The Monthly Update

December 2004 Update

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

This edition of the Monthly Update has a disproportionate amount of information on the practice of Christianity in the public sector of our country; we face more and more challenges. In addition we have a continuing interest in what is happening in the Episcopal Church over the consecration of an openly homosexual bishop since this will present similar decisions that will need to be made in crucial areas for our church.

Each December, we make our annual request for contributions. We ask that each of you pray and seek the Lord’s leading as to how you might support the ministry of Concerned Methodists. We believe that we make the most efficient use possible of the money you entrust to our work. We are able to translate the maximum amount of donations into our ministry of informing people about what is happening within our United Methodist Church.

The past twelve months have been a special challenge for us with the intense activities for the first five months of the year. Concerned Methodists has incurred heavier than usual expenses because of our preparation for and participation in the effort at the 2004 General Conference in Pittsburgh. Before that conference, we marshaled our people to send out multiple mailings to the delegates - four in all. Two consisted of sending the books New-Life Witnesses and At the Crossroads (in the second and third mailings) to over 800 people across the United States and in many of the foreign countries. This did entail tremendous effort but we believe it was worth it.

Last December we presented another request to you in our need to move out of the office building where we presently are located and into a house that would eliminate the cost of the office rental and at the same time provide us with more space for files and work area expansion. In addition we would be able to consolidate some of our members’ home offices into one building. Could you pray as to this continuing need that we have? As of yet, this prayer has not been answered. We are hoping that some business or individual in the Fayetteville area will need a tax deduction and would be willing to donate a house or other facility to us. Please keep this in your prayers.

Once again, we appreciate so much your partnering with us in the mission that we believe the Lord has called us to. May we ask for your continued help through your prayers and your gifts?

From all of us here, we wish you the very best during this Christmas season as we celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ!
In His service,

Allen O. Morris,
Executive Director

December 2004 Update

Bits and Pieces from across the United Methodist Church

"I am concerned for the security of our great nation, not so much because of any threat from without, but because of the insidious forces working from within." --General Douglas MacArthur
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Of Interest. A disproportionate amount of incidents included here show actions detrimental to the practice of the Christian faith in the United States. We must be active in returning our country to its spiritual basis on the Judeo-Christian ethic as believed, taught, and codied in our faith – and not be ashamed of activism to do this.

+ Catholic League president William Donohue is calling attention to an explosion of anti-Christian sentiment going on at the Village Voice newspaper. He says the day after the election, James Ridgeway confessed in a Village Voice column, "The dream has become a nightmare," by which Donohue supposes he meant that his dream of a secular, liberal democracy had foundered because, as Ridgeway put it, "the Christians are stronger than ever." On November 16, the Catholic spokesman says Ridgeway blasted the conservative-voting believers as "self-absorbed, selfish Christians" full of "sanctimonious pride," then goes on to blame Christians for not challenging the Ku Klux Klan in the 1980s, claiming it is Jews who fight racism outside the South. And Donohue points out other recent incidences of vitriolic anti-Christian editorializing at the Village Voice, such as Sharon Lerner’s November 15 warning against the "army of bloodthirsty archconservatives" who make up the pro-life movement, and Sydney Schanberg’s November 16 musings about whether the 2004 election signaled that the nation is in the midst of "a second Civil War," and his assertion that there is "a feel of holy-war fever in America." On the same date, writer Michael Feingold claimed that Christianity in the U.S. is "no longer a religion but a tacky political lobby." Donohue says the 85 percent of the population who identify themselves as followers of Christ would be wise not to take these outbursts of anti-Christian bigotry lightly.

