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Methodist Mission &

Newsletter December 2010
Secretary: John Roberts

ew images of masculinity required to stop violence against women

Christians involved in church-based gender justice movements say that men must develop a sense of positive masculinity in order to counter increasing levels of violence by men against women. Citing reports by the United Nations and human rights groups that the extent and type of violent attacks on women is escalating, representatives of global church organizations say initiatives aimed at changing male patterns of behaviour are urgently needed.

"Mass rapes in the Congo, mutilation, domestic violence, dowry murders, honour killings: these horrors must stop," said Setri Nyomi, general secretary of the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC), ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (25 November).

"There is violence too within the church – in parishes and in church members' homes," Nyomi adds. "We are aware of systemic violence that puts down women and their gifts in many structures and communities. Yet too often we turn a blind eye or are silent before what we know to be happening even though our faith teaches us that women and men are created in God's image."

In an effort to stem the rising tide of violence against women, WCRC is collaborating with the World Council of Churches (WCC) and other faith-based organisations to develop a worldwide network of men's groups that challenge conventional images of masculinity which promote the ideal man as strong, dominant, and in charge. This image, church gender justice advocates say, justifies the use of violence to resolve conflict and to establish male control of public, faith and domestic spheres.

To mark the international day, the WCRC and the WCC co-published a manual of resources for use by churches, seminaries and civil society groups to promote new images of positive masculinity.

The manual Created in God's Image: From Hegemony to Partnership – a set of guidelines for discussion, theological reflection and bible study has been developed from work at the local level, encouraged by workshops and encounters in church halls and community centres. It aims to strengthen men's role in ending gender violence. It provides an inclusive approach for men to participate in transforming gender relations which produces male violence.

Co-edited by Philip Vinod Peacock and Patricia Sheerattan-Bisnauth, the manual provides tools for workshops with men at the community level.

"A more positive image of masculinity is needed", says Philip Vinod Peacock, a theologian and deacon with the Church of North India. "When we move away from a situation where men seek to dominate women and into situations where men and women are in partnership, we will be more faithful to God. … The idea is for men to recognize that patterns of male violence against women result from negative images of masculinity - images of men as warriors and gods," Peacock says. "We want them to see that there are other images for men that see strength in partnership with women rather than dominance over them. We need to look to biblical teachings which present those alternate images of partnership between men and women."

Guyanese theologian Sheerattan-Bisnauth says "Concepts of masculinity and gender are explored with the aim of enabling men to become more conscious of gender as it affects their own lives as well as those of women. … The manual aims to strengthen men's role in ending gender violence. It provides an inclusive approach for men to participate in transforming gender relations which produces male violence.

Partners in this initiative include the World YWCA, Lutheran World Federation, World Student Christian Federation, and the World Alliance of YMCAs.

The manual, Created in God's Image: From Hegemony to Partnership is available in pdf format:

WCC News 23 November 2010

They have no wine

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) invites us all to read, digest and reflect on the 2010 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic and to join in the vision: "Zero new HIV infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS-related deaths."

Despite all the well articulated progress, the report highlights that infections are outpacing treatment by 2 to 1 and 10 million people are still waiting for treatment. On the other hand, people living with HIV who have shared their experiences remind us always that living with the virus is a very difficulty journey but confronting stigma, discrimination and rejection is even harder and very painful reality.

Certainly, many people are out promoting universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support campaign but the number is still small given the huge magnitude and intensity of the social injustices that drive the pandemic. Put differently, in the words of Jesus in the Christian gospels "the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few" (Matthew 9: 37 & Luke 10: 2).

Africa continues to carry the burden of the HIV and AIDS pandemic even as some other regions are listed as beginning to share in this burden by increased cases of HIV prevalence. Yet, there are countless stories of a critical mass of children (read siblings), teenagers, women and men, among them millions of HIV positive sisters and brothers scattered all over the continent – from the Arabic North to the Cape of Good Hope, from Timbuktu to the shores of Djibouti – who are agents of change promoting healthy and positive living in the midst of multiple diseases, scarce nutritious meals, far in between health care, services and medication and stigma-free voluntary counseling and testing centres. And so it feels as if in the words of Mary mother of Jesus, "They have no wine." (John 2:3)

So even as we digest the achievements in the UNAIDS 2010 report as Christian churches and in the global ecumenical movement we are invited to reflect and ponder on the wisdom of Mary to her own son and the servants (John 2: 4-11) as she (during this advent season) joins millions waiting for their turn to receive HIV treatment, compassion, love and restored dignity.

Mary's faith in Jesus and her actions in this particular wedding incident in Cana in Galilee invite the followers of Jesus (the body of Christ) to speak out, act and to provide insightful, courageous, compassionate and effective leadership in finding solutions to the many social injustices and violations of human dignity that have been so eloquently revealed by the epidemic.

"They have no wine", nor food security, nor security from bodily violations (sexual and gender-based violence), nor equal access to education, health care, economic opportunity, nor political power, nor cultural respect, nor dignity because they are orphans, children, poor, women, widows, widowers and HIV positive.

Mary, mother of Jesus, stood among the people who had no wine, and her actions revealed God's glory made manifest as women and men drunk the good wine and celebrated the wedding feast. The call to journey with people living with HIV and those most affected by the pandemic is a challenging plea for Christian churches and the global ecumenical movement to rethink our understanding of God's hospitality and the divine reign of justice and peace on this earth.

Rev. Dr Nyambura Njoroge, programme executive for the Ecumenical HIV and AIDS Initiative in Africa of the World Council of Churches. Written for world Aids Fay 2010 (1st December)

Season's greetings to all from Methodist Mission and Ecumenical.

May you have a blessed Christmas and a good beginning to the New Year

Methodist Mission &

Newsletter November 2010
Secretary: John Roberts

Faith and Order at one hundred

Tuesday 19 October 2010 marked the 100th anniversary of the Faith and Order movement. That seeks Christian unity through theological dialogue among representatives of various churches.

The beginnings of Faith and Order are closely linked to the World Missionary Conference of June 1910 in Edinburgh, Scotland. The focus of the Edinburgh Conference was cooperation in global Christian mission. Questions around church-dividing issues and controversial points of doctrine were intentionally avoided during public discussions in Edinburgh, yet they were in the minds of many who attended.

One participant in the conference was Charles Brent, a Canadian by birth, a missionary bishop then serving in the Philippines on behalf of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America. The idea of a Faith and Order conference began with Bishop Brent, who made the link between the Edinburgh Conference with its call for Christian unity and the need to resolve issues of faith and order in the divided churches.

He recognized that the decision not to discuss questions of difference was apprropriate in the context of missionary strategy, but that questions of faith and order needed their own appropriate forum, and in such a forum they might be discussed and resolved through dialogue.

At the end of the Edinburgh Conference, Brent said: “During these past days a new vision has been unfolded to us. But whenever God gives a vision He also points to some new responsibility, and you and I, when we leave this assembly, will go away with some fresh duties to perform.” Bishop Brent returned to the United States in 1910 for the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, held in October of that year. Brent prepared a resolution for the General Convention that would have major consequences for the newly emerging ecumenical movement. On 19 October 1910, the General Convention unanimously passed a resolution calling for a world conference of the representatives of all the churches “for the consideration of questions pertaining to the Faith and Order of the Church of Christ”.

This action of a church – not a theological faculty or missionary society – ensured a commitment to overcome past histories by means of theological dialogue and to prepare the way for the Church’s unity in faith, order, life, work, worship and mission so that the world may believe in Christ.

There were other significant American calls for the resolution of church-dividing issues around the same time as the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, notably from the National Council of Congregational Churches and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), both on 18 October 1910.

However, the date of 19 October 1910 marks the institutional beginning of the Faith and Order movement that would lead directly to the First World Conference on Faith and Order in Lausanne, 1927. Bishop Charles Brent presided over the 1927 event. Faith and Order, along with the Life and Work Movement merged into the life of the World Council of Churches at the inauguration of that body in 1948. The Commission on Faith and Order continues to be a vital dimension of the work of the WCC.

Rev. Dr John Gibaut director of the WCC Commission on Faith and Order,

WCC news 14 October 2010

Reaching out to Evangelicals

The head of the World Council of Churches (WCC) has reached out to a global gathering of Evangelicals saying Christians of different traditions need to learn from each other to participate together in God's mission. "We are called to be one, to be reconciled, so that the world may believe that God reconciles the world to himself in Christ," the WCC general secretary, the Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, said in a 17 October address on the opening day of the 3rd Lausanne Congress for World Evangelization.

It is the first time a WCC general secretary has addressed a congress of the Lausanne Movement formed in 1974 to promote evangelism. "This historic invitation is a sign that God has called all of us to the ministry of reconciliation and to evangelism," said Tveit at the Cape Town meeting which gathered more than 4000 participants.

The WCC and the Lausanne Movement have often been seen as representing different strands of Christianity - the WCC being seen as focussing more on social action, and the Lausanne movement known for its promotion of evangelism.

In his address, Tveit, a Lutheran theologian from Norway, said he had read the Lausanne Covenant for the first time when he was 15 years old. "I was struck by the clarity of its vision: We are called to share the gospel of reconciliation with all," he said. Tveit added, "The need of the world for reconciliation with God, with one another, and with nature are too big for a divided church."

