‘Migration will revitalize the church”; Global Consultation convenes in Germany

December 04, 2014

Click here to listen to the interview with Bishop Rosemarie Wenner

Click here to listen to the interview with GBGM General Secretary Thomas Kemper

Click here to see images from the first day of the Consultation

By Dr. Arthur McClanahan*

“Migration will bring renewal to the Church, said one of the participants at a first-of-its-kind Global Migration Consultation.  The event, co-sponsored by the United Methodist Church in Germany and the General Board of Global Ministries, is bringing together approximately forty persons in Freudenstadt, Germany.

Migrants, also called “the other me,” have “become the missionaries of the 21st Century,” according to GBGM General Secretary Thomas Kemper.  Migration, another participant noted, “has local and global ramifications…[can also] inspire personal and spiritual holiness.”

Bishop Rosemarie Wenner, Bishop of the United Methodist Church in Germany, expressed her hope that “gathering from all over the world, [we] might share together and collect our hopes, our experiences, our possibilities to be in mission with all people.  Through that we will gain a broader sense of what it means to be a global church in a time when migration is happening from everywhere to everywhere, especially because many people are trying to find a safe place to live.”

The Global Migration Consultation, which convenes from December 4-8, grew out of an experience in Germany.  Leaders of migrant congregations came from “all over Europe,” Bishop Wenner noted, adding, “Out of that event came the question of whether we would host a global event.”  The General Board of Global Ministries helped the “idea to continue on even a broader scale,” the Bishop said.

Bishop Wenner cited another motivation to host a worldwide consultation.  “We realized how important it is to offer a spiritual home for people who are strangers, and also to empower people so that they can step out and work for justice, grace, and mercy to other people.”

General Secretary Kemper was “excited about hearing the stories of all the participants.”  It was important, he said, “that we were able to bring together people who have experience with migrants [and] those who are involved in migrant ministries.”  He described the Consultation as one where “People from different parts of the world have come together [who are] trying to do justice ministries – trying to give migrants a spiritual home.”  He feels that “these are ‘good news’ ministries.  They can really change how we do migrant ministries in The United Methodist Church”

The group, which includes four bishops, was invited, individually, to speak briefly of personal involvement with migrants and migrant ministries.  The collective involvement totaled 760 years of commitment.  “It was especially rich to hear the agreement about what’s going on,” Bishop Wenner said.  “What stood out was the incredible hope that comes through migrants” General Secretary Kemper added.  “They bring a chance for our church to revitalize, to grow spiritually.”  He also emphasized, “Migrants are not a ‘burden,’ as it’s often described.  Instead, they are an incredible blessing to our church!”

*Rev. Dr. Arthur McClanahan is the Director of Communications for the Iowa Conference of the United Methodist Church