- AgapePress, November 17, 2004;

+ The Internal Revenue Service has informed churches that there are certain things for which they are not allowed to pray. The "Prayer for Life 2004 Rally" has been touring swing states this past week, conducting prayer services for the upcoming election. As a courtesy, rally organizers asked the IRS for clarification of free speech in churches. Yesterday, Pat Mahoney got an answer. "The IRS has ruled that churches may not pray that God grant the president four more years," he reports. Such a prayer, the federal agency says, would be a violation of the federal tax code. The ruling upset Mahoney, who heads the Christian Defense Coalition. "This is nothing more than censorship," he says. But Mahoney explains there is much more involved: "The IRS and the federal government are not only telling pastors what they can say behind the pulpit, but now they are dictating how pastors [and] congregations should pray." According to Mahoney, this development should scare every Evangelical in the nation. Churches, he says, should be allowed to pray "according to the teachings of scripture and the dictates of their conscience without government intimidation or harassment" -- regardless of the candidate for whom parishioners are praying. – AgapePress, October 28, 2004.

+ ...Clay County, West Virginia, will be defended by a Christian law firm following another threatened lawsuit by the ACLU over a Ten Commandments display. It was only one citizen -- an unnamed one, at that -- who the American Civil Liberties Union claims was offended by the display, but evidently that was enough to spur the ACLU to action against the small rural county. Joseph Murray, staff attorney with the American Family Association's Center for Law & Policy (CLP), says he is troubled by the ACLU's tactics. "It appears they are picking on a small rural county unable to finance a defense of a costly court battle," he observes. "We will not stand idly by and allow the ACLU to bully Clay County into submission." According to the CLP, the display was erected four years ago to honor the development of the American legal system. The legal group is defending Clay County pro bono -- or free of charge. – AgapePress, October 28, 2004.

+ ...Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O'Connor is praising the growing role of international law in U.S. courts -- and she says judges who disregard its importance are negligent. In a speech yesterday to law students, O'Connor said recognizing international law could foster more civilized societies in the United States and help bring about a "more peaceful world." Conservatives have been growing increasingly alarmed by such comments, saying they point to a desire to move the country away from a biblically based society to one based solely on secular values. [Note: This is extremely troublesome and reflects the thinking of justices in the out-of-control court system in the United States judicial system. We in the United States are a nation of law – under our U.S. Constitution.] – AgapePress, October 28, 2004.

+ One of the nation's most respected conservative authors and commentators says there is a fundamental difference between how conservatives and liberals view God. Ann Coulter's new book is called How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must). She says a big reason why liberal elites do not care about loving their own country is because it does not really matter to people "who have that level of money, that level of celebrity" where they are. "America, France, wherever they are, they'll be cool, they'll still have their beachfront property and Juanita the maid serving them bottled water," she says. "It's a way of bragging, of saying 'I don't need America to protect me; my money protects me.'" And Coulter says liberals really believe they are anointed to reign over the less fortunate. "They are doing -- to use a phrase that offends them -- 'the Lord's work,' and they can do anything -- except it is precisely not the Lord's work," she says. "I mean, the fundamental difference between a conservative and a liberal is conservatives think that man is in God's image, and liberals think they are God." But Coulter says when she sees how women are treated in Muslim countries, she thanks God that she was born in Christian America. – AgapePress, October 28, 2004.

+ A Pentagon decision to ban military bases from directly sponsoring Boy Scout troops will not have any significant impact, according to a spokesman for the Boy Scouts of America. The Pentagon acted in response to legal challenges by the American Civil Liberties Union, which claims that the government engages in religious discrimination by supporting a group that makes its members swear an oath of duty to God. Boy Scouts spokesman Bob Bork says the decision affects very few Scout troops, and he says sponsorship of those units has been transferred to non-military organizations. Members of the armed forces can still lead Scout troops unofficially on their own time, and the Boy Scouts can still hold meetings on areas of military bases where civilian organizations are allowed to hold events.

- AgapePress, November 17, 2004;

+ A South Carolina town will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a lower federal court's ban on praying in the name of Jesus at city council meetings. The Great Falls town council voted six-to-one for an appeal in the lawsuit brought by Darla Wynne, a Wiccan high priestess. A federal judge ruled in August 2003 that the council could not refer to a specific deity in prayers at the meetings. A three-judge panel of the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court ruling in July. The full appeals court this month refused to hear the town's appeal. Town attorney Brian Gibbons says Great Falls will file its case with the U.S. Supreme Court before its 90-day deadline expires January 29.

