Methodist Church

12TH WORLD ASSEMBLY OF WORLD FEDERATION OF METHODIST & UNITING CHURCH WOMEN

Laureen Ong elected East Asia Area President

TWO SINGAPORE METHODIST WOMEN were in the spotlight at the 12th Assembly of the World Federation of Methodist and World Uniting Church Women in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Mrs Laureen Ong, Past President and Adviser of the General Conference Women’s Society of Christian Service, was elected President of the East Asia Area (Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Taiwan units).

She was among the new World Executive Officers elected at the Assembly for the next quinquennium 2011-2016. The others elected were:

World President – Ms Ann Connan (South Pacific Area); World Vice-President – Ms Regula Stotz (Europe Continent Area); World Secretary – Ms Carla E. Boyce-Smith (Latin America Area); and World Treasurer – Ms Leu Pupulu (South Pacific Area).

Ms Ryna Mahindapala, an undergraduate, who is a member of the Tamil Methodist Church in Short Street, was among the 15 Helen Kim Memorial Scholars invited for a time of training during the World Assembly.

The training programme was led by the Rev Dr Hea Sun Kim, Director of Scranton Women’s Leadership Centre in Seoul.

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Bambelela’! Never give up, Christ is our Hope

– Methodist women told

JOHANNESBURG (South Africa) – “Bambelela! Bambelela!”

This African affirmation reverberated throughout the five days from the World Federation of Methodist and World Uniting Church Women who gathered for their 12th Assembly here from Aug 10 to 15, 2011.

The African word, which means “Never Give Up” or “Hold On” because Christ is our Hope, bound more than 730 women present in a rich diversity of colour and cultures in South Africa.

At such a time like this, the theme inspired a living hope for all present.

The World Assembly offered numerous venues for creative workshops (of African culture) and issue workshops led by Ms Meleana M. Puloka, to discuss the 8 Millennium Development Goals (MDG) as set by the United Nations.

The workshops, facilitated by leaders from various countries, were actively participated in and action plans were accepted by the Assembly.

Issues deliberated for action were: Hope for the Poor (MDG1a), Hope for the Hungry (MDG1b), Hope for the Learners (MDG2), Hope for Equality (MDG3), Hope for the Children (MDG4), Hope for the Mothers (MDG5), Hope for Wellness/Wholeness (MDG6), Hope for Creation (MDG7), Hope for the World and the Elderly (MDG8).

Daily morning and evening prayers and all-night vigils were observed as the women united in spirit to renew their strength for a new day.

Music led by Ms Alison Adam (Britain) and Ms Mara Louw (South Africa) moved worship to greater heights as the women sang in their own languages and moved to the beat of the African drums.

The keynote speaker was Bishop Joaquina Filipe Nhalana, the first female Bishop elected in Africa. She delivered the theme message “Bambelela – Christ is our Hope”.

Dr Fulato Moyo, a church historian and activist-academic in gender, HIV and Aids, led in Bible Study. She is currently the Programme Executive for Women in Church Society in the World Council of Churches.

Ms Renate Bloem, a past UN Representative for the World Federation of Methodist and Uniting Church Women and past president of the Council of Non-Governmental Oganisations in the UN, also spoke.

So too did Ms Harriett Olson, Deputy General Secretary of the General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church, who leads an 800,000-member organisation within the United Methodist Church in the United States.

Ms Olsen delivered a challenging message to all Methodist and Uniting Church Women at the Assembly.

She said: “Critical to United Methodist Women is the combination of spiritual formation, leadership development, and personal engagement in mission work and social advocacy.

“Women do mission in a unique way. They are sympathetic on the ground, standing side by side with women, children and youth. Helping women know they are loved by God, empowered by God and equipped to live and work for the new creation to which we are called, is close to my heart.

“This requires a blend of political intervention, practical assistance and loving support that I believe United Methodist Women are well positioned to deliver through active units in local congregations.”

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SUVA (Fiji) – The Fijian Government has banned all Methodist Church meetings except for Sunday worship in an unprecedented crackdown on religious freedom here. This includes house groups, women’s prayer fellowship, choir practice, mid-week communion and youth fellowship, as well as the governance meetings of the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma.

Having withdrawn the permit for the Church’s Annual Conference the evening before the event was due to start on Aug 23, the interim government has now notified the Church in a letter from the Fiji Military Council that all other meetings of the Methodist Church are forbidden. All Methodist ministers are also forbidden from leaving the country for any meeting.

Early in August, the Fijian Interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama lifted the ban prohibiting Methodists in Fiji from holding their Annual Conference until 2014, on the condition that business would take place over no more than three days. In the later part of the month, however, church leaders in Britain learned that the interim Government had withdrawn permission for the conference because of charges pending against the President and General Secretary of the Methodist Church in Fiji.

The Methodist Church here is responding with prayer and fasting. It is the only faith group to receive this treatment by the government.

The World Methodist Council calls on the global Methodist/Wesleyan family to earnestly pray for the Church in Fiji and its witness, that the government leaders allow the Church to meet and conduct its rightful business, and that a peaceful rule of democracy occur.

“We call upon the member churches of the World Methodist Council to join us in sending letters of support to the Methodist Church of Fiji and Rotuma in care of the Rev Tevita Banivanua (methodistchdgs@connect.com.fj),” it adds. – United Methodist News Service, World Methodist Council.

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