He noted how many of those at the Cape Town gathering had taken part with WCC representatives at a meeting in Edinburgh in May to mark the 100th anniversary of the World Missionary Conference held in the Scottish capital.

"I can see how much we share a common vision of the holistic mission of God," said Tveit. "I am very encouraged by how Evangelicals, churches and individuals share our calling as the WCC to address the needs of the whole human being and the whole of creation."

ENI News 18 October 2010

United Church PNG confronts social issues

The 22nd General Assembly of the United Church in Papua New Guinea was held at Lae in October.

Some critical social issues were raised:

Vote buying: the assembly warned its regional offices and members to beware of cash donations from political leaders and intending candidates for national and provincial elections. Such donations may be made expecting political support in return. Moderator Samson Lowa expressed a concern that such donations to the church could compromise its gospel based principles. A policy to guide all parts of the church in this matter is being developed.

Environmental damage: damage caused by mining is seen as an ongoing problem. Land, is becoming unusable. People’s livelihoods are being affected. People are now asking the church to be their voice to government and the mining companies to express their concerns.

Unemployed youth: There are increasing numbers of unemployed youth who are becoming unproductive and lost to society. Many lack the skills and knowledge to become economically productive. Crime is the alternative they turn to. This is a challenge to the church.

HIV & AIDs: the incidence of HIV and AIDS is

very high in Papua New Guinea. Many, including church members, have died of AIDS and others are living with HIV, some may not even be aware of this. The loss of skilled people and experienced leaders affects the church as well as society in general. Some regions of the church are actively engaged in awareness raising and the counselling of HIV&AIDS affected peoples. Much more needs to be done.

The assembly meeting also addressed some significant internal church matters:

Church properties: some have become redundant or have been liquidated. Others deteriorate and may end up in the wrong hands. The proceeds from some properties do not seem to appear at the right places. In some instances, money has been stolen. Property managers are needed to make property work for the church.

Schools: teachers are needed for Sunday Schools, elementary and primary schools. Sunday School teachers are needed in all regions. The United Church has many schools and the need is for trained teachers.

Post Courier 18 October 2010

Methodist Mission &

Newsletter October 2010
Secretary: John Roberts

More effort needed to achieve MDGs in Asia Pacific region

Leaders of global faith and humanitarian groups have given mixed reactions to a New York summit evaluating the United Nations' "Millennium Development Goals", set out a decade ago to reduce global poverty. Political leaders at the summit acknowledged that progress towards achieving the eight MDGs by 2015 is not where it should be. In a final ‘outcome document’ for the 20 to 22 September UN summit, participants recommitted themselves to achieving the goals, which include the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger. Church leaders have applauded the progress made so far to reduce global poverty but say more must be done.

"In the aftermath of the financial crisis, poverty reduction and achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) should occupy centre stage of development strategies for countries in Asia and the Pacific," said Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP). She was speaking at the launch of a report Paths to 2015-MDG Priorities in Asia and the Pacific at the start of the MDGs summit in August on 20 September. The report is a collaboration between UNESCAP, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), and the UN Development Programme (UNDP)

One of the region's greatest MDG successes has been a reduction in the number of people living on less than $1.25 a day, from 1.5 billion to 947 million between 1990 and 2005. The region has also made strong progress in ensuring all children have primary school access and succeeded in cutting gender disparities in primary education, beginning to reduce HIV prevalence, reducing the use of ozone-depleting substances, and halving the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water.

However, the region remains home to two-thirds of the world's poor and hungry, with one in six malnourished, and it has been slow to reduce child mortality and to improve maternal health. If the region continues on its current development track without refocusing its efforts in addressing key poverty issues, it will find itself in 2015 with: almost 35 million extra people in extreme income poverty; nearly 900,000 extra children suffering from malnutrition; 1.7 million births not attended by skilled professionals; 70 million more people without access to improved sanitation.

The report singles out areas where governments should act, including strengthening social safety nets for the poor; stimulating domestic demand and intra-regional trade; creating more inclusive and sustainable economic growth; ensuring access to financial services for the poor and marginalised; reducing persistent gender gaps; giving stronger support to least developed countries; and harnessing the potential of regional economic integration.

At the same time as the release of the report the general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, wrote a letter to UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon. Tviet stated that "without significant transformations in global economic frameworks the attainment of the MDGs by 2015 is endangered.” Tveit expressed concern that governments need to do more to address the root causes of poverty. “Without addressing the root causes of poverty, justice-oriented reforms will not be possible. .... In today’s globalised world, efforts by nations to meet the MDGs are more and more contingent on an enabling international economic environment. .... The WCC believes that addressing the root causes of poverty and the attainment of the MDGs necessitates significant and comprehensive changes in the international financial architecture and trade regime.”

The MDGs are eight internationally-agreed targets, set in 2000, aiming to reduce poverty, hunger, maternal and child deaths, disease, inadequate shelter, gender inequality and environmental degradation by 2015.

ADB ENI & WCC news releases September 2010

Mission news

Solomon Islands

Goldie College

The college continues to recover recovering from the April 2007 earthquake. The Mission and Ecumenical special appeal in 2010 is for a computer lab at Goldie College. A building is available. However it needs to be outfitted as a computer lab. A solar unit to power the computers is required and computers have to be purchased. The response to the appeal has been very encouraging. Our thanks to all who have contributed.

Copra project

This project based at Vonunu on Vella Lavella Island is capably managed by Vincent Ghanny. Mission and Ecumenical has been making quarterly grants towards the development of the project which generates income for village copra producers who are church members. It also generates some income for the church. Some restructuring of the oversight body, the Vella Lavella Centennial Agency, is currently being considered.

Helena Goldie Hospital

The hospital continues under the leadership of Medical Superintendent Dr Dina Sailo. He is now supported by Drs Graham and Jenny Longbottom from the Methodist Church in Britain. An Australian volunteer has assisted in the development of a strategic plan for the future of the hospital. Mission and Ecumenical provides the salary of the Director of Nursing Chris Leve as well as funding for relieving nurses. An HGH fundraising calendar, produced by Mark and Beth Leeming, former British Methodist staff persons at the hospital, is available at $15 a copy.

Helena Goldie College of Nursing

The College of Nursing had its official opening on 16 April 2010. Principal Henri Gumi is capably supported by two tutors. There are sixteen students, one of whom is supported by Mission and Ecumenical with the payment of tuition fees. A further two students will be supported in 2011. Books for the college library have been paid for by Mission and Ecumenical.

Sasamunga Hospital

Two staff houses are now under construction, funded by Mission and Ecumenical. An upgrade of the birthing unit and the hospital laboratory will follow, with other projects further down the track. We thank the Orakei parish for their big fund-raising effort this year to assist Sasaamunga Hospital.

Tabaka Rural Training Centre

A reunion of those who built the original centre in 1991 takes place in Hamilton on the weekend of 30/31 October. Trevor Bennett has played a lead role in the organisation of the reunion. The Saturday dinner followed by speakers will be at Chartwell Church. The Sunday morning worship led by Alan Leadley will be at St Albans Church.

Papua New Guinea

Assembly office

Moderator Samson Lowa had a major health setback in May but has made a good recovery and resumed duties in July. While on sick leave it was announced in the PNG Queens’s Birthday honours that Samson had been given a knighthood for services to education, the community and the church. He is now a Knight of the British Empire. Samson continues to provide quality leadership to his church.

Chaplaincy training

Chaplaincy is a significant area of ministry in the life of the UCPNG. Mission and Ecumenical has funded the printing of a chaplaincy manual as well as a workshop to introduce the new manual to key church staff.

Metago Training Institute

The fish farm project has not proceeded as earthmoving machinery cannot access the site. It has been suggested to Moderator Samson Lowa that we seek an alternative use for the funds at Metago. This is now under discussion with West Central Region’s Bishop Gadiki who is reconsidering the matter.

Rarongo Theological College

Rarongo Theological College is now the ‘School of Theology and Mission, Rarongo’, an institution of the United Church College of Higher education. Rev Dr William Longgar is the new principal. Mission and Ecumenical continues to assist the school through the purchase of library books for student use and payment of tuition fees for four students in need of support.

Bougainville Region

Building of two staff houses for the Leadership and Ministry Training Centre at Kekesu, funded by Mission and Ecumenical, is now under way.

Disaster responses

In the past year Mission and Ecumenical has assisted Sinoti Samoa following the tsunami in Samoa, and the Auckland Fijian Circuit following the hurricane in Fiji. Assistance took the form of paying the freight charge for containers of supplies to the two countries. It has also contributed to the Christian World Service appeal for Pakistan flood victims.


Mission and Ecumenical appreciates the considerable support it receives from Methodist Women’s Fellowship groups, parishes, and individual church members, for activity in the life of the United Churches in the Solomon Islands and the Papua New Guinea. This enables us to provide so much more assistance.

Methodist Mission &

Newsletter September 2010
Secretary: John Roberts

Religious leaders commit to action on HIV and AIDS

In the middle of thousands of researchers and activists from around the world, religious leaders gathered in Vienna in July to reaffirm their pledge to fight stigma and discrimination, promote effective prevention and ensure quality treatment and care for those living with HIV and AIDS.

