Church leaders from around the world will share their stories and challenges during the United Methodist's "Global Gathering" April 10-13 in Birmingham, Ala.
Sponsored by the Board of Global Ministries, the denomination's mission agency, the event will feature morning and evening worship services, daily Bible study, panelists and keynote speakers discussing mission, a choice of 43 different workshops and a "global village" area with exhibits and performances.
The opening worship at 7:30 p.m. April 10 will celebrate partnership with churches of the South Pacific. The preacher will be the Rev. James A. Forbes Jr., senior pastor of Riverside Church in New York. A former professor at Union Theological Seminary, Forbes is well known for leading his church in mission outreach both in New York and around the world.
Methodist Bishop Nelida Ritchie, Evangelical Methodist Church of Argentina, will lead the morning Bible study sessions April 11-13.
Morning keynote speakers for April 11 and 12 will be the Rev. Elizabeth Tapia, a theologian and ecumenical leader from the Philippines, and Janice Love, a United Methodist lay person and professor from South Carolina who has been active in the World Council of Churches. "Witnesses" from various countries, such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Russia and Cambodia, will talk about the need for global mission.
The April 11 evening worship will be a service of baptismal remembrance, celebrating partnership with churches in Africa. The Rev. R. Randy Day, new chief executive for the Board of Global Ministries, will preach.
Morning worship April 12 will focus on prayers for wholeness and mark partnerships with churches in North America and Europe. The Montana Logging and Ballet Company, a performing group whose satirical commentary on current events is heard regularly on National Public Radio's "Sunday Weekend Edition," will provide the evening's entertainment.
The four members of the group, who met as students at Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Mont., 27 years ago, are Tim Holmes, an internationally acclaimed sculptor; Steve Garnaas-Holmes, a United Methodist pastor and poet; Bob Fitzgerald, a business manager; and Rusty Harper, a musician, writer and seminar instructor.
The closing Palm Sunday worship service April 13 will celebrate partnerships with churches in Latin America and the Caribbean. Members of two Birmingham churches will lead a procession to the service, where the Rev. Randolph Nugent, the board's recently retired chief executive, will preach.
Events connected to the Global Gathering include the April 9-10 "Youth Go Global" conference, drawing young people from every continent to share their diverse faith journeys in seminars, workshops and fellowship; three planned tours of national mission agencies and institutions in Birmingham and North Alabama immediately following the gathering; and projects for mission volunteers, such as the construction of a Habitat for Humanity house.
The Global Gathering registration fee is $150 per person. Those registering will receive information about hotel reservations, which are being coordinated through the Birmingham Convention Bureau. More information, including event registration forms, can be found at http://gbgm-umc.org, the board's Web site.
By Albert H. Lee