From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Wesleyans to Meet in Rio

Date 29 May 1996 15:13:46

"UNITED METHODIST DAILY NEWS" by SUSAN PEEK on Aug. 11, 1991 at 13:58 Eastern,

Note 2981 by UMNS on May 29, 1996 at 15:27 Eastern (6318 characters).

SEARCH: World Methodist Conference, Rio deJaneiro, Brazil, Hale

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Produced by United Methodist News Service, official news agency of
the United Methodist Church, with offices in Nashville, Tenn., New
York, and Washington.

CONTACT: Thomas S. McAnally                    267(10-21-71){2981}
         Nashville, Tenn. (615) 742-5470              May 29, 1996

Spiritual descendents of John Wesley
to convene for 'family reunion' in Rio

                        A UMNS News Feature
                         by Tom McAnally*

     John Wesley, 18th century Anglican clergyman, never intended
to start a new church.  Nevertheless, his spiritual descendants --
most of whom call themselves Methodists -- will gather in Rio de
Janeiro, Brazil, in August for a mammoth family reunion.
     The August 7-15 gathering will attract about 3000 persons,
representing 71 member denominations, 30 million members and 107
countries.  Quite an explosion in the Wesleyan family since its
humble beginnings in Epworth and Oxford!
     John Wesley remained in the Church of England until his death
in 1791 at the age of 88. His intentions were never to create a
new church but to breath new life into the religious and societal
institutions of his day.  He and his brother Charles were at the
forefront of a movement of Christian renewal and evangelism that
made a profound impact on both the religious life of the nation
and the British society in general.
     John shucked common practices of his day to preach in the
streets, mine pits, open fields and cemeteries.  He visited the
prisons, taught children of the poor, and spoke out on social
issues such as child labor and slavery.  
     Charles composed more than 6500 hymns, many of which are
popular even today among Methodists and other Christians.  The
Wesley brothers and their followers were so methodical in their
organization and discipline that they soon became known as
     The Methodist Episcopal Church in America was formally
organized in 1784.  Today one of its successor bodies, the United
Methodist Methodist Church, is the largest of the Wesleyan bodies
with nearly 10 million members in the United States, Africa,
Europe and the Philippines.  
     Other Wesleyan denominations in the United States include
three historically black churches: African Methodist Episcopal,
African Methodist Episcopal Zion, and Christian Methodist
Episcopal.  One of the fastest growing churches in the Wesleyan
family is the Korean Methodist Church with 1.2 million members.
     The first major reunion of the Methodist family was held in
London in 1881 in the historic City Road Chapel built by John
Wesley. Since then, world gatherings have been held again in
England and in the continental United States, Hawaii, Canada,
Norway, Ireland, Kenya and Singapore.
     For the first time, the conference will be hosted by Wesleyan
family members in Latin America.  During the middle weekend of the
conference, Brazilian Methodists will share their own history and
story of growth and service at a major event in Rio's
Maracananzinho Stadium.
     The assembly in Rio is actually two meetings. Five hundred of
the participants represent their denominations as members of the
World Methodist Council.  The larger, less-formal World Methodist
Conference is sponsored by the council.  It will include not only
council members but many others. 
     The Rev. Joe Hale is general secretary of the World Methodist
Council which is headquartered at Lake Junaluska, N.C. Chairman of
the Council's executive committee is the Rev. Donald English of
England.  The council, which meets every five years, does not
legislate for its member churches nor invade their autonomy, Hale
said.  "Rather, it seeks to serve and give unity to their
witness."  During the five-year interval between council meetings,
either the executive committee or officers meet annually.
     Stated purpose of the council is to "strengthen the love of
its members for Jesus Christ as Lord, and for each other as
brothers and sisters in the faith in keeping with the emphasis and
teaching of John Wesley."  It also seeks to "increase the
awareness whereby God's love finds expression in the proclamation
of the gospel and in Christ-inspired service in the world."
     Theme of the Rio conference is "Holy Spirit: Giver of Life,"
taken from the Nicene Creed written in 325 A.D.  Logo for the
event incorporate's the city's famous mountain-top Christ the
Redeemer statue and a dove representing the Spirit of God bringing
life through Christ to the world.
     The conference will include major addresses by English; the
Rev. Leonard Sweet, U.S.A.; the Rev. Paulo Lockmann, Brazil;
Salvation Army General Eva Burrows, Australia; and Bishop Peter
Story of South Africa. Bishop Sundo Kim, pastor of the world's
largest Methodist congregation in Seoul and president of the
Korean Methodist Council of Bishops will preside at the opening
service of Holy Communion.
     The Rev. H. Eddie Fox, Nashville, Director of World
Evangelism for the council, will address the conference.
     Eleven seminars will focus on world evangelism, world issues,
worship, family life concerns, relationships with other Christian
bodies, Bible study, renewal of Methodist men, Christian
education, Wesleyan/Methodist heritage and history, theological
education and international publishing.
     In addition to choirs from Brazil and Korea, the Jubilate
Choir of the Pacific Northwest Conference in the United States, on
a 16-day tour in Brazil, will sing at the conference.  The
Junaluska Singers will sing for one of the morning sessions and
will give an evening concert August 12.
     Participants in the conference are being asked to bring
individual gifts as well as contributions from their home
congregations for a special offering to assist the Methodist
Church in Brazil with its ministry to children in Rio de Janeiro. 
     The ninth assembly of the World Federationof Methodist Women
will be held July 28-Aug. 4, the week prior to the conference. 
Speaking at the conference will be Federation president Edith
Loane of Ireland.
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