"Religious leaders have moved from an initial position of passive observation and ideological opposition to the promotion of key prevention methods and a sustained commitment to fighting the epidemic," said Hassan Cherry, director of ‘Think Positive’, an organization of HIV-positive people in Lebanon. "There is no longer the talk about sinning and repentance that prevailed in the eighties and nineties. Instead, today we hear religious leaders urging the acceptance of people living with HIV and AIDS and preaching on behalf of community solidarity and compassion," Cherry said.

Cherry went on to say he considered the role of religious leaders "to be as important as the role of governments, owing to the great influence they can have on people's perspectives and thoughts." He said the leaders' commitment "is already a big step towards action and must be continued by a direct and honest conversation between congregation and community, breaking the barrier of silence and promoting HIV prevention in all manners and ways despite the taboos."

The Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, a network of churches and church groups working together around issues of HIV and AIDS, used the Vienna conference to collect more signatures on a document first signed at a meeting of high level religious leaders in March in the Netherlands. It calls for a personal commitment "to work tirelessly to end all stigmatising attitudes and actions" that might block the full inclusion of HIV positive people in faith communities. Signed by Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh leaders, it includes specific commitments to people living with HIV, women and girls, children and youth. "This personal commitment calls for stronger, more visible and practical leadership in the response to HIV and AIDS said Rev. Dr. Richard Fee, general secretary of the Presbyterian Church of Canada and chair of the board of directors of the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance.

Michel Sidibé, the executive director of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), said the religious leaders' statement strengthened the global response to HIV and AIDS. "This commitment by faith leaders can break down the wall of stigma and discrimination faced by people living with HIV," said Mr Sidibé. "These leaders can restore the dignity and respect of communities affected by AIDS."

Matthew Southwell, the program manager of the International Network of People Who Use Drugs, said drug users and others "have often felt judged, condemned and abandoned by religious leaders, However, there are some exceptional local religious leaders who have met us with humanity and compassion and ministered to our communities in our time of need." He said he hoped the statements of personal commitment "will ensure that the global response to HIV includes the spiritual and pastoral aspects of our lives as people who have traditionally been viewed as other or outsiders."

Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, the general secretary of the World YWCA said she appreciated the specific commitments to women and girls contained in the document. "The commitment that we made affirms the leadership of women and girls in the response to HIV and AIDS," she said. "It also affirms that women are taking a lead role in terms of providing information and services" to those living with the virus.

The AIDS ambassador of the Swedish government, Lennart Hjelmåker, reminded religious leaders that they now face the challenge of living up to what they have signed and to show leadership in breaking the silence.

HIV and AIDS Campaign Press Release July 2010

Churches Week of Action on Food

It is now time to start reflecting and preparing for activities for the Churches Week of Action on Food from 10-17 October. During the Week thousands of people, churches and communities around the world will participate in a movement calling for change in the way food is grown, sold, distributed and shared. It is a time to lift up the voices of small-scale food producers, particularly women, to have choices on what crops to grow and how they can grow these crops. The Week in October goes from Sunday to Sunday and is a key time for action:

· 15 October is International Day for Rural Women

· 16 October is World Food Day

· 17 October is International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

· 11-16 October is Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Committee on Food Security (CFS) meeting, Rome, Italy

The Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance has produced a resource guide for the Week of Action. The guide offers action ideas, as well as worship resources, including a liturgy and a prayer card. You can use this guide to help you effectively take part in the 2010 Churches' Week of Action on Food together with others around the world. The electronic version of the guide and other resources are available online at:

Queuing for water and sanitation

While Guinness World Records still needs to officially verify the results, the organisers of the World’s Longest Toilet Queue are already celebrating a new World Record: they just confirmed that a total of over 80,000 people in 80 countries had queued up between 20 and 22 March making a stand for sanitation and water.

The goal of the event was to demand real change and commitment from the world’s politicians to solve the global sanitation crisis. The lack of access to clean water and basic sanitation is the main reason why many children die every day from preventable water-related illnesses such as diarrhoea, typhoid, cholera and dysentery.

In solidarity with the 2.5 billion people worldwide who do not have access to clean water and basic sanitation, staff from the different church-related and other organizations based at the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva, including the World Council of Churches (WCC), also stood in line in front of a symbolic ‘toilet door’ on 22 March, World Water Day.

“The water crisis is a symptom of our unjust, our polluted relations with one another and the rest of creation”, said Ms. Maike Gorsboth, coordinator of the Ecumenical Water Network at the WCC, in a prayer service held for the occasion. “Water being the source of life makes it much more than ‘just’ a sacramental symbol or a symbol of liberation. It also makes it a means of liberation.” World Water Day 2010 had been dedicated to the theme of water quality.

Ecumenical Water Network 10 August 2010

Young Jews, Christians and Muslims as peace facilitators

Building community beyond faith boundaries was the task of a group of young Jews, Christians and Muslims recently. They focussed on the common value of peace. Now each of them will return to their homes as a qualified peace facilitator.

Participating in the Ecumenical Institute in Bossey, Switzerland month-long summer course called "Building an Interfaith Community" the 32 participants from 20 countries forged a sense of community out of their religious diversity. A new dimension to the July course for 2010 included exploring "how to overcome conflict and restore good relations".

"Whether it is visiting a church, synagogue or mosque, or having formal lectures outlining different faith approaches to contemporary issues, or just socialising and enjoying each other’s company – the group is challenged to live together and grow as a community, overcoming stereotypes and preconceived understandings of each other," says Tara Tautari, a Methodist from New Zealand and programme executive for Education and Ecumenical Formation for the World Council of Churches (WCC).

Tautari and her WCC colleagues hope the opportunity for young people from different continents and faith communities spending a month listening to one another’s stories and learning how each live out their own spirituality will help them gain a better understanding of different ways to view the world.

WCC News 29 July 2010

Methodist Mission &

Newsletter August 2010
Secretary: John Roberts

Mission and Unity Conference

Helen Laurenson reports on the Mission and Unity Conference held in Wesley Hall at St John’s Theological College, Auckland 18 & 19 June to mark the centennial of the landmark World Missionary Conference held in Edinburgh in June 1910. The Edinburgh conference reshaped the churches’ approach to world mission and gave rise to the 20th century ecumenical movement. Helen’s article originally appeared in the Auckland Methodist of July 2010. An extract from Allan Davidson’s paper is also included.

One hundred people from around New Zealand attended the Mission and Unity Conference held through two days in mid-June at St John’s Theological College in Meadowbank. The coincidental number of participants, representing a range of denominations, was a reminder that conference members were gathering to recognise, consider and celebrate 100 years since a great World Missionary Conference was held in Edinburgh.

That conference, with its emerging vision of mission, of churches united in speaking the message of the gospel with one voice, and of the whole world won for Christ, afforded a significant point of reference for twenty-first century reflection on mission and ecumenism. The words and the spirit of the Great Commission of Jesus, as recorded in Matthew 28:16-20 had provided the wellspring of the 1910 conference, and that same source of inspiration could be seen reflected in the varied presentations in Auckland a century later.

Reflecting on the past

In his opening address, the Rev. Dr Allan Davidson placed the Edinburgh Conference in its historical context, and with broad brushstrokes created an interpretation of the world-changing events that had shaped the twentieth century in relation to Christianity.

The Rev. Dr Lynne Wall then presented a stimulating overview of the evolving nature of Biblical studies from the nineteenth to the twenty-first centuries.

Although only 200 women attended the 1910 conference among approximately 1200 delegates, women were making an enormous contribution to the missionary movement, both in fund-raising and in personal service in the field. The Rev. Dr Janet Crawford drew attention to the often untold stories of the many New Zealand women who served in missions overseas from the nineteenth century until after World War II. She shared the inspiring stories of three women missionaries, one of whom, Sister Lina Jones, served for many years with the Methodist Church in Solomon Islands.

The Rt Rev. John Bluck provided the after-dinner address in which he suggested that the spirit of informal ecumenism through the giving and receiving of hospitality in all its many dimensions, might replace the more formal structural model of ecumenism that has foundered during the twentieth century.

Saturday’s programme began with karakia based on a meditation by the Rev. Rua Rakena, and led by the Vice-President of the Methodist Church, Lana Lazarus. Te Aroha Rountree explored writings within Maori language newspapers as an exemplar of Maori understandings and experiences of Christianity.

Reflecting on the present and the future

The first of two panel discussions followed, chaired by the Rev. Uesifili Unasa. Filipo Motulano, the Rev. Maua Sola, and Joan Alleluia Filemoni-Tofaeona spoke on the questions of mission in their own particular and diverse contexts and the challenges facing their cultural communities, including that of working ecumenically from a Pacific migrant perspective. This panel produced considerable discussion and feed-back. The second panel, facilitated by the Rev. Dr Stuart Vogel, included Kukiko Wakui Khaw, the Rev. Cheng Cheen Khaw, and the Rev. James Lee, and addressed similar issues from Asian migrant perspectives.

Dr Carlton Johnstone, the Presbyterian National Youth Ministry Development Leader gave a lively consideration of generational theories particularly in relation to youth participation.

The thought-provoking final presentation on mission in a multi-faith world was contributed by the Rev. Dr Keith Rowe.

