United Methodist Scholars to Meet in Hiroshima, Japan May 24-28

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International Association of United Methodist Schools, Colleges and Universities to Focus on Peace

The issue of peace is one of the greatest areas of need in the world today.

United Methodist students and faculty from five continents will gather in Hiroshima, Japan on May 24-28 for the International Association of United Methodist Schools, Colleges and Universities (IAMSCU) 2014 Conference. The conference will be held in Hiroshima, Japan – a city nearly destroyed by the world’s first deployed atomic bomb in 1945. Appropriately, topics explored will include peace, reconciliation and human rights.

“The issue of peace is one of the greatest areas of need in the world today,” said Bishop James Dorff, president of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry. “Peace and reconciliation are values of the church since they are at the heart of Christ’s teachings. As our colleges and universities raise up and send forth persons engaged in the work of peace, reconciliation and justice, the world will be a better place and the Kingdom will be more fully a reality.”

“IAMSCU is key to the church’s initiatives in higher education around the world,” said Gerald D. Lord, IAMSCU Executive Secretary and Treasurer and Associate General Secretary, Division of Higher Education, General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM). “This meeting portends to be an important gathering in that regard both because of the program content and meeting location and because of the unlimited networking possibilities so that institutions in our connection can help each other.”

Not only will students, scholars and leaders attending IAMSCU have the historical environment of Hiroshima as a catalyst for discussion, they will also become immersed in an international community eager to ignite passion in young people, grow problem solvers and recruit like fellowships eager to participate in peacemaking ministries.

Religion professor from Pfeiffer University, Philip Wingeier-Rayo will present research about the current issues surrounding worldwide immigration. He said he is hopeful about the partnerships that will arise from the conference. “Especially with the availability of social media today, participants will take away several new contacts and make personal connections that can lead to untold new exchanges,” he said.

Amos Nascimento, Special Assistant to the General Secretary at GBHEM, leads the area of Global Education and New Initiatives and helped to organize this event. According to Nascimento, the IAMSCU Conference is probably the most diverse event promoted with the support of The United Methodist Church, as it brings educators from many countries, from A to Z (Australia, Bolivia, Canada, Côte d’Ivoire, Estonia, Germany, Kenya, Liberia, Mongolia, Peru, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Uruguay, and Zimbabwe – and many others).

“There are more than 250 participants, from five different continents and their regional networks, representing 50 of the nearly 80 countries involved in IAMSCU, and engaged in peace education, reconciliation, and human rights at schools, colleges, and universities,” said Nascimento. “They all know that the schools, colleges, and universities related to the Methodist connection are the places where new generations of leaders for the church and society are being formed.”

There will be a special program for students as part of the conference. Students from Japan will be joined by more than 60 students from overseas.

Recent Pfeiffer biology graduate, Joseph Sutlive, looks forward to attending the conference and taking what he learns into his pursuit of a Ph.D. in the fall. “Science has already been very important to me, and will be my future career, so I hope I can take something away that relates applied science to peace, reconciliation and human rights, especially on the topic of ethics,” he said.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the president of Liberia and a United Methodist keenly interested in education, has been invited to be a keynote speaker at the opening ceremony.

IAMSCU was established at the 16th World Methodist Conference in Singapore in 1991. At present, there are more than 800 Methodist educational institutions around the world. The vision of IAMSCU is to develop a dynamic, worldwide network of member institutions, resulting in effective inter-institutional cooperation and collaboration to prepare a new generation of Christian leaders.

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Diane Degnan
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