From the Worldwide Faith News archives

World Methodists acknowledge growth, prepare for future

Date 13 Feb 2001 14:12:32

Feb. 13, 2001 News media contact: Linda Bloom·(212) 870-3803·New York

By United Methodist News Service

With Methodism growing globally at a rapid pace, the World Methodist Council
is positioning itself to better serve in the future.

The council's new $20 million endowment campaign, "Achieving the Vision,"
will be formally launched during the 18th World Methodist Conference July
25-31 in Brighton, England. But $1.25 million in cash gifts and $2.78
million in additional pledges already had been raised by the end of 2000,
according to the Rev. William Quick, who is leading the campaign.

The initial contributions have come largely from personal commitments made
by members of the endowment steering committee, council officers and members
of its presidium, and other individuals. "This was never intended to be
solely a North American effort, but we knew it had to be launched here,"
Quick told United Methodist News Service.

In fact, Methodism has long been a global phenomenon. Quick did an analysis
of world membership from 1956 to 1996 and found an overall increase from
19.3 million to 33.9 million during that period. The community served by
those churches, including people who do not have formal membership, jumped
from 42.5 million in 1956 to 70.2 million in 1996.

The growth trend does not appear to be diminishing. "On the basis of reports
that I have been receiving from different parts of the world ... I am
convinced that Methodism has had the greatest growth in its 260-year history
in the past decade," Quick declared.

By far, churches in Africa and Asia have led the trend, particularly between
1976 and 1996, when membership in Africa jumped from 1.3 million to 6
million and in Asia from 2.5 million to 9.7 million.

Such growth is no accident, said Quick, who was a delegate to the 1971 World
Methodist Conference in Denver, where significant action toward evangelism
was taken. "At that conference, the decision was made that Methodism would
intentionally launch, in the Wesleyan spirit, an evangelistic endeavor," he

The resulting World Evangelism program calls upon member churches to train
indigenous leaders, develop new resources for Christian mission and begin
new churches by connecting with established congregations on every
continent. The Rev. H. Eddie Fox is the program's current world director,
with offices in Nashville, Tenn.

The World Methodist Evangelism Institute, jointly sponsored with United
Methodist-related Emory University in Atlanta, has trained 7,000 clergy and
lay evangelists since 1982, Quick said. Other evangelism efforts include an
international Christian youth conference on evangelism, which meets every
three years.

Engagement in international dialogues and ecumenical relationships also is a
part of the council's work. The World Methodist Peace Award annually
recognizes people or organizations that make exceptional contributions to
the cause of reconciliation and peace.

During the three- to five-year endowment campaign, Quick said, individuals
and churches in some 130 countries will have the opportunity "to make a
contribution to the 21st-century Methodist movement."

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United Methodist News Service
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