The Trails-European Division world ministers' council

The Trails-European Division world ministers' council: a Hungarian rhapsody

Ministry and the truth as it is in Jesus

Rex D. Edwards is a contributing editor of Ministry.

They came from Estonia in the east and England in the west, from Iceland in the north and Israel in the south. They came from Amsterdam and Athens, Tirano and Turku, Riga and Radom. They came from 22 countries that constitute the Trans-European Division.

More than 850 pastors and their spouses crowded into the main auditorium of the University of Technology in Budapest, Hungary.

What brought them together? General Conference president Robert Folkenberg answers, "Recognizing the loss of not having a General Conference pre-session, the Ministerial Association was wise enough to move into that vacuum and provide a division-wide gathering as a very effective substitute."

The gathering in Budapest from August 28 to September 2 provided a model for subsequent gatherings around the world during this quinquennium. Review editor William G. Johnsson (who taught a workshop titled "Pastor, You Need to Write!") captured the spirit of this gathering. "Rarely have I witnessed," he said, "such sustained intensity of inter est. Delegates and spouses came early to meetings, entered into discussions (many of them via simultaneous translation), took copious notes, and stayed late. They seized the day provided for them."

What bound them together? The answer was expressed in the council theme prominently dis played as a platform backdrop, "The Truth as It Is in Jesus." This theme unfolded like a symphony each day in five movements, beginning with the morning devotional— "Whom We Need." The second and third plenary session movements— "Whom We Experience" and "Whom We Believe" —reaffirmed our theological heritage and its application in the life and mission of the church. After a luncheon the fourth movement, "Whom We Serve," offered 18 concur rent seminars. The subjects covered a wide range of interests, such as "Motivating the Laity," "Facing the Muslims," "Pastoral Ethics in an Unethical World," "Conflict Management in the Church," "The Gift of Prophecy Today," and "Biblical Preaching for Today."

The fifth movement—"Whom We Proclaim"—prefaced by an evening musical program, climaxed the day with a preaching service that turned once again to the "Truth as It Is in Jesus." What is this truth? In his keynote address Bertil Wiklander, incoming TED president, explained. It "has to do with Christian living, whereby one's life becomes a new thing created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." Thus, it is "God's life ... it is God's gift to us." With earnestness he reminded the audience that in a division with so much geopolitical diversity "we need the divine gift of unity!"

A unique feature of this council was the presence of several hundred pastoral spouses. Special meetings were held for them by Shepherdess coordinators Sharon Cress of the General Conference and Gaya Currie of the division.

General Conference Ministerial Association secretary, Jim Cress, says, "I was encouraged to see so many pastoral spouses eager to be involved in team ministry and utilizing their unique talents to hasten our Lord's return. It was both encouraging and enlightening to hear the evangelistic endeavors of those whose partnership in ministry is a choice more than a vocation."

As the meetings concluded, the delegates left in a spirit of unity. General Conference undersecretary Athal Tolhurst states, "We came away with a new commitment to treasure God's Word, to love one another, and to finish the work of the gospel as soon as possible."


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Rex D. Edwards is a contributing editor of Ministry.

December 1995

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