After reflections by the Rev. Dr Neil Darragh, opportunity was taken to thank the Rev. John Roberts and the organising team for their work in arranging the Conference. For all those participating, it provided not only a significant commemoration of that 1910 summer Conference in Edinburgh, but also a timely and inspirational mid-winter exploration of the meaning of ‘mission’ for the Church in Aotearoa/New Zealand today and into the future.

From Edinburgh 1910 to Auckland 2010

An extract from Allan Davidson’s paper to the Mission and Unity Conference.

Edinburgh 1910 was a world of steam-driven trains and steamships, the telegraphic cable, and the international postal service. Auckland 2010 is the world of jet-travel, motor cars, email and the internet. The world population in 1910 was estimated at one and three-quarter billion people compared with close to seven billion in 2010. The Christian percentage of the world’s population was estimated to be 34.8% in 1910 while in 2010 it had fallen slightly to 33.2%. While Christianity has become a global faith it has just held its own in relation to population growth. “In areas that were strongly Christian in 1910 (Europe, Latin America, North America, and Oceania, except for Melanesia) the main trend appears to be secularization, with percentages of Christians decreasing over the 100 years.” The worlds of Edinburgh 1910 and our world today are very different. Muslims have grown over the last century from 12.6% of the world’s population to 22.4%.

The ecumenical movement, which was the offspring of the World Missionary Conference has achieved much over the last century that is worthy of celebration. We can point to such things as: the breaking down of barriers between churches, the promotion of Christian unity, the seeking to bring justice and peace to a world in conflict, concerns to promote racial and gender equality and the growing concern about the need to heal the earth.

The high hopes for organic church union have seen success in some countries such as Canada, India and Australia, but unfulfilled expectations in our own country. The Edinburgh 2010 “Common Call” when talking of unity uses the language of “co-operation”, welcoming diversity, recognising the “need for mutuality, partnership, collaboration and networking in mission, so that the world might believe”. The resurgence of denominational identity and the commitment to work with different Christian streams has seen the diluting of Jesus’ prayer “that they may all be one” in favour of the pragmatic recognition of diversity.

Mission is no longer conceived as taking the gospel from the west to the Non-Christian world. Edinburgh 2010 in contrast spoke of the call that comes to “communities of faith to mission from everywhere to everywhere”. John Oldham, writing in 1960, told how “the perspective in which I see the world mission of the Church has undergone a radical change”. “We cannot assume”, he writes, “that any interpretation of our experience to-day will provide an adequate framework for understanding the world of an unknown to-morrow.”

The context in which we undertake the missionary and ecumenical journey has changed dramatically over the last one hundred years. Finding what mission and unity mean in our day is the task that is always before us. In the words of the opening prayer of the Mission and Unity Conference: “we gather seeking a new moment of vision, for new energy, fresh inspiration, and new resources for witnessing to Christ today.” As Joseph Oldham the Edinburgh Confernce secretary said in 1910 “Let the world see sermons rather than hear them!”

Conference papers will become available either as a publication or download from a website. We will keep you informed.

Methodist Mission & Ecumenical

Newsletter July 2010
Secretary: John Roberts

Challenges and opportunities for mission in unity

Theodore Gill reports on the Edinburgh 2010 world mission conference, an event to mark the centennial of the World Missionary Conference of 1910.

Stumbling blocks and stepping stones

“Take your stumbling-blocks, and turn them into stepping-stones.” This was the well-known personal byword of Christian statesman and Nobel Peace Prize laureate John R. Mott (1865-1955). Mott, a Methodist layman from the United States, was a key organiser of the World Missionary Conference at Edinburgh, Scotland in 1910.

As some 300 delegates from over 60 countries and virtually all Christian traditions made their way home from Edinburgh 2010, a 2-6 June convocation held to honour the centenary of Edinburgh 1910 and consider means of witnessing to Christ today, visions of stumbling blocks and stepping stones were easy to conjure.

"Edinburgh 2010 has opened up a vision for common work and further cooperation between mission organizations and churches from different traditions", says Jacques Matthey, a Swiss theologian who for many years has been a leading figure in the World Council of Churches’ work on mission and evangelism. "Whilst Christian mission in the 21st century has been marked by conflict, the Edinburgh 2010 process opens up the promise to bring about an era of new relationships in mission between various traditions of world Christianity", says Matthey. "We have seen that a different way to relate to each other is possible." If only because of that, the conference is "an important step towards wider forms of unity in mission".

On the other hand, Matthey acknowledges that Edinburgh 2010 was not fully representative of world Christianity. "The youth, the global South and neo-charismatic or independent groups among others were not sufficiently represented", he says. In addition to that, as some Pentecostal participants have pointed out, there was too much academic language and not enough narrative contributions from the South. However, Matthey still finds as a "legitimate source of joy the enormous breadth of participation" that marked Edinburgh 2010. The wide spectrum of churches, denominations and mission traditions united around the project – which included Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran, Reformed, Methodist, Baptist, Seventh Day Adventist, Roman Catholic, Evangelical, Pentecostal and Independent traditions – made it "the most representative of the diversity of world Christianity today".

For Matthey, the conference's Common Call (see appendix) "carries some significant theological content". To highlight a few elements, Matthey points out "the understanding of Christian mission as God's mission in the world; the idea that mission involves the whole of life including God's creation; the importance given to the role of the Holy Spirit; the space of youth and children in mission; and the value of cooperation and mutual welcome between churches".

Mutual acceptance and appreciation

On Sunday 6 June, after the end of a three-hour closing celebration in the Church of Scotland’s Assembly Hall, where the historic 1910 gathering took place, four panelists who were involved in the 2010 conference shared their opinions of conference outcomes as well as questions they have been left to ponder.

Rose Dowsett of Glasgow, Scotland, one of the planners of the Edinburgh 2010 study process, said she found Edinburgh 2010 “unique and historic” because of the scope of its inclusion and the extent to which participants had “found ways we could work together” in bearing witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ. “We are in agreement that the news of Jesus Christ is good news, and it is for all people. I hope we can carry this away with us.” Dowsett, who is vice-moderator of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA)’s mission commission, observed that Edinburgh 2010 did not create a “continuation committee” as was the case in 1910 because there is “no intention for a long-term institutional life this time.” However, she emphasized that individual comments on reports of the conference and local or regional groups’ contributions arising from the process will continue to be received and reviewed, particularly through discussion on the conference website:

José Lopez Vázquez, a Latin American youth delegate, detected hesitancy on the part of participants to raise controversial topics during the four days of discussion. He cited gender, sexuality and restorative justice as issues that had been largely avoided. “This was a very nice attempt to reunite around mission,” he said, “but people didn’t really engage seriously, sometimes. They were afraid.” Lopez Vázquez also protested the dominance of the English language in the proceedings, pointing out that representation from regions of the world is sure to remain unbalanced unless problems of translation can be overcome.

The remaining members of Sunday’s panel were the Anglican archbishop of York, John Sentamu, and the Catholic archbishop of Glasgow, Mario Conti.

Archbishop Conti expressed hope for the future of Christian mission undertaken in a spirit of unity. He felt strongly encouraged by the way in which participants had been "looking together at the way we could act effectively in witnessing to Christ today”. He strongly endorsed the Common Call of the conference as a statement of principles.

Archbishop Sentamu also spoke of the challenge to Christian mission that arises from the flawed, human character of the faithful themselves. Those who fully come to accept people who are different from themselves often lose standing in their own communities. He observed, “a rediscovery of our common humanity is something we do not easily respect.” For Sentamu, the establishment of unity among human beings, including the members of diverse church traditions, is never a matter of “a cheap or costless compromise”. The intricacies of ecumenical dialogue are bound to occupy theologians over time, but they ultimately will lead to "a meeting in the truth of the gospel", said the archbishop, quoting the late Pope John Paul II. Meanwhile, he added, “We need to be able to pray for one another.”

The end and the beginning

Encouragement to exercise loving hospitality towards others and humility in Christian outreach formed the refrain of Edinburgh 2010’s closing celebration, which was attended by more than a thousand worshippers gathered at the same venue as the 1910 groundbreaking World Missionary Conference: the Assembly Hall of the Church of Scotland, set on The Mound near Edinburgh Castle and St Giles Cathedral.

Archbishop Sentamu preached the sermon. “Human activity only begets human activity. The prophetic Word and the Spirit make us live,” he said. His voice echoed with an evangelising passion that recalled preachers of the past who spoke in the same space.

John R. Mott, who was elected chairman of the continuation committee established by the 1910 conference, famously began his final speech at that gathering: “The end of the conference is the beginning of the conquest. The end of the planning is the beginning of the doing.” Yet Mott was no stranger to obstacles when it came to mission and Christian unity.

He saw plans for the International Missionary Council tragically delayed in the decade following Edinburgh 1910 because of the turmoil of the great war of 1914-18. A generation later, the formation of the World Council of Churches was similarly stalled by the devastation of the Second World War. And yet Mott could be relied upon to implore his colleagues to find ways of turning “stumbling-blocks into stepping-stones”. Surely this is also Mott’s message for Christians of the 21st century.

Theodore Gill is senior editor of World Council of Churches publications in Geneva and is an ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church USA.

[The August newsletter will feature a report on the Auckland 2010 Conference, "Mission and Unity: Now and into the Future"]

World Mission Conference Edinburgh 2010

Common Call

As we gather for the centenary of the World Missionary Conference of Edinburgh 1910, we believe the church, as a sign and symbol of the reign of God, is called to witness to Christ today by sharing in God’s mission of love through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.

