As I come to my final general board meeting after serving on this Board for 8 years, I must confess that it has been a very disillusioning experience. I have experienced a very difficult time as a local pastor seeing widows on fixed income giving sacrificially to the mission programs of our great church while at the same time as chairman of the Board Finance Committee knowing that we appropriated $500,000 for a person and project when that very person had not been renominated as the Deputy General Secretary of the World Division. I have equally been disillusioned by 178 directors spending over $300,000 for a week's meeting in New York City and the sheer arrogance of appropriating $25,000 for our own study for relocation that flies in the face of the one authorized by the General Conference.
Although Don Messer and I do not agree on the issue of relocation, I think that he is right on target when he says that as a GBGM, "We can win the battle and lose the war!" I do not know how the final vote will be in Louisville on the matter of relocation. My life and ministry will not be changed one way or the other if the Board does not relocate. However, I want to go on record as saying that if this GBGM continues to arrogantly resist General Conference mandated task force recommendations such as the one regarding relocation, you can rest assured that the World Service dollars will continue to drop all across the world of United Methodism.
Thanks for listening!
Dr. Karl K. Stogall, Chairman
General Board of Global Ministries
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Annex E, Appendix 2
by Reverend Max Borah
Sesser, Ill. 62884
After a year and a half of correspondence with the GBGM, we were accepted as missionary candidates and asked to attend three weeks of missionary orientation. This was on very short notice - one week - but we jumped at the chance, feeling that after waiting so long in the application process we had better not seem hesitant now. Orientation took place July 6-29, 1983 at Stony Point Center, a beautiful Retreat Center about 60 miles north of New York City on the Hudson River.
There were 33 candidates going to several different countries: Ecuador, Uraguay, Argentina, Tonga, Zaire, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, among others. We represented a variety of occupations: ministers, teachers, doctors, nurses, airplane pilots, and maintenance. We were of different ages: from fresh out of college to retirement age. And, as we were soon to find out, we also represented very different theological perspectives. I was very interested in the fact that they were sending a missionary to Ecuador, since I had been told in some of our earliest correspondence with the Board that they "have no mission personnel there." We had inquired about service in Quito because I had been there with OMS on an Evangelism Crusade and found the potential for evangelism there almost unlimited.
As I came to know the head of the Latin American Office, I began to understand why Patty and I wouldn't have been considered for service in Ecuador. All, and I do mean all, the people going to South America are strong liberation theology people. The wife of a pastor going to Argentina told me that the reason they had been so attractive to the Latin American Office was because of the interest they had and belief they held in Liberation Theology, which she said was obvious in their application. It was this same group which literally booed President Reagan during a news conference that was broadcast during orientation.
Each morning began with what was called "Biblical Reflection". In fact, to me. it was neither Biblical nor reflective. Our Biblical Reflections speakers were quite liberal theologically. Two of them had been expelled from their homelands (Korea and Chile) for political involvement. These were the two who spoke more than any of the others. Dr. Ran Wan Sang, an exile from South Korea, encouraged us not to be afraid to become politically involved in our host country. One of his Biblical Reflections studies was on the parable of the Good Samaritan. According to him this story shows us how people are enslaved by oppressive governments and multinational corporations. We, as missionaries, should be like the Good Samaritan and help free people from such oppression. He told us that "if you are expelled from your host country for political involvement, you will inherit eternal life." He openly admitted, "I am a Marxist."
The exile from Chile, Dr. Joel Gajardo, let us know in no uncertain terms that most, if not all, of the trouble in Latin America was due to the United States' foreign policy and multinational corporations. Marxism was praised, as was Nicaragua, Cuba, and the former Marxist government in Chile. He told us, "You cannot separate social action and evangelism because social action is evangelism."
Only twice do I recall our Biblical Reflections leaders having prayer with the group. We went through day after day together without seeking God's guidance for what we were doing.
One thing which came through clearly as Orientation continued was that the GBGM has no doctrine of sin. They simply ignore the influence and effects of sin in the world and speak instead of injustice. Injustice is sin to them. And it is that from which we. as missionaries, are to help deliver others.
It doesn't take long for one to realize that the theology currently in vogue in the Board is totally alien to that of Wesley and traditional Methodism. At best, the theology of the GBGM is a "mongrel", incorporating Universalism, a generous amount of Secular Humanism, and Liberation Theology. From what I could see, no Weslyan Theology was present at all.
Our main subject of the day covered a variety of topics. We were introduced to many of the agencies, publications and personnel which are part of the GBGM. We found this both interesting and helpful. World Division staff personnel gave us an overview of the different areas of the world, including their respective priorities, goals, and perspectives for Latin America, Africa, Western Europe, China, and the Pacific Islands. Dr. Harry Haines gave a very challenging presentation to us.
We were informed about packing, income taxes, salary, pensions, health insurance, and the children's educational endowment, all of which I appreciated. To me, the most helpful speaker during Orientation was Dr. Duvon Corbitt, former missionary to Zaire. He spoke to us about potential health problems, ranging from dysentery to cerebral malaria to how to deliver a baby; and topics from how to light a gas refrigerator to how not to go crazy when you are dealing with a new language. Unfortunately, very little time was spent on such vital information. While only two hours were allotted Dr. Corbitt to discuss tropical diseases we would confront, two days were allotted to discuss the International Monetary Fund. (We all wondered just how that was going to help us in any significant way.)
On one occasion we were to hear a presentation on some of the other faiths we would confront. A former United Methodist missionary to Egypt spoke to us about Islam. We were very interested in this because there were many Muslims in our assigned country. His knowledge was vast and I enjoyed his presentation, but we were dismayed at the advice he gave us for dealing with them. "We shouldn't try to convert them," he said. "We should leave the converting to God." We should just "be friends" to them because "both Islam and Christianity reflect the glory of God." We were also told going to the field to convert the people to Christianity was a part of the 18th century, but thankfully we have outgrown that now.
