The conference rooms here are full of Methodist leaders from our Partner Churches – some from places I don’t visit very often – and these first few days have been a rich succession of conversations on our partnerships. So far I have spoken with friends from Korea, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Myanmar, Samoa, Indonesia, India, Pakistan, New Zealand about subjects as diverse as new Mission Partner placements, our approach to corruption, grants, Chinese-speaking ministers coming to the British connexion, responses to political restrictions on churches, joint training and much more. Pictured are Presidents from Malaysia and Myanmar.
The first part of the Council meeting finishes today and the Conference starts this evening, finishing on Sunday when the new Council will have its first meeting.
Today includes reports on the Council’s work in the areas of Evangelism, Women’s and Men’s work and also the Methodist Office in Jeruslam (where our Mission Partner, John Howard, has just arrived for his two-year placement). Steve
The Methodist Women in Britain & Ireland area reps at the assembly…
Mainland Europe presented a prayer on forgiveness….at Houston, Texas
Sent from my iPad
I am attending the 13th Assembly of the World Federation of the Methodist and Uniting Church Women (WFMUCW) which is taking place in Houston, Texas. As I write we are hearing the report from the Latin American and Caribbean Confederation of Methodist Women, which is celebrating its 85th year.
Some of the issues the Confederation is working on are leadership development, violence against women, evangelism and the protection of the environment.
The Methodist Church in Britain not only enabled two women from the region to attend the Assembly, but also supported the Confederation’s meeting in July, which took place in Chile. The Area president conveyed their gratitude to God and to the Methodist Church in Britain for supporting women in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The first photo is of the current President, Ivonne Pereira giving the area report. The second is of the incoming Confederation President, Leila, from the Methodist Church in Brazil. The third is of other representatives at the Assembly sharing their cultural performance.
(Partnership Coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean
I (Steve) have, unusually for me, travelled west and am now in the US. The World Methodist Conference is a great opportunity to meet up with the leaders of most of our Partner Churches. The first meeting is with Bishop Sammy Azariah, Moderator of the Church of Pakistan, a united church containing the Anglican as well as the Methodist tradition. That united grouping will be an important dimension of the event.
Encenada is a pacific coastal town an hour and a half south of Tijuana. It is a tourist town which is frequented by both foreigners and Mexicans. It is also a town with many internal migrants who try to get as close to the US border as possible or who try to find work on the vast farms in that area.
There are two Methodist churches in Encenada, and the one in the centre of town supports migrants by opening their doors every Saturday and cooking a hearty meal for about 60 migrants who are predominently Mexican men aged between 30-60 years old. A group of enthusiastc ladies (and one gentleman) from the church lovingly and joyfully cook this meal every weekend, serving the migrants and showing them the love of Christ.
The gospel is shared with the group before being served the meal and it was so encouraging to see may of the migrants visiably affected by the word of God preached by the church’s Pastor. There was an ‘alter call’ for prayer after he preached and many stood up to receive prayer.
After this the group were served the delicious meal by the volunteers. There were two young children in this group, both aged under 10, and it as not clear whether they were accompanied by an adult or not. This is a common ocurrence in this migratory corridor of the world, leaving children vulnerable and exposed to many dangers. The Methodist Church here offers them some security and follow up.
I spoke to a gentleman called Joel. He must have been close to being 60. I asked him how long he had been in Encenada for and he said he had arrived four months ago. He had found work as a casual labourer and was hoping to stay for 4 years in the area. He seemed burdoned with this plan but many migrants will leave there families to travel to other Mexican towns and do the same. The Methodist Church in Encenada was doing a wonderful job of giving them some respite from the pressure of the financial responsability towards their families and their usually difficult living conditions.
Hayley Moss writes:
The contrast between the beautiful beach scene and the divisive and imposing fence was striking.
This is the fence which separates Mexico and America. It also separates families, friends, and seems to threaten to separate humans from humanity. Families are divided for a number of reasons; for example, in some cases children are given permission to stay in the USA but parents are deported, leaving parents with the painful option of leaving their children in a different country and only being able to see them through the fence, in order to give them what they view as a safer and better life. I met one gentleman, Robert, who had been deported after living in the USA since he was a child, and had served in the American military. He is separated from all of his children and grandchildren who are settled in the USA.
We visited the American side of the fence on 20th August and the Mexican side on 21st August. You can see pictures of each side below.
The American side allows people to enter what is called ‘Friendship Park’ on Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 2pm. Only 25 people are allowed in at a time and the area is closely monitored by a border patrol. Information about Friendship Park can be found here: http://www.friendshippark.org/. The fence was previously bars which people could hug through, but this has been replaced by a dense mesh, which is shame as you can hardly see through it and it really limits human connection. We witnessed many families meeting up at the fence, speaking and exchanging the only bit of physical contact possible – the touch of fingertips through the mesh. One family I saw appeared to be celebrating a birthday as they had a huge cake with them!
Each Sunday there is a 30 minute service with the congregation across both sides of the fence. We participated from the Mexican side. The service involved a bible reading, a short message, communion and prayer. The service was in both Spanish and English throughout co-led by Pastor Guillermo of the Methodist Church of Mexico and Pastor John of the United Methodist Church. I found it to be a moving experience, particularly when we prayed with our hands on the fence for divisions to end and families to be reunited, and when we walked down to the beach and waved to our brothers and sisters on the other side. These symbolic actions felt very meaningful and earnest.