- AgapePress, November 17, 2004;

+ The Salvation Army is looking for ways to make up potential lost income now that a major nationwide retailer is no longer allowing the organization to solicit contributions at its stores. Each Christmas season The Salvation Army's well-known kettle drive collects donations to help the needy. Out of the $93 million collected last year nationwide through the kettle drive, it is estimated that about 10 percent came from stations set up outside Target stores. However, the retailer has announced it will no longer allow nonprofit or free-speech groups to conduct their activities at Target store doors. According to The Salvation Army's Major George Hood, this means no access for kettle drive bell ringers at "pretty close to 1,300 stores, and last year we raised nine million dollars at those stores." Hood says the loss of visibility and income is a hard one, but Target has called it a necessary move toward uniformity of policy. The Salvation Army's strategy to make up for the lost access this year includes fundraising through the mail, putting out kettles earlier than in year's past at remaining locations, and focusing on new corporate sponsorships. Books-A-Million, Michaels, Auto Zone, Big Lots, and Circuit City have all offered to test their stores for the kettle drive this season. Meanwhile, Hood says donations can be made online through the Salvation Army website. [Note: The Target store executives who made this decision have not used common sense. The Salvation Army does tremendous good and to deny this fine organization its place in front of their stores to raise money is a serious lapse in judgment. I predict that the Target stores will suffer for this. Assuredly, I shall not shop there.] - AgapePress, November 15, 2004;

(UM) General Board of Church and Society (GBCS). Church and Society to Study Social Creed, End Magazine

 In his report to the organizing meeting of the General Board of Church and Society, General Secretary James Winkler sought support to study the UM Social Creed in advance of its 100th anniversary and announced plans to discontinue publication of the agency's magazine, Christian Social Action. [Note: This is seen as a positive move. Christian Social Action has been problematic in its espousal of leftist political causes.

Statements adopted by the board include responses to the violence in the Middle East and in Sudan. Regarding the Middle East, the board called for a renewal of peace talks and a cessation of violence on all sides. Members called for the demolition of the separation barrier being constructed by Israel in the West Bank. In Iraq, members called for a withdrawal of U.S. and coalition forces to be replaced by U.N. personnel. Regarding Sudan, the board called for international intervention "to end the terror of civil conflict." The board gave its support to the effort of the Africa Union in sending a monitoring and protection force. There are 63 members of the board; two-thirds are new this quadrennium.

- Linda Bloom; UMNS; New York {04500}; Oct. 27, 2004.

(UM) General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM). [Note: This is of stewardship interest.]

Grants approved through the GBGM program development include:

· $165,000 for the partnership fund program, which strengthens ministry planning among churches in Latin America/the Caribbean and the Philippines.

· $90,000 for continuing work in Haiti, a Caribbean nation devastated by flooding and tropical storms, political violence and extensive poverty.

· $100,000 for a coordinated approach to reconstruction in the African nation of Angola, in consultation with United Methodists there and U.S. churches that have formed partnerships with Angolan churches.

· $100,000 for street children ministries in Latin America - especially, Day said, in the smaller cities where the problem does not receive as much attention.

· $50,000 to strengthen successful, longtime ministries along the Mexico-U.S. border.

· $30,000 to support interaction among Christians and Muslims in insular parts of Southeast Asia, particularly the Philippines and Indonesia. - Linda Bloom; UMNS; New York {04508}; Oct. 29, 2004.

