Wednesday, September 2, 2015

What was this “Red Lion Boy” doing in Singapore?

“I have a much, much better understanding of the peoples of the world called Methodists."—Kirby Hickey
By Jerry Wolgemuth

In 1991 Kirby Hickey found himself asking God, “What is this boy from Red Lion, Pennsylvania, doing here in Singapore on two different committees with no idea what they’re about?”

Previous to his appearance in Singapore, Hickey was selected by Bishop Felton May to be among 500 persons selected by their Methodist bishops to serve on the World Methodist Council. “I had no idea why he selected me other than the fact that I had been involved at the Central Pennsylvania Conference level in a variety of activities.”

In Singapore Hickey was selected to be one of 100 persons to serve on the Executive Council. He brought to the council his business acumen by being involved in a twenty-million-dollar capital campaign called, “Achieving the Vision.” “This is an endowment that we’re still seeking funds for,” he quickly adds.

Hickey soon sold his businesses and retired. Five years ago he was called out of retirement to serve as a chief financial officer for the World Methodist Council, and along with that came an election as treasurer and chief financial officer.
“I feel very blessed to have been asked and to have received the confidence of those members of the council. And I thank God for the gifts and graces that he has provided,” Kirby says.

Is Kirby Hickey a different person than in 1991 because of the World Methodist Council? “Yes,” he will respond. “I’m much more mature in my faith. I have a much, much better understanding of the peoples of the world called Methodists.”
The World Methodist Council provides a gathering place for all people who call themselves Methodists or who would be of the Wesleyan tradition.

The council also provides a voice on the international stage as well as dialogues with those outside the Wesleyan tradition. Hickey points to a dialogue committee that opens those conversations. “The committee is headed by a Ph.D. in Theology from Australia. For example, he has a team that meets regularly with representatives from the Roman Catholic Church. Sometimes they meet in the Vatican. These dialogues have been going on for fifty years. The conversations are primarily to find common ground, to find out where we are not so different from each other. Does it mean that we’ll become one at some point? Probably not. But at least we’re able to share our alliances, our beliefs, our differences in a setting that is healthy dialogue.”

The World Methodist Council celebrated its one hundredth year in 2013. If you want to know more about the World Methodist Council, you can visit their website at where you’ll find this descriptive statement: “The World Methodist Council is a worldwide association of 80 Methodist, Wesleyan, and related Uniting and United Churches representing over 80.5 million people. It engages, empowers, and serves the member churches by encouraging Methodist unity in witness, facilitating mission in the world, and fostering ecumenical and inter-religious activities. It promotes obedience to the Great Commandment of Jesus Christ to love God and neighbor and to fulfill the Great Commission to make disciples through vibrant evangelism, a prophetic voice, cooperative programs, faithful worship and mutual learning.”

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