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World Methodist executives gather in Sydney

The 200 people from around the world who make up the executive of the World Methodist Council met in Sydney last month. NZ Methodist Church representatives were general secretary Rev Jill van de Geer and Trinity College principal Rev Mary Caygill.

Jill says the Executive addressed the revised job description for the Geneva Secretary, put in place a committee to look at the strategic directions and a constitution for the WMC, and received a report from the Oxford Institute which met in England in August. A book of modern day contextual sermons based on the texts of Wesley’s 44 sermons edited by Rev Dr Angela Shier–Jones was also launched at the Sydney gathering. MCNZ vice president elect Barbara Peddie has a sermon in this collection.

Mary chaired the Social and International Affairs Committee. The work of this Committee was grouped into six main areas: 1) communicating and networking, 2) United Nations millennium development goals which were reaffirmed by the executive, 3) health, 4) human trafficking and indigenous peoples, 5) Tuvalu and Kyoto, 6) affirmation of the Declaration on Climate Change issued by the 60th annual UN Department of Information Conference.

The Executive resolved to send a letter in support of the Uniting Church of Australia to the Australian government pointing out:

· The blessedness of the land and peoples of Australia;
· Australia’s place of importance among the developed nations of the world;
· Its collective responsibility with other rich nations for the sustainability of planet earth;
· The threat of global warming and its relation to greenhouse gas emission;
· The need for Australia to reconsider its rejection of the Kyoto Protocol;
· The plight of Tuvalu, a South Pacific nation that is sinking under the sea);
· The need for Australia to share the burden of welcoming refugees.

The Family Life Committee stated its purpose as a commitment to promoting Christian values thus enabling wholeness of body, mind and spirit with in families.

Acknowledging cultural differences and different types of family configurations, the Family Life Committee identified the following core qualities of Christian family life: worship and prayer; genuine love and faithful relationships; Christian education; nurture and discipline; mutual responsibility; and respect and support.

The Committee challenged the world Methodist family to continue to explore the issues and changes affecting families worldwide in four main areas: health care, social issues, all forms of violence, and environmental issues.

The Council also reaffirmed the criteria for membership after which it received a formal application for membership from the Wesleyan Methodist Church of NZ. Jill was asked to speak to the application and stated the support of the Methodist Church of NZ for acceptance of the Wesleyan Methodist Church.

She also informed the executive of the issues that led to the formation of the Wesleyan Church in NZ and spoke of the pain and hurt still felt by many people. It was noted that while the Methodist Church of NZ had not yet entered into a formal Church to Church relationship with the Wesleyans, informal relationships had been establish as first steps on the journey of reconciliation.

Details of the meeting will be available on the World Methodist Council website www.worldmethodistcouncil.org.