The ongoing empowerment of millions of African United Methodists.
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Inevitably the growing African membership will alter these preoccupations with American leftist themes. They believe the church’s role is primarily evangelistic, not political. But to the extent the church does speak politically, the Africans focus on economic growth, disease eradication, clean water, government corruption, promoting traditional family structures and defending religious liberty, especially against encroaching Islam in Africa.
The Africans will almost certainly influence the worship focus of future General Conferences. This year, in typical fashion, a Berkeley trained California activist led the worship services, pantheistically at times focusing on rocks and driftwood. A radical American Indian professor angrily denounced America’s ostensible genocide of his people while citing his veneration for the spirits of his ancestors, the elk, and even corn. Some overseas delegates, including some East Europeans who pondered a formal protest, thought these services neo-pagan.
Many U.S. delegates left Tampa frustrated by a bureaucratic General Conference that seemed trapped in the status quo. But beneath that veneer was the ongoing empowerment of millions of African United Methodists. They represent surging global Christianity. But they also are salvaging what otherwise would be another dying American Mainline denomination.