As I said in an earlier post, this past weekend we attended (and helped to host) a Diaconal Conference for the Northern European United Methodist Churches. [Diaconal work encompasses the work of the Deacon, which in the UMC most often means working to feed the hungry, visit the sick and imprisoned, assist the poor, etc… for an example look in the Bible in Acts chapter 6 when the church chose seven people to look after the needs of the brothers and sisters.] At the end of this meeting we drafted a statement that the Bishop’s office will send to all the churches under his jurisdiction, and ask that it be read to those congregations. I thought I would post it here as well…
Humility, Mercy, and Justice: a call for holistic ministry in every community
Poverty affects all of our communities, whether we encounter a poverty of physical resources or a poverty of tenuous connections.
We, representatives from the Nordic and Baltic area of the United Methodist Church and its institutions, gathered in Latvia in March 2008 to share from our stories – our joys and our challenges – in ministry, specifically in the areas related to children and vulnerable families.
We acknowledge that poverty results from scarcity – whether a lack of physical resources, a lack of spiritual formation, or a lack of emotional nurture – and this poverty affects all of our communities.
We believe that our rich Biblical heritage and our Wesleyan theological and spiritual tradition challenge our lives, congregations, and ministries to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly (cf. Micah 6:8) among the children and the vulnerable both within our immediate milieux and throughout the entire world.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus reminds us that the Kingdom of God is open to all persons, including the child, the outcast, the enemy, and the vulnerable.
We encourage Acts of Piety (celebrating the sacraments and participating in the life of worship) and Acts of Mercy (meeting immediate and tangible physical, spiritual, and emotional needs), yet we also acknowledge that these two remain incomplete without Acts of Justice (cf. James 2:14-17).
In our Wesleyan tradition, salvation involves the work of reconciling humanity’s broken relationship with God, and salvation in Wesleyan tradition also means that those who engage in Acts of Piety, Acts of Mercy, and Acts of Justice participate in God’s holy and salvific work of healing the world.
To this end, we would want to challenge our Methodist brothers and sisters, as individuals and as congregations, to engage in dialogue (Christian conferencing) around our Social Principles in order to see the children and vulnerable anew and to hear a fresh challenge of engaging the unjust social structures that adversely affect the children and vulnerable throughout God’s creation.