Methodist Church

Methodists sign historic document with Lutherans and Catholics

WORLD METHODIST CONFERENCE

JOINT DECLARATION ON THE DOCTRINE OF JUSTIFICATION

SUNDAY July 23, 2006 was a historic day for Methodists, Lutherans and Roman Catholics.

On that day in Seoul, the World Methodist Council (WMC) joined the Lutheran World Federation and the Roman Catholic Church in agreement on the divisive theological issue of justification.

Years of discussion led to the consensus document on the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification signed by the Lutherans and Catholics in Augsburg, Germany on Oct 31, 1999.

Now, after some years of seeking the consensus of the world Methodist family, Methodists have decided to join with the two partners already in agreement.

So on July 23, at the Ecumenical Service of the 19th World Methodist Conference in Seoul, the World Methodist Council joined the Lutheran World Federation and the Roman Catholic Church in signing the Methodist Statenment in response to the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification.

The signing was greeted with loud applause from conference delegates. It was a historic and significant occasion.

In a Methodist Statement, the WMC and its member churches affirm their fundamental doctrinal agreement with the teaching expressed in the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification signed at Augsburg on Oct 31, 1999.

Building on their shared affirmation of basic truths of the doctrine of justification, the three parties have committed themselves to strive together for the deepening of their common understanding of justification in theological study, teaching and preaching.

Their achievement and commitment are viewed as part of their pursuit of the full communion and common witness to the world which is the will of Christ for all Christians.

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INTERNATIONAL METHODIST YOUTH LEADERS SEMINAR
Be ‘seeds of peace’, youth told

THE International Methodist Youth Leaders Seminar 2006 was held in Seoul from July 12 to 17, 2006 and saw the participation of young leaders from all over Asia and the United States. The seminar revolved around the main theme of “Being the Seed of Peace”. Lectures, discussions, workshops and field trips explored briefly but quite meaningfully the sub-themes of reconciliation, peace-making, non-violence, militarisation, discrimination and injustice.

The Singaporean delegates chosen to take part in the seminar were Rudy Wong Wen Ming from Aldersgate Methodist Church (Trinity Annual Conference) and I from Pasir Panjang Tamil Methodist Church (Emmanuel Tamil Annual Conference) represented Singapore.

Some of the issues we touched on were:

■ The Concept of Shalom: We were taught to understand the more complete meaning of Shalom and its Biblical implications. We were introduced to Shalom as the fundamental principle of creation. The state of Shalom ceased to exist after the Great Fall of Man and Jesus was sent as the ultimate sacrifice for the restoration towards the former state (Eph 2:14). The Church can play a part in this restoration process by promoting or facilitating the peace-making processes of reconciliation and conflict transformation both within and outside the church walls.

■ The Concept of Non-Violence: We explored the life of Jesus, and were able to conclude that Jesus was indeed a tenacious preacher of non-violence (Matt 5:9) to a people that was being oppressed by unfair and nefarious Romans. We were challenged to make our stand on violence clear in a world ridden with conflicts, weaponry and military, even if it meant outright objection and persecution resulting from upsetting the status quo.

■ Militarisation and Its Effects: We were lectured on the gravity of global domination by the flexing of military muscle and its ill effects. To drive home the point, we were taken on field trips to the House of Shame (housing alleged former sex-slaves from the Japanese occupation), a landmine victim’s home and Daechuri, a small farming village set to be demolished to make way for a US military base.

In relating what we learnt and experienced back to the Singaporean context, Rudy and I felt that although Singaporeans were lucky enough not to experience large-scale injustice and conflicts, on a micro level, there were issues that deserved attention. We have, prima facie, healthy youth groups with constructive dynamics. But more often then we would like to admit, conflicts go unresolved, and youth leaders do not initiate reconciliation. What results is covert bitterness. Youth leaders should be more proactive in “picking up” negative signals and initialising the reconciliation process, and truly become “seeds of peace” in our ministries.

Melvin Dineshraj is the Methodist Youth Fellowship Programme Co-ordinator of Pasir Panjang Tamil Methodist Church.

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