Sixteen current and former Free Methodist bishops from around the world gathered for breakfast Wednesday morning prior to the opening service of General Conference 2011.
The Free Methodist Church – USA has three bishops, and other international branches of Free Methodism have bishops if they have their own general conferences.
“I’m very pleased because I’m here with my brother bishops,” said Bishop Cecilio Inocencio Osoria, who oversees more than 24,000 Free Methodist Church members in the Dominican Republic.
The group included Haitian Bishop Clovis Momplaisir, who was commissioned in March as the Haitian Free Methodist Church became a provisional general conference.
“It is good to meet so many bishops who’ve worked with us in Haiti,” Momplaisir said. “The church in Haiti is walking with strength.”
Bishop Nixon Dingili of Kenya expressed gratitude for the opportunity to attend General Conference and meet his international colleagues.
“We are grateful to the Lord to be with our brothers and sisters here in the United States,” Dingili said. “We are expecting to learn from the Lord as we share the experiences He has given us.”
The conversation included much joking, but it took a serious turn when the conversation turned to faith-based persecution. One bishop revealed that terrorists have targeted him.
Because of the different languages represented in the Roberts Wesleyan College meeting room, multilingual bishops took turns translating for several of their fellow bishops as they and their spouses shared about their ministries and families.
“Isn’t it fun to see these young people?” said Bishop Emeritus Robert Andrews about the other bishops before offering encouragement to them. “Take the way of Jesus and follow.”