Sailing the ecumenical boat

It’s not often that a message by the head of the World Council of Churches is preceded by a blues guitar riff.

But, as Marcia McFee, worship leader for the 2012 United Methodist General Conference pointed out May 1, “Sometimes, it’s the blues that can help us pray. Sometimes, it’s the blues that can help us lament.”

Continuing a theme about sailing with Jesus “over life’s tempestuous sea,” she got participants in the evening worship up on their feet, telling their neighbors, “I’ve seen some storms in my life,” and adding, “but, I see Jesus coming.”

Then, the Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit told them not to worry about the storms. “The risen Jesus is coming to us, even when he sends us into adverse winds,” he said.

“The symbol of the ecumenical fellowship is a boat, a ship,” Tveit noted. The WCC’s boat holds 349 member churches in more than 110 countries and territories, representing more than 560 million Christians.

“As you discern your common future and God’s will for this church, you are to be reminded you are not alone in the boat,” he said.

An ordained pastor in the Lutheran Church of Norway, Tveit professed his “close connection to Methodists” and his appreciation for the denomination’s “generous and reliable support for the work of the WCC” — support that allows him and others “to take heart and move on with hope and courage.”

One of the hallmarks of Methodism is a commitment to connectionalism and mutual accountability, he noted.

“If we define mutual accountability as an ecumenical attitude, we see how this is crucial in our life as disciples together in our local churches and in the ecumenical family,” Tveit said. “We should be sharing and testing our gifts, our concerns, our visions, our work, even our fear. We are in this together. We need you, Methodists. We need you as Methodists. And, I believe, you need us.”

A number of Methodist and ecumenical guests were present at the service and the United Methodist Council of Bishops recognized one of them, the Rev. John L. McCullough, executive director of Church World Service since 2000, with its 2012 Ecumenical Award.

The award is presented once every four years in honor of a denominational member who has made outstanding contributions to strengthen Christian unity and interreligious relations.

A United Methodist pastor and graduate of the Boston University School of Theology, McCullough has served churches in the United States and Kenya and is a former staff executive with the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.

Many United Methodist congregations annually partner with Church World Service, an international humanitarian agency, through the CROP Hunger Walks, which raise funds to end hunger in the United States and developing countries.

In her introduction, Bishop Sharon Zimmerman Rader, the council’s ecumenical officer, called McCullough “an amazing United Methodist advocate for ecumenism,” citing his leadership in Church World Service work in Africa and the organization of delegations to Colombia, Guinea, Israel/Palestine and North Korea as examples.

“John McCullough leads efforts to eradicate hunger and poverty across the globe,” she said.

“I am grateful to the people called United Methodist for your ecumenical witness and spirit,” McCullough told the General Conference. “It is in joining efforts that we find the cup of justice rather than leaving people thirsting for basic human rights.”


Like what you're reading?  United Methodist Communications is celebrating 80 years of ministry! Your support ensures the latest denominational news, dynamic stories and informative articles will continue to connect our global community.  Make a tax-deductible donation at ResourceUMC.org/GiveUMCom.

Sign up for our newsletter!

umnews-subscriptions
Racism
The Rev. David Maldonado. Video image courtesy of IMU Latina (Iglesia Metodista Unida Latina) via YouTube by UM News.

Church must hear Hispanic/Latino voices

The lack of voices from Latin America represents a major gap in the global conversations occurring in The United Methodist Church.
Social Concerns
United Methodist Bishop LaTrelle Easterling (right) offers a prayer during an interfaith vigil near the White House on June 3. At left is Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser. United Methodist conferences are confronting the sin of racism through prayers, calls for justice and education on white supremacy. File photo by Melissa Lauber, Baltimore-Washington Conference.

Taking concrete steps to move against racism

United Methodist conferences are confronting the sin of racism through prayers, calls for justice and education on white supremacy.
General Church
United Methodist Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey presides over an online meeting of the denomination’s Council of Bishops. Amid financial pressure and a potential denominational split, the council called for postponing elections of new U.S. bishops and urged that five new African bishops be added only as resources allow. UM News screenshot via Zoom.

Council urges no new US bishops for 4 years

Under financial strain, United Methodist bishops recommend postponement of U.S. episcopal elections and slowdown on adding new bishops in Africa.