1. Trusting in the Triune God and with a renewed sense of urgency, we are called to incarnate and proclaim the good news of salvation, of forgiveness of sin, of life in abundance, and of liberation for all poor and oppressed. We are challenged to witness and evangelism in such a way that we are a living demonstration of the love, righteousness and justice that God intends for the whole world.

2. Remembering Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross and his resurrection for the world’s salvation, and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we are called to authentic dialogue, respectful engagement and humble witness among people of other faiths – and no faith – to the uniqueness of Christ. Our approach is marked with bold confidence in the gospel message; it builds friendship, seeks reconciliation and practises hospitality.

3. Knowing the Holy Spirit who blows over the world at will, reconnecting creation and bringing authentic life, we are called to become communities of compassion and healing, where young people are actively participating in mission, and women and men share power and responsibilities fairly, where there is a new zeal for justice, peace and the protection of the environment, and renewed liturgy reflecting the beauties of the Creator and creation.

4. Disturbed by the asymmetries and imbalances of power that divide and trouble us in church and world, we are called to repentance, to critical reflection on systems of power, and to accountable use of power structures. We are called to find practical ways to live as members of One Body in full awareness that God resists the proud, Christ welcomes and empowers the poor and afflicted, and the power of the Holy Spirit is manifested in our vulnerability.

5. Affirming the importance of the biblical foundations of our missional engagement and valuing the witness of the Apostles and martyrs, we are called to rejoice in the expressions of the gospel in many nations all over the world. We celebrate the renewal experienced through movements of migration and mission in all directions, the way all are equipped for mission by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and God’s continual calling of children and young people to further the gospel.

6. Recognising the need to shape a new generation of leaders with authenticity for mission in a world of diversities in the twenty-first century, we are called to work together in new forms of theological education. Because we are all made in the image of God, these will draw on one another’s unique charisms, challenge each other to grow in faith and understanding, share resources equitably worldwide, involve the entire human being and the whole family of God, and respect the wisdom of our elders while also fostering the participation of children.

7. Hearing the call of Jesus to make disciples of all people – poor, wealthy, marginalised, ignored, powerful, living with disability, young, and old – we are called as communities of faith to mission from everywhere to everywhere. In joy we hear the call to receive from one another in our witness by word and action, in streets, fields, offices, homes, and schools, offering reconciliation, showing love, demonstrating grace and speaking out truth.

8. Recalling Christ, the host at the banquet, and committed to that unity for which he lived and prayed, we are called to ongoing co-operation, to deal with controversial issues and to work towards a common vision. We are challenged to welcome one another in our diversity, affirm our membership through baptism in the One Body of Christ, and recognise our need for mutuality, partnership, collaboration and networking in mission, so that the world might believe.

9. Remembering Jesus’ way of witness and service, we believe we are called by God to follow this way joyfully, inspired, anointed, sent and empowered by the Holy Spirit, and nurtured by Christian disciplines in community. As we look to Christ’s coming in glory and judgment, we experience his presence with us in the Holy Spirit, and we invite all to join with us as we participate in God’s transforming and reconciling mission of love to the whole creation.

Edinburgh, 6 July 2010

Methodist Mission & Ecumenical

Newsletter June 2010
Secretary: John Roberts

Pentecost: call to conversion

Message of the Presidents of the World Council of Churches at Pentecost 2010

In 2010, just as at the time of the first Pentecost, Christians throughout the world, in their respective churches, celebrated Pentecost in hundreds of different languages and sang hymns in their own languages giving praise to the Lord. Jesus’ disciples received the gift of the Holy Spirit that first Pentecost because they were waiting for it in trust. They were gathered together waiting, confident in God’s promise.

On the morning of Pentecost, Jerusalem was filled with pilgrims who had come to celebrate the festival of new bread; amongst the faithful was the small group of humble friends of Jesus Christ the Risen One. And the promise is fulfilled: the Spirit comes down on them and makes them into witnesses, messengers, people convinced by their master’s message of love and truth. It becomes a time for the call to conversion, of putting into practice the gift received and commitment to the service of brothers and sisters.

Today, the call to conversion is more central than ever for every person who seeks to follow Jesus Christ and to discover meaning in life through serving those who suffer, whatever name their suffering may have. “Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what should we do?’” (Acts 2:37b)

Many are waiting for the gift of the Holy Spirit. There is in today’s world a small group of the humble who seek conversion, asking for forgiveness for faults committed in the past, such as attacks on God’s gift of life through the manufacture of weapons of mass destruction.

Hope for conversion can be seen today in the steps some of the “great” of this world have taken to repair past excesses of pride and domination. Yes, everything is possible for the one who turns to Christ and, in the power of the Spirit, tries to change the plans of those who continue to believe that peace can be bought only under threat of nuclear weapons.

May the brave souls of this world, who have begun to reduce their stocks of nuclear arms, now continue boldly to make more resources available for the well-being of those populations who have been so devastated.ay they give more resources to those who live in the anguish of hunger and the violence of war, and who thirst to be able to share their knowledge. We want to say “with God, all things are possible!”

But of course we Christians, who have been baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, must not limit our insistence on the need for repentance from the official leaders of the nations or of other public persons. The call for repentance remains well-timed for every one of us, from every state, age, origin: repentance for our inconsistency between what we proclaim and how we behave; repentance for our little faith, for our compromises to the spirit of this world, for our inclination to be indifferent to justice, to solidarity, to sincere love and respect for every human person.

It is with this deep spirit of repentance that we must await the coming and dwelling of the Spirit of God, in ourselves and in our local congregations. Only then shall we rediscover the face of our Resurrected Lord, the Kyrios, and be united with him, praying with humility and new dynamism: O, come, Holy Spirit! Transform the world!

May the Holy Spirit which came down at Pentecost fill you with light, hope and joy and give you the strength to glorify our Lord by serving his world with love. We wish you all a very blessed feast of Pentecost.

The Presidents of the World Council of Churches:

Archbishop Dr Anastasios, Orthodox Church of Albania; Mr John Taroanui Doom, Maohi Protestant Church (French Polynesia); Rev. Dr Simon Dossou, Methodist Church in Benin; Rev. Dr Soritua Nababan, Protestant Christian Batak Church (Indonesia); Rev. Dr Ofelia Ortega, Presbyterian-Reformed Church in Cuba; Patriarch Abune Paulos, Ethiopian Orthodox Church; Rev. Dr Bernice Powell Jackson, United Church of Christ (USA); Dr Mary Tanner, Church of England.

Countdown to World Mission Conference

A significant event bringing together 250 mission and ecumenical leaders from across the world takes place 2-6 June, in Edinburgh, Scotland. Worldwide Christian traditions including Protestant, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Evangelical, and Pentecostal Churches will seek to form a common vision for mission in the 21st century.

It is a hundred years since the huge (1500 people) World Missionary Conference held in Edinburgh in June 1910. It brought together representatives of church mission agencies, mainly based in the northern part of the world, to think about the world wide mission of the Christian Church. While it had its limitations, it became a ground breaking event. Participants recognized the need to move beyond colonial forms of mission and to welcome the birth and maturing of independent and self governing churches.

While the Edinburgh 2010 conference delegates gather for a time of celebration, confession and looking ahead, no one conference in any one place can do justice to the diverse mosaic and richness of local Christian communities seeking to live out the Gospel in their own contexts. The true face of the global church in mission today will only be seen if Christians around the world join in through local ecumenical gatherings and ongoing witness to God’s work in their midst.

The celebration of Edinburgh 2010 and the process that has led up to it is different from that of Edinburgh 1910. While there is a major conference in Edinburgh, a decentralized process has also been followed. The study process prior to Edinburgh 2010 has seen consultations held in different parts of the world. Centennial events are also taking place around the world.

A centennial event is taking place in Auckland on 18th and 19th June with the theme Mission and Unity: Then, Now and into the Future The keynote address, in the form of an after dinner presentation, will see John Bluck suggesting we need to reinvent ecumenism for the 21st century by asking, ‘Could the new catalyst be found in the giving and receiving of hospitality?’

Anglican, Catholic, Methodist, and Presbyterian presenters will: reflect on the missionary and ecumenical journey from 1910 to 2010; respond to the Great Commission with biblical reflections; speak about New Zealand women and overseas mission; explore Christian faith in a Maori context; highlight emerging generations and the challenge of being witnesses in our time; raise questions concerning Christians and other world faiths. There will also be a Pacific and Asia migrant panels reflecting on the conference theme.

At the Edinburgh conference a key conversation on mission will be initiated with the older mission movements of the North and the newer mission movements of the South and East. There will be a series of dialogues amongst representatives of the different Christian traditions. Guidelines will be developed and studies published to help church and mission leaders. Networks will be mobilised and alliances formed so as to develop greater strategic collaboration in fulfilling the mission mandate. It is hoped that based on a critical assessment of the status of the world, a new vision of God’s purpose for creation in Christ and a renewed spirituality and mission ethos will develop in the life of the churches worldwide.

Visit for more information:

From the Pacific

PNG churches respond to HIV & AIDS

The Papua New Guinea Christian Leaders Alliance on HIV/AIDS has recently been formed to address one of the biggest development challenges in the country. The alliance includes the Anglican, Catholic, Assemblies of God, Baptist, Lutheran, Salvation Army Seventh-Day Adventist, United, and several Pentecostal churches as well as other Christian groupings.

