Asian Methodist Council discusses opportunities and challenges to engage the younger generations

Conference Group shot
Delegates at the Asian Methodist Council 6th General Assembly held in Hong Kong

The Sixth General Assembly of the Asian Methodist Council (AMC) took place from 27 February to 1 March 2024, at the Chinese Methodist Church in Hong Kong. The theme this year was “Opportunities and Challenges for Our Next Generation”. The AMC began in 2002 with its inaugural meeting hosted by South Korea. This year, The Methodist Church in Nepal was admitted as the 15th member of the AMC General Assembly.

Bishop Dr Gordon Wong of The Methodist Church in Singapore (MCS), who is also the outgoing Chairperson of the AMC, opened the Assembly with his sermon “Created for Good”. He emphasised the need to “synergise” or work with God in all things to bring about whatever good we can. “We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,” said Bishop Dr Wong.

Keynote speaker, Prof Jayeel Serrano Cornelio spoke on “The State of the Youth: Prospects and Challenges”. In his keynote address, Prof Cornelio shared his studies on Asian youths with the aim of setting a framework for the plenary sessions of the General Assembly.

During the first plenary session, Dr Yat-Hin Leong spoke on “Boring and Outdated: Church in a Tech-Savvy World” and how to reach digital natives through church ministries.

Throughout the 4-day conference, the Assembly affirmed the value and uniqueness of the next generation, encompassing their cultural and religious identities. It encouraged churches to adopt a proactive and open attitude in actively listening and understanding the next generation, and journey with them through new approaches and mediums, in order that they could become the successors in the Church.

Rev Kenneth Huang, one of the MCS delegates who attended the Assembly shared, “We learnt from each other of the common opportunities and challenges faced by our Methodist Churches in engaging the youth and young adults, and the urgent need to listen and to walk alongside them to understand their desires and ways of ‘doing and being the church’.”

Asian Methodist Council
(left) Bishop Dr Gordon Wong chaired the General Assembly as the outgoing Chairperson (middle) The colours of the members of the Asian Methodist Council (right) Dr Cheah-Foo Fung Fong, Vice-President of TRAC, and Dr Ben Leong, Conference Lay Leader of CAC, leading worship

“I left Hong Kong filled with hope in God for the future of the Methodist Church in our different countries,” Rev Huang, who is a Trinity Annual Conference District Superintendent and a pastor at Faith Methodist Church, added.

The Assembly also benefitted from a video presentation by young people and panel discussions where representatives of member churches shared their efforts and challenges in engaging young people in church leadership.

Dr Ben Leong, Conference Lay Leader of the Chinese Annual Conference in MCS, said, “Building the next generation of believers is a common challenge churches in Asia face. A statement made by a youth in a video presentation struck me, when she said not to think of them as the ‘next’ generation, but to think of them as the ‘now’ generation. Indeed, if they are always considered ‘next’, when will they ever be ‘now’? They will be left behind and go their own way. My generation was the ‘next’ generation once. So we have to approach our young people differently.”

The new AMC Executive Committee was elected and installed. The incoming Chairperson is Bishop Chul Lee of The Methodist Church in Korea. At the Closing Service, Bishop Lee reminded attendees that their service stemmed not from their talents alone but from God’s grace. Finally, the Assembly affirmed the importance of traditional spiritual values as exemplified by Methodism’s founder, John Wesley.

MCS delegates
MCS delegates

Lianne Ong is the Editor of Methodist Message. / Photos from AMC organisers and MCS delegates