Top Methodist leaders from around the world gathered in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, for the executive committee council on Sept 15-18, 2004. The committee, while adopting several statements and sharing concerns, focused their meeting on preparing for the upcoming quinquennial World Methodist Council (WMC) Assembly in 2006.
The Assembly, held every five years, brings together leaders from 76 denominations with roots in the Methodist movement. The last assembly was held in Brighton England, in July 2001; the 2006 Assembly has been slated for Seoul Korea, under the theme, God in Christ Reconciling.
"the theme is a relevant message for people worldwide," explained Gillian Kingston, a layperson from the Methodist Church of Ireland, the program chair for the 2006 gathering.
Kingston told the committee members that reconciliation is a ministry, a theological issue and a "life and death issue" for all people. Thus, each of the Assembly days will be centered on a sub-theme of reconciliation.
"Reconciliation Among Nations," "Reconciliation in Society," "Reconciliation in the Church," and "Reconciliation for the Individual" will be sub themes for each day of the meeting, she explained.
Kingston said the WMC is working to have as many cultures as possible represented among speakers for the event but added that "we cannot hear every voice every time. Nonetheless, Kingston expects to greet some 5,000 delegates from dozens of nations during the assembly.
George Freeman, top staff executive of the council, asked that people across the Methodist-Wesleyan connection pray for the conference.
"Pray that we will honor God and help us all in our ministry of reconciliation," he said. "We are praying this conference will bring together this family in a common witness and that the people called Methodist might bring about better lives through reconciliation."