World Church Relationships

Against a backdrop of uncertainty about the shape of future staffing for World Church Relationships, there is much to report about the work done in the name of the British Methodist Church (BMC) concerning world mission.

In Southern Africa, the economic, political and social turmoil in Zimbabwe has meant that BMC has had to find different ways to help the situation there. This has also meant supporting Zimbabwean refugees, not least in helping Bishop Paul Verryn in Johannesburg. The Church in Kenya has also needed extra help for the increased humanitarian work resulting from the post-election violence. In West Africa, a lot of administrative and legal work has been done to help the Methodist Church. The Gambia move towards autonomy celebrations on May 24th 2009.

In Central America, the partnership between NCH Action for Children and BMC has resulted in a mission partner appointment in Belize, working with ‘at risk’ young women; and this work is developing all the time. Partnerships of a different kind have been nurtured between British Districts and countries such as Uruguay and Argentina.

Increasingly in the Pacific the BMC is alongside Churches struggling with the tangible effects of climate change. This will be a recurring theme in years to come as the world struggles not just with rising sea levels, but also with hospitality for displaced peoples. And the BMC is also involved in the ecumenical Forum which brings together North and South Korean Churches to work together in development plans. The recent disasters in Myanmar and China have also shown the value of long-term partnerships in both countries in enabling help to be channelled quickly and efficiently on behalf of BMC.

The European Methodist Festival in Bratislava in August 2007 was a great success and a real celebration. It was hugely enhanced by the number of participants from Eastern Europe, who shared so much about life in some less well-known areas of the continent, and who were a real blessing to the Festival.

As this report is written, in the weeks leading up to the British Conference in Scarborough, it is becoming much clearer about what staffing there will be at Connexional Team level, to co-ordinate world mission work. The overall co-ordination will be in the hands of the Leader, World Church Relationships and three Partnership Co-ordinators (a similar role to the present Area Secretaries). This group will constitute the core World Church Relationships (WCR) section; in addition, the work of the Europe Secretary will be reviewed in the next 12 months to decide exactly where the work will be most appropriately managed. Also to be reviewed over the next 12 months will be the Scholarship and Leadership Training programme (SALT); in the meantime the SALT Co-ordinator post will remain in WCR. To help the smooth running of WCR, it is expected that two full-time equivalent administrators have been allocated, along with a ‘Grants Support Officer’.

Much of the work re advertising, recruiting, discernment and training needs of long and short-term personnel looking to serve overseas, will be managed in a new Personnel section of the Connexional Team.

The other major change is that WCR will no longer manage the Mission Education work, which will be divided between ‘Fund Raising’ and ‘Advocacy’ for the whole Connexional Team.

There are still final details to be sorted out, but the staffing now being allocated to World Church relationships work generally should give MWM members a lot more confidence in the long-term about developing world mission in the future on behalf of the British Methodist Church. So can I finally thank MWM and others for your continued support for the work that is done with Partner Churches all over the world. It is very much appreciated.

Mike King, June 2008

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