In a message at the end of the meeting, delegates called for the “healing of our living planet.” The message, titled “A Call To Act Together,” read: “We will find a strength to act from a unity founded in Christ’s love.” The goal is to create and maintain peace.
monds United Methodist Church in Washington. Meeting every two years, the Central Committee is the highest governing body of the WCC in the time in between General Assemblies. It carries out the policies adopted by the General Assembly, supervises and directs the program work, and decides on the budget. As the size and composition of the Central Committee for the next eight years were being determined, a group of 38 young General Assembly members put forward a statement of protest. As members of the generation affected by present and coming developments in climate and society, and in view of the worldwide number of young people, they demanded more participation and voices on the committee. The policy committee of the WCC noted that youth must be fully included in all of its commissions, committees, advisory groups and reference groups. However, some member churches apparently hesitate to nominate young people for the Central Committee and other committees. Newly elected General Secretary Jerry Pillay gave a speech to the members of the General Assembly at the end of the meeting. Pillay is dean of the Faculty of Theology and Religion at the University of Pretoria in South Africa and a member of the Union Presbyterian Church in southern Africa. He will take over as general secretary from the Rev. Ioan Sauca on Jan. 1, 2023. Sauca had been serving since 2020 on an interim basis after former General Secretary Olav Fykse Tveit was named head bishop of the Church of Norway.
Activists call attention to climate change during a protest at the World Council of Churches’ 11th Assembly in Karlsruhe. Photo by Mike DuBose, UM News.
Pillay stressed his vision that the WCC member churches and their partners work together to “proclaim the good news of salvation and life in Christ” to the world.
The message, which ties in with the texts of the General Assemblies of 1948 in Amsterdam and 1975 in Nairobi, warns of catastrophes that originate in an irresponsible and broken relationship with creation that has led to ecological injustice and the climate crisis.
In addition, he said, the WCC must continue and do more to make the “voices of the marginalized and neglected” heard so that economic influence or the power and authority of individual churches is not decisive, but rather a culture of inclusion, diversity and equal rights is created.
Referring to the theme of the General Assembly, “Christ’s Love Moves the World to Reconciliation and Unity,” the delegates emphasized that Christ’s love urges us to come to Christ in solidarity and “to respond and act for justice.” Fifteen members of the Methodist church family belong to the 150-member Central Committee, including two from The United Methodist Church: Bishop Sally Dyck, the ecumenical officer of the international Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church, and the Rev. Ann Jacob, who serves as a pastor of EdWorld Methodist Council
In a biblical sense, the humility and self-understanding of Jesus to be a servant must be an example, he said. Pillay put forward a vision of a WCC “that not only creates safe space, but also room in which the marginalized have equal rights and in which the voices of the neglected are heard, respected and valued by the community.” To read more United Methodist news, subscribe to the free Daily or Weekly Digests. First Friday Letter page 4
Who Arrives First in The Mission of God? 19 Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, spreading the word only among Jews. 20 Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21 The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord. 22 News of this reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. 24 He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord. 25 Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So, for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.
tor discerned and said yes. Then as COVID restriction were eased, those men returned to that jail to encounter a community of believers ready to be discipled. To make a long story short, we have now baptized over 100 inmates from the local jail, many of whom have brought their families to church once they finish serving their sentences. I met one of them the other day, Kyle, who volunteers in the very same production team that makes those broadcasts possible. He’s still wearing his ankle monitor! Do you recognize that same pattern from the text? Our pastor wouldn’t have thought on his own to broadcast worship services during the COVID-19 restrictions. The common, everyday disciples of Jesus who had a burden for that community. They were the ones who arrived first. All the Leaders had to do then was to discern, to encourage, and to support the work of those men just as in verse 26 of the text, where “for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people.”
