FXUM Theological Symposium with Dr. Amelia Koh-Butler & Bishop Tom Berlin
By Michael Beck
Last year, we launched the first Fresh Expressions Theological Symposium. More than five hundred people signed up for an opportunity to learn and converse with leading Wesley scholars about the emerging United Methodist Church of the twenty-first century.
We are asking, "Is there a way the people called Methodists can ‘bring forth treasures both old and new’ (Matt 13:52) to help us thrive in a new reality?”
The answer from our symposium speakers thus far has been a resounding, yes!
Fresh Expressions UM is a distinctly Wesleyan Spirit-led movement of new Christian communities that serve the present age. We are seeking to cultivate inclusive, accessible, transfiguring, and connectional communities of love and grace for people currently neglected by the church.
This month, our symposium speakers include Dr. Amelia Koh-Butler, ministry team leader at Eastwood Uniting Church in Sydney, Australia, and Bishop Tom Berlin, bishop of the Florida Annual Conference. The first session is on April 13 at 5:30 p.m., CDT. The structure of the symposium is a series of free live-streamed events using Zoom. Each speaker will consider a core theological distinction that needs to be reappropriated to serve the present age and then respond live to questions. The recordings from these conversations will be made available with a study guide for teams to work through together.
Amelia Koh-Butler is a Chinese-Scottish-Aussie, adopted by the Adnyamathanha of the Ikara-Flinders through Rev Dr. Denise Champion. She is a missional integrator of worship, service, education, storying, and hospitality. She is the ministry team leader at Eastwood Uniting Church in Sydney, Australia. She is the World Methodist Council’s Global Worship and Liturgy Convenor, teaching in North and Central America, Italy, France, Spain, Korea, Thailand, and Singapore. Previous graduate studies in music, creative arts, theology, and education led her to complete intercultural doctoral research through Fuller (Pasadena) in integrated missiology, ethnomusicology, and Fresh Expressions of Church.
Amelia was the director of the Uniting Church’s The Elm Centre (education for life and ministry) and was part of teams introducing ministry innovations to Australia: the Walk to Emmaus Movement, Godly Play, and Mission-shaped Ministry (Fresh Expressions). She served as executive director of the Uniting Church’s Mission Resourcing in South Australia and as the multifaith chaplain at Western Sydney University.
Amelia’s topic is “Stories for Wesley’s ‘Global Congregation.’”
Bishop Tom Berlin, the bishop of the Florida Annual Conference, was raised in the United Methodist Church and received a call to ordained ministry while serving as a summer counselor at the Tennessee Outreach Project. He has served churches of all sizes, including twenty-five years as the lead pastor of Floris United Methodist Church, a multisite, multistaff congregation near the nation’s capital.
Bishop Berlin believes in the value of our connectional church and cares deeply about its vitality and unity. He longs for a church where all people feel that they belong. He has experienced the power of our global connection through Floris United Methodist Church’s partnership with the Sierra Leone Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, helping to create and support the Child Reintegration Centre and Mercy Hospital. He has been active in leadership in the Virginia Conference, chaired the board of governors at Wesley Theological Seminary, led delegations to General Conference, and served on the Commission on a Way Forward and the team that created the “Protocol of Grace and Reconciliation through Separation.”
In a time of difficulty in the United Methodist Church, the bishop finds hope in the love and Resurrection of Christ and the ways he sees the Holy Spirit active among those committed to the congregations where they live and serve. He is a speaker and the author of books that focus on the Christian life and stewardship, and has co-authored books on church leadership. Bishop Berlin is married to Karen, and they have four daughters. These five women have enabled him to grow in sanctification and see people and life in ways he would have missed without them.
Bishop Berlin’s topic concerns how a Wesleyan understanding of sanctification enables the church to help people consider the ever-evolving state of their soul, heal from harm, and gain a pathway to joyful holiness.
Don’t miss this next gathering on April 13 at 5:30 p.m., CDT. Please register at the link below. If you can’t make it to the conversation live, you may access a recording afterward.
Additional symposium speakers include:
- Elaine Heath
- Leonard Sweet
- Paul Chilcote
- Lilian Siwila
- Paw Liang
- Sangwoo Kim
- Candace Lewis
- Graham Cray
- Ken Carter
- Jacqui Rivas
- Steve Harper
- Sue Haupert-Johnson
- Bener Agtarap
- Brian Russell
- Martyn Atkins
- Thomas Oord
- Jong Chun Park
- Mark Williamson
- Michael Beck
- and more!
Michael Beck is the Director of Fresh Expressions United Methodist (FXUM) with Path 1 at Discipleship Ministries.