Opening Worship: One God

USEaaaaaaaaIMG_0529In keeping with the theme, One: God, Faith, People and Mission, the first gathering was titled Opening Worship: One God. The service was set before a beautiful background and filled with music that lifted the spirits of those who were weary from travel or hard work to get to the moment of worshipping together.

The Festival Choir of Christ Church UMC, Sugarland provided gathering music and the conference worship team continued to raise the audience to their feet singing songs common to everyone.

Greetings were offered by Peggy Larney of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma followed by introductions by Bishop Ivan Abrahams.

The group was welcomed by:

  • Program Chair Sarah Wilke of the Upper Room Ministries,
  • Ann Connan, World Federation of Methodist and Uniting Church Women,
  • Bishop Scott J. Jones, Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church,
  • Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie, 10th Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church,
  • Senior Bishop Lawrence Reddick III, Eight Episcopal District of Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, and
  • Dr. HiRho Y. Park, General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the united Methodist Church.

swedenflagThe processional of flags from across the world was set to the Charles Wesley hymn “O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing.”  It fit perfectly to highlight the expanse of the World Methodist Conference and all the voices that could be heard joining the singing.  An especially moving moment occurred when the audience members were asked to sing “How Great Thou Art” in their own language and the voices melded beautifully.

Jennifer Wiseman, Ph.D. an astrophysicist and Rev. Dr. David Wilkinson, Professor, St. John’s College, Durham University shared a lesson focused on Psalm 8 and expanse of the universe. Some points they offered:

  • Most scientists agree that 13.8 billion years ago the universe was created with a burst of energy.
  • Psalm 8 says that the heavens were created by God’s figures.
  • How mighty is God who created this expansive universe – expansive beyond our ability to comprehend?
  • Twenty-five years ago, scientists learned there are other planets orbiting stars at a distance that could allow habitation. Are there other habitable planets?
  • How is it possible for God to love this little planet and the people on it to the extent He knows and loves each of us?
  • Yet, as Christians, we know God’s love through Jesus Christ.
  • We try to make God small but God is BIG.
  • God is awesome using the order of nature to patiently create a world that is still in the creating process.
  • Science is a gift to celebrate. Understanding can heal us by instilling awe and wonder.

startalkersThe topic of nature and God’s magnificent creation continued with a performance led by a group from the Iglesia Metodista del Peru. The message was to restore what man has done to God’s beautiful work.

Archbishop Michael Kehinde Stephen of the Methodist Church Nigeria offered the closing blessing.




Registration – Wednesday

registration4502Conference attendees were asked to pre-register online for the WMC. At the Hilton- Americas Hotel, volunteers gave them their programs and conference bags. The volunteers, all recruited from local churches, worked hard to make their transition to their new Houston home a pleasant one. One volunteer offered, “It was amazing to me to meet so many people from all over the world and to realize that we all share a common tradition and to really feel the tie that binds us together as one faith.”




Houston Area Methodist Pulpits to be Filled with International Guests

abr450John Wesley, the eighteenth century founder of Methodism, said it long ago.  When locked out of Church of England pulpits due to the rejection of his evangelistic message, he took to the fields and coal mines of Britain instead proclaiming that “the world is my parish.”

Reflecting that emphasis and as a part of the World Methodist Conference, an ecumenical gathering of the spiritual heirs of Wesley happening in Houston August 31-September 4, several Methodist congregations here will in turn welcome a diverse collection of bishops, pastors, and other spiritual leaders from around the world all on a single day, Sunday, September 4.

The global conference, which meets once every five years, is being held in the United States for the first time in thirty-five years, centered at the Hilton-Americas Hotel in downtown Houston, and is expected to draw over 2500 delegates from all around the world, representing a variety of Wesleyan denominations.

“The world truly is coming to our house the last week of August,” says Dr. C. Chappell Temple, the pastor of Christ Church (UMC) in Sugar Land and one of the co-chairs of the host committee.  “In turn, we are opening our congregations to many of those delegates in an unprecedented way, and we can’t wait to see all that happens with this program.”

