The Methodist-Roman Catholic International Commission (MERCIC) will begin a new round of dialogue in October of this year. Both the World Methodist Council and the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity which sponsor the dialogue have renewed the membership of the commission in preparation for the new round.
Bishop Shane Mackinlay takes over from Bishop John Sherrington as the Catholic co-Chair of the dialogue. Bishop Mackinlay, from the diocese of Sandhurst in Australia, joined the Commission halfway through the last round. He brings both pastoral and academic experience to the commission, having worked in a number of parishes as well as having gained a doctorate in Philosophy from the Catholic University of Leuven. Before being appointed as bishop of Sandhurst in 2019 he was Master of the Catholic Theological College in the University of Divinity, Melbourne.
There are two new Catholic members of the commission: Sr MarySylvia Nwachukwu DDL and Fr. Daniel Franklin Pilario CM. Sr Nwachukwu is a sister of the Daughters of Divine Love Congregation. She studied both in Rome and Jerusalem and gained her doctorate in Biblical Studies from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome. She is based in Godfrey Okoye University Enugu, Nigeria where she is both a Professor of Biblical Theology and Deputy Vice Chancellor. Fr. Daniel Pilario is a Vincentian missionary who, like Bishop Mackinlay, completed his studies at the Catholic University of Leuven. He is an Associate Professor and Director for the Center of Research and Development at the St Vincent School of Theology at Adamson University, Quezon City in the Philippines. His work focusses particularly on Fundamental Theology and Catholic Social Teaching.
The World Methodist Council has also nominated a new co-Chair. The Rev. Prof. Edgardo Colon-Emeric is currently Dean of the Divinity School at Duke University in North Carolina, USA, a school of theology of The United Methodist Church. Also at Duke, Prof. Colon-Emeric is the Irene and William McCutchen Associate Professor of Reconciliation and Theology and director of the Center for Reconciliation. His work explores the intersection of Methodist and Catholic theologies, and Wesleyan and Latin American experiences. Prof. Colon-Emeric has been a member of the dialogue since 2012.
There are also four new Methodist members of the commission—Bishop Lizzette Gabriel Montalvo, Dr. Jung Choi, the Rev. Dr. Glen O’Brien, and Dr. Geordan Hammond. Bishop Lizzette Gabriel Montalvo was consecrated the bishop of the Methodist Church in Puerto Rico on 12 June 2022 and holds a Doctor of Ministry degree in Pastoral Counselling with Families from the Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico. She is also a certified spiritual director and the Vice President of Council of Evangelical Methodist Churches of Latin America and the Caribbean. A native of the Republic of Korea, Dr. Jung Choi is a scholar of the New Testament and early Christianity and serves as Senior Director of Wesleyan Formation Initiatives and co-Director of Asian House of Studies at Duke Divinity School. Dr. Choi received a Doctor of Theology degree from Harvard University and her academic interests lie in prophecy in both the ancient Mediterranean and contemporary world concerning race, gender, and power. The Rev. Dr. Glen O’Brien is a minister of the Uniting Church of Australia and serves a Research Coordinator and Lecturer at Eva Burrows College, University of Divinity, a national learning centre of The Salvation Army Australia. Prof. O’Brien is also a Research Fellow of the Australasian Centre for Wesleyan Research. Dr. Geordan Hammond is the Director of the Manchester Wesley Research Centre and Senior Lecturer in Church History and Wesley Studies at Nazarene Theological College in Manchester, United Kingdom. Originally from the United States and a member of the Church of the Nazarene, Dr. Hammond’s research focuses on church history and theology in Britain and America as well as Wesleyan and Holiness traditions. Additionally, the Reverend Matthew A. Laferty, director of the Methodist Ecumenical Office Rome, will join the commission as the Methodist co-Secretary.
The first meeting of the new round will be in Rome, 2-8 October, hosted by the Methodist Ecumenical Office. The provisional title for this round is, “That the World May Believe: Models of Unity in Belief and Mission”. The commission hopes to examine the inter-related themes of mission and unity in faith. As the Church is commissioned to take the gospel to the ends world, it is constantly encountering new contexts and cultures which ask new questions of the data of faith. The Church must constantly walk a synodal path in order to discern together how to respond to these new situations while remaining faithful to the gospel it has received.
The full commission will be:
Rev. Dr. Edgardo Colon-Emeric, Duke Divinity School, USA, Co-Chair
Rev. Matthew A. Laferty, Methodist Ecumenical Office Rome, Co-Secretary
Dr. Lilian Siwila, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
Rev. Dr. Hermen Shastri, General Secretary emeritus of the Council of Churches of Malaysia
Bishop Lizette Gabriel Montalvo, Bishop of the Methodist Church of Puerto Rico
Dr Jung Choi, Duke Divinity School, USA
Rev. Dr. Glen O’Brien, Eva Burrows College, Melbourne, Australia
Dr. Geordan Hammond, Nazarene Theological College, Manchester, UK
Bishop Shane Mackinlay, Bishop of Sandhurst, Australia, Co-Chair
Rev. Anthony Currer, Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity, Co-Secretary
Prof. Catherine Clifford, Saint Paul University, Ottawa, Canada
Rev. Gerard Kelly, Priest of Sydney Archdiocese, Australia
Sr MarySylvia Nwachukwu DDL, Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu, Nigeria
Fr Daniel Franklin Pilario, CM, Adamson University, Quezon City, Philippines
Fr Jorge Alejandro Scampini OP, Pontifical Catholic University, Argentina
Dr Clare Watkins, University of Roehampton, UK