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His Grace Michael KEHINDE STEPHEN, Diocese of Ibadan, Archbishop of the Methodist Church of Nigeria (NIGERIA)
Let me express my gratitude and that of the Church I represent, Methodist Church Nigeria, for the invitation extended to me to participate at this Special Episcopal Synod with this all important theme "The Church in Africa in Service to Reconciliation, Justice and Peace."
I bring you greetings from the World Methodist Council, which just concluded its executive Committee meeting in Santiago, Chile. The council wants me to use the opportunity of this gathering to further appreciate the monumental event of the signing of the Document on Justification by faith of the last World Methodist Conference in Seoul South Korea in July 2006. The council looks forward to faster movement on other issues and sincerely hopes the conversations can also begin at bilateral levels in Africa.
Let me also bring greetings from the World Council of Churches especially from the Continuation Committee on Ecumenism in the 21st Century on which I serve as its Moderator, and to thank the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity for its services to this Committee and the commitment to host this meeting in Rome in January 2010.
The Continuation Committee on Ecumenism in the 21st century has as its responsibility the task of articulating more clearly the common vision of the Church toward unity and to ensure greater coherence of the ecumenical movement in response to the changing global realities.
The Committee is composed of representatives of different constituencies, including member churches of the World Council of Churches (WCC) the Roman Catholic Church, Pentecostal Churches, ecumenical youth organizations, regional ecumenical organizations, Christian world communions, national council of churches, specialized ministries, international ecumenical organizations and ecumenical renewal communities. We hope we can count on your continued support as we move to the next stage of deepening theological reflections on vision and values and develop concrete recommendations for action by churches and ecumenical partners.
The issues highlighted in the document "instrumentum laboris" captures in a comprehensive way most of the challenges facing the Church in Africa today. However for me, when the issues of Reconciliation Justice and Peace are addressed with all sincerity of purpose, as it appears to be the purpose for this gathering, then the Church exemplifies itself as a living body in service to all of humanity and the entire creation.
The issue of justice is of, particular interest, I believe true justice is demonstrated when ministers and leaders speak out against evil, without regard to personal gain or loss.
Shepherds, both Clergy and laity, are responsible for exercising justice in the Church. This is particularly needed in Africa today. Where there is justice, peace is possible and this allows for the fullness of the image of God to be revealed through the Holy Spirit's on going work of sanctification.
Let me conclude by reminding us of the wish of the entire ecumenical community that it is always good and pleasant when kindred live together in unity.
May the outcome of this deliberation draw us together in service to reconciliation, justice and peace in Africa and the entire world.