In addition to worship, delegates to the conference will hear numerous international speakers, participate in workshops on a variety of topics, and enjoy a cultural night on September 2 emceed by local television anchor Deborah Duncan which will feature the choir from Windsor Village United Methodist Church, a Hispanic arts group, Mariachi Tradicion de Jalisco, a liturgical dance company, Chara, and a breakdancing troupe from Gethsemane UMC, all capped off by a concert by the Grammy-nominated Christian artist, Gungor.

The joint preaching appearances on September 4 will be a part of the morning worship offerings of numerous churches and all are welcome to visit in any of the congregations.  Those churches hosting delegates include:

Ashford United Methodist Church: Reverend Tevita Finau, Methodist Church of New Zealand


Bear Creek United Methodist Church: Reverend Daniel Munnangi, Methodist Church in India


Bellaire United Methodist Church: Bishop Gary Rivas, Methodist Church Southern Africa


Bering United Methodist Church: Reverend Teresa Burnett-Cole, United Church of Canada


Blue Ridge United Methodist Church: Bishop Sylvester Williams, Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, Alabama


Cypress United Methodist Church: Reverend Ranganathan Prabhu, Methodist Church Singapore


Deer Park United Methodist Church: Dr. Todd Stepp, Church of the Nazarene, Indiana


Friendswood United Methodist Church: Reverend Richard Waugh, Wesleyan Methodist Church of New Zealand


Humble First United Methodist Church: Dr. David Jebb, Methodist Church of Britain


John Wesley United Methodist Church: Dr. Christopher Walker, Uniting Church in Australia


Katy First United Methodist Church: Bishop Wee Boon Hup, Methodist Church of Singapore


Klein United Methodist Church:  Reverend David Bush, Methodist Church of New Zealand


Lake Houston United Methodist Church:  Reverend Phil Meadows, Director of Inspire, England


Lakewood United Methodist Church:  Bishop Joseph Ntombura, Methodist Church of Kenya


Montgomery United Methodist Church: Reverend Peter Benzie, Wesleyan Methodist Church in New Zealand


Pasadena First United Methodist Church: Reverend Andreia Fernandes, Methodist Church of Brazil


Pearland United Methodist Church:  Archbishop Michael Stephen, Methodist Church of Nigeria


St. Matthew’s United Methodist Church: Bishop Everald Galbraith, Methodist Church in the Caribbean


St. Paul’s United Methodist Church: Bishop Patrick Streiff, UMC in Southern and Central Europe


St. Stephen’s United Methodist Church: Dr. Leao Neto, Methodist Church in Britain


Springs Woods United Methodist Church: Reverend Charmaine Morgan, Methodist Church in Southern Africa


Sugar Land Christ Church (UMC):  Bishop Subodh Mondal, Methodist Church in India


Trinity United Methodist Church:  Bishop Raphael Opoko, Methodist Church in Nigeria


Walls Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church: Bishop Darrell Starnes, AMEZ, Charlotte


West University United Methodist Church: Dr. Karen Tucker, Boston University School of Theology


Westbury United Methodist Church: Dr. Samuel Uche, Prelate, Methodist Church in Nigeria


Woodlands Christ UMC: Dr. Kimberly Reisman, Exec. Director, World Methodist Evangelism


For information on service times, please call or check the websites of the individual congregations listed.

African bishop glad to be leading `broader Methodist family’

Bishop Ivan Abrahams preached May 17 at the 2016 United Methodist General Conference in Portland, Ore., and he’ll be in the spotlight at the World Methodist Conference, set for Aug. 21-Sept. 3 in Houston. Abrahams, a South African, is top executive of the World Methodist Council. Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS

Bishop Ivan Abrahams preached May 17 at the 2016 United Methodist General Conference in Portland, Ore., and he’ll be in the spotlight at the World Methodist Conference, set for Aug. 21-Sept. 3 in Houston. Abrahams, a South African, is top executive of the World Methodist Council. Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS

African bishop glad to be leading `broader Methodist family’

Bishop Ivan Abrahams has since 2012 been top executive of the World Methodist Council, whose members include The United Methodist Church and scores of other groups with a Wesleyan theology and tradition. Abrahams is just the fourth person to lead the council, and the first South African. He previously was presiding bishop of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa.