A clear pattern emerges in seasons where the Church is most fruitful: Common, everyday disciples of Jesus (those we might call “laity”) arrive first. Leaders (the official ones anyway) follow. The same could be said in reverse for those seasons where the Church is least fruitful: Leaders arrive first, hoping that common, everyday disciples of Jesus will follow. It’s a simple misunderstanding of the “priesthood of all believers”, but one with deep consequences. This is great news though! Because, if you follow the text you will quickly realize that left to their own understanding, the apostles would not have thought to head towards Antioch and preach the gospel to the Greeks. This is simply because it was not part of the ministry scripts and frameworks they had been operating with. Instead, laypersons unknowingly innovated unaware of those scripts and patterns. What follows then in verse 23 is a beautiful display of spirit-filled discernment: “When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.” The same happens today. For a couple of years, a few men from my local church were reaching out to the local jail. Then during the COVID-19 shutdown while they were unable to meet in person with the inmates, they asked our pastor if the church would be willing to broadcast our Sunday services to that jail. Our pasContinued... World Methodist Council
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Who Arrives First in The Mission of God?
God is calling people under your care (businesspeople, teachers, homemakers, engineers, doctors, and many others) right now to follow him in mission in ways you can’t imagine. Will you be faithful to prepare and to send them? And will you be ready to discern the movement of God’s grace, to support and to encourage the mission? At World Methodist Evangelism, we are committed to partnering with leaders from around the global Methodist Wesleyan movement to identify, connect, and equip everyday followers of Jesus Christ to arrive first in mission and evangelism. One way we do this is through our Metanoia ministry. Right now, we are preparing for a continental gathering of young emerging leaders in South America. If you know young emerging leaders in South America who are eager to connect with others and to learn about how God might be calling them to mission and evangelism with a Wesleyan accent, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us at www.worldmethodist.org/gatherings/metanoia to learn more and to register.
WesleyMen and FastPrayGive.org offer an Advent through Epiphany devotion resource As an extension of the weekly scripture and devotion offering through the FastPrayGive.org program, WesleyMen (World Fellowship of Methodist and Uniting Church Men) is offering an Advent through Epiphany guide. This project includes selections from the daily readings of the Revised Common Lectionary (year A). There are many choices for Advent resources, and WesleyMen offers an approach that encourages daily spiritual practices while keeping one eye on the world. This guide provides daily scripture, prayer, and reflection to prepare for the birth of Jesus as God’s embodiment, or incarnation, among us. The Advent triptych builds upon three ideas in the Christmas story: Preparation, Celebration, and Migration. The guide explores these through Matthew’s gospel via dreams and Christ’s genealogy. In addition, a short trip into Luke’s gospel makes the season complete. Join the exploration of how these scripture impact Advent in different yet interlocking ways. Through this season, we hope this tool enhances your discipleship efforts as we remember and rehearse the birth of Jesus. WesleyMen and FastPrayGive.org also are offering a special campaign to help people on the move via a partnership with Church World Service. Join us in assisting some of the estimated 100 million displaced persons around the world. Available (domestically in the USA) in Paperback, e-book, and PDF formats at FastPrayGive.org today. It is also available via Amazon (US: Kindle / Paperback), and additionally most international Amazon regions (search for Triptych Advent 2022). More information: https://fastpraygive.org/advent
World Methodist Council
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Prayer & Action Against Hunger “If you love me - feed my sheep…” John 21 – Praying and Acting Against Hunger Weekend October 14-16, 2022 As World Methodist Council, we are part of a global movement united in prayer and action to overcome hunger. More than 50 million people are one step away from starvation, amongst them many children. This is a 46% increase from March 2021. Yet there is more than enough food produced to feed anyone on the planet earth. Around World Hunger Day October 16, Christians of many faith communions come together to raise awareness how to overcome hunger, to pray together and to learn from one another to act against hunger. October 14, you are invited to join an online prayer event. It will take place at 9 am GMT and at 5 pm GMT. The registration link as well as links to liturgical material and information is avaibable at https:// www.wvi.org/emergencies/hunger-crisis/weekend-ofprayer. Ambassadors for Reconciliation – Ecumenical encounters in the United Methodist Church in Karlsruhe on the occasion of the 11 th WCC Assembly It was a Pentecost moment Sunday, September 4, when worshippers from many nations sang “O for a thousand tongues to sing…”, all of them in their mother tongues. Throughout the service, the liturgy was in German, English and Portuguese, the gospel was read in Finish. Bishop Ivan Abrahams held an inspiring and challenging sermon, reflecting on the Assembly theme. Christians are called to be ambassadors of reconciliation, actively working for change. The liturgy
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for the Eucharist was put together for this unique service, also focusing on peace and justice, given to us in Christ Jesus to be shared with others and with God’s creation. We prayed: God of peace and justice, God of freedom and mercy, we give you praise and thanks for all your works. We find shelter in your peace. We take courage in your justice. We are comforted by your mercy. You gave your life for us. Praise and thanks be to you for ever and ever! At a reception Sunday evening, the resident bishop of The United Methodist Church in Germany Harald Rueckert spoke of the local history in the Karlsruhe area. For centuries, nearby France was seen as the archenemy. After World War II, politicians, civil society, and churches intentionally worked for reconciliation and peace. Nowadays, the churches on both sides of the Rhine River together with the churches in Switzerland work together as hosts for the WCC Assembly. Outside of the church building, worshippers and visitors received information on the Korean Peace Appeal Campaign (Peace Campaign to End the Korean War), which is supported by the WCC Assembly and by the World Methodist Council– one more step to work for peace on the Korean Peninsula. September 8, the WCC Assembly ended, yet the pilgrimage of justice, peace, reconciliation and unity continues. May we serve as ambassadors of Christ’s love. Submitted by Bishop Rosemarie Wenner
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Registration open for UIA Associations Round Table Europe The Union of International Associations (UIA) invites Rio Abierto Foundation to participate in its 16th Associations Round Table Europe at the Postillion Convention Center Rotterdam, Netherlands on Thursday 24 & Friday 25 November. The UIA Associations Round Table Europe 2022 is an event designed for participants working in and with international associations, and we hope to see many of you in Rotterdam! Thanks to the support of host Rotterdam Partners and of other sponsors and partners, we are able to offer a high-level educational programme for a low fee: the registration fee for Round Table Europe in Rotterdam is EUR 70.00 (plus 21% VAT) To register for Round Table Europe 2022 go to https://uia.org/roundtable/2022/eu/register/ You may register any number of delegates; each of your delegates will need to register separately.
What you can expect: •
presentations on common challenges by peers
• • • •
working in international associations and by experts discussions in workshops and break-out rooms with the chance to ask in-depth questions and to share and exchange knowledge and experience UIA team members will moderate the sessions throughout, guiding and assisting the delegates networking breaks, lunches, dinner three exciting tours to discover Rotterdam
Please, see all the topics of the programme and the schedule at https://uia.org/roundtable/2022/eu/ UIA is an independent non-profit research institute founded in 1907 which has documented and promoted the work of international associations for 115 years. We look forward to welcoming you to the 16th Associations Round Table Europe in Rotterdam! Until 20 October you may complete the UIA Survey 2022 – COVID 19 Impact on International Association Meetings. Choose your language here: https:// uia.org/publications/meetings-survey
More than 1,500 baptized across Guatemala More than 1,500 people from 116 churches on the Nazarene Verapaz del Norte District in Guatemala were baptized on 4 September. One week later, they were received as members in full communion in their different congregations.
to the ends of the earth,’“ Cho said.
Churches in each of the 12 zones held a celebration with a time of worship and consecration to the Lord. The preaching was about the experience of entire sanctification. More than 18,000 Nazarenes moved from their local churches to different parts of the district to witness the baptism of new believers.
--Church of the Nazarene Mesoamerica Region
“We encourage our churches to continue to seek the fullness of the Holy Spirit and prepare to see even more of the glory of God.”
