Consultation guests from The United Methodist Church and the Korean Methodist Church gathered at Global Ministries’ headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, on Aug. 15-17, 2022. PHOTO: CINDY BROWN
Agencies meet in formal consultation for first time in more than 20 years.
By Susan Clark
August 18, 2022 | Atlanta, GA
The General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church (Global Ministries) and the Korean Methodist Church (KMC) mission board held a consultation at Global Ministries’ headquarters on Aug. 15-17, 2022, in Atlanta, Georgia. The two-day meeting, which included the presidents of the councils of bishops of both churches, represented the first time the two boards have met together in formal consultation since 2001. The consultation was called to discuss mutual partnership opportunities for mission throughout the world, building on the shared history and current realities facing both organizations.
The consultation was composed of delegations from both agencies, resource people and guests from Global Ministries’ executive committee and staff. At the consultation’s opening banquet, Bishop Thomas Bickerton, president of the Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church and the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), noted the deep-seated commitment to mission that brought the delegations together and expressed his hope that the meeting would offer an opportunity to live into a shared gospel. “My prayer is that we will be guided by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and the example of Jesus Christ himself who called us to be one in the spirit even as we work for the transformation of the world,” he said. Bishop Chul Lee, president of the Korean Methodist Church, shared his hopes for cooperation, noting that, though cultures and ways of thinking for both churches are different, the Korean Methodist Church and The United Methodist Church can act in harmony and unity, called by God.
Bishop Hee Soo Jung, president of Global Ministries’ board of directors, expressed hope that The United Methodist Church and Korean Methodist Church might fulfill a shared mission to transform the world through a serving church and community. He expressed hope that “we will share wisdom today with the passion to spread this peace and joy to all parts of the world,” further noting that “we can be glad in the abundant peace of Jesus Christ” and “let gentleness show.”
Throughout the two-day meeting, delegates heard a series of presentations, including an historical overview of mission cooperation between the KMC and UMC and reviews of several mission efforts in areas of Asia and Africa. They also discussed longstanding challenges and opportunities for peace and reunification efforts on the Korean Peninsula, work paused by the global pandemic but which remains foremost on the minds of many Koreans because of the ongoing and painful separation of families and rising military tensions in the region.
Roland Fernandes, general secretary of Global Ministries and UMCOR, reinforced the long-standing practice of collaboration in mission at Global Ministries. “We form partnerships that foster our goals of mission, which historically and today include evangelism, that is, making disciples for Jesus Christ, church development, building up the household of faith, alleviating suffering, and seeking justice, freedom and peace,” he said. “The overarching goal is faithful, joyful participation in the missio Dei – God’s mission.”
Bishop Chung Suk Kim, chair of the KMC Board of Mission, acknowledged several common challenges facing world churches today – declining youth interest in the religious faith, polarization and resulting conflicts, and issues of peace. He acknowledged the long impact of The United Methodist Church in Korea and suggested that the KMC and UMC act as brothers and sisters in mission to build on their history of collaboration.
As the consultation concluded, leaders from both entities offered their hope for the future, agreeing to continue their consultation and work together to deploy a concrete list of opportunities for cooperation. Both groups acknowledged the mutual respect for one another and love of God that facilitated prayerful and thoughtful conversations throughout the two-day meeting.
The Korean Methodist Church Board of Mission establishes and implements mission policies in domestic, social and global mission areas, including church planting and growth; peace, reunification and humanitarian help for North Korea; global missionary policy, training and support; and mission relationships with other churches and denominations; among other responsibilities.
The General Board of Global Ministries, which includes the United Methodist Committee on Relief, is the worldwide mission, relief and development agency of The United Methodist Church, working with partners and churches all over the word to equip and transform people and places for God’s mission. Global Ministries connects the church in mission through the sending of missionaries, evangelization and church revitalization, global health and humanitarian relief and recovery.
Susan Clark is the chief communications officer for Global Ministries and UMCOR.