Abrahams will be in the spotlight during the World Methodist Conference, set for Aug. 31-Sept. 3 in Houston. That once-every-five-years meeting draws Methodists from all over the world. He recently spoke by phone with Sam Hodges of United Methodist New Service.

When you’re asked to explain the purpose of the World Methodist Council and the World Methodist Conference, what do you say?

The council is really the only body that convenes the broader Methodist family, and it is the amalgam that holds the global Methodist family together. One of the purposes of the council is to network, and the World Methodist Conference is a place where people will be sharing stories of what God is doing in the Wesleyan Methodist family. It’s a place to incubate audacious dreams, to cast a vision, and to set strategic objectives for cooperation, as well as a place to be inspired by great Methodist teachers and speakers.

What has been your emphasis as general secretary or top executive of the council?

One of my mantras since taking office is that, in this day and age, it cannot be business as usual. We’ve seen a changing ecclesiastical landscape. We’re living in a post-modern era, and we need to change with the times.

What have you learned about the reach of Methodism and the appeal of Methodism  in your travels around the world for the council?

One of the things that I have been a bit disappointed about in the United States is the sense of pessimism, which is definitely not shared with the rest of the world communion. We stand in a great tradition. I passionately believe that the golden years of Methodism don’t lie behind us, but in the future. I am confident that those of us gathered in Houston will be able to write the next chapter in our Methodist history as we tackle the challenges of the 21st century. And, in that sense, I’m an eternal optimist and a prisoner of hope.

What’s the state of Methodism in Africa, and how best should Methodists approach ministry in the African context? Should the push be on evangelism or social action, including public health?

I think we have a lot to learn from the African context, because Methodism (there) is dynamic and growing. I see the spirit of the Methodist movement and Mr. Wesley wherever I go on the African continent.

From my experience, (evangelism and social holiness) are two sides of the same coin. Especially with indigenous spirituality, there is no dichotomy between the sacred and the secular. That is something folks in the West need to learn. God is God of all creation. Methodism speaks into that reality of personal salvation, tied up with works of mercy.

How many World Methodist Conferences have you attended, and what’s your vision for the Houston meeting?

I’ve attended since Rio (de Janeiro) in 1996. My vision is that the Houston conference will be one of the most inclusive in the 135-history of the council. We have people from 134 nations and 80 different denominations in the Methodist family. The last time we counted, only five of those denominations will not be represented at the conference.

How does the World Methodist Conference differ from other big Methodist meetings, such as The United Methodist Church’s General Conference?

It is really a jamboree, a place where we celebrate our heritage, a place to be inspired. We are not dealing with any legislation, and we are not caught up with the business of a conference. The governance session for the World Methodist Council is done at the council meeting before the conference.

The general conference theme in Houston is “One,” with the subtitle “one God, one faith, one people, one mission.” And in a real sense, this conference has come of age, because this is the 21st World Methodist Conference. So this is a time to celebrate, and we’re going to throw a party in Houston, which is one of the U.S. cities that really is a microcosm of the world, a place where over 100 languages are spoken.

Do you think The UMC’s tensions over sexuality will have an influence on the Houston gathering?

No, it is not a concern for me. Some of our member churches have passed legislation in this regard, and we respect the process that takes place in our member churches. I often draw a comparison with the United Nations. The conference is an ecclesiastical U.N., where there is a place for all at the table, even the smallest Methodist entity.

How much longer will you be general secretary, and what are your priorities for that time?

There was an evaluation process last year, and the steering committee has asked me to make myself available for another five-year term. That will be put before the conference. It’s really for the conference to decide. Some of the themes that we are looking at, at the (Houston) conference, are migration, climate change, interfaith relations, health and well-being, human trafficking, poverty and inequality, and war and peace. I’m hoping that we will be able to identify three of those seven themes and those three will be the themes that we’ll be working on for the next quinquennium.

Hodges, a United Methodist News Service writer, lives in Dallas. Contact him at (615) 742-5470 or

21st World Methodist Conference looms in Houston

The World Methodist Conference last occurred in 2011, in Durban, South Africa, and brought together many Methodist-related denominations. Another such conference is set for Houston, Aug. 31-Sept. 3, with some 2,500 people from around the world expected to attend.