“Hundreds of Nazarenes testified to having had the transforming experience of the Holy Spirit,” said Francisco Cho, superintendent of the Verapaz del Norte District. Preparations for the simultaneous celebration began in June 2021 and was led by the district evangelism ministry. The ministry leaders called on the churches to start 2022 under the theme, “The Lord’s Pleasing Year.” The members of the district team and the presidents of the 12 zones also worked on coordination and logistics. “This movement that exists in the district is nothing more than the fulfillment of the promise of the Lord Jesus, who says, ‘But when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will receive power and you will be my witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and World Methodist Council
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Hurricane recovery begins United Methodists responded to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Ian with typical compassion for the survivors and determination to respond effectively.
The path of the hurricane allowed some churches in the district to avoid damage, while others, particularly on the southwest coast, weren’t so lucky.
“This is the time when connection really matters,” Bishop Ken Carter of the Florida and Western North Carolina conferences said in a video as the storm made landfall.
The Rev. Debbie Allen, superintendent of the South West District, said her team spent Sept. 29 just trying to get a hold of all the district’s pastors and make sure that everybody was safe. She also hoped to get some early damage reports.
“We will make it through this, and we look forward to rebuilding our lives and our communities together through the power of the Holy Spirit.”
“Fort Myers is obviously one of the worst affected areas,” she said.
Ian brought 150-mph winds to Florida on Sept. 28, and there have been at least 88 storm-related deaths in Florida recorded so far, reported CNN. Four Hurricane Ian deaths have been documented in North Carolina and three in Cuba, according to The Associated Press. Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida said that more than 1,600 rescues have been accomplished since the storm. Those numbers are expected to rise as floodwaters recede and people and buildings become accessible. “The amount of damage and devastation across southwest Florida and even across central Florida, I don’t think anyone was fully prepared,” said the Rev. Samantha Aupperlee of Beaches United Methodist Church in Fort Myers Beach. She grew up in Florida and has braved hurricanes before. “The few people I know that stayed on the island during the storm regret that decision,” she said. At least 150 United Methodist churches in Florida have been damaged to varying extents, said Trish Warren, disaster response coordinator in the Florida Conference. “Now it’s just reaching out until they have cell service or whatever to get back to us,” Warren said. The hurricane moved on to South Carolina, but weakened to a post-tropical storm the evening of Sept. 30, reported CBS News. It still had enough power in that state to flood streets and destroy some piers. The South West District of the Florida Conference was the hardest hit. That includes Fort Myers Beach, Fort Myers, Bradenton, Venice, Naples, Palmetto, Bonita Springs, Arcadia and Sarasota.
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“In Venice, Nokomis and Sarasota, there is lots and lots of tree damage, lots and lots of wind damage. I’m getting ready to head down … to Englewood, Port Charlotte and Gulf Cove. They were more badly affected. I know some of those churches have structural damage.” The UMC Disaster Recovery Ministry in Florida was working with the state and other agencies to respond. Grants of $10,000 were quickly approved for Florida and South Carolina by the United Methodist Committee on Relief, said Susan Clark, chief communications officer for the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries. Bishop Carter and other conference leaders were planning to visit some of the impacted churches. Other helpers are being advised to wait until things are more organized. “After a storm is over, people are ready to go and ready to act,” Aupperlee said. “However, this storm, because of the amount of damage and the amount of calls I’ve gotten of people wanting to help, right now, I just say we need to wait.” Aupperlee was waiting for permission to return, along with her mother, who also is a United Methodist pastor. The Rev. Patti Aupperlee leads First United Methodist Church of Homosassa, Florida. “She says she’s coming down in two roles, one as a mom and one as a person on the disaster team for Florida,” the Rev. Samantha Aupperlee said. Read more of this story at https://www.umnews. org/
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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, 24 October at communications@worldmethodistcouncil. org if you would like your story to be included in the November edition of the First Friday Letter.
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The First Friday Newsletter is a monthly publication of the World Methodist Council.
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