One full day was given to a presentation by Catholic sisters from the Maryknoll Order. Their approach was openly anti-U.S. and very pro-Cuba, pro-Nicaragua. Part of their presentation involved dividing the group into different countries for a "Global Village Simulation Game." Each person was assigned to represent a different country: some rich - some poor - the world was divided along these lines. It was a big joke that no one wanted to be assigned to represent the United States because they were obviously the "bad guys".
We were told over and over in many different ways by many speakers that the United States' foreign policy was oppressive, as were multinational (usually American) corporations and capitalism in general. A redistribution of the world's wealth was proposed as a possible solution to the world's problems, along with a "new world order" built along Marxist lines. We were even asked during a meeting of our primary groups to discuss whether we would admit to being a U.S. citizen when we got to our assigned countries.
As Orientation progressed it became very clear that the personnel at 475 were not really interested in sending missionaries. To me, it seemed as if they were more interested in their pet subjects, such as racism, sexism, peace with justice, etc. While it wasn't stated, it seemed as if they would have preferred not to be bothered by sending missionaries, and instead, be free to concentrate on their particular areas of interest. One got the idea that they were fooling with us because, as a part of the Board, that was expected of them. But their heart wasn't in it.
Twice during the Orientation, we were asked to raise our hands to indicate what theological perspective we each held. Of the 33 candidates, 8 identified themselves as of "evangelicals", maybe 4 or 5 as "liberals", and the rest as "liberation theology". Of the 11 seminary-trained missionary candidates, those who would be in seminary or influential pastoral positions, 10 were liberation, and one was evangelical.
The motivation for going as missionaries varied greatly among the group. Some were interested in bringing about world peace, some wanted to free people from oppression, some were just interested in other cultures, some wanted to use their position as a stepping stone for getting their masters' degree, some felt called of God, and some simply wanted to help people.
One missionary in Patty's primary group said that his biggest problem in becoming a missionary and going overseas was what he should do with the girl he has been living with for the past year. Should he give her a ring or break up with her? When he expressed some genuine guilt for having had the relationship in the first place, a woman in the group interrupted him, "Why, you don't have anything to feel guilty about," she exclaimed. "We're all sexual people; we all have to express ourselves somehow."
We were angered by the overwhelming liberation slant the Orientation had. Even the most liberal candidate commented on the lack of balance theologically. We felt our precious time was being wasted on political ideologies. We also resented being a captive audience for everyone in the World Division with a pet issue: racism, sexism, etc. For instance. we were told that because we were white we were automatically racist. PERIOD. No discussion. Being a racist resulted from our being white, and not from our attitudes and actions.
A great concern that we had about the personnel in the Africa Office was that as far as we knew, none of them, except Miss Patricia Rothrock, had any missionary experience beyond brief trips to Africa. We were being told how to be missionaries and what to expect by people who had never been missionaries themselves. We were told such things as, "Don't live in missionary compounds; live in the village with the people. Eat their food; be like them in every way. Don't have them work for you, etc." A missionary friend of ours who was raised in Zaire said that those who do such things not only get very sick very soon, but the nationals laugh at them for trying to be like them. A former missionary told Patty and me privately, "These guys don't know what they are doing."
From what I observed, people on the Board simply don't know what missionary life is like. As a result of this there is a gap between the personnel in the field and those at 475. The people in the field that I spoke with by-and-large find the Board a hindrance; a stone around the neck, and I can see why. We were more than a little uneasy when we realized that we would have to depend on these people should an emergency develop when we got to Africa.
We also found a disturbing lack of organization, communication and competence among the GBGM officials. We repeatedly received conflicting information regarding our assignment, For example, within a one-hour period, two officials from the Africa Office gave us two completely different job descriptions. No one could tell us for sure whether or not our future home had any electricity, whether water was available or not, and if we would have any transportation. This basic information was vitally important because we were going to a primitive and remote area 80 miles from any medical care. And, what is more frustrating, no one seemed interested in finding out for us, even after we made repeated inquiries. We ended up making several costly long distance calls to former missionaries from Sierra Leone to find out basic information, like what facilities were available, what to take, and what to expect in our future home. Methodism has has missionaries on the field for years. This Orientation and sending process should be down to a smooth-running, efficient operation by now, instead of the confusion and contradiction we experienced.
After the Orientation had ended we found we really knew little more about our assignment and what we should expect than we had known prior to it. I think the general feeling that I had was, "I've been cheated!" I gave up preaching at a Youth Institute that I very much wanted to do. What I got in return took three and a half weeks, but all that was applicable to us could have been done easily in one week.
My general impression, after several months to reflect on the whole affair, is that most of the personnel at 475 that I met were chosen on the basis of quota requirements instead of ability and experience. They seem to have little concern for the salvation of the lost, nor do they seem to have any concept of the uniqueness of Christ.
My personal opinion is that the Board is so involved in perpetuating itself and its programs that it has largely, if not totally, lost sight of why it exists at all. I firmly believe that any efforts at reform are going to meet with tremendous opposition at 475 (Riverside Drive, New York City). I have become convinced that our mission program, as it currently exists, is a dead body which doesn't know it yet. I came away from Orientation feeling very much like a kidney in a corpse, waiting anxiously to be transplanted before I too die.
After this experience I am convinced that the Mission Society for United Methodists is an absolute necessity, and that the GBGM will never be changed!
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1997 Stewardship Report |
Annex A - Annex F |
Annex G - Annex N |
1995 Stewardship Report
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