The World Methodist Conference last occurred in 2011, in Durban, South Africa, and brought together many Methodist-related denominations. Another such conference is set for Houston, Aug. 31-Sept. 3, with some 2,500 people from around the world expected to attend.

21st World Methodist Conference looms in Houston

Article by Sam Hodges, UMNS –

At the World Methodist Conference, church politics get checked — mostly — at the door.

There’s no legislation, but plenty of preaching, teaching, singing and fellowship.

Think revival, but also think family reunion, with John Wesley as the common ancestor.

“This is a full-on celebration of the Wesleyan tradition that takes place once every five years,” said Sarah Wilke, publisher of The Upper Room, and program chair for the World Methodist Conference set for Aug. 31-Sept. 3 in Houston.

As reunions go, this will be a big one, with attendance of 2,500 to 3,000 expected. Seventy percent of the early registration is from outside the United States. More than 70 denominations and other church groups will be represented, all sharing a Wesleyan heritage and basic Wesleyan theology.And some will travel a long, long way.“Myanmar just signed up!” Wilke said, referring to a Methodist group in the country formerly known as Burma.To have Methodists coming from all over the globe presents visa and translation challenges. It’s worth the trouble, said United Methodist Bishop Michael Watson, who first attended a World Methodist Conference in 1991, in Singapore.“It’s an uplifting time, and it’s a time that’s cross-cultural in a big way,” added Watson, who is ending his tenure as North Georgia Conference episcopal leader and will become ecumenical officer of the Council of Bishops. “We don’t govern each other, but we join together for mutual encouragement and support and love.”

The Pope and John Wesley

The World Methodist Conference is a meeting of the World Methodist Council, an association of 80 Methodist, Wesleyan and related Uniting and United Churches representing 80.5 million people worldwide.

The council actually grew out of the conferences, the first of which occurred in London in 1881.

These days, the council works on a number of fronts, promoting evangelism and social justice, giving aWorld Methodist Peace Award, and engaging in dialogue with other Christian groups.

A council delegation, including two United Methodists, made the news April 7 by having a 45-minute private meeting with Pope Francis for the opening of a Methodist Ecumenical Office in Rome.

“Very warm, very gracious,” Watson said of the pope’s welcome. “He quoted John Wesley to us.”

Kirby Hickey, a United Methodist layman from Pennsylvania who serves as CFO and treasurer of the council, especially recalled the end of the meeting, when Pope Francis said goodbye individually to each member of the delegation.

“He looked me square in the eye and he said, ‘Pray for me,’” Hickey said. “That set me back on my heels, to hear the pope say ‘pray for me.’”

Hickey is a businessman who has visited many countries on council business. He calls this work “the most fulfilling of my career,” but one thing discourages him.

“I do find in my travels throughout the world, literally, that the World Methodist Council has a far more recognizable reputation everywhere else than it does in the United States,” he said.

A seminary teach-in

The World Methodist Conference in Houston — the first in the United States since 1981 — may help change that.

Even before the conference gets underway there will be related events happening in Houston, such as the Aug. 29-31 Global United Methodist Clergywomen Gathering.

At the conference itself, there will be high-profile speakers from various denominations, such as Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and the Rev. Joanne Cox-Darling of the Methodist Church in Britain.

But United Methodists will have a key role.

The Rev. Rudy Rasmus, pastor of St. John’s United Methodist Church in Houston, will preach worship on Sept. 1, and Jorge Lockward, director of the Global Praise program of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, will be the conference worship leader.

The Rev. Ted Campbell, a professor of church history at United Methodist Perkins School of Theology, will be the plenary speaker that day.

Perkins’ professors will give what amounts to a teach-in before and during the conference, offering a range of seminars and mini-courses.

For example, the Rev. William Abraham, Outler professor of Wesleyan studies at Perkins, will lead a seminar titled “John Wesley and the Future of Spiritual Formation.” The Rev. Rebekah Miles, a Perkins professor of ethics and practical theology, will teach on the lives and selected writings of key global figures in Methodism, including Frances Willard, D. T. Niles and Mercy Oduyoye.

The 21st conference

The conference’s stated theme is “One: One God, One Faith, One People, One Mission.”