The Good Stuff. A beloved and world-renowned evangelist returns to Southern California this week, to the area where his first large-scale crusade took place some 55 years ago. The Greater Los Angeles Billy Graham Crusade begins tomorrow (November 18) and runs through Sunday at Pasadena's Rose Bowl stadium. The event follows the 86-year-old Graham's four-night crusade in Missouri last month at Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium. Franklin Graham, son of the well-known preacher, recently spoke with Associated Press about his father's ministry. He said Billy Graham has come full circle since the famous 1949 crusade that brought him international attention. This time, he noted, the population expected at the crusade is so ethnically diverse that organizers are providing translation in some 90 languages. But one thing, Franklin Graham remarked, will be the same. The cooperative effort that brings local churches together in hosting a crusade will, as always, result in changed lives. "It's good for the city," the younger Graham says. "It's great for the community. It's great for the churches, especially for the pastors, to be able to see a demonstration where the gospel is presented clearly and simply and an invitation extended -- watching the Holy Spirit touch the lives of people -- and they respond by the thousands." Around 1,400 churches from 100 denominations helped to organize and present the Greater Los Angeles crusade. - AgapePress, November 17, 2004;


+ Conference announces Dec. 1 trial date for Philadelphia pastor

A Dec. 1 trial date is set for the Rev. Irene Elizabeth (Beth) Stroud, a United Methodist pastor who has been open about her relationship with another woman. The date was announced Oct. 26 by the United Methodist Eastern Pennsylvania Annual (regional) Conference. Retired Bishop Joseph Yeakel will preside over the church trial, which will take place at Camp Innabah, a church camp near Pottstown. "Pastor Stroud will be tried before a court of her peers, ordained elders in full connection in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference, on charges of engaging in 'practices incompatible with Christian teaching,' a violation of Paragraph 2702 (1) (b) of the 2000 Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church," wrote Bishop Marcus Matthews in a pastoral letter to the conference. Church law forbids "self-avowed, practicing homosexuals" from being ordained or appointed as clergy in churches. Stroud, 34, has served as associate pastor of First United Methodist Church of Germantown in Philadelphia since 1999.

In April 2003, Stroud talked about being a lesbian during a sermon and said she and her partner "have lived in a covenant relationship for two and a half years." Last July, a conference investigating committee reviewed a complaint against Stroud and agreed there were grounds for a church trial. Yeakel, however, ordered a new hearing by the committee in September because lay people had been counted in the committee vote, which did not conform to church law, he said. That hearing took place Oct. 11 and reaffirmed the first decision.

The trial, which is open to the public, is expected to last between one and three days. For Stroud to be found guilty of the charge against her requires at least 9 votes from the 13-member trial court or jury. If convicted, the trial court would then decide the penalty. - Linda Bloom; UMNS; New York {04499}; Oct. 27, 2004.


+ "Civil Unions Should be an Issue for States," Bush says.

The president's recent remarks favoring "civil unions" -- which some conservatives say is just another name for homosexual "marriage" -- have worried some conservatives. But representatives from the other side of the political spectrum see the comments merely as a political ploy to attract voters on the eve of the election. [Note: This is extremely problematic. This needs to be passed as an amendment to the Constitution. If it is "left up to the states" the pro-homosexual activists will bring lawsuits in the various state courts seeking to overturn each state’s prohibitions.]

- AgapePress, October 27 2004;

+ Religious congregations are lining up on both sides of a proposed amendment to ban same-sex marriage in Ohio. Conservative evangelical Christians and Roman Catholics tend to support the amendment, while liberal Christians and Jewish clergy oppose it. The amendment would ban homosexual marriage and prohibit local and state officials in Ohio from granting legal status to any unmarried couple. The University of Akron's John Green says, "The more traditional the church, the more likely it is to define marriage in the traditional way." - AgapePress, October 27 2004.

+ Three people in Kentucky have gone to court to try to nullify that state's pro-marriage amendment which passed overwhelmingly there on Election Day. The suit claims the amendment was flawed because it dealt not only with marriage but also with civil unions. It is similar to a court challenge against Louisiana's marriage amendment, which also passed by a strong majority in mid-September.

- AgapePress, November 17, 2004;

+ Phone plan offers savings for United Methodist churches, agencies

A new plan negotiated by the United Methodist Publishing House with AT&T provides an opportunity for churches, organizations and agencies to save on long distance and local telephone service. [Note: AT&T is also active in promoting homosexual tolerance among its employees with their "diversity-sensitive" programs. This action is seen as being homosexual-friendly.] - Kathy Gilbert; United Methodist News Service (UMNS); Nashville {04538}; Nov. 17, 2004.

