The Monthly Update

October 2004 Update

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

This edition of the "Monthly Update" is a continuation of coverage from around the country focusing on issues critical to us as Christians as our country goes into the November elections. I do not think that it is extreme to say that what happens in the next month will probably be one of the most important elections for the future of our great nation.

One of the changes in the last Update was that it was shorter. We had received several comments as to length and amount of data that it was too long and provided too much information. We are grateful for the many replies we received, with there being one letter agreeing that our past Updates were a bit lengthy. However, the overwhelming consensus was that people liked the longer Updates since it provided more information with the thinking that they liked being more fully informed. I can only say that, for those who prefer the shorter reports, we shall provide the longer, more comprehensive Updates and we would ask you to just "digest it in bites" by reading those areas that interest you and skipping over the others, or perhaps do as the lady in Florida said, read parts of it "and lay it down until later." As you know, it is our desire to communicate as much information to as many people as possible – and the longer Update is one way in which we can do this.

We ask that you would continue to pray for our troops who are in harm’s way overseas in Afghanistan and Iraq. The battle in which they are engaged is, I believe, one of the most important for our future. I sincerely believe that we are in World War III – and we should face up to the daunting task before us of achieving victory. This is not only a military conflict but a religious and spiritual one as well.

Concerned Methodists is a ministry supported by your continuing generosity. We thank you for your kindness in helping with this work for the Lord. We would also ask for your continuing prayers, and again, we ask that you pray that a godly man will be elected president in November.

In His service,


Allen O. Morris,
Executive Director

October 2004 Update

Bits and Pieces from across the United Methodist Church

There is nothing that is more certain sign of insanity than do the same thing over and over

and expect the results to be different. - Albert Einstein.

* * * * *

Of Interest. Regarding Item #2: I have personally experienced anti-American media bias during the Vietnam War. The anti-Iraqi War bias parallels the anti- Vietnam War bias. This is a long-standing problem and of serious importance.

+ H.R.2028 - The Pledge Protection Act of 2004. Introduced by Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo.

It says no federal court - including the Supreme Court - can hear any claim that the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance violates the First Amendment of the Constitution. You will recall that the 9th U.S. Court of Appeals ruled the phrase "under God" unconstitutional in the Michael Newdow case. The atheist lost on a technicality at the U.S. Supreme Court but it will surely be tried again. Our children deserve the right to say the Pledge of Allegiance.

H.R.2028 - The Pledge Protection Act of 2004 - reads as follows: 'No court created by Act of Congress shall have any jurisdiction, and the Supreme Court shall have no appellate jurisdiction, to hear or decide any question pertaining to the interpretation of, or the validity under the Constitution of, the Pledge of Allegiance, as defined in section 4 of title 4, or its recitation'. By exercising the authority of Congress to regulate the jurisdiction of federal courts, the Pledge Protection Act will do more than express a sense of Congress that the Pledge is constitutional. It will rein in a renegade judiciary that has confused the freedom for religion with freedom from religion.

If your Representative is a co-sponsor, be sure to thank him or her for supporting this vital legislation.

- Sincerely, Donald E. Wildmon, Founder and Chairman, American Family Association

- E-mail received from The American Family Association;

+ Many on Capitol Hill are displeased with CBS News regarding its reporting based on faked memos that criticize President George W. Bush's National Guard service. Oklahoma Republican Senator Jim Inhofe is among those angered by the actions of CBS anchor Dan Rather, who went on the air and attacked the president with allegations based on the false documents, reporting that Bush disobeyed orders while he was in the Texas Air National Guard. After the memos were discredited, Rather apologized to the public for having been duped but added that he still believed the story. The whole incident has Inhofe beside himself and suspicious that Democratic propagandists or spin doctors, such as political consultant James Carville, may have had a hand in the matter. The senator is livid over what he calls the "outrageous lies that we're getting from people like Dan Rather," he says, and people "such as [former Lt. Governor] Ben Barnes down in Texas, saying things about the president and then, proven that they're wrong, still refusing to back it up. It just shows me that James Carville is busy at work." Inhofe notes that CBS's own experts warned Rather the source documents were suspect, but the veteran newsman ignored the warnings and aired the story anyway. - AgapePress, September 24, 2004.

+ Team helps church transition to new Connectional Table. In the first major reorganization in the denomination's 36-year history, delegates to the General Conference in May approved creating the Connectional Table to enlarge the circle of United Methodists responsible for visioning and executing mission and ministry for the whole church. The Connectional Table will include 47 members elected from U.S. jurisdictional and overseas conferences in Africa, Asia and Europe; clergy and lay representatives; a bishop [Sharon Brown Christopher] selected by the Council of Bishops; general agency top executives and most presidents; one youth and one young adult from the Board of Discipleship's Division on Ministries with Young People; and members from the denomination's racial and ethnic caucuses. Christopher's team must develop and implement a plan to crank up the Connectional Table, provide training and orientation for members, and reassign functions and responsibilities from the General Council on Ministries, the denomination's planning agency that will dissolve Dec. 31. The Connectional Table will convene Jan. 13-16 or Jan. 20-23.

