I blogged last week about the bishops of the United Methodist Church meeting outside the U.S. for the first time — in Mozambique.
I thought it was interesting because of the global connections within the Methodist world and the growing relationship between American and African Methodists. But the gathering received hardly any media coverage (at least that I saw).
I’m stubborn, so here are some highlights from the conference, which ended a few days back (via the UM News Service):
— The Rev. “John Wesley Kurewa,”:http://www.umc.org/site/c.gjJTJbMUIuE/b.2242437/k.C095/African_churches_have_obsession_for_evangelism_scholar_says.htm founding vice chancellor of Africa University, a university founded by the UMC in Zimbabwe, said that African churches are obsessed with evangelism.
“Evangelism is the heartbeat ministry of the church in Africa,” he said.
He also said that Pentecostal churches are growing in Africa by preaching a gospel of prosperity and optimism.
“The church in Africa has inherited the gospel of the cross and suffering,” he said. “There is another aspect of the gospel that we seem to forget: the gospel of the resurrection, the gospel of the Holy Spirit, the gospel of joy.”
— “Bishop Janice Huie,”:http://www.umc.org/site/c.gjJTJbMUIuE/b.2226761/k.AA35/Council_leader_challenges_bishops_to_put_hope_into_action.htm the president of the UMC’s Council of Bishops, challenged the more than 70 bishops there to take the lead in fighting global poverty and other overwhelming problems.
“Leaders shape hope when we offer vision to the church,” she said. “We shape hope when we help people dream big enough to be faithful to God and to capture their own imaginations.”
— None other than “Nelson Mandela,”:http://www.umc.org/site/c.gjJTJbMUIuE/b.2242453/k.1B47/Nelson_Mandela_Gracia_Machel_speak_to_bishops.htm now 87 and frail, also addressed the bishops. He went to a Methodist school in South Africa.
“I had no idea whatsoever that I would be brought to such a sacred gathering,” he said.
— The bishops also talked about the need to dialogue with those who feel differently about the controversial theological and social issues facing the denomination (i.e. gay rights). A bishops’ Task Force on Unity is working on a Ã¢â‚¬Å“Covenant for ConversationÃ¢â‚¬? that it hopes will set new Ã¢â‚¬Å“rules of engagementÃ¢â‚¬? for the 2008 General Conference in Fort Worth, Texas.
If they get anywhere, they might want to share the rules with Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Conservative Jews and whoever else can use them.