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"The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter." --Sir Winston Churchill

Global Outlook

I wouldn't call it fascism exactly, but a political system nominally controlled by an irresponsible, dumbed down electorate who are manipulated by dishonest, cynical, controlled mass media that dispense the propaganda of a corrupt political establishment can hardly be described as democracy either. --Edward Zehr
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The Episcopal Church. African Anglican Leaders Unhappy Over Windsor Report

African Anglican bishops are rejecting last week's Lambeth Commission report addressing divisions in the Worldwide Anglican Communion over the decision of the Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA) to appoint and consecrate an openly homosexual bishop. Bishops from parishes all over Africa are attending a conference hosted by Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola, who contends, "The Western world is embroiled in a new religion, which we cannot associate ourselves with." He says the African Anglican church leaders will discuss building their own seminaries to train priests in a biblical theology that is consistent with African culture.

Akinola says he chose to return to Nigeria to host other African bishops instead of remaining in London to discuss the Lambeth Commission's report on reconciling the differences and divisions that have resulted among Anglicans because of the ECUSA's actions. "My absence, of course, may be interpreted to represent my displeasure with the Windsor report," he notes, adding, "To some extent, that would be correct." Akinola says he plans to ignore the report, which the bishops with whom he is meeting unanimously reject. "Personally, from the point of view of our position in Africa and Nigeria in particular," he says, "we're unhappy with the report."

The Nigerian archbishop recently visited the United States, where he offered alternative oversight to American Episcopalians who have been alienated by the ECUSA's consecration of New Hampshire's Bishop V. Gene Robinson, the denomination's first openly homosexual bishop. Akinola points out that, although homosexuality may be condoned by the ECUSA's leaders, men cohabitating with men is taboo in African culture as well as condemned in scripture.

- Jim Brown; AgapePress; October 29, 2004.

Iraq. Subject: Re: Phone-card campaign for military ‘lights dark valleys’: I'm one of those chaplains handing out the phone cards sent to me. What a blessing. The Open Hearts, open doors, open minds, campaign pales in comparison to the power of saying: The United Methodist Church cares about you. Here's a phone card call home and see how your sick child, mother, uncle, is doing, etc. - E-mail received from Chaplain Kent Svendsen; Sent: Saturday, November 13, 2004.


+ The same day Dutch mourners gathered for a final goodbye to slain filmmaker Theo Van Gogh, police on the other side of the world discovered the decapitated body of a Thai laborer. The two events -- in prosperous Holland and on a plantation in Thailand -- bear similarities that suggest new flash points in the global struggle against radical Islam. A note impaled on Van Gogh's body by the alleged Muslim killer threatened further attacks against Dutch politicians in the name of Islam. The body of the 60-year-old Buddhist worker in Thailand also was found last week with a message: "More will be killed" in revenge for the deaths of 85 Muslim protesters last month in a region with a mounting Islamic insurgency. They join a growing roster of places feeling the strains of religious conflict and terrorism along the edges of the Islamic world -- regions as diverse as Chechnya, Nigeria, Spain, Central Asia and the Philippines.

- AgapePress, November 15, 2004;

+ Muslims in Iraq and worldwide have spent the weekend celebrating the end of their holy month of Ramadan. An Iraqi sheikh said, "We hope that God will benefit us with peace and with good life and put an end to this killing style in Iraq." In the United States, a new animated film -- Muhammad: The Last Prophet -- is in dozens of theaters nationwide. The feature-length film chronicles Muhammad's early life and teachings. Eid ul-Fitr is one of the two major Muslim holidays. The other major feast follows the Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca. - AgapePress, November 15, 2004.

