Friday, July 06, 2012

Advice to the hierarchy of the church

from w
A letter to the editor of the Fiji Times today is pertinent - that the Methodist Church in Fiji does need to be modernised and reorganise somewhat to be stewards of the finances. Decentralization would work better than too much emphasis on Suva headquarters. And make use of the well-educated men and women of middle years instead of the elderly. Okay, old people may have wisdom - at times - but these days the church does need IT literate people to modernise many areas of concern, the use of emails, blogs, websites,  also focus on youth instead of he same old, same old....  such as four part harmony in choir music, men talking loud in long sermons. On the other hand they do accept women as leaders - the rare kind as a talatala like wonderful Meraia, and Deaconesses. I did read that eight positions are being made redundant because of finances, secretaries I think. Still not sure if they've got permission for the Conference for August, police not making it clear as yet. But they need more than three days - because reports from the schools and institutions etc. need to be looked at. Citizenship issues and human rights I guess are not on the agenda.

Church reforms
I commend the Methodist Church Assistant Secretary General Reverend Nawadra for the austerity measures and structural reforms proposed for the Methodist Church to cut cost as published in the Fiji Times (FT 4/7).
The Methodist Church has become too large a bureaucracy and a burden to members to sustain financially.
The initiative proposed is not only timely but necessary to modernize the church structure to a leaner, more efficient and cost effective institution in terms of the delivery of its core spiritual and developmental functions.
Such social development interventions by the church, which it has been doing over the years, could do much more to assist Government fight against reducing social problems and poverty which is now becoming the most serious problem with 45% of the people in Fiji living in poverty; the majorities are rural iTaukei and are members of the Methodist Church.
I hope that the budget cut from $3.47 million to $2.9 million is only the beginning of such review by the church and should also include the cost of running the Divisional Circuits (Wasewase), the District Circuits (Tabacakacaka) and the village circuits (Koro-Vakatawa) and their efficacy.
The $2.9 million is an understatement of the cost of operations of the Methodist Church because this is only for headquarters operations but the majority of the costs incurred by members are at the above levels.
Again I applaud Reverend Nawadra's vision and look forward to see a modern and progressive Methodist Church with a new sense of direction; a church that is lean, cost effective and to becoming self financing and truthful to its primary core function to promote the spiritual development of members and not the operations of the church institution.
JW Bulai

1 comment:

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

How different is the Uniting Church in Australia - which has strong links with the Methodist Church in Fiji. They can talk about anything - but as the writer says - with diversity, you have to realise that immigrant church groups do NOT want to discuss some things! I noticed that the Anglican Synod delegates though are having a go.
Sexuality: Discomfort of Diversity

KOH Swee-Ann, Director Cross-cultural Mission and Ministry Unit
The Uniting Church in Australia is a diverse church.

Clearly some CALD communities culturally find great difficulties in having an open discussion on issues relating to human sexuality. Clearly the prevailing culture of our Church deal with issues publicly and openly. This is the way the Church does business.

As a diverse Church, we need to understand that there are diverse ways of conducting business. That’s the discomfort some in the CALD communities need to learn to embrace.

However, the prevailing culture needs to also realise that the direct approach is not necessarily the best approach with some CALD communities. In fact sometimes it can be counterproductive.

One of the biggest challenges of a multicultural Church is the pluralism of theologies. I believe, however, before we can truly celebrate our diversity which is a given in a multicultural Church, we need to embrace the discomfort of the theological plurality. We need to be able to accept the uncomfortable feelings in naming these discomforts and find ways to engage each other.

When discomfort is dismissed and emotional upheavals go unaddressed the potential for respect, compassion, understanding and radical change is clearly stifled. Once we are able to embrace the discomfort of diversity, the profound power of discomfort can propel us into deeper and more meaningful relationships with those that we might profoundly disagree.

How a diverse church is able to deal with difficult issues is a much stronger witness to the world than our ability to agree on contentious issues. The world tends to deal with contentious issues by demonising, abusing, humiliating, judging and sometimes even resorting to violence. That’s not and ought not to be the way we deal with difficult issues within the Church.

Our task is not simply to debate these issues, rather to explore what it means to “come to the table”, stay at the table of faith, and to embrace one another there, in spite of our diverse perspectives.

And finally, to all those who feel uncomfortable with diversity, I pray that we can be mindful of these words of wisdom from the Poet Laureate of Oregon, an early 20th century American poet, Edwin Markham:

He drew a circle that shut me out-
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in.

KOH Swee-Ann
Cross-cultural Mission and Ministry Unit