Council President Exhorts Church to Live the United Methodist Way
Vol 1 No 3 Nov. 3, 2006
Released by UMCOM
United Methodist Council of Bishops President Janice Riggle Huie says the people of the church expect bishops to lead boldly by making disciples and saving lives around the globe.
“This meeting is a threshold… It is decision time,” Huie told bishops during her presidential address in Maputo , Mozambique . “I believe that a new Pentecost can happen here… I believe the Holy Spirit is calling the people of the United Methodist Church into action.”
“Christianity has changed. The day and time when people went to church because it was expected and ‘everybody did it’ is gone. Christian discipleship is now a matter of decision… [often] made in the face of obstacles and even hostility,” Huie said.
While Christianity has changed, “what I see and hear is the deep human desire for hope,” Huie added. She cited the dramatic growth of persons in Volunteers in Mission ministries after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and the tremendous response to the 2005 tsunami in eastern Asia . To date, United Methodists have donated more than $100 million to those efforts.
To succeed, to follow Jesus and make disciples, bishops must take risks, Huie said. “Not many people are going to step out into a new future if the leaders are focused on the rear-view mirror of institutional survival and self-preservation… We need to do a lot of listening and a lot of loving… We will also need to remind people of what they already know: We follow Jesus… God is with us.”
Eleven million United Methodists, she said, can:
# Live the United Methodist way in their daily lives and public witness.
# Begin a new church every day somewhere around the globe.
# Reach and save children all over the globe.
# Lead in the effort to stamp out the killer diseases of poverty: HIV/AIDS.
These calls to action reflect a strategy under development by the Council, the church’s general agencies, and members of The Connectional Table, the denomination’s program coordination group.
Huie concluded by saying, “It is God who gives us hope. The Holy Spirit gives us courage. Jesus expects us to follow him. John Wesley gives us the method. The people of The United Methodist Church expect us to lead.”
Nearly 80 bishops are meeting in Mozambique for the council’s semiannual meeting. It is the first meeting to be held outside the territorial United States .
Bishop Innis Focuses on African Growth, Reality During Sermon
Liberian Bishop John Innis focused on the reality of preaching and leading in Africa during Thursday’s morning service or word and table.
“The church of Jesus Christ called United Methodist is indeed alive in Africa ,” Innis said during his sermon, citing the long history of mission and disciple-making on the continent.
The United Methodist Church has been in ministry in Africa since the 1830s. United Methodists have congregations and missions in two dozen African countries. United Methodist schools, clinics and hospitals play a key role in those countries
“By coming to Africa, we, the bishops, show recognition of the contributions of Africa to our church… The United Methodist Church is a powerful church… it is great [in Africa ],” Innis said.
Christianity is growing rapidly across Africa , Innis said. “Nowhere is there a record of such growth – 350 million Christians in Africa . We are a reality the Christian world cannot ignore.”
Pastors, district superintendents and bishops work under difficult conditions, Innis said, noting they often walk “10, 20 miles… 20 hours to reach our people… When they see us, they say, ‘Jesus is here.’”
Fact Check: United Methodist Church in Mozambique
Ø Methodism in Mozambique started in 1890. 10,000 people attended the 100 year anniversary celebration in 1990.
Ø Growth: The church has tripled in size in Mozambique in the last thirteen years. There are now over 125,000 members in the over 170 congregations of the twenty-three districts. The church works in all ten provinces of Mozambique and is divided into two annual conferences.
Ø Leadership: Bishop João Somane Machado leads both the Mozambique North and Mozambique South Annual Conferences. They are comprised of 23 districts, 50 circuits, over 170 local churches, 132 ordained pastors, 32 Deacons, and 278 evangelists. The Bishop also oversees 29 schools, 1 theological school, some agricultural programs, 1 hospital ( Chicuque Hospital ), 2 clinics, 1 seminary, and 4 bible schools.
Ø Local church life: United Methodist churches in Mozambique are community centers that impact every aspect of people’s lives. People gather at the churches for worship, fellowship and mutual support. Worship services (held in buildings or mud huts, or under trees) are filled with standing-room-only crowds on most Sundays. Worship is a wonderful experience with much music in a longer service than is traditional in the USA .
Ø Social action: Since the end of the 17-year war (1975-1992), the church has dedicated itself to rebuilding the social fabric and restoring property that supports the lives of Mozambicans. While the national government is overwhelmed with paying international debt and repairing the infrastructure following decades of war and natural disasters, the church presents dependability and security in the lives of people. The church is linked to hospitals, schools, trade schools, homeless shelters, and international aid throughout the country. The UMC in Mozambique is also active in ecumenical efforts and provides leadership in the Christian Council of Mozambique .
(Source: Mozambique Initiative: Carol Kreamer , U.S. coordinator)