Monday, January 28, 2019

Recommended Reading: Lloyd Nyarota on GC2019 and US/African relationships

Rev. Lloyd Nyarota recently published an editorial on United Methodist Insight entitled "The Real United Methodist Crisis: Loss of U.S. Political Power to the Growing Church in Africa." Rev. Nyarota is an elder from Zimbabwe serving two United Church of Canada congregations of Zimbabwean immigrants in Canada. In his article, he argues that plans by conservative American United Methodists to divide the denomination reflect a fear of losing power to African delegates.

Whether or not one agrees with Rev. Nyarota's analysis, his article is interesting for several reasons.

First, his argument in many ways parallel's Luther Oconer's Facebook post highlighted last week in alleging American fear of losing control of the denomination to non-Americans. Interestingly, however, the two authors use that premise to different ends, Oconer arguing from it to the Traditional(ist) Plan, and Nyarota arguing from it to the One Church Plan.

Second, in making his argument, Nyarota references and recasts the process of Latin American Methodist autonomy in the late 1960s and early 1970s. This blog has shared several other pieces looking at the history of COSMOS and the autonomy process. This history is relevant history.

Third, Nyarota's article is further evidence of a point I made regarding Filipino debates about General Conference 2019: "While for American United Methodists, the debates surrounding GC2019 are debates about how progressive and traditionalist American United Methodists should relate to one another, for many United Methodists outside the US, the debates are instead about how American and non-American United Methodists should relate to one another."

Finally, Nyarota's article gestures beyond General Conference 2019 at other upcoming topics that will be read through this same lens: He references plans for regional conferences. Reductions in apportionments requested from US churches and discussions of a US Central Conference are also likely to be read by many in Africa, the Philippines, and Europe through the lens of what they mean for how Americans want to shape their relationship with the rest of the church.

Questions about the relationships - financial, political, spiritual, and otherwise - between American United Methodists and United Methodists from outside the US will only grow more pressing.

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