United Methodist bishops from Africa, Europe, Asia and the United States will gather in Berlin at Hotel Palace Berlin for the Council of Bishops meeting, from May 1-7.
Main topics on the agenda include the development of vital congregations, the implementation of the four Areas of Focus, preparation for the 2016 General Conference of The United Methodist Church, and the role of bishops in helping to maintain the unity and faithfulness of the church in the face of many significant challenges and opportunities.
“The Council of Bishops is meeting in Europe because The United Methodist Church is a global church with approximately 40 percent of United Methodists living outside the United States,” said Bishop Peter D. Weaver, executive secretary of the Council of Bishops. “It is important, as John Wesley emphasized, to be ‘connected’ with each other as we celebrate the diversity of gifts in our church and learn from each other how best to ‘make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world’ in this 21st century.”
On Sunday, May 3, the bishops will split into groups and worship with different United Methodist churches in Berlin and nearby congregations. Bishops will have the chance to meet with local United Methodists; afterwards, they will have the opportunity to learn more about unique local history, as well as current challenges in Europe.
“Twenty-five years ago the Berlin Wall came down,” said Bishop Rosemarie Wenner of the Germany Episcopal Area. “Recently one of our pastors, who grew up in the German Democratic Republic, said at a gathering in Berlin: ‘Whenever I cross the former border, just walking along without any constraints, I am rejoicing in my heart.’ The German nation and the people in Europe have indeed many reasons to rejoice. At the same time, we know of the challenges caused by rapid changes.”
Time for spiritual reflection is a part of the Council’s agenda, including daily worship. Plenary business sessions, held Friday through Thursday, are open to the news media and public. There will also be various committee and sub-group meetings throughout the week.
About the Council of Bishops
The Council of Bishops provides leadership and helps set the direction of the 12.5 million-member church and its mission throughout the world. The bishops are the top clergy leaders of The United Methodist Church, the second largest Protestant denomination in the U.S.