In August, the transition team assigned to the United Methodist Board of Discipleship the responsibility for leading a training session for jurisdictional conference leaders Jan. 27-30 at Houston's Hilton of the Americas. The team also assigned to the Council of Bishops - with staffing responsibilities to the discipleship board and the Board of Higher Education and Ministry - the job of providing training next summer for new district superintendents and directors of connectional ministries, Howard said. Also in August, the transition team approved a six-month severance plan for the GCOM's 13 employees, supplemental severance for years of service and fixed termination dates for employees based on pending assignments. By Oct. 31, eight of the 13 employees are expected to leave GCOM under the plan. Dan Church, the agency's top staff executive, and four employees will remain until Dec. 31. In addition, the team renewed short-term leases for 10 non-profit tenants leasing space in GCOM's building at 601 W. Riverview Ave. in Dayton, Ohio. Ultimately, the team will recommend to the denomination's trustees what to do with the building.

In addition to Christopher, the transition team includes Bishop John L. Hopkins of Ohio; LeVeeda Morgan Battle, North Alabama Annual (regional) Conference; Mary Hayenga, Dakotas Conference; the Rev. Marilynn M. Huntington, California-Pacific Conference; the Rev. Patrick Streiff, Switzerland-France Conference; Gerald "Jay" Williams, Western New York Conference; and the Rev. J. Philip Wogaman, a retired pastor in the Baltimore-Washington Conference and now interim president of United Methodist-related Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Rev. W. Timothy McClendon of South Carolina and Ann A. Saunkeah of Oklahoma. McClendon and Saunkeah have Native American ancestry.

- Steve Smith; The United Methodist Reporter (UMNS); Nashville {04419}; Sep. 16, 2004.

+ ...Retired Marine Lieutenant General Mike DeLong, a former military man turned author, says he wanted to get his new book about the U.S. actions in Afghanistan and Iraq released before the 2004 presidential election in November. He feels it is important for the American people to know the facts about these military campaigns. DeLong was General Tommy Franks' deputy commander at U.S. Central Command. His book is called Inside Centcom: The Unvarnished Truth about the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (Regnery, 2004). DeLong says he had to work fast to get it done before the elections – "not that it would sway the elections. It's a short primer that will allow people to look at what happened in Iraq, how we got into Iraq, sort of where we are today." The former Marine says unless they plan to vote a straight party ticket, U.S. voters need to "get all the information you can possibly get, and that's what we hope to do with this book." Since retiring and going to work for a private company, DeLong has been back to Iraq six times in the past four months, and he says for the most part, the Iraqis appreciate the American presence there. The veteran says this war is one America cannot afford to lose, so the nation needs an administration that is tough on terrorism. - AgapePress, September 24, 2004.

+ Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has hired a leader among scholars who say scientific evidence shows the universe was caused by intelligent design. William Dembski is currently a professor at Baptist-related Baylor University, where his advocacy of design is opposed by faculty advocates of Darwinian evolution. At Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, Dembski will direct a new Center for Science and Theology. Seminary President R. Albert Mohler, Jr. says that while design theory is not "the doctrine of creation as revealed in the Bible," it is still "a useful and important intellectual tool" that "undermines the materialistic and naturalistic world view central to the theory of evolution." Dembski holds doctorates in mathematics from the University of Chicago and philosophy from the University of Illinois and a divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary. - AgapePress, September 24, 2004.

Abortion, Assisted Suicide, Euthanasia & Other Life Issues. Snowflake Children Blanket Capitol Hill

Today our friends at Focus on the Family hosted a press conference and conducted lobbying visits to the lawmakers on Capitol Hill with "Snowflake children" -- babies adopted as embryos and now living healthy lives as children of loving parents. These families highlight the essential fact that human embryos are human beings deserving the full love and protections granted any child. We hear so often in the debate over embryonic stem cells that the harvesting of stem cells from embryos does not destroy a human life, and yet these Snowflake children prove otherwise.

If they had been used for research rather than having been adopted they would not be taking their first steps and sharing their laughter with us today. The ethical questions surrounding these issues are not merely interesting questions for ethicists but have real, profound consequences between life and death. The fact that we have more than 400,000 frozen embryos in the United States (when Germany has only around 400) speaks to the need for some regulation in artificial reproductive technologies. It is an ethical nightmare that embryos are considered "spare" or "throw aways" in this ghoulish bio-tech environment, but I am grateful for the Snowflake families who came to Washington to remind us of the dignity of human life. - Received by e-mail.

