9TH SESSION GENERAL CONFERENCE OF THE METHODIST CHURCH IN MALAYSIA
KOTA KINABALU – The Rev Dr Hwa Yung was re-elected Bishop of the Methodist Church on the first ballot at the 9th Session of the General Conference of The Methodist Church in Malaysia held in Kota Kinabalu from Sept 15 to 20, 2008.
In his brief speech afterwards he thanked the General Conference for the vote of confidence and affirmation in re-electing him to the office of bishop. He reiterated what he had said in the Episcopal Address for his thankfulness to God’s grace and strength sufficient for the work that had been put into his hands the past four years. He also thanked the Presidents of the Annual Conferences, the GC officers and all the GCEC members for their support. Bishop Hwa Yung asked for their prayers and urged them to work together to advance the work of the Gospel of Christ through The Methodist Church in Malaysia.
At the closing service of the General Conference, Bishop Dr Robert Solomon, together with Bishop Roy I. Sano, Bishop Albert Chiew and Bishop Amat Tumino, officiated in the re-dedication of Bishop Hwa Yung.
In his sermon Bishop Dr Solomon pointed out that the work of a bishop is a noble task. It is an important office where great things can be accomplished. But just as in warfare, often the most strategic places are also the most vulnerable and therefore needs to be guarded all the more. While the office of the bishop is one of elevation, it is also to carry the cross.
Church called to consider its role in the life of the nation
KOTA KINABLAU – The Methodist Church in Malaysia held its quadrennial General Conference in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah from Sept 15 to 20, 2008 with the Sabah Provisional Annual Conference playing hosts.
About 100 delegates, guests, observers and helpers were present. The opening Communion Service was held at Shern En Methodist Church.
The fraternal guests were Bishop Roy I. Sano of The United Methodist Church of the US; the Rev Dr Stephen Wigley, Chair of the District of Wales of The British Methodist Church; Bishop Albert Chiew of The Chinese Methodist Church in Australia; Bishop Amat Tumino of The Methodist Church in Indonesia;
and Bishop Dr Robert Solomon of The Methodist Church in Singapore, who joined the Conference later in the week after its own General Conference the week before.
The theme chosen for the next quadrennium is: Spreading Scriptural Holiness, Transforming the Nation. Dr William J. Abraham, Professor of Wesley Studies at Southern Methodist University, the US, gave four morning sermons based on the theme.
Bishop Hwa Yung, in his Episcopal Address, noted the state of our nation today in which the Methodist Church exists. He called for the Church to seriously consider its role in the social and political life of the nation. He gave an overview of the developments in the Methodist Church in the past four years, and ended with proposals for the way forward with long-term as well as specific goals for the next quadrennium.
Among the matters that were debated and decided perhaps three were of particular significance. The first was the issue of the Episcopal Model for the Methodist Church. Proposals for having six or seven bishops were considered. The vote was against change to the present model.
However, the Conference agreed to set up a task force to look into a thorough study of the issue and all its implications.
The second was the proposal to remove the current restrictions in the Discipline to hold office and vote for members above 70 years of age. The Conference decided to retain the restrictions, with the exception of the President of the Methodist Seniors Fellowship. He or she, if above 70 years, has the right to vote in the Annual and Local Conference.
The third matter of significance was a major update to the Social Principles in the Methodist Discipline. The Discipline Review Council proposed additions and amendments that would bring these Principles up to date with current developments in various fields of ethics, the environment, social, political and religious issues in our own context. These were all generally welcomed by the Conference delegates.
Bishop Hwa Yung was re-elected for another term, on the first ballot. Mr Tung Kam Seng retired as Conference Secretary after 16 years in that office. He was given a standing ovation in appreciation of his diligent and faithful service. Mr Anthony Row was elected the new Conference Secretary. Mr John Ting was re-elected Conference Treasurer.
While the issues and concerns of the Church were discussed with care and attention, the current political situation and the attendant social and economic issues were always in the background. The Conference was conscious of the new challenges that confronted the Methodist Church, which called for an understanding of its role and responsibilities in nation-building.
The Conference adjourned after the Re-dedication Service of Bishop Hwa Yung at Shern En Methodist Church.
Christopher Cheah is the Executive Editor of Pelita Methodist, the official newsletter of The Methodist Church in Malaysia.