National AIDS Council Secretariat chairman Sir Peter Barter congratulated the church leaders in recognising the need to unite to jointly tackle the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Stigma and discrimination remain the biggest deterrent to the HIV/AIDS response in the country, making it difficult for people to access treatment and care.

The National Online 6 May 2010

Solomons youth in Tonga

Ten young people from United Church of Solomon Islands are on a five-month mission visit to Tonga. This is part of a youth exchange programme between the Free Weslyan Church of Tonga and the United Church in the Solomon Islands.

The exchange programme recognises the relationship between the two churches brought about by Tongan missionaries who introduced the gospel to the Solomons more than a hundred years ago.

While in Tonga, the young people will engage in community activities, share skills and knowledge with young people there as well as share in Christian fellowship. The programme started in 2008 when thirteen youth from Tonga came to the Solomon Islands for six months.

Solomon Star 19 May 2010

Methodist Mission & Ecumenical

Newsletter May 2010 Secretary: John Roberts

Woman to head Christian Conference of Asia

The first woman elected as general secretary of the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) has vowed to help heal wounds "not only in our societies, but also within our churches" in the world's most populous continent." As brothers and sisters in such a time as this, we are 'called to prophesy, reconcile and heal'," said the Rev. Henriette Tabita Hutabarat-Lebang, referring to the theme of the church grouping's 13th general assembly, meeting from 14 to 21 April in Kuala Lumpur. She was addressing the gathering after being presented on 15 April to the applause of more than 300 delegates and guests at the meeting.

"A lot of wounds hound not only our societies but also our churches so let us walk hand in hand as we journey together for the next five years and with God's grace and with your support, I'll try to walk with you, and God will open the way for us if we trust in him," Hutabarat-Lebang said.

At a press conference, Hutabarat-Lebang said poverty, migration, the build-up of armaments, violence, human rights violations and the impact of globalisation persist as the challenges to which her leadership, along with the churches in Asia, seeks to address.

A pastor's daughter, Hutabarat-Lebang hails from Sulawesi, one of the four larger islands of Indonesia. She was ordained to the Christian ministry in 1992 and has served in senior positions in Asia and internationally. She is a vice-president of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and is a member of the Joint Working Group between the WCC and the Roman Catholic Church. Hutabarat-Lebang takes up office in November at the Chiang Mai offices of the CCA after the term of outgoing general secretary Prawate Khid-arn ends in October.

In a greeting to the meeting, the general secretary of the World Council of Churches, the Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, said that the CCA's assemblies have been "milestones in the common life of Asian churches". He described Hutabarat-Lebang's election as "another important milestone in the ecumenical movement. I look forward to cooperation and collegiality with you and all your colleagues, exploring ways to mutually support and empower one another in our different tasks and roles."

The CCA consists of almost 100 member churches and 16 national church councils in Asia.

Ecumenical News International 15 April 2010

The Asia Ecumenical Course: What an experience!

Poulima Salima, a young Samoan man from the Mt Albert Methodist Parish in Auckland attended the Asia Ecumenical Course in April. This included participation in the Christian Conference of Asia General Assembly. He has come back enthused about ecumenism. Some extracts from his presentation to the Mt Albert congregation follow.

The overall theme for the ecumenical course and assembly was Called to prophesy, reconcile and heal. A powerful and purposeful theme that resonated in the hearts of all participants during the course and assembly.

The theme resonated through the music, lyrics, art, performing arts; through testimonies, sharing of faith and reflections, and faith-powered prayers. The theme was very appropriate, reflecting the complex and conflicting Asian realities such as: institutionalised corruption, bad governance, human trafficking, human rights violations, and religious extremism.

All participants including the course leaders were very energetic, courageous and fun to be with! I was amazed with the creativity, passion and enthusiasm, the unity and family spirit within group. It was strong, encouraging and infectious. We had fun learning, speaking and singing in various languages. It was an uplifting experience!

The richness and diverse cultures represented, the uniqueness of languages, and seeing the hearts of all participants worshipping God their way - was an experience to remember. I remember our group preparing for the opening worship for conference. We had to come up with our own cultural dance. The music set-piece was short and catchy so we had to translate it into our own language. The choreography and dance gestures represented the identity of each culture. The power and spirit of the lyrics sung in their respective languages was soul-stirring and edifying. It was a performance to see! We had all the Asian instruments and percussion you could possibly think of to accompany the action songs. Participants were encouraged to wear their cultural costumes, outfits that represented their country and culture.

Some of the church leaders commented that it was the best opening worship service since they had been coming to CCA general assemblies. This was encouraging because all of the ecumenical course participants worked very hard. We wanted to deliver well, and it was important that we did because this was our message to the church leaders: that the up-and-coming ecumenical leaders were just as passionate about the ecumenical movement as they were.

In the evenings before worship at the conference I was inspired by the testimonies from pastors and church ministers who shared their faith, hardship and the darkest moments of their lives, of being beaten and tortured because of their faith in Christ and mission. Hearing them testify about God’s goodness and faithfulness during times of suffering and hardship was inspiring for all participants to carry their cross as well!

I thoroughly enjoyed the Asian Ecumenical Course and the Christian Conference of Asia General Assembly. It was definitely the highlight of my life and the beginning of my ecumenical journey. My prayer for the Methodist Church of Aotearoa-New Zealand is continued unity, celebrating and sharing our diversity, with the purpose of advancing God’s kingdom.

The Methodist Church’s delegates to the CCA General Assembly were Manukau Synod Super-intendent, Prince Devanandan and Te Taha Maori Tumuaki, Diana Tana. Prince was elected to serve on the CCA General Committee which is the oversight body between CCA assembly meetings. Diana has been appointed Moderator of the Ecumenical Formation, Gender Justice, & Youth Formation Programme Committee. Prince and Diana are producing a joint written report that is still in process. There will be more news about the CCA Assembly in the June issue of Touchstone the Methodist Church newspaper.

Pacific churches call for just politics

Politics in Fiji and in any other country in the Pacific should be just and must always have the best interests of the people at the forefront, says the Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC). The PCC agreed at its 2010 mission conference that officially ended on 19th April at Viwa Island, Fiji, that churches must make their stand clear on this particular issue.

PCC's ecumenical animator Aisake Casimira said that politics must be just and be able to compromise. "But what we have heard and seen, particularly in Fiji, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea, is a big concern about how well our politics has served the people. “The churches need to publicly speak against the form of politics that corrupts." He said corrupt politics would corrupt people, their environment, relationships and even resources.

Mr Casimira said the churches were confident they could make a difference in assisting governments and stakeholders to improve the situation. He said the involvement of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) in the retreat the PCC holds with political leaders was a positive move. "The PIFS has since then been inviting the Pacific Conference of Churches to contribute to whatever draft policies they have, which is good," Mr Casimira said. "It does not immediately translate to action and attitude but at least in terms of the first step that is a good thing. If that particular mechanism continues to develop and is strengthened over the years, the PCC is pretty sure that it will become an effective means whereby the political leaders and religious leaders can have honest exchanges about the norms and the rules that govern honest leaders," he added. Mr Casimira said the issue of politics and governance were items on the agenda that arose from the experiences of their members.

The week-long PCC meeting was attended by 78 church leaders from 15 countries. The Solomon Islands was represented by Jeroldine Hili and Reverend George Alu of the United Church. Rev. Alu said most of the issues discussed at the conference were to do with churches in the Pacific. “The issues centralised in the theology of mission in the Pacific, development and social changes, multicultural society, race relations and nation building, gender justice, violence, poverty, wealth and ecology.” Rev. Alu said the conference emphasised many issues facing churches in the Pacific and how to address them.

“There have been a lot of discussions on many issues affecting the Pacific region and the conference provided a venue in which church leaders can come together to find alternative solutions and means to address these issues,” he said. Rev. Alu said the conference urges regional governments, non-government organizations, communities and churches to work together and put their efforts to see a better, safe and healthy Pacific.

Solomon Islands will host the next Pacific Conference of Churches meeting in 2012.

Solomon Star 20&21 April 2010

Methodist Mission & Ecumenical

Newsletter April 2010 Secretary: John Roberts

A big day out in Munda

Saturday 13th March was an occasion for much celebration in Munda as the new Children and Youth Centre of the United Church Solomon Islands (UCSI) was officially opened. The centre, located in the village of Kokeqolo was funded by the Mission and Ecumenical (M&E) agency of the Methodist Church of New Zealand (MCNZ). It was a long time in the design and construction phase, but is now ready for use.

The Vice-President of the MCNZ, Lana Lazarus, and the M&E secretary, John Roberts, were present for the opening. The building was decorated with balloons, flowers and greenery for the occasion. People had been working through the night till five o’clock in the morning getting the centre ready for the opening.

The crowd was led to the new building by a procession of Youth, Sunday School and Girls’ to all by the Master of Ceremonies Rev Tioko Beti. Rev George Alu, Christian Education and Evangelism resource person in the UCSI Assembly office gave an opening prayer. Lana and John then cut the ribbon and led everyone into the building.

