We believe, at this particular time, God is calling us to be the church in a new way. In the spirit of Pentecost, churches of the Methodist tradition gathered recently outside London. We were called together by the World Methodist Council to explore concerns among churches that were being formed by migrants in their new lands and concerns of longstanding churches in the host countries. In essence, we were called to explore what John Wesley really meant when he said “The world is my parish.” Together, this unlikely group of people from the global Methodist family with different roles from different countries came to be open to the movement of the Holy Spirit. We cried together, laughed together, and listened together to our stories of migration.
The World Methodist Council is an ecumenical partner supported by the Interdenominational Cooperation Fund apportionment, which enables United Methodists to share a presence and a voice in the activities of several national and worldwide ecumenical organizations.
We soon realized that we all had migration stories. And we realized that we all had stories of ministry with migrants. We affirmed that migration is difficult, but that migration also brings new ideas, possibilities, and opportunities, for migrant and host alike. The pain and suffering and loss that everyone in migration feels can also become healing and hope and even joy. In our time together, we recognized that everyone, even if we have never left our country of birth, has a longing for home – the place we left, the place we are now, or a new safe place.
We are concerned that migrants, to the extent that they wish, not lose contact with their faith traditions and expressions of worship, but that they also have connection with the faith communities in their new neighborhoods. We are concerned that rigidity of form, either from old church structures or from the church in the new country, will mean that neither expression of faith will be truly transformed by the Holy Spirit. Thus, we have committed to be the church in a new way. We have committed to go back to our ministry settings with a new attitude about migration and church.
We recognize that migration is not a disaster to which we respond to for a short period, but a phenomenon that will always be with us. The world is constantly on the move and the pace of movement in this world is unlikely to slow down. Migration and migrants will not go away. They cannot be walled out or banned. And without them, someone is missing from God’s table of grace.
The group that gathered in London agreed to go home with a new way of looking at the relationship between church and migration.
excerpt from a story on the World Methodist Council website
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