Ecumenical ministry expects much from United Methodists

While The United Methodist Church has given much as a member of the World Council of Churches, much is expected of it, said the Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit.

Tveit is general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC). He made that statement May 1 — Ecumenical Day at General Conference — during an afternoon press conference.

Tveit said he was pleased to attend the conference so he could express how important The United Methodist Church is to the “fellowship (WCC) as we now develop visions for the future.”

It’s an important member, he said, because of its contributions and commitments, but also because the nature of Methodism is a good fit with the WCC. He noted the strengths of connectionalism and history of relationship building over time as things change. He said the church also provides models of how committees and consultations work.

“You are experts on committees,” he said, prompting laughter from the audience.

“You also have a strong sense of how being a fellowship is a moral imperative” in serving the world in the best way, he said.

Those qualities of Methodism, in partnership with the WCC’s contributions, help promote a “call to unity for the world,” he said.

An ecumenical movement that fosters ongoing conversations with “those who have something to say” answers that call, he said.

“The World Council of Churches offers a forum to fulfill our call to discipleship and unity,” he said. “We expect a lot from this church (United Methodist) — its insight and spiritual and financial resources.”

The WCC was established in 1948. It comprises 349 churches, denominations and church fellowships in more than 110 countries and territories throughout the world, according to its website. It represents more than 560 million Christians and includes Orthodox, Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Reformed, and United and Independent churches.

Among its goals, the fellowship engages in partnership efforts around mission and evangelism, initiatives that break down barriers between people, and efforts that promote peace and justice. Its overarching goal is unity in faith, mission and service.

Tveit also shared several areas of focus for the WCC:

• Interfaith efforts with the Roman Catholic Church that produced a Common Christian Witness, a document focused on facing missional challenges together; and

• Cooperative efforts with churches in the Middle East that foster peace between Israel and Palestine and in Syria.

Tveit was guest preacher during the evening plenary session.

Sign up for our newsletter!

SUBSCRIBE

Latest News

General Church
Delegates attend opening worship at the 2019 United Methodist General Conference in St. Louis in February. Given escalating conflict in the denomination over LGBTQ inclusion, two bishops are pushing a plan to create two or three self-governing church groups, with The United Methodist Church remaining as an umbrella organization. File photo by Kathleen Barry, UM News.

2 bishops offer plan for denomination’s future

To deal with schism-threatening conflict over homosexuality, Bishops Bard and Jones favor making The United Methodist Church an umbrella for self-governing church groups.
Theology and Education
The Rev. Laceye C. Warner is Associate Dean for Wesleyan Engagement and the Royce and Jane Reynolds Associate Professor of the Practice of Evangelism and Methodist Studies at Duke University Divinity School, Durham, North Carolina.  Photo by Les Todd.

John Wesley reminds us that grace is available to all

Seminary professor Laceye C. Warner writes that Wesley’s instructions to modern Methodists would be the same as Methodists of his day: Extend God’s love and grace to others.
Theology and Education
David F. Watson is Academic Dean and Vice President for Academic Affairs and Professor of New Testament at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. Photo courtesy of United Theological Seminary.

Wesley would call modern Methodists to return to their roots

Wesley knew that the people called Methodists were themselves liable to spiritual slumber. Seminary professor David F. Watson thinks Wesley would direct today’s church back to the intentional practices of the Methodist societies.