Monday, April 3, 2023

News Roundup Links - April 3, 2023

The following are summaries of and links to significant stories related to mission and the worldwide United Methodist Church from the past month.

Connectional Table, Standing Conference on Central Conference Matters support regionalization: Both the Connectional Table and the Standing Conference on Central Conference Matters met at the end of February, and both groups lent their support to efforts to promote greater regionalization in the church. The two groups will work with each other and members of the Christmas Covenant to develop a consensus approach to regionalization legislation at General Conference in 2024:

Northern Europe and Eurasia Central Conference approves Russia, Estonia leaving The United Methodist Church, denies local standards on sexuality: At a special session on March 18, the Northern Europe and Eurasia Central Conference approved plans for the Eurasia Episcopal Area and the Estonia District of the Estonia Annual Conference to leave the UMC. Estonia will depart through a specially negotiated process this summer. The Eurasia Episcopal Area is following a process laid out by the Book of Discipline which will be complete in 2025. At the same time, the central conference voted down a proposal that would let annual conferences set their own standards on same-sex marriage and ordination, which was strongly supported by the conference’s Norwegian and Danish members.

A portrait of Methodism in Kyrgyzstan: Despite the decision by the Eurasia Episcopal Area to leave The United Methodist Church (see above), UMNews has published several news stories and a photo essay about the church in Kyrgyzstan. The pieces are a good portrait (literally and figuratively) of Methodism as it exists in many contexts: small and marginalized, but committed to evangelism and benefitting the community.

Bishop Mande Muyombo discusses the future of the UMC in Africa: In an episode of the “Pod Have Mercy” podcast, Revs. John Stephens and Matt Russell of Chapelwood UMC, Houston, interviewed Bishop Mande Muyombo of the North Katanga Episcopal Area in an insightful conversation about the state and future of the UMC in Africa.

Standing Committee on Central Conference Matters discusses new African bishops: At their meeting in February, the Standing Committee on Central Conference Matters discussed plans to add five new bishops for Africa. That plan, in the works since 2016, is facing financial challenges. No decisions have yet been made on how to proceed.

Leaders in the Philippines push back against disaffiliation: After a conflict in St. John United Methodist Church, Quezon City, in January, Filipino/a bishops published a letter clarifying that disaffiliation was not an option in the central conferences under UMC church law.

New leaders selected for German, Norwegian United Methodist mission boards: Bishop Harald Rückert has selected Rev. Olav Schmidt as the new leader of EmK WeltMission, as Schmidt’s predecessor, Rev. Frank Aichele, returns to parish ministry. In Norway, Anne Ng Foster has been selected as the new head of Misjonselskapet, replacing Øyvind Aske, who is retiring.

UMCOR and EmK WeltMission respond to typhoon in Malawi and Mozambique: Both Methodist mission agencies have provided support to those impacted by the powerful Hurricane Freddy.

GCORR discusses work in central conferences: At the March board meeting of General Commission on Religion and Race, “Board members from Central Conferences shared stories about the ongoing work and challenges they are facing within their contexts, including the deeply-rooted issue of tribalism in Africa.” The GCORR Board also celebrated the formation of a Congo Central Conference Commission on Religion and Race Steering Committee and the work of the National Conference Commission on Religion and Race in the Philippines.

Africa University Board meets in Tanzania: The Africa University Board of Directors has its regular in person board meeting in March in Tanzania, a departure from its usual practice of meeting on the Africa University campus. The board meeting was a reminder of the continent-wide impact of the United Methodist institution of higher education.

Poor Albanian farmers give back to mission: Rev. Urs Schweizer of Switzerland wrote a piece describing a mission project to provide poor, rural Albanian farmers with seed for crops. Despite their own financial challenges, the farmers choose to give back a portion of their harvest to serve the Miss Stone Center, a tangible example of “mission from the margins.”

Wings of the Morning back in the skies: The critical aviation ministry of the North Katanga Episcopal Area is back flying after repairs to its plane. Those repairs were conducted with the support of the West Ohio Annual Conference.

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