That may seem optimistic given the open discussion of schism in The United Methodist Churchover differing views on homosexuality. Campbell said he plans in his plenary address to mention The United Methodist Church’s troubles and ask for the prayers and counsel of the broader Methodist family.

But in the main, the World Methodist Conference will focus on cherishing what its far-flung members hold in common as far as faith and mission priorities.

Bishop Ivan Abrahams, of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa, is the top executive of the World Methodist Council, and he notes that this conference will be the 21st.

That’s a coming-of-age number, he added.

“So this is a time to celebrate, and we’re going to throw a party in Houston,” Abrahams said.

Hodges, a United Methodist News Service writer, lives in Dallas. Contact him at (615) 742-5470 or

A to Z at The World Methodist Conference

Houston, Texas USA – This month, over 2,500 people will gather at the Hilton Americas – Houston to participate in the World Methodist Conference and various pre-events. Get to know a little more about OneWMC2016 in our Alphabetical rundown!


A is for Airports … the majority of attendees will be flying into one of two Houston airports (George Bush Intercontinental or William P. Hobby) where they will be greeted by friendly volunteers!  

B is for Bags that attendees will receive if they come through the airport, and everyone receives a bag when they arrive at the event registration on level 4 of the Hilton Americas. 

C is for Cokesbury … They’ll have books from presenters, workshop leaders, and others as well as various other items in Ballroom of the Americas D on level 2.

D is for Download video on demand after the event, just in case you missed something!

E is for Exhibits on Levels 2 and 4. Visit the sponsor booths on level 4 outside the Grand Ballroom, and our vendors and displays on level 2 in the common space.

F is for Friends which we hope you will meet old and make new!

G is for Gungor, a contemporary Christian Band, which will be a part of the Texas Cultural evening on Friday beginning at 7 pm in the Grand Ballroom.

H is for Houston … One of the most diverse cities in the country is hosing us for this year’s Conference.

I is for Ice Cream which will be served following the Saturday evening closing worship!

J is for Justice,  a topic of several of our workshops on Friday and Saturday!

K is for Kingdom Building with your brothers and sisters from around the world!

L is for Love … we all need more of it!

M is for Music … You’ll hear lots of it, from all over the world!

N is for News sent daily by email. Sign up here.

O is for ONE … One God, One Faith, One People, One Mission – let’s explore what makes us One in the body of Christ!

P is for Prayer … pray for the Conference and be prayed for AT the Conference (Prayer room will be in room 430).

Q is for Queries which you can have answered at our Information Booth on Level 4!

R is for Recognition … We’ll be recognizing the World Methodist Peace Award recipient on Saturday, 3 September.

S is for Social … We want you to share your experience with others while you’re at the World Methodist Conference! We hope it’s all good! Mention us on Facebook (@World Methodist Council), Twitter (@WMCouncil), Instagram, or Flickr or by using the hashtag #OneWMC2016.

T is for Tea … We will, in fact, serve tea at refreshment breaks (but not the native Texas variety that involves ice and loads of sugar!). So, no need to pack your kettle in your carry-on.

U is for Unity … That’s what we’ll be exploring during our time together – what makes us UNIFIED, without being uniform.

V is for Vendors … Vendors and displays will be on level 2 in the concourse facing Discovery Green. Check out what greats items are on offer from around the world!

W is for Women! who will be meeting before the Conference (Global UMC Clergywomen’s Gathering) and during the Conference (13th World Assembly of the World Federation of Methodist & Uniting Church Women)

and for Water which you’ll need to stay hydrated in the heat of Texas and the dry air conditioning of the hotel! Attendees will receive a water bottle compliments of The United Methodist Church’s Wespath in your registration packet – be sure to bring it with you to all the sessions so you can refill at any of the hydration stations around the venue. and for

X is for eXciting worship, workshops and fellowship during the Conference!

Y is for Young People … The International Methodist Young Leaders Seminar (IMYLS) will be meeting just prior to the Conference on Wednesday! A special thanks to The UMC General Board of Global Ministries and Young People’s Ministries for their support of this important gathering!

Z is for Zip … Zip your bag and get to Houston!