FIRST ASIAN METHODIST CONVENTION
IN SEOUL: June 14-18, 2002
time for Asian Methodists
to proclaim Gospel with
one voice: Bishop Dr Solomon
time has come for the Methodists in Asia to proclaim the Gospel
of Christ with one heart and one voice so that God can be glorified.
This was stated by Bishop Dr Robert Solomon in his keynote address
to the 300 participants at the First Asian Methodist Convention,
which was held in Seoul from June 14 to 18, 2002.
present and future are full of promise for the missionary enterprise
in Asia, he said. Doors are being opened, and the interest is
there in what are, despite less apparent weaknesses, vibrant
Christian churches in Asia.
Venture to new fields where there are no Methodist
Dr Solomon urges delegates to the First Asian Methodist Convention.
-- Methodist Message picture.
The number of non-Western missionaries now exceeds the number
of Western missionaries, he added.
"We are only just beginning. Many more Asian missions and
missionaries will emerge. Combine this ecclesiastical trend with
socio-economic realities; the 21st Century has been described
as the century of the Asia-Pacific region. The potential is vast.
For the present, regionalisation and globalisation have produced
greater international mobility, which is promising to become
an important vehicle for the propagation of the Christian Gospel.
The Singapore delegation at the all-glass Immanuel
Church before the start of the Special Convention on June 16.
"Financial resources are growing and there is greater confidence
in the churches. However, we must also realise that there are
many poor people in Asia. Once closed countries are opening their
doors in the hope of improving the lot of the poor, though questions
have been raised whether the money that is pouring in is really
trickling down to the poor. Traditional cultures and lifestyles
are being threatened by rapid social and economic changes. Social
pathology is becoming more evident.
"These observations raise several theological questions
that must be examined by the church, which is increasingly engaged
in mission. We also need to find ways of doing mission with humility
and wisdom, with the hope that as we listen to the moving of
the Spirit of God amidst the winds of changes that are sweeping
across Asia, and move on with obedience, we will end up doing
more good than harm, so that the name of God can truly be glorified."
Bishop Dr Solomon said that the Asian church should be more involved
in mission work because it was in the position of the biblical
Antioch and there were large numbers of Asian Christians -- about
316.5 million Christians in Asia (in 50 countries).
Bishop Dr Solomon presenting a pewter ware gift
to Bishop Chang Kwang Young, the first President of the Asian
He cautioned, however, that "we have to do away with misunderstandings
related to tithing and prosperity and think carefully of stewardship
and responsibility. Money has to be used responsibly as it can
also give the power to fall into temptation".
He said: "We are challenged to continue proclaiming the
truth, especially the centrality of Christ in a world of religions,
money and technique. God is reconciling the world to Himself
through Christ and that is our hope (Col. 1:15-23).
"In an Asia that has seen much suffering and continues to
see suffering, evil, and injustice, we have to maintain the centrality
of the cross in our message and methods." (1 Cor. 2:1-5).
He urged Methodists to venture to new fields where there were
no Methodist churches, such as East Timor, Mongolia, Nepal, Laos
He said there were about 15 million Asian migrants, "a mission
field within our own countries".
There were about 2 million Christians from the Wesleyan tradition
in the countries represented in this convention. "Through
partnerships and strategic sharing of resources, we may reach
Asia for Christ in a more effective manner. There is a need for
greater unity and co-operation.
"It is interesting that in the postmodern times that we
live in, there seems to be a certain pluralisation (or more negatively,
fragmentation) of the missionary enterprise. The temptation is
to build our own little kingdoms. This is easy to do if we have
the money, and the people we go to desperately need the money.
Those engaged in mission need to work together so that resources
are better utilised and so that we do not ultimately end up serving
He said there was a great need to develop different kinds and
levels of leadership for the churches. This has to include both
clergy and lay.
He said that opportunities existed for Asian Methodists to rediscover
Wesleyan spirituality and interpret it "for our Asian contexts
so that it can be meaningful for us and enrich the larger worldwide
Wives of Korean
pastors presenting a song at the closing session of the convention
on June 18.
'Many more Asian missions and missionaries
The potential is vast. For the present, regionalisation
and globalisation have produced greater international mobility,
which is promising to become an important vehicle for the propagation
of the Christian Gospel.'