Greetings to the World Methodist Conference
5 August, 2011
Dear fellow disciples of the healing Jesus Christ,
It is my profound privilege to greet you all, dear sisters and brothers in the Methodist branch of the ecumenical family, on behalf of the World Council of Churches.
Your active and committed participation in the WCC has always been very substantial and influential for the theological heart, the relationships and the common actions of our fellowship. Thirty-eight of our 349 members are Methodist churches; many more United member churches have Methodist roots. As far as I know, nearly every member of the WMC is a member of the WCC.
I send special greetings and thanks to George Freeman for his many years of global leadership among Methodist churches and in the wider ecumenical movement. My personal greetings also go to the next General Secretary, Bishop Ivan Abrahams, the head of a member church, the Methodist Church in South Africa, and a member of our Central Committee and Executive Committee. We pray for God’s strength and wisdom to use his many gifts also in this position, and we give thanks to God for his readiness to take upon him this task, so significant for the whole ecumenical movement.
I regret deeply that I had to cancel my travelling these days due to an ear infection, and could not respond as intended to your cordial invitation to be with you and participate in your discussions. I had planned for and looked forward to this event for a long time. However, I am glad that my well-experienced colleague, Rev. Dr Martin Robra, Director for our work on Ecumenism in the 21st Century, is with you.
What you are doing and saying together these days in Durban is of great importance for how the whole ecumenical fellowship can develop and better convey our common witness to “Jesus Christ – for the Healing of the Nations”.
As you know, the need for this healing work is significant, in many nations. You understand that I am also particularly praying for healing for my own nation, Norway, these days. The tragedy of two weeks ago today was a close and horrific experience of violence--how evil and how cruel it is!
This has given me a renewed understanding of how urgent and how much needed our common contribution to just peace in this world is. Evil is a reality in this world. So is fear, and the other great challenges and difficulties to living properly and peacefully together with different religions and cultures in the same nation.
In these days we have in Norway also seen how the values of love and support between our young people, in the nation and between nations are healing realities in a situation like this. Promises of international support and prayers from the whole ecumenical family have been received with deep appreciation.
It does make a difference that we are one, standing together as human beings, when we face the reality of evil. In this, I also get a deeper understanding of how it is for many of you and others to experience violence, injustice, fear and hatred as part of your daily life.
In your Methodist tradition and ecclesiology you emphasize the need for mutual accountability. Again we see in this tragedy in Norway how any idea or statement about justice and about God needs to be proofed and proven by the accountable fellowship to which we belong, as churches and as humanity.
There is nothing else than blasphemy in any proclamation of a holy war, whoever makes it. We need to address together how we can prevent and resist any violence, and how we can build peace through our work of healing. We have to do this in accountability to our healer, Jesus Christ, and in accountability to all those who need his healing teaching and work, through his death and his resurrection.
We need your Methodist contribution and your wisdom in this great task. May the great Healer give you great inspiration in South Africa! It is the land of the great Methodist, Nelson Mandela, who has been working for justice, truth and reconciliation for that country and for the world with an integrity and wisdom that will always give inspiration to us!
May God bless the World Methodist Conference and the World Methodist Council!
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit