Monday, 1 August 2011

Day 1 - World Methodist Council

I'm in a bit of a limbo here, I don't want to use this blog as a purely factual I did this today, and then I did this, and then we did that. I would like to use it to reflect some of my thoughts on the day (or days). Though I also realise that many people reading this (many is used very loosely here!) are reading to learn what the Methodist World Council is, and what we have done (Hi Mum!) So I'll attempt to get the best of both worlds.

I'm also in the situation of being in beautiful sunny South Africa, right by the coast (I'll try and get a picture of the view from my room) but not actually on holiday. I've already said to someone back home when asked why I was on Facebook, that it's because I am not on holiday! It is also because being winter in Africa it gets dark at about 5, and its not a particularly good idea to be wondering around in the dark. And also because I do miss people from home, and Facebook is a good way of catching up with what's going on.

So today has been great. I've met people from quite literally all over the world, and it is great to hear of the work going on in so many different countries. For instance, we accepted into full membership of the World Methodist Council 3 countries, The Gambia, Nepal and Tanzania. It was great to hear of the growth these churches are experiencing. This was reflected in the Chairman's address. Where he (John Barrat) said the membership of the WMC should reflect what is going on in terms of membership around the world. So the South should be much more represented, and there should be better youth representation too.

I do agree with these things, particularly when you hear of the experiences some churches are having. For instance, at the church the Council are meeting in, The Central Durban Mission, 90% of its congregation are young people. Now this may be something to do with its city location. But the minister of this church, in welcoming us today, told us that when young people come to the city (for education or work) they make many homes. And one of those homes is that church. How great! I cannot remember when I had the conversation, but I have had a conversation recently in which we discussed how unwelcoming some of our churches can be.

One of the main topics of debate for the few days the Council meets are the proposed changes to the Council's constitution and byelaws. This will take up quite some time in the agenda, but it is right and proper that this gets time, so the Council can work effectively. It was also useful today to have an orientation session, to explain what Council is, and how it works. And have the rules of debate set out too!

There was a bit of confusion over when people would be registering for the Council and Conference, and as such we did queue for a little bit. But this was an ideal opportunity to meet people. I have spent a lot of time with Jemima, the other British Youth Rep, which has been wonderful as she (along with Christy-Anna, British Youth President) went to the Young Leaders Seminar before coming to the Council meeting, so know a few people already. So along with Jemima I spent today with Pamela from Ireland. I also met Rohan, a pastor with the United Methodist Church Australia, who had lunch with Pamela, Jemima and me. Lunch had some great conversations of getting to know each other, hearing of Jemima's stories from travelling around South Africa before the Council and some other interesting topics which escape me! Tea break also enabled me to talk and meet people from all over, too many places to name! Maybe one blog will just be countries that I've met people from.

Certainly featuring on that list would be the USA. There is a massive American presence. This is from both on the floor of Council, and some of its staff too. A number of the Americans who have spoken, including the General Secretary have had that wonderful American twang. Which has been lovely to listen to.

As ever worship does play a key part in the session. We opened with some lively worship, with songs appropriately reflecting the global nature of the gathering. The bible passage was from Matthew 5, and the key verse that jumped out for me was
"You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven."
There was no teaching on this, but I am rather glad of that as it allowed me time to reflect on why that jumped out at me, when I have heard it so many times before. I am still reflecting on that!

The intercessory prayers also allowed me time to remember friends at home, many of whom are taking part in a Scripture Union Mission week, of which I am disappointed to miss. But my prayers are with all my friends, and the work that is happening back at home. This is why I have been on Facebook, to catch up with life slightly as I have found myself missing some of that contact.

So, another day lies ahead. I somehow agreed with Jemima to go swimming in the hotel pool at half 6 tomorrow, so I'll sign off for the night. God bless

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