Report by Bishop Rosemarie Wenner*
After having been a delegate of the United Methodist Church in Germany to the European Methodist Council since 2001, I now attended for the first time as the newly installed Geneva Secretary of the World Methodist Council. I was privileged to witness a special moment for Methodism in Europe and beyond: In a ceremony in Wesley’s Chapel, London, at Sunday September 10, 2017 the leaders of the member churches of the European Methodist Council signed a Community Agreement and expressed by that the commitment of their churches to join together in order to fulfill the purpose of the European Methodist Council to enable a stronger Methodist witness in Europe. The Agreement was adopted by the EMC in its meeting 2016 in Porto, Portugal and was approved by the governing bodies of the member churches.
“In a time when walls are built and people fall apart from one another, we build bridges and commit ourselves to strengthen our connection in the Methodist family”, said Bishop Christian Alsted from the Nordic and Baltic Area of The United Methodist Church. He serves together with Bishop Sifredo Teixeira from The Methodist Church in Portugal as co-chair of the European Methodist Council. One of the commitments of the agreement is “to strengthen the connection within the world wide Methodist family”. The European Methodist Council sees itself in close relationship with all member churches of the World Methodist Council. It received a report of the progress in the planning for the next World Methodist Conference and appreciated the fact that Methodists from all over the globe will come to Gothenburg, Sweden, in August 2021.
During the Council Meeting the participants spent time in engaging with one another in the question how Methodist, Wesleyan and Uniting Churches can offer the Christian witness in the current political climate in Europe. Various countries are facing an increase of (mostly) right wing extremism. Tensions between the nations increase. People who tend to follow a nationalistic propaganda are with us in our congregations. Rachel Lampard, former Vice President of the Methodist Church in Great Britain and leader of the Joint Public Issues Team, said in her theological reflection with reference to our Wesleyan call to live in holiness and do justice: “Inward transformation must produce an external one. Believing that God’s love is for everyone has evangelical and social consequences.”
Planning work for the European Methodist Festival May 8-13, 2018 in Cuxhaven, Germany has been done and Pastor Cassius Francis came and introduced the Wesleyan Holiness Church in Europe which has applied for membership in the EMC. They were admitted to an observer status for three years.
Those who attended the EMC meeting were once again blessed by the richness of the different gifts in the Methodist family. We are multiplying them as we share with one another.
*Wenner is the Geneva Secretary of the World Methodist Council and the former president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops. She serves the Germany Episcopal Area of The United Methodist Church.