When gathered in the building Rev Aaron Bea led a prayer of praise and thanksgiving. Speeches from Mr Isaac Dakei (UCSI General Secretary) and Rev David Havea (UCSI Moderator) followed. The keynote address was given by Lana Lazarus who said “My hope is that this Centre will be used to nurture the spiritual well-being of not only the children and young people but all who pass through these doors. May this building also be a place for prayerful reflection, much singing, joy and laughter as has already begun!”

John Roberts then handed over the keys of the building to the former Youth and Sunday School Coordinator, Mr Caleb Saiqoro, who had come up with the idea for the new centre. Caleb then handed the keys to the Moderator who proceeded to dedicate the building and declare it officially open.

A sumptuous lunch followed with the cutting of a cake by Lana, John and the Moderator, to mark the occasion. Much singing accompanied the meal.

In the evening there was a special gathering for children and youth. This began with a time of singing by the Roviana Circuit youth. Youth and Sunday School Coordinator, Mr Elijah Pitanoe gave a speech thanking the Methodist church in New Zealand for this great asset to the UCSI for work with children and youth. He also presented gifts to Lana and John. John was then invited to speak. He said that while it is often said children and youth are the church of tomorrow, it is important that we see them as a significant part of the church of today. He reminded those gathered that when Jesus disciples tried to send mothers who were bringing their children to Jesus away, Jesus rebuked them, warmly embracing the children. There was also some fun activity led by the Youth and Sunday School Coordinator.

It was a long but memorable day. We were so glad to be there and experience the celebration and hospitality extended by the UCSI leaders and members alike.

The Children and Youth Centre stands on the site of the old Jubilee church built in 1952. The base and some of the shell of that building have been incorporated into the new centre.

Part of the centre is a completely new building which has an office, kitchen and ablution facilities on the lower floor. The Youth and Sunday School Coordinator will be based in the office. On the upper floor is self contained guest accommodation.

The architect, Mr Rusty Tion, of Lambete in the Munda area has designed a building that is now a standout feature in Kokeqolo.

There will be more information about this visit to the UCSI in the May issue of Touchstone, the MCNZ newspaper.

John Roberts

High level of violence against women in Pacific

According to the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) statistics, women in the Pacific Islands region suffer from a level of violence that is amongst the highest in the world.

The statistics were as high as 85 per cent in some countries. In the Fiji Islands 80% of women have experienced some form of violence in the home. In the Solomon Islands 55% of women reported experiencing male partner violence, and 37% of women reported sexual abuse before the age of 15. Similarly, 68% of i-Kiribati women reported experiencing at least one act of physical or sexual violence, or both, by an intimate partner. In Samoa 46% of women who have been in a relationship with a male have experienced one or more kinds of partner abuse.

UNIFEM regional program director Elizabeth Cox said, “While advances had been made towards women's empowerment and gender equality in the Pacific, women throughout the region continued to experience gender-based discrimination in too many aspects of their lives. UNIFEM, and the whole of the UN family, is committed to work with governments to close the gap between commitments made by Pacific Island governments and the reality of women's and girls' everyday lives." UNIFEM revealed that women were particularly at risk of infection through adultery by their partners and exposure to sexual violence. This increases their vulnerability to sexually transmitted infections.

"In the Pacific, women represent half of all reported HIV cases, with approximately 13,300 men and 15,000 women living with HIV in 2008," a UNIFEM statement said.

UNIFEM also says, "Women in the Melanesian sub-region experience particular forms of violence such as arranged and forced marriage, mistreatment of widows, sorcery murders and sexual trafficking, that reflect the rapid and complex transition they are making from traditional to modern, cash-based societies."

Solomon Star 9 March 2010

Call for churches to end violence against women

On International Women's Day, 8 March, ecumenical leaders urged churches to work to end violence against women in its many forms across the world.

"Violence and fear of violence blight the lives of many girls and women around the world," said Michael Wallace, the General Secretary of the World Student Christian Federation (WSCF). "If churches believe that every person is made in the image of God, then they must speak out about violence against women. We must make sure that women and girls can without fear participate in the life of our churches. Our churches must promote respect for women and alternatives to violence."

The WSCF, along with the World Young Women's Christian Association (World YWCA) and the World Council of Churches (WCC), promoted an online Lenten study, "Cries of Anguish; Stories of Hope", which focused on how communities across the world are working to heal and prevent violence against women.

Natalie Fisher, deputy general secretary of the World YWCA said that “Violence against women is a global violation of women's rights and it is the duty of churches and all of us to take immediate steps to end it. Violence is a means of controlling women."

She urged the churches to take a lead on this issue: "We cannot be silent about the abuse and suffering. Silence is akin to condoning and we must gather our collective voices to say it is no longer tolerated."

Dr Manoj Kurian, WCC programme executive for Health and Healing noted the compelling evidence that violence against women and girls has a negative impact on the public health of society as a whole. These challenges expose serious flaws in the equality of relationships between women and men in society.

"Sexual and gender-based violence shreds the very fabric of society" said Kurian. "While it undermines the physical and psychological health of people, it also questions the integrity of our life and faith. We have no illusions that these problems will be easily solved. We encourage churches and communities to examine what are often unspoken and unrecognised acts of violence, so as to address the root causes. We also encourage churches and communities not to use theology selectively nor hide behind cultural tenets to defend such violence. It is only by acknowledging the pain and the ongoing hurt that we can begin to seek justice, truth and ultimately the healing and reconciliation of individuals and communities."

WCC News 8 March 2010

Methodist Mission & Ecumenical

Newsletter March 2010 Secretary: John Roberts

Pacific churches feel betrayed by Copenhagen climate change conference

For the Rev. Tofiga Falani, president of the Christian Church of Tuvalu, the worry of his Pacific nation has been the risk of rising sea levels. Climate change in the tiny island nation, most of which lies only a few metres above sea level, has been a severe worry. However, now he has to explain how Tuvalu is facing a drought.

Just a few weeks without rainfall constitutes a serious situation for this nation of nine little atolls that rise from the floor of the ocean some 1600 kilometres north of Fiji, and which measure a combined total of 26 square kilometres, with a population of about 12 000 people. Tuvalu is the world's fourth smallest country, bigger only than the Vatican City (0.44 square kilometres), Monaco (1.95 square kilometres) and Nauru (21 square kilometres).

But given that the islands are usually doused with afternoon tropical thunderstorms that refill tanks, wells and ponds that provide drinking water for the entire population, a few weeks without rain is a crisis. And it is a climate change issue, though concern for lack of rain soon gives way to fears of too much sea water rising up from the depths.

For Falani and the people of Tuvalu it fits a package: his people are the victims of climate change forces they did not create and which they cannot change. And the United Nations climate conference in December was a harsh and disheartening experience.

"Be it lack of rain or a rising tides, we are vulnerable," Falani said. "We are on the front line of this struggle for our very survival and the world has disappointed us through the lack of action at Copenhagen. We are so, so very disappointed." Tuvalu is one of the most endangered nations on the planet, due to rising sea waters: the highest point is 4.5 metres above sea level, but most of the islands are no more than a meter above the ocean. King tides already swamp the atolls and the ground waters are subject to rising salt levels – hence the concern about the lack of rain.

Falani's church, the Ekalesia Kelisiano Tuvalu, covers about 95 percent of the population. When he speaks he does so aware of the feelings of the nation. As a member of the World Council of Churches’ delegation to Copenhagen, he said he had a privileged position to observe both ends of the debate: from the perspective of the vulnerable people of Tuvalu to that of one making representations at the highest level. "We feel betrayed by Copenhagen … We hoped the world would hear us…but they did not even listen to us. When we spoke, they were polite. They asked us to speak, but even as we did, we found out other people were doing things and writing documents against us."

Falani said, "This was like thirty pieces of silver to us, a betrayal, just like Jesus was betrayed in the Gospels," adding, "the big nations, the ones with the big voices, China, India, America and, sometimes even Australia. We wonder why it was held at all - as our hopes were so very high."

But he is not bitter, or without hope. He is aware of the games of international politics – but chooses to look forward: "We are still shouting at the top of our voices for the world to hear us and deal with this issue of climate change … We pray that other voices will join us and we will have our home and they will have theirs'."

Kim Cain, Ecumernical News International 3 February 2010

Orthodox leader calls for church unity

The Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomeos I, a key leader for the world's 300 million Orthodox Christians, has written a Lenten encyclical that stresses the need for greater unity for churches, and counters accusations from some of his bishops that ecumenism is heresy.

In his Lenten letter that was read in Orthodox churches worldwide on 21 February, Bartholomeos says, "Orthodoxy must be in constant dialogue with the world. The Orthodox Church does not fear dialogue because truth is not afraid of dialogue." Bartholmeos notes, "If Orthodoxy is enclosed within itself and not in dialogue with those outside, it will both fail in its mission and no longer be the 'catholic' and 'ecumenical' Church. Instead, it will become an introverted and self-contained group, a 'ghetto" on the margins of history."

The Patriarch's letter is significant because it unequivocally states a commitment to the ecumenical movement, and does so in the face of many pressures from church circles bitterly opposed to global church unity.

During 2009, a group of Orthodox clergy in Greece, led by three senior archbishops, published a manifesto pledging to resist all ecumenical ties with Roman Catholics and Protestants. The group said, "The only way our communion with heretics can be restored is if they renounce their fallacy and repent."