+ A pro-family activist and one-time presidential candidate says he cannot understand why President Bush continues to push the idea of a Palestinian state, which will undoubtedly cause problems for Israel. With the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Bush has said he hopes for an "independent, democratic Palestine that is at peace with its neighbors." But Gary Bauer of American Values does not think Bush should continue to pursue that course. "The idea the president had was that if you give the Palestinians a state, you will get a decrease in terrorism," Bauer says. "I think it needs to be the other way around; we'd have to see a decrease, an end of terrorist attacks on Israel, before you would want to reward that movement with any kind of a state. I think it's very likely, if a state is formed, that it immediately will become a gigantic problem in the Middle East." He also suggests, "I continue to be puzzled by why, in one case in Iraq, we would try to destroy a terrorist regime and bring it to freedom and then on the other hand be promoting the creation of a terrorist regime that will end up being a dagger pointed at the heart of Israel." Instead, Bauer says, the Bush administration should insist on seeing an end to Palestinian terrorist attacks before offering the regime any concessions.

- AgapePress, November 15, 2004;

+ Muslim Company Accused of Illegally Evicting Christian School A Christian school in Florida has filed a lawsuit alleging it was wrongfully evicted by a radical Islamic group. - AgapePress, November 17, 2004.


+ Nigeria’s president is praising Africa's Anglican bishops for opposing same-sex unions and the appointment of homosexuals as bishops. President Obasanjo -- a Baptist who describes himself as a born-again Christian -- says, "Such tendencies are clearly unbiblical, unnatural and definitely un-African." Last week, an Anglican commission set up by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams issued a report calling for a temporary moratorium on appointing homosexual bishops or blessing same-sex marriages. But the report neither condemns the consecration of the openly homosexual Episcopal Bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire nor calls for his removal. Obasanjo praises African Anglican bishops meeting in Nigeria "for standing so firmly against attempts to undermine our faith and falsify God’s will and the word of God." – AgapePress, October 28, 2004.

North Korea. Pictures of North Korean ruler Kim Jong Il are being removed from public places in Pyongyang and other parts of country. No word so far on who gave the order or its meaning.

- Source: E-mail received from one of our sources with his accompanying comment. "Information received from the Russian news service about North Korea........not sure what it means but it may be God moving in that country to ease the suffering of our [world-wide Christian] family a little."


The Presbyterian Church (USA). Jewish theologian Condemns Presbyterian Hezbollah Supporters

A Jewish theologian and media conservative says leaders of the Presbyterian Church (USA) defame Christianity by blurring God's moral standard, and that Westerners who subscribe to terrorist lies deserve only contempt. A delegation of the PC(USA) recently traveled to Lebanon and met with leaders of Hezbollah, a militant Shiite political party based in that country. Hezbollah, which in Arabic means "Party of God," maintains an active militia called the "Islamic Resistance" and has been designated by the U.S. and other Western nations as a terrorist organization. The delegation sponsored by the PC(USA)'s Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP) met with members of Hezbollah at a Palestinian refugee camp in southern Lebanon on October 17. Since that meeting, comments attributed to delegation members in the international press have garnered widespread censure, including a firestorm of condemnations from within the denomination and from the wider religious community as well. During their meeting with Hezbollah, the Presbyterian delegates reportedly criticized Israel for having erected a security barrier to protect its citizens from Palestinian homicide bombings and other terrorist attacks. And one delegation member, recently retired Pittsburgh Theological Seminary professor Ronald Stone, was quoted in the press as saying, as an elder of the church, he found relations and conversations with Islamic leaders "a lot easier than dealings and dialogue with Jewish leaders."

