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.