However in his Lenten letter, Bartholomeos says, "Today, Orthodoxy is called to continue this dialogue with the outside world in order to provide a witness and the life-giving breath of its faith." He continues, "However, this dialogue cannot reach the outside world unless it first passes through all those that bear the Christian name. Thus, we must first converse as Christians among ourselves in order to resolve our differences, in order that our witness to the outside world may be credible."

Peter Kenny Ecumenical News International
19 February 2010,

Leading Pacific churchman passes away

Archbishop Jabez Bryce, the Anglican Bishop of the Diocese of Polynesia for the past 35 years died in Suva on 11 February. Aged 75, he was the longest-serving bishop in the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Archbishop Bryce was born in Vavau, in Tonga, grew up in Samoa, trained for the ministry in Auckland, and lived in Fiji for 50 years. He became the first Pacific Islander to be made an Anglican bishop in 1975.

He served the Pacific Conference of Churches for many years and was a president of the Pacific region of the World Council of Churches from 1998 to 2006. In those roles he also spoke out for the wider good of the Pacific, including opposing French nuclear bomb testing at Mururoa Atoll in the 1970s.

Archbishop Bryce will be remembered as one of the great personalities who provided leadership to the churches in the Pacific and to the ecumenical community world-wide.

Radio NZ International, 13 February 2009.

NZ – Solomons relationship goes back to missionary days

The relationship between New Zealand and Munda in the Western Province of the Solomon Islands started during the missionary days. Provincial member for ward 16 Aquila Talasasa made the statement during the visit by the New Zealand Foreign Affairs minister Murray McCully to Nusa Roviana near Munda last Thursday to open a New Zealand funded primary school.

"The relationship between New Zealand and this part of the Western Province was initially established in 1902 when the first Methodist.

missionaries arrived on these islands,” Mr Talasasa said. "And thereafter the relationship grew and materalised in the work of the Church." He pointed out that the local church ever since had been a regular beneficiary. "And Nusa Roviana Primary school is no exception. It was a product of such relationship," he said.

Mr Talasasa thanked the New Zealand government, NGOs and the churches for their support to help develop their society.

Solomon Star 23 February 2010

Methodist Mission & Ecumenical

Newsletter February 2010 Secretary: John Roberts

Mission and Unity: Edinburgh 1910-2010

It’s almost a hundred years since the great World Missionary Conference was held in Edinburgh, Scotland. The June 1910 conference drew together Christians from many churches to think strategically about the world-wide mission of the Christian Church.

The organisers of the Edinburgh 2010 centennial conference see their gathering as a time of thanksgiving for the progress in mission God has made possible, as well as providing a focus for addressing the challenge of mission in the 21st century.

While those attending the 1910 conference were mostly white, western, male and Protestant, it was nonetheless a groundbreaking and momentous event. Participants recognised the need to move beyond colonialism and to welcome the birth and maturing of independent and self-governing churches around the world. It is also generally held that this conference paved the way for the diverse beginnings of the modern ecumenical movement.

Today the missionary commitment of the church must go hand in hand with its ecumenical commitment. Historically the question of Christian unity, as raised by missionaries, was for practical reasons. Often it was to avoid unnecessary competition. In some parts of the world the mission field was shared out between different churches. Sometimes missionaries worked on common projects such as Bible translation.

Cooperation between missionaries led to reflections on the divisions between the churches. While there was rivalry between missionaries sent by different churches, those who were first in the mission field were also the first to recognise the scandal of Christian division. How were people to understand reconciliation in Jesus Christ when the churches and their leaders were ignoring or fighting one another? How could Christian groups who lived in mutual hostility, preach one Lord, one faith, and one baptism in a credible way? There was no lack of ecumenical questions for the participants at the Edinburgh Conference of 1910.

Since 1910, Christians have learned much about how to work together, to share news of the love of God, and to witness to Christ in many different ways – defending the poor, struggling for justice, resisting racism, working for reconciliation, protecting the planet. Much of this has happened as Christians have learned to listen to one another and work with others of different faiths, or none. Without the impetus of 1910, much of this would not have happened.

The world has changed a lot since 1910 and once more mission must be thought about anew. Secularisation, post-modernity, new means of communication, inter-confessional relations, inter-religious dialogue are amongst many important issues to be discussed. There is a similar sense of urgency in 2010 as there was in 1910. A world still wounded by division needs a gospel message that can bring people together. Such a message can’t be proclaimed by discordant voices. It calls for a commitment to unity.

This article draws on Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2010 notes

Mission and Unity: Auckland 2010

Mission and unity: Then, Now, and into the Future is the title of a conference to be held in Auckland at St John’s/Trinity Theological College 18 & 19 June. It will celebrate the centennial of the landmark World Missionary Conference held in Edinburgh.

Topics to be covered include: an historical overview; a Biblical perspective; New Zealand women and overseas mission; ecumenism in the 21st century; a Maori perspective; the challenge of young people to the church; Christianity and world faiths. Panels will offer Pacific and Asian migrant perspectives.

Among the presenters will be: Rev Dr Allan Davidson, Rev Dr Lynne Wall, Rev Dr Janet Crawford; Rt Rev John Bluck, Ms Te Aroha Rountree, Dr Carlton Johnstone, Rev Dr Keith Rowe.

Cost of registration is $50 waged and $25 unwaged (includes a dinner and a lunch). For more information contact Rev John Roberts. Further information including registration form will be available on request or can be downloaded at

Mission News

Vice President to visit Solomon Islands
Vice-President of the Methodist Church of New Zealand, Lana Lazarus, and the Mission and Ecumenical secretary, John Roberts, will be visiting the United Church Solomon Islands (UCSI) 12-21 March 2010. The highlight of the visit will be the official opening of the Children and Youth Centre at Kokeqolo. There will also be visits to areas where Mission and Ecumenical has provided project assistance.

Solomon Island earthquake

A magnitude 7.2 earthquake on 4 January resulted in a tsunami and landslides that affected Rendova and Tetepare Islands, not far from Munda on New Georgia Island. Approximately 2,000 people were made homeless. Fortunately there were no reports of serious injuries or deaths. UCSI general secretary, Isaac Dakei reported that his office was preparing to offer trauma counseling as well as making an assessment for possible relief work. There have been two visits to the affected islands and a report is awaited. The early indication is that there is a lot to do.

Children and Youth Centre

After several delays the centre is to be officially opened in March. The building comprises a large hall, office space, a kitchen, ablution facilities, and has a small guest house.

Helena Goldie Hospital and College of nursing

The new medical superintendent of the hospital is Dr Longbottam from the UK. He replaces Dr Dina Sailo who has completed his term at the hospital. A review of Mission and Ecumenical funding for the director of Nursing and relieving nurses has been completed and funding for these positions will continue.

The Helena Goldie College of Nursing

The college has opened with its first intake of students in 2010. Henri Gumi is the director of the college. Mission and Ecumenical is supporting a student by paying their fees. It has also contributed to maintenance of older buildings, provided funding for a new building, purchased books for the library, and covered the cost of an air conditioning unit in the library.

Sasamunga Hospital

We are awaiting news on the development plan for this hospital and how we might best contribute. Assistance has already been provided for: rebuilding staff accommodation following the April 2007 earthquake and tsunami; purchase of a canoe and outboard motor, and refrigeration units for the laboratory and pharmacy.

Copra Project

Vincent Ghanny, manager of this project on Vella Lavella Island reports an increase in production. However this has been offset by a downturn in the price of copra on the world market due to economic recession. Mission and Ecumenical has contributed to the cost of a major overhaul of the engine to the project’s boat, and a grant has enabled expansion of the project.

Goldie College

The Mission and Ecumenical special appeal for 2010 will assist Goldie College. We are waiting to hear from the college as to the area we will assist with fund raising.

Rarongo Theological College

Rarongo now has a new principal, Rev Dr William Longgar. A curriculum review is taking place this year. Mission and Ecumenical continues to provide assistance with tuition fees for four students and to purchase books for the college library.

Work is underway at Kekesu on a pastor training centre that will be upgraded to become the region’s Leadership and Ministry training Centre. Mission and Ecumenical has contributed funds for staff houses.

PNG Highlands

Jenny Keightley, her sister Sue and husband Geoff attended 50th anniversary celebrations of the Nipa mission begun by Rev Cliff Keightley in 1959. Jenny has reported on a memorable and successful visit.

Ivy Bui Vagipio
Ivy Bui Vagipio a mother figure for New Zealand missionaries serving in the Munda area of the Solomon Islands died on 4th January aged 89 years. Her mother died when Ivy was only three months old. She was then cared for by missionary sisters at Kokeqolo. She grew to become a significant leader in the life of the Methodist Church and later the United Church, especially in the Women’s Fellowship. Ivy taught the missionaries serving in the Munda area, the Roviana language and customs. She also brought food to them and remembered their birthdays.

Lenten Resources

Water, worship and prayer

During Lent a weekly short biblical meditation provided by the Ecumenical Water Network will be posted on the website They will explore the connection between the use of water in liturgical practices and our everyday use of water.

Ending violence against women

Also during Lent, a series of study resources will address overcoming violence against women. Films and stories from several countries including New Zealand will be posted on the World Council of Churches Decade to Overcome Violence website Bible studies and liturgical resources will be included.