MRS JOSEFINE ARENIUS, a member of “Equmeniakyrkan” or the Uniting Church in Sweden, shared that “Europeans sometimes have this mind-set that we were the ones who sent missionaries and brought Christ to other nations, but we are realising that we need to learn how to do church from nations like yours.”
Mrs Arenius was part of a delegation from Equmeniakyrkan visiting Singapore recently to attend the 16th Baptist Youth World Conference at Suntec Convention Centre. During their visit, they took the opportunity to spend an afternoon at the Methodist Centre where they were briefed by our various Methodist agencies
– the Methodist Archives, Methodist Welfare Services, Methodist Missions Society, and the General Conference Women’s Society of Christian Service – and toured Barker Road Methodist Church.
Equmeniakyrkan was formed in June 2011 with the merger of three Swedish Churches: the Baptist Union, the United Methodist Church and the Mission Covenant Church. Their new name captures a spirit of ecumenism that makes such cooperation possible, as well as the “EQ” or emotional competence that they hope to build in the Church by doing so.
Seven of the 11 visitors were aged 16 to 25 years old, and they represent part of the strong Equmenia Youth movement in Sweden which is active in evangelism and diaconal work. While Equmeniakyrkan (we were told it’s pronounced: “A-que-men-nia-shir-ken”) is focused on building ecumenical ties, they are open to attending events organised by other denominations – for example the Baptist conference which they were here for.
Mr Johan Arenius, team leader and Assistant to the Church Leader of Equmeniakyrkan, explains: “We think that denominational networks are great, and we don’t want to lose them. Events like these are great for making new friends from all over the world.”
During their visit to the Methodist Centre, they also found out more about our Methodist heritage in Singapore, as well as our Church’s work among youths, in missions and social outreach. Mrs Arenius said: “In Sweden, the government takes care of many things, so the churches are becoming passive about outreach.”
Swedish or Singaporean, one thing is clear: We have much to learn from one another in this global Body of Christ.