DIALOGUE – MEOR Director Participates in Opening of Synod on Synodality

The Rev. Matthew A. Laferty, director of the Methodist Ecumenical Office Rome, was one of three fraternal delegates (i.e., delegates from non-Catholic churches) to participate in the opening of the Synod of Bishops on 9-10 October in the Vatican City State. In this historic moment, Pope Francis is leading an intentional, worldwide effort to reshape the Roman Catholic Church into a listening church which is discerning the Holy Spirit’s leading for the future.

According to prepartory documents:

‘Synod’ is an ancient and venerable word in the Tradition of the Church, whose meaning draws on the deepest themes of Revelation […] It indicates the path along which the People of God walk together. Equally, it refers to the Lord Jesus, who presents Himself as ‘the way, the truth and the life’ (Jn 14,6), and to the fact that Christians, His followers, were originally called ‘followers of the Way’ (cf. Acts 9,2; 19,9.23; 22,4; 24,14.22).

First and foremost, synodality denotes the particular style that qualifies the life and mission of the Church, expressing her nature as the People of God journeying together and gathering in assembly, summoned by the Lord Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit to proclaim the Gospel. Synodality ought to be expressed in the Church’s ordinary way of living and working.

Vademecum for the Synod on Synodality, §1.2

The opening of the synod launches a two-year process to cultivate a synodal church that “walks forward in communion to pursue a common mission through the participation of each and every one of her members. The objective of this Synodal Process is not to provide a temporary or one-time experience of synodality, but rather to provide an opportunity for the entire People of God to discern together how to move forward on the path towards being a more synodal Church in the long-term” (§1.3).

During the small group meetings, Rev. Laferty was able to share about Methodist theologies of the Holy Spirit, priesthood of all believers, Christian conferencing, and the role of laity.

Pope Francis in his homily for the Mass opening the synodal process called the Catholic church to encounter, listen, and discern. He said, “Celebrating a Synod means walking on the same road, walking together.  Let us look at Jesus.  First, he encounters the rich man on the road; he then listens to his questions, and finally he helps him discern what he must do to inherit eternal life.  Encounter, listen and discern.” He went on to say, “The Spirit asks us to listen to the questions, concerns and hopes of every Church, people and nation.  And to listen to the world, to the challenges and changes that it sets before us.  Let us not soundproof our hearts; let us not remain barricaded in our certainties.  So often our certainties can make us closed.  Let us listen to one another.” In further reflection, he said, “[the word of God] summons us to discernment and it brings light to that process.  It guides the Synod, preventing it from becoming a Church convention, a study group or a political gathering, a parliament, but rather a grace-filled event, a process of healing guided by the Spirit.”

Go to www.synod.va to learn about the synodal process.

Photo credit: Matthew Laferty, 9 October 2021

ENCOUNTER – Methodists Participate in Sant’Egidio International Peace Conference on Fraternity and Ecology

Several Methodists attended the Sant’Egidio international interreligious peace conference in Rome that focused this year on human fraternity and ecology. Pictured left to right: Fr. Rolando Curzi from the Sant’Egidio Community, Revd Mirella Manocchio from the Methodist Churches in Italy, Revd Leao Neto from the World Methodist Council, and Rev. Matthew A. Laferty from the Methodist Ecumenical Office Rome.

Speakers for the conference included Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, Moderna founder Noubar Afeyan, former chief rabbi David Rosen, and UAE minister of tolerance and coexistence Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan.

The closing ceremony was held at the Coloseum in Rome with speeches from German chancellor Angela Merkel and Pope Francis.

NEWS – World Methodist Conference in August 2022 Postponed

Due to the continuing challenging times from the COVID-19 Pandemic, the 22nd World Methodist Conference is further postponed. At the two-day virtual meeting of the World Methodist Council Steering Committee in August 2021, the Steering Committee unanimously agreed that the global WMC family could not safely gather in Gothenburg, Sweden, in August 2022 for the Conference.

WMC President J.C. Park announced that a new date for the Conference will be set in spring 2022. Conference Program Chair the Rev. Dr. Martyn Atkins and members of the host committee including Bishop Christian Alstead, Uniting Church President Lasse Svensson, and others were consulted abou the postponement. Everyone agreed that a more meaningful Conference could be held at a later date.

On the Move will continue to be the theme, and the issues of migration, justice, and hospitality are evident to be more pertinent now than when the theme was initially chosen.

More information on the Conference will be published as available in WMC First Friday Letter, on the Council and Conference websites, and Twitter.

Photo: Gothenburg, Sweden, photo in public domain.

NEWS – World Methodist Council Mourns Death of Rev. Eddie Fox

With great sadness, we received the news about the passing away of Eddie Fox, who has been in hospice for the past two weeks.

The World Methodist Council extends heartfelt condolences to Eddie’s life partner, Mary Nell, and the Fox family during this time of grief.

We give thanks to God for the life and witness of Eddie Fox and the indelible mark he has left on the lives of many.

Eddie was the Director of World Evangelism for twenty-five years. He was the progenitor of two programs, namely, the International Methodist Younger Leaders Seminar and the Order of the Flame. Through his evangelism seminars held regularly on every continent, he moved World Evangelism from “success” to “significance” within the global Methodists family.

In paying tribute to Eddie Fox, World Methodist Council general secretary Bishop Ivan Abrahams shared the same sentiments  he had shared at Eddie’s farewell service in Nashville. “Eddie was immensely loyal to the World Methodist Council. His life was a testament to Wesley’s dictum for mission that held together holiness that knew no separation from social holiness.  We will miss Eddie’s cheerful disposition, his litany of stories drawn from his experience. Most of all, we will miss his wise counsel that often helped us, wright, the ship when tossed about on the seas of uncertainty, hopelessness, and despair.”

Please continue to pray for Mary Nell and the Fox family.

Our next issue of the WMC First Friday Letter will carry special tributes to Eddie. We will keep you updated regarding memorial services.

Photo by Mike DuBose, United Methodist News Service