|Intercultural Ministry in Western Europe--Growing and Challenging|
Berlin, Germany, February 9, 2009--The number of United Methodist international and migrant congregations is growing across Western Europe, particularly in Germany, and the diversity is requiring new, creative approaches to ministry.
The fact and the challenges of these new congregations was the focus on a late January, 2009, leadership training seminar in Berlin for European United Methodists and other Methodist leaders. The topic, "Intercultural Ministry in Europe--Pastoral Care in Multicultural Settings," was explored in lectures and discussion groups. It was the fourth such event.
There are today 45 United Methodist international and migrant congregations in continental Western Europe. Twenty are in Germany.
Some serve short-term residents, such as business people and students, but more and more are composed of migrants. English is the language of many of these congregations, but preaching and other forms of ministry are increasingly in French, Russian, Portuguese, Vietnamese, and African languages. The largest groups of Methodist immigrants are from Ghana and Zimbabwe.
Forty-five clergy and lay leaders from 10 European countries attended the Berlin gathering, hosted and chaired by Bishop Rosemarie Wenner of Germany. She was assisted by the Rev. Carol Seckel, a missionary of the General Board of Global Ministries, who is coordinator of migrant ministries in the region.
Reports and dialogue indicated that the new congregations seldom fit into the traditional patterns of the annual conferences in which they are located. Bishop Wenner said that the entire United Methodist denomination needs to respond to the challenges the new congregations bring and to provide spiritual homes and support to persons living away from their places of origin. "This is mission at its best," she said.
The Rev. Dr. Fulgence Nyengele, a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo who teaches at the Methodist Theology Seminary in Ohio, delivered the keynote address in Berlin. He is a professor of pastoral care and author of a widely utilized book entitled African Women's Theology, Gender Relations, and Family Systems Theory. Colin Ride, the Europe secretary of the Methodist Church of Great Britian, was Bible study leader.
A multilingual service of worship took place at Berlin-Schöneberg's Korean Methodist Church. Through Bishop Wenner's efforts, contacts between United Methodist and Korean Methodist churches in Germany show signs of reaching better levels of understanding.
The seminar was funded by grants from the General Board of Global Ministries and the Germany Central Conference. The Rev. Ullas Tankler, the Global Ministries Europe secretary, represented the mission agency.
Bishop Wenner announced that the fifth conference on international United Methodist ministry in Europe will meet in January 2010, also in Berlin.
For more information on the ministry of missionary Carol Seckel and ministry with the international community and migrants in Europe, see the English-language newsletter on the internet at http://www.unitedmethodist.de/fileadmin/news/november-2008.pdf.
This release was adapted from a report written by the Rev. Heinrich Meinhardt, a pastor in Germany.
Date posted: Feb 10, 2009