19th World Methodist Conference Closes with New Vision for Evangelism

|PIC1|SEOUL, South Korea – With broad applause for the host – the Korean Methodist Church – attendants of the 19th World Methodist Conference said their final prayer of peace as a world body on Monday at Kum Nan Church.

Thousands of Methodists closed the five-day global conference with the instalment of new officers for the next five-year period and a greater sense of pride as Wesleyan followers.

“I really think this is one of the best [conferences] I’ve attended,” said Dr. John C. A. Barrett, newly elected chairperson of the World Methodist Council.

Considered a great success, the conference placed the spotlight on the host country – the one country not united, as Barrett pointed out. With stalled six-party talks and amid missile tests from North Korea, reconciliation took on a greater sense of urgency among the Christians now a little more aware of the divided peninsula.

Tribute was paid to the Korean Methodist Church which contributed half a million dollars and hundreds of volunteers and musical acts to this year’s conference, setting a “very high standard” for World Methodist gatherings, said Dr. George H. Freeman, WMC general secretary.

New officers for the next quinquennium were installed at the close of the conference. Paulo Lockman is now vice chairperson and Dr. James W. Holsinger remains as treasurer of the World Methodist Council.

|PIC2|Adorned with a white overlay stole as new chairperson, Barrett stood at the pulpit and told the Methodists who had come from 132 nations, “I am very much aware of the challenge that I face.” But he expressed his pride in belonging to the Methodist family.

That pride was shared when reconciliation, which served as the conference theme, took on greater significance on Sunday as Methodists joined Lutherans and Roman Catholics in a joint ecumenical agreement on the Doctrine of Justification. The historic step on Sunday opened doors for ecumenical relationships and unity in faith among world church bodies.

Nevertheless, Barrett grounded the conference crowd on what it means to be a Methodist church.

“Are you being true to your mission?” Barrett posed. “Let us go from here with a renewed sense of urgency but also with a renewed [commitment].”

Priorities were set for the next five years before Methodists worldwide gather for the 20th World Methodist Conference. They included evangelism, clarification of vision and of the function of the World Methodist Council, encouraging greater communication between member churches, continuation of dialogues with other communions, and developing interfaith dialogues among others. The next conference is currently slated for September 2011.

Lillian Kwon
Christian Today Correspondent