Rev. Dr Amelia Koh-Butler reports from the World Methodist Council Meeting in Seoul 2018.
A year ago, in Rome, the Steering Committee wondered if it would be safe enough to visit Seoul for the World Methodist Council meeting this year. We prayed for peace in the midst of daily reports of nuclear arms developments and escalating tensions in the region. Less than four weeks ago, I headed to Seoul to find a nation hanging street-signs in anticipation of the border re-opening. Peace is not achieved, but there is tangible hope now, where there had been none.
Here is a Reconciliation Song written in Korean and English that helps us celebrate.
The World Methodist Council consists of up to 300 delegates from nations all around the world. Wesleyan, Methodist, United and Uniting Churches participate in the Council and its 5-yearly Conference - the next one will be in Sweden in 2021. The Methodist Church is considered to be the fourth largest Christian denomination in the world.
Let me go back to Rome for a moment. I was at my first meeting and, having spent the last 25 years in UCA meetings using Consensus, I was shocked to see the behaviour of people in a debate-style meeting. Thankfully, in Seoul, we had decided to invite former UCA-Gen Sec, Terence Corkin, and Julia Wallace, previously from the United Methodist Church, USA, to help us with ‘Making (Church)Decisions’. They were great.
Read more about the introduction of Consensus.
The other UCA presence involved Rev Keven Dobson from Victoria and myself. We both serve on the Worship and Liturgy Committee. I am the Convenor. This meant we had some key responsibilities involving worship. The challenge is pretty intense as we have to try to be inclusive in a complex environment with untold layers of politics and culture... all in a foreign environment.
Nevertheless, God was worshipped and glorified. We celebrated in song, dance, drumming, words and actions. In particular, we became aware of key peace development projects and ways of assisting with refugee circumstances, particularly those crossing the Mediterranean through Italy.
With churches from such diverse places, sharing common roots in Methodism, it was surprising to me just how important our ecumenical experience is. In ecumenical dialogues and even within the Council, our Uniting techniques of holding together around Jesus Christ, despite our differences, is a gift to the world. We have game. We need to think about how to use it in places for the benefit of the wider world Church.
Read the Summary of the Council Meeting