Lake Junaluska resident speaks at Mandela memorialWorld Methodist leader: His mantle had fallen and it is in our hands
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA — As the world gathered in Johannesburg, South Africa, to remember and celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela, World Methodist Council General Secretary Ivan Abrahams delivered a powerful sermon celebrating the life and framing the legacy of the South African leader.
“While others will only read about him in years to come, we are his heirs,” Abrahams said. “We are the harbingers of hope for the future. We have been endowed with the rare privilege to take his legacy further. His mantle has fallen and it is in our hands.”
Among the international leaders in attendance at the ceremony was current U.S. President Barak Obama, former U.S. Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter; first ladies Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, South African President Jacob Zuma and heads of state from African nations as well as Europe, Asia and Latin America.
Abrahams reflected in his sermon on “one of the most remarkable stories” recorded in the sacred texts of the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths, the story of the Prophet Elijah.
Just as Elijah made a conscious decision to pick up the mantle of prophetic authority, so must those who follow after Mandela, he declared. Such a legacy, he added, involves selfless sacrifice and service and the ability to “move forward in faith.”
Abrahams is the fourth person and first South African to serve as General Secretary of the World Methodist Council. He began his tenure in 2012 following the World Methodist Conference in Durban, South Africa. From 2003-2012, he served as Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa–one of the largest Christian denominations in Southern Africa. During his tenure he provided prophetic leadership and direction.
A renowned ecumenist and advocate for social justice, Bishop Abrahams is active in various fora including the All Africa Conference of Churches and the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches