Conference on World Mission and Evangelism Draws Methodist Participation
By Elliott Wright*
ATLANTA, Georgia, March 8, 2018—World Methodism is strongly represented at the 2018 Conference on World Mission and Evangelism, meeting March 8 –13 in Arusha, Tanzania, under sponsorship of the World Council of Churches’ Commission on World Mission and Evangelism.
People fill the streets at a busy marketplace in Arusha, Tanzania. PHOTO: XANTHI MORFI
Some 50 Methodist and Wesleyan church delegates from 25 countries are among those gathered to consider the theme “Moving in the Spirit: Called to Transforming Discipleship.” The United Methodist Church has eight official delegates representing 12.5 members in the United States, parts of Africa, Eurasia, and the Philippines.
World mission conferences meet approximately every 10 years. The first convened in 1910 in Edinburgh, Scotland, planned by an ecumenical missionary council that would later become part of the World Council of Churches (WCC). The WCC today has 348 Protestant and Eastern Orthodox member churches. The Conference on World Mission and Evangelism also include full participants from Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Pentecostal churches not official members of the council.
A tight six-day agenda includes plenary address and responses, Bible study, worship, workshops, reflection and prayer groups, and cultural exchange. United Methodist Bishop Mary Ann Swenson (retired), vice moderator of the WCC’s policy-making Central Committee, will moderate a plenary session on “Mission from the Margins,” a topic recognizing the changing shape of mission today. Thomas Kemper, chief executive of Global Ministries, the United Methodist mission agency, will be among the responders to the plenary address by Adi Mariana Waqa from Fiji. Two pre-conferences, one for young theologians and the other focused on women, were scheduled prior to the main event.
Church delegates gathered for the World Council of Churches' Global Ecumenical Theological Institute in Arusha, Tanzania pray during the conference. PHOTO: ALBIN HILLERT
Arusha is hosting the first Conference on World Mission and Evangelism in Africa since 1958. In those 60 years, the membership pendulum of Christianity has swung significantly toward the Global South and East, away from the North and West. This trend is reflected in The United Methodist Church. Some seven million of its 12.5 million members are in the United States; most of the other 5.5 members are in Africa.
The eight official United Methodist delegates are:
• Bishop Mande Muyombo, North Katanga Episcopal Area, Democratic Republic of the Congo;
• Thomas Kemper, general secretary, Global Ministries;
• Christian Love Daroy, a missionary in the Longos Dumpsite in the Philippines;
• The Rev. Dr. Roar Fotland, an elder from the Norway Annual Conference and professor at the Norwegian School of Theology;
• Molly McIntire, mission training and volunteer coordinator in the Florida Annual Conference and a member of the Global Ministries board of directors;
• The Rev. Dr. Joon-Sik Park, an elder from the West Ohio Annual Conference, who holds the E. Stanley Jones professor of World Evangelism position at the Methodist Theological School in Ohio;
• The Rev. Dr. Jean Hawxhurst, Office of Christian Unity and ecumenical staff officer for leadership development of the Council of Bishops; and
• The Rev. Dr. Amy Valdez Barker, executive director of the Global Mission Connections unit, Global Ministries.
Among other United Methodists attending the Arusha conference are two representatives of United Methodist Women, both regional missionaries in Africa. Finda Quina engages in youth work from a base in Sierra Leone, while Grace Musuka is a specialist in ministry among women in Central Africa, based in Zimbabwe.
Other United Methodists will be present as observers, guests, and on special assignments. The Rev. Kyeong-Ah Woo, a Global Ministries missionary and elder of the Northern Illinois Annual Conference who grew up in South Korea, is seconded to the World Council as coordinator of the conference. Joy Eva Bohol, a young United Methodist missionary, originally from the Philippines, is in charge of a group young adult “stewards” who assist with conference logistics.
Those interested in following the proceedings in Arusha may do so by monitoring press reports at the WCC website at: www.oikoumene.org/en/press-centre/news
Read an essay on the conference and its theme by Dr. Jerome Sahabandhu, mission theologian in residence at Global Ministries.
*Elliott Wright is information consultant for Global Ministries.