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World Methodist Council elects Barrett as chairperson

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The Rev. John C.A. Barrett addresses World Methodist Conference delegates.
July 24, 2006

By Joan B. LaBarr*

SEOUL, South Korea (UMNS) — The Rev. John C.A. Barrett of the British Methodist Church is the new chairperson of the World Methodist Council, which includes churches in 132 countries.

Barrett was elected by the council and installed at the July 24 closing worship service of the World Methodist Conference.

A veteran educator, Barrett serves as principal of the International School in Singapore. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Newcastle on Tyne and a master’s degree in theology from Cambridge.

“I am honored to be in position to share in leadership of this great body …,” he said. “I have enormously appreciated the quality of contributions from all of us in the council and conference. I think they have been outstanding.

“I feel a great sense of pride today belonging to this company, and I am humbled by the prospect of giving some leadership. In doing this job, I need to rely on God’s grace, and I need to ask for your prayers.”

Quoting from Luke 4:16-19, Barrett declared that God’s Spirit is still at work in the world and acknowledged that though the church is in decline in Great Britain and other places, it is seeing great growth in other parts of the world.

He has witnessed how Singapore has experienced great church growth in recent years. “You see the Spirit of God daily…,” he said. “Over the past decade, Methodism has increased by almost 1 million members a year. We expect this to continue.

“To speak of differences of size only begins to touch on the diversity that is part of this body,” he added. “What a rich diversity it is. I am conscious that a large proportion of our Methodist family would never be able to attain a conference like this.”

He described a congregation he visited in Ghana. Though it was very small and the people were poorly dressed, they were so excited to hear of the Methodist Church worldwide and excited to be part of such a large community.

“Are you being true to your mission?” Barrett asked. “Do you understand what it means to be a Methodist Church? John Wesley combined evangelism and social witness. We asked council members to list the priorities for the next five years. Far and away, the most common response was evangelism.”

He reiterated that the Methodist Church also stands for justice and peace, hearing the groans of people who suffer around the world.

Referring to his work in education, Barrett expressed how he has been enriched by his work with young people. He described how Wesley was passionate about his belief that education is a central part of the Methodist mission.

Barrett also lauded the Methodist balance of emphasis on individual salvation and on the community. He described being deeply moved the first time he experienced the World Methodist Conference, the parade of banners, the passing of the peace, and finally, the Lord’s Supper, where 3,000 people shared the bread and wine together.

“Let us commit ourselves again to the God who is creator, redeemer, and renewer. Let us commit ourselves to one another,” he said.

Barrett succeeds Bishop Sunday Mbang as council chairperson. Mbang is prelate of the Methodist Church in Nigeria.

Additional officers

Other officers installed included the council’s vice chairperson, the Rev. Paulo Lockmann, Methodist Church in Brazil, and treasurer, Dr. James Holsinger Jr., United Methodist Church, USA.

Presidium members are the Rev. Mvume Dandala, All Africa Council of Churches, Methodist Church in Kenya; the Rev. H. Eddie Fox, United Methodist Church, USA; Fabiola Grandon, Methodist Church in Chile; Bishop Thomas Hoyt, Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, USA; Bishop William Hutchinson, United Methodist Church, USA; and Samuel Samuels, Methodist Church of the Caribbean and Americas.

Also, Chita Milan, World Federation of Methodist and Uniting Church Women; Gideon Salatan, youth representative from the Philippines Central Conference; Bishop Kyung Ha Shin, Korean Methodist Church; and the Rev. Jill an de Geer, Methodist Church in New Zealand.

*LaBarr is director of communications for the United Methodist Church’s North Texas Annual Conference. She managed the World Methodist Conference newsroom in Seoul, South Korea.

News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or

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