Feb. 18, 2005
A UMNS Report
By Linda Bloom*
60 Methodist and United Methodist young adults met in Brazil, they not
only explored their common religious heritage but also applied its
principles to social issues in the larger world.
For Shalom Agtarap, a senior at the University of Washington, fellowship was the key.
it was being together at the table in the cafeteria or praying together
in Bible study, impromptu jam sessions with the guitar and flute and
even ‘dying’ together as we walked up steep hills … each time was
fellowship that created a more sincere time to get to know the other
and, eventually, how the other is being impacted by God,” she wrote
about his experience.
the Jan. 23-31 agenda in Porto Alegre, Brazil, was a two-day mission
seminar on Wesleyan identity, sponsored by the United Methodist Board of
Global Ministries; a one-day ecumenical youth day, organized by the
Council of Churches in Latin America and the Caribbean, the World
Student Christian Federation and World Council of Churches; and a
six-day intercontinental youth camp related to the 2005 World Social
addition to selected young adults from the United States, the group
included church youth from Cambodia, Indonesia, Angola, Mozambique,
Puerto Rico, Mexico, Bolivia, Paraguay and Chile, and a 20-member youth
delegation from the Methodist Church in Brazil.
was through spending time with members from the Brazilian, world and
U.S. Methodist delegations at this event that I was able to gain a
greater insight about what it means to be an active part of a genuine
global church,” said Theon L. Johnson III, a student at Millsaps College
in Jackson, Miss. “For a few moments in time, I was privileged to view a
snapshot of what God is calling people to do.”
Barber, a student at Bennett College in Greensboro, N.C., realized that
despite the difference in language and life experience, Christianity
provided a unifying element for the young adults.
we prayed and studied God’s word and sang, we were one,” she reflected.
“When we laughed and fellowshipped, we were one. And even when we
didn’t quite understand each other, we were still one by God’s spirit.”
fact, she added, gives her strength to fight for justice and equality.
“Unified as Christians, we can change this world for the better.”
mission seminar’s purpose was to help leaders from the agency’s global
youth networks understand church youth programs and mission education,
according to Tamara Walker, the Board of Global Ministries’ staff
executive for youth and young adults. The call to mission, through both
their Wesleyan identity and ecumenical networks, also was explored.
Elizondo of Monterrey, Mexico, said the experience gave him an
understanding of people’s needs, both materially and spiritually.
“Sometimes, we Christians only focus on ourselves, on only our close
friends and families,” he added. “We do not see people. If you see
someone suffering, then you are going to do something.”
young adults applied their faith perspective to workshops on social
justice, advocacy and organizing issues during the World Social Forum,
an annual event held simultaneously when the World Economic Forum meets
in Davos, Switzerland.
Wildman, a board executive who participated, said the World Social
Forum provides a place where marginalized people can speak and organize.
The forum challenges young leaders to address issues of poverty and
injustice through the power of people working in solidarity.
raised in the mission seminar and forum challenged Tiv Linath, a
national organizer of Methodist youth in Cambodia, “to understand more
about the situation in my country.”
Michele Johns, a master of divinity student at Claremont (Calif.)
School of Theology, noted that she was a veteran of many marches but
never had experienced one like the forum’s opening march. “Finally, I
was marching with other Methodists, passionate about our denominational
heritage and about connecting that to social and political activism,”
people of faith, we have a concept of a place where all live with
dignity, where resources are not hoarded by a few while many suffer,”
she wrote about the forum. “We are called to make simple and difficult
choices today to bring that world into reality. Within the Methodist
Church, we have the people power to help create on this earth a world
where all can live in dignity.”
*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in New York.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or firstname.lastname@example.org.