Primetimers Explore Building Global Community
by Kim Lehmann
"After thinking about participating in a Primetimers event for several years, it was great to be able to come, to learn (much more than I thought I might) and to stretch beyond the familiar," said Mary Jane Russell of Hamburg, New York. Mary Jane was one of seventeen participants in recent the Primetimers event "Globalization: The Challenge of Global Community" held in New York City from October 14 - 19.
This six day event was sponsored by the Mission Volunteers Program Area of the General Board of Global Ministries. It was one of seven Primetimers events offered in 2007 and, like all Primetimers events, was open to all persons 50 years and older.
This Primetimers event provided an opportunity to further explore the meaning of globalization, where brothers and sisters around the world were being left behind in the process, and how, as people of faith, to continue to build beloved community across the world. For Russell, "Each of the learning sessions helped to put a different face on globalization. Collectively, they helped to create an impression of the magnitude of the topic."
Throughout the event, the Primetimers participated in daily seminars where they engaged with religious leaders, representatives from United Nations agencies, and representatives from a variety of global organizations, exploring various aspects of globalization including aging, sweatshops, climate change, and the media.
While at the Church Center for the United Nations, the group had the opportunity to dialogue with Susanne Paul, President of Global Action on Aging. Global Action on Aging reports on older people's needs and potential within the global economy and is supported by United Methodist Women Mission Giving. Ms. Paul discussed the current global economic order values only those things which have monetary value. Therefore, in our current society, the volunteer contributions, the caregiving, and the knowledge and experience of older persons is not valued. Paul challenged the group to challenge the valuing of profits over people and encouraged the group to stand up for the rights of older persons in US policies.
The group also met with representatives from the Center for International Media Action, to examine issues related to media and globalization. The group discussed how new media tools have the potential to connect the world in new and powerful ways. However, at the same time, the increasing the ownership of many types of media - including television, radio, newspapers, magazines, books, cell phones - is becoming consolidated. These large media companies are moving to shape policy and regulations to increase profits. The Primetimers explored how media can represent a variety of viewpoints, what alternative media is available to tell the stories not in the interest of the large media conglomerates, and how the creation of media can be accessible to those on the margins.
Calvin Brockman of Portland, Oregon appreciated the opportunities for dialogue that this event provided. "I am very blessed to share in the lives of such wonderfully dedicated leaders and followers in our quest to understand and act on world needs."
One day the group had opportunities to visit and volunteer with a local United Methodist Churches to explore how that church is striving to be welcoming in the diverse, global city of New York. For Diane Gregory of River Ridge, Louisiana, the visit to a local church was a particularly powerful example of the need for churches to grow as communities change and our world changes. Gregory noted that "it's not enough to make small changes - there is a need for transformation."
Overall, the week was challenging and yet an opportunity to struggle alongside other United Methodists as to how to be God's love in the world. As one Primetimer noted, "As for personal growth, I have opened up my thought to God's total love for the world and each person everywhere."
Primetimers will offer an event in New York in June 2008. For information on this and other upcoming Primetimers events, please visit http://new.gbgm-umc.org/about/us/mv/programs/primetimers/ or contact the Primetimers Program at 1-877-882-4724.
Date posted: Nov 21, 2007