Some PC(USA) leaders have tried to distance the denomination from the actions and expressed attitudes of the ACSWP delegation. Three top denomination officials issued a statement last week disavowing the actions of the delegates and saying neither their comments nor their visit with Hezbollah "reflect the official position of the Presbyterian Church (USA) on peace in the Middle East." That disavowal notwithstanding, some observers believe the delegation's words and deeds are quite consistent with their denomination's liberal political leanings. Conservative radio talk-show host Dennis Prager says given the moral confusion that dominates the PC(USA), he is not at all surprised by the pro-terrorist sympathies expressed by the delegation's actions. Prager, who is also a Jewish theologian, says the PC(USA) gives a bad name to God and Christianity by claiming biblical authority for moral inversion. "On all matters, including those not pertaining to Israel," he asserts, "these folks are on the left. They are leftists with a cross, indistinguishable from Michael Moore except that Michael Moore doesn't wear a cross and doesn't speak in terms of Jesus Christ." The radio commentator says it is nothing short of "sickening" to see the PC(USA) single out a humane and democratic country like Israel for economic strangulation and not decry its Arab neighbors that murder in the name of "God," commit egregious human rights abuses, and seek the destruction of the Jewish State. Prager says many liberal Presbyterians in America have bought into Goebbels-like propaganda and swallowed the "big lie" that Israel is an Apartheid state. For this reason, he remarks, "I have actually greater contempt for the person in the Western world who is sympathetic to Hezbollah than for Hezbollah. People in Hezbollah grew up in a hate-filled world of lies, but the people in the West, like that elder, grew up where truth is told and they prefer to believe lies."

The theology expert and talk-show host feels "coherent" Christians need to distance themselves from the PC(USA) because it is, he contends, a morally sick denomination. Prager says he considers the leftist leadership in the Presbyterian Church in America to be the moral relativists of present day society.

- Jim Brown and Jenni Parker; AgapePress; October 29, 2004.


+ Middle East, Sudan focus of United Methodist advocacy agency

Deep concern for the "rapidly deteriorating situation" in…the "humanitarian catastrophe" in the Darfur region of Sudan has been expressed by members of the United Methodist Church's social action agency – the GBCS. The Sudan statement demands an international effort "to take all necessary steps to end the terror of civil conflict and the violence of hunger, disease and displacement..." - Linda Bloom; UMNS; New York {04500}; Oct. 27, 2004.

Vietnam. Vietnam’s Church Thriving Despite Intensified Persecution

A representative of a ministry to the persecuted Church says Christianity is growing at a rapid rate in Vietnam, despite increased harassment from government officials.

- AgapePress, November 17, 2004;

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"Intentions are seeds... choose the harvest before you plant the crop." ~ Gary Zukav

November 2004

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

Thank you for your continuing support of Concerned Methodists’ ministry. We appreciate so much both the prayers and financial help making possible the work we do in "contending for the faith" as God has called us to do.

This Monthly Update contains more data of what is happening in the Episcopal Church, the National Council of Churches, Christian persecution, and our own United Methodist Church to include our bishops.

For several months now I have been holding a letter sent to us from a dear Christian lady about her husband The Reverend Ira Dent. It is time to share it with you:

Dear Allen

Just wanted you to know that Ira passed away February 22, 2004, from a heart attack. He had been in failing health for some time and the Lord took him to be with Him about 3:30 on Sunday afternoon.

I had asked Ira if he was going to church with me that morning and he said, "No, the Lord and I have a little project we are working on this morning."

…The celebration of his death was Wednesday, February 25th (the day before his birthday). Joel Dent, his brother, gave the Eulogy and several other Ministers either had a scripture or a prayer. I had asked all his Minister friends that were there to sing his favorite song "Victory in Jesus." It was beautiful – all male voices.

I am grateful that he did not have to suffer. I know where he is and know that he is having a glorious time talking with Jesus face-to-face.

Please keep me in your prayers as I am going to continue to be doing the work that the Lord has for me to do.

In Christ’s love,


What Bessie has said about Ira really speaks to me. Having known him for many years he has been an inspiration in his faithful walk for the Lord. He typifies what I call the "old-time" Methodist pastor who was a Spirit-filled servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. With these pastors, you could feel their love for the Lord in what they did and said, and when they preached and prayed. And Bessie’s love for our Master is obvious too; anyone who knows her would agree that there is a "sweet, sweet Spirit" in this lady.

Bessie, all of us who knew Ira will miss him. You are in our prayers.

May we ask that you continue to pray for our United Methodist Church as we ask you to continue to remember us in your prayers? And, once again, we thank you for your support.

In His service,


Allen O. Morris,
Executive Director