By Gladys Mangiduyos and Linda Bloom*
Three United Methodists are part of the newly elected Central Committee of the World Council of Churches but the denomination’s representation on the council’s governing body has dropped from five to three seats.
They are Bishop Mary Ann Swenson, ecumenical officer for the United Methodist Council of Bishops; Cynthia Kent, chairwoman of the United Methodist Native American International Caucus and a member of the Southern Ute tribe, and Chicago Area Bishop Sally Dyck.
Dyck will be serving a second seven-year term. She first was elected to the central committee at the WCC’s 9th assembly in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in 2006. She also was a member of the search committee that nominated the council’s current top executive, the Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, to that position in 2009.
Nominations and elections for the 150-member central committee took place this week during the WCC’s 10th assembly in Busan, Korea. The United Methodist delegation expressed concerns during two closed sessions on the reduction of United Methodist nominees, which falls short of the denomination’s historic representation in the WCC.
Referring to the strong support, both morally and financially, that The United Methodist Church has given the WCC, the Rev. Matthew Laferty said “I am quite distressed by the nominations report. Our confessional family (Methodist) has experienced a significant reduction of central committee seats by 50 percent. We are committed to the World Council of Churches, but the World Council of Churches must be committed to us.”
In another closed session, the Rev. Jonathan Ulanday asked for clarification on the principles or criteria used by the committee on nominations.
In 2006, four U.S. United Methodists were elected to the central committee, along with a representative from the United Methodist Church in Cote d’Ivoire, Africa. The representatives included four women, one of whom was a youth delegate.
The central committee elected in 2006 had 63 women (42 percent), 22 youth (15 percent) and six indigenous people (4 percent). About 65 percent, or 97 committee members, were ordained.
With this week’s election, the number of women dropped to 39 percent, while youth representation declined to 13 percent. The number of indigenous persons rose to 5 percent and ordained members increased to 68 percent.
The Rev. Larry Pickens, one of the United Methodist central committee members elected in 2006, acknowledged the difficulties of reaching agreement about representation for the 345 WCC member churches.
“The process of central committee elections are very complicated and involve regional, gender and other balances which impact the total picture of those who ultimately serve,” he explained.
New central committee members from other Methodist denominations include the Rev. Martine Zinsou-Lawson from the Methodist Church of Togo: Bishop Chibuzo Raphael Opoko, Methodist Church of Nigeria and Bishop Taranath Sugnanam Sagar, Methodist Church in India.
Also, the Rev. Kee Sing Wong, Methodist Church in Malaysia; the Rev. Daniel Angel Favaro, Methodist Church in Argentina; Bishop John F. White, African Methodist Episcopal Church, U.S.; and the Rev. Staccato Powell, African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, U.S.
*Mangiduyos, a deaconess in the United Methodist Philippines Central Conference, is a UMNS correspondent at the World Council of Churches 10th Assembly in Busan, Korea. Bloom is a United Methodist News Service multimedia reporter based in New York. Follow her at http://twitter.com/umcscribe.or contact her at (646) 369-3759 or firstname.lastname@example.org.