OSLO (Norway – Seoul has been chosen to host the 2006 World Methodist Conference.
The decision was made on Sept 18, 2002 after the World Methodist Council (WMC) Executive Committee took two votes on potential sites for the next meeting. Brisbane (Australia) and Durban (South Africa) were the other two possibilities.
The WMC, representing 77 denominations with roots in Methodism, meets every five years. It brings together the WMC’s 500 members plus church delegates and other accredited visitors. The last gathering was held in Brighton, England, in July 2001.
At the Sept 16-22, 2002 Executive Committee meeting in Oslo, the South Koreans made an impassioned plea for their country to be chosen as the WMC’s next site.
“We are a country belonging to a separated people by the division of Korea. Many are old and worrying about dying without meeting their families,” said Methodist Theological Seminary’s Park Jong Chun. The Korean Methodist Church pledged that its 1.5 million members would contribute to the higher cost of hosting the event in their country.
“This is the fourth time we have come and invited the World Methodist Council to come to Korea and help us,” he said.
Bishop Mvume Dandala, of The Methodist Church in South Africa, told members of the Executive Committee that the people of his country see visitors as “blessings sent by God”.
“In the midst of darkness, the light of their faith has not dimmed,” he said. “Methodists have played a large role in that. If you come to South Africa, you will arrive not as tourists, but as pilgrims.”
The representative from Australia admitted that hosting the event would be difficult for his country because the date would come on the heels of a large gathering of the Uniting Church.
Bishop Sunday Mbang, Chairman of the WMC, gave Executive Committee members time for reflection and prayer before a vote was taken. In the first round, 127 votes were cast: South Korea received 58, South Africa received 52 and Australia received 17. Australia was eliminated from the second round of voting. With 122 votes cast, 64 went to South Korea and 58 went to South Africa.
After the voting, the Executive Committee voted to hold the next meeting of the WMC Executive Committee in Durban in 2004.
Several key issues were discussed, among which were the restructuring of the WMC and world evangelism, Bishop Dr Robert Solomon, who attended the meeting, told Methodist Message.
As for the restructuring, the inclusion of the regional bodies was a proposal which will be studied and further discussed at the next meeting. The Executive Committee also adopted and released two statements on the impending crisis in Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Dr H. Eddie Fox, World Director of Evangelism of the WMC, said the event of Sept 11, 2001 had changed the landscape of the world. In his report to the conference, he said: “We recognise that the challenge of world evangelism is more important and urgent than ever.
“During this past year, we have witnessed an amazing advance in ministry in the four key areas for the World Evangelism Division: Multiplying the witnesses; Connecting congregations; Training indigenous leaders; and Developing resources.”
Bishop Dr Solomon preached at the closing service of the conference on Sept 21. His sermon, entitled “Going on to Perfection”, challenged the WMC leaders to “live out our discipleship in the Wesleyan tradition”. – United Methodist News Service.