The Good Stuff.

+ Utah's attorney general wielded a golden sword, castigated the U.S. Supreme Court for overturning an anti-pornography law, and warned e-mailers of unsolicited smut that he was on their case. And former presidential candidate Alan Keyes said denying God is a fundamental assault on the moral foundation of the nation. They were among speakers Monday at an Independence Day Extravaganza at Utah Valley State College, which included the Family Freedom Fair, a special tribute to the late Ronald Reagan, and the launch of an anti-pornography effort. Keyes, an assistant secretary of state under Reagan and an unsuccessful candidate for the Republican presidential nomination four years ago, said the last several decades have seen assault on every public moral and religious value. He added: "People now pretend this nation was founded on war; I say it was founded on prayer." – AgapePress,July 7, 2004.

+ The new president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is encouraging Christians to vote in a manner that will help reflect godly values and principles. Dr. Bobby Welch, who believes strongly that every American citizen ought to vote, says the upcoming November 2004 election is vital to the moral direction of the nation. "I think you've got to leave it to their personal commitment between them and the Lord, how God leads them to vote," he says. "But they certainly ought to vote in a way that's going to make this nation more of what it ought to be for the Lord." And while Welch acknowledges there are many issues on the political landscape, the SBC's prominent focus must be on soul-winning. He says without a focus on evangelism, the denomination will cease to be effective. "The line that is critical is that we give our best to do what Christ gave His life for -- and that's to share the good news of Jesus Christ," Welch says. "I intend to do that with all the energy and effort I know how, and I intend to do my best to call ... this Convention toward that goal." Welch is founder of the FAITH Sunday School Evangelism Strategy, which is used in more than 16,000 churches.

– AgapePress,July 7, 2004.

+ Imagine writing a book which would sell a million copies a year for over one hundred years! Well, one man did. His name was William Holmes McGuffey, born this day, September 23, 1800. Considered the "Schoolmaster of the Nation," McGuffey's Readers were the mainstay of America's public school system from 1836 till the 1920's. McGuffey was the president of Ohio University and formed the first teachers' association in that part of the nation. In his Fifth Eclectic Reader, William McGuffey wrote: "Erase all thought and fear of God from a community, and selfishness and sensuality would absorb the whole man." - American Minute with Bill Federer, September 23rd;


+ Methodists say yes to ordaining homosexuals

The Methodist Church of New Zealand has clarified that gay and lesbian people can be ordained in the church but gay ministers may still be kept out of parishes where they are not welcome. While gay people can continue to be ordained, the church will decide if it is appropriate to send them to certain parishes, said Methodist Church president Lynne Frith. "If a parish vociferously did not want a gay or lesbian minister, they would simply consider there was no matching and therefore the parish would not be forced to have that person and the person would not be forced to go there," she said.

The Methodist Church yesterday released a memorandum of understanding saying it was a way to "move forward" on the issue of gay ministers.

Dr Frith said the response to the memorandum within the church had been positive. "But that doesn't mean everybody's happy about it. It won't satisfy everybody. It won't satisfy some gay and lesbian people and it won't satisfy some evangelical people."

Sexual orientation was not one of the criteria and was "irrelevant" to whether people could be ordained. Criteria included being adequately trained and being willing to work within the rules of the Methodist Church. [Note: What about the "rules" of the Bible?] In a statement, the church said the memorandum acknowledged the diversity within the church. Dr Frith said the issue had been under debate for more than 10 years and there were church members both for and against the ordination of gay people. The church statement said the memorandum enabled people with "markedly different beliefs to remain in relationship with each other within the church".

- Received by e-mail. The New Zealand Herald; September 15, 2004;

+ A Michigan pro-family activist says the single best way of preventing the spread of the virus that causes AIDS is to help get men to leave the lifestyle that accounts for most new cases of the disease. Thousands of AIDS activists recently held a "walk-a-thon" in Detroit, aimed at raising money supposedly to find a cure for the disease. Gary Glenn, president of the American Family of Michigan, sponsored the flying of a banner over the event promoting an "ex-gay" ministry website. The banner read: "Jesus Christ ..." According to Glenn, the statistics do not lie -- sex between men is still the leading cause of HIV infections. He says, "Given that homosexual activity among men remains the single biggest cause of AIDS infection in the Detroit metro area and throughout the state of Michigan, the single most effective step we can take to stop the transmission of AIDS is to help men involved in that lifestyle escape it -- get free of it." It is not hateful, the pro-family activist adds, to offer someone a way out of a lifestyle that accounts for 61 percent of the new AIDS cases in the Detroit area. - AgapePress, September 22, 2004.

