In a statement released at the end of the fourth Asian Methodist Conference (AMC), 95 delegates from 11 Asian countries noted the concerns faced by countries and churches in Asia arising from both religious and secular challenges, made worse in some places by authoritarian regimes, growing fundamentalism and consumerism.
The conference was hosted by The Methodist Church in Sri Lanka, and held at Paradise Beach Hotel, Negombo, Sri Lanka from 16 to 20 June 2015. The previous meeting in 2011 had been held in Kowloon, Hong Kong.
The Conference endorsed the prayer that more Christians take up the challenge of politics and also for Christianity to be exhibited by politicians, as politics is central in modern society.
The statement added that the Conference expressed its sympathy and prayers to families and loved ones of all who have lost their lives through violence, natural disasters in Nepal and Malaysia, and the recent Charleston shooting in the USA.
This year’s conference theme was ‘Facilitating Transformation in Asia’. The delegates from The Methodist Church in Singapore (MCS) were Bishop Dr Wee Boon Hup and Mrs Catherine Wee, the three Annual Conference Presidents – the Rev Dr Chong Chin Chung (CAC), the Rev R. Prabhu (ETAC) and the Rev Dr Gordon Wong (TRAC), as well as 4th Asian Methodist Conference 2015: Facilitating Transformation in Asia Ms Kwok Wan Yee (CAC), Mr Chan Fook Kay (CAC), Mr Kim Seah (TRAC), Mr Edmund E (TRAC), and the Rev Nga Mee Hee (TRAC). We greatly appreciated the opportunities to meet and connect with other Asian delegates.
Before the conference started, separate meetings were held for the Fellowship of Asian Methodist Bishops and Presidents (FAMB) and the AMC Executive Committee. The MCS was represented at the FAMB by the CAC President, the Rev Dr Chong, as Bishop Dr Wee was otherwise engaged. Bishop T Sagar (India), Chairman of the AMC, preached at the Welcome and Opening Service, reminding us of our duties and roles as Christians in today’s world. Each delegation head also lit an oil lamp, a traditional sign of welcome in Sri Lanka.
The conference then began with three theme lectures, one by Bishop Dr Wee who spoke spiritedly about ‘Discipleship Today’. In considering the need to make disciples in Asia, Bishop Dr Wee stressed that there is no age limit for disciples, and hence we should re-double our efforts to grow disciples amongst all, young and old alike.
During the two plenary sessions, the AMC delegates raised issues such as:
➢ encouraging countries to include at least two young leaders in their future delegations to AMC,
➢ including all Presidents in the FAMB meetings,
➢ looking into contributing to the Sri Lanka ‘war widows’ fund, and
➢ considering launching an AMC website.
The conference saw the transfer of leadership from Bishop Sagar (India) to the Rev Dr Lam Sung Che, President of the Hong Kong Methodist Church, and the election of new AMC Executive Committee Members and Office Bearers. This included Bishop Dr Wee (Clergy member) and Mr Seah (Lay member – Treasurer) from the MCS.
On the third day, the delegates took a half-day tour of the city of Colombo, where they visited the oldest Methodist church in South Asia, which started in 1816. On the final day, the Conference endorsed the recommendation of the AMC Exco that we express our solidarity with the Methodist Church in Sri Lanka in supporting its ministry to the over 86,000 war widows in the country by authorising a humble donation, designating the offering collected at the closing service and writing to all member churches to support this ministry.
The next AMC Conference is tentatively planned to be held in Seoul, South Korea.
Edmund E is Vice-President of the Trinity Annual Conference (TRAC) and attends Faith Methodist Church.