United Methodist Church Cancels Annual Forum

Mar 25, 2003 10:24 AM EST

International conflicts cause cancellation of annual United Methodist General Council of Ministries meeting in Manila. Both the council meeting, originally scheduled for March 24-31, and the complementary online live discussion about the future of the UMC scheduled for March 25 has been cancelled, March 18, after many members decided not to make the trip.

"We had invited some of the central conference (non-U.S.) members and the denominational leaders and scholars scheduled to be at the GCOM spring meeting to be panelists and engage in a conversation with ecumenical leaders from the National Council of the Churches of the Philippines," said Craig This, director of the general council's Office of Research and Planning in Dayton, Ohio. "When the GCOM meeting was cancelled, we decided to postpone the web cast because many of those participating were members of GCOM."

The Forum on the Future webcast, sponsored by the general council was focused on the theme, "What in the World Are We Talking About? Strengthening Our Global Connection and Ecumenical Relationships." The discussions were to give church members a chance to ask questions and offer comments by phone or e-mail to a diverse panel of denominational leaders.

The scheduled panelists for the Manila webcast included several people from the central conferences: Emma Cantor, the Philippines; Solomon Chiripasi, Zimbabwe; Roland Siegrist, Austria; and Sharon Rose Joy Ruiz-Duremedes, top staff executive of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines.

Four people from the United States were going to participate: Bishop Alfred Johnson, leader of the church’s New Jersey Area and chairperson of the Advance for Christ and His Church; Jan Love, professor, Department of Religious Studies, University of South Carolina; the Rev. Bruce Robbins, top staff executive of the United Methodist Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns; and Jay Williams, a Harvard University student. Love, Robbins and Williams had participated in the first Forum on the Future webcast.

Plans are under way to hold the forum after the conflict folds.

By Pauline J.