+ A Louisiana pro-family activist says a recent referendum demonstrated a strong connection between church attendance and the passage of an amendment banning same-sex "marriage." By a 78-to-22 percent margin, Louisiana voters said yes to an amendment to the state constitution to ban homosexual marriage and civil unions. Kathleen Benefield, president of the American Family Association of New Orleans, says churches made the difference. For example, she says in LaSalle

Parish, 93 percent of voters approved the measure. "It just so happens that that ... according to a study done in 2000 ... LaSalle Parish has the highest number of religious adherents and also the highest number of churches per 10,000 people," she says. "So this vote is tied very closely to a strong attachment to religious faith." Benefield says the Lord equipped His Church to do great things for His glory -- and all that was required in this case was for people to show up and vote.

- AgapePress, September 24, 2004.

(UM) Men. Devotional booklet sales pass 120,000. Efforts by United Methodist Men to provide all service men and women with the devotional book, Strength for Service to God and Country, continue to gain momentum and support. More than 120,000 copies have been sold, and contributions are continuing from a wide variety of organizations and groups, according to L.W. Smith, a layman from Columbia, S.C. Smith gave the report at the Sept. 20-22 organizational meeting of the Commission on United Methodist Men in Nashville. The book is not designed exclusively for military personnel but is also being distributed to professionals such as police, firefighters and emergency medical technicians. Strength for Service is a revision of a book carried 60 years ago by Eugene Hunsberger during World War II. Hunsberger was given the book while serving in the Navy, and he continued to read from it for the rest of his life.

Four years ago, Hunsberger's 16-year-old grandson, Evan, asked his grandfather about the book and why it was so meaningful to him. Listening to his grandfather tell how the book had helped him through difficult experiences, the younger Hunsberger had an inspiration. Evan needed to complete a special project in order to earn the rank of Eagle, the highest level in Boy Scouts. He asked his grandfather if republishing the book as a spiritual aid for U.S. service personnel today would be a good Eagle Scout project. "Not good," whispered Eugene, whose stroke had made speech difficult. "Great!" After receiving permission from the United Methodist Publishing House to republish the book, Evan and 45 volunteers spent 2,500 hours scanning and correcting copy from the book into computers.

The Commission on United Methodist Men supported Evan's work, and with the Pentagon's approval, began trying to raise $3 million in order to give a copy of the book to 1 million members of the military. Smith brought new commissioners up to date on the book and its popularity. Staff members also reported that the national news media are picking up the story, and a wider variety of community, professional and service groups are making contributions.

People who want to support the effort can send checks to Strength for Service, P.O. Box 340006, Nashville, TN 37203-0006. To order copies of the book, contact Providence Publishing Corp., 238 Seaboard Lane, Franklin, TN 37067; phone: (800) 321-5692. Additional information is available from Larry Coppock, Commission on United Methodist Men, at (615) 340-7149 or

- Tim Tanton; UMNS; Nashville {04433}; Sep. 23, 2004.

* * * * *

The giant oak is just an acorn that held its ground. – Author and youth speaker Mark Gilroy.

Global Outlook

Busyness in the King’s business is no excuse for neglecting the King. - Daily Walk, September 15, 1994.

* * * * *

Haiti. The following is a letter sent to Chaplain Ed Drew from missionary Pritchard Adams:

Thank you very much for your inquiry. We are all well here in our region of the north coast of Haiti. All the worst devastation hit the city of Gonaïves, which is about 2½ hours south of here. It was indeed a tragedy for that entire region, and the number of dead will surely pass the thousand mark soon. But, as I was reminded by a Haitian brother, that zone is probably the worst area for voodoo in the entire country. Human sacrifice is reported regularly there, and much wickedness was practiced there by Aristide's partisans during his reign. It was reported on the radio here that a witchdoctor was in the middle of a service invoking the power of Satan when the floods hit his temple and carried both him and all the satanic worshippers away to their deaths. Things are real serious here!

My health steadily improves, and I am back in the pulpit and in the Bible institute classroom. [Note: the missionary has been suffering from Typhoid Fever.]

Thank you for all your prayers; they are certainly being answered.

In Christ Jesus, Prit


+ Subject: FW: URGENT.....Thought from Iraq - New "Doom & Gloom"

A thought from Iraq - "Doom & Gloom about Iraq's future....I don't see it from where I'm sitting."

[For those of you who haven't gotten my "Thoughts" before, I'm a Major in the USMC on the Multi-National Corps staff in Baghdad. The analysts and pundits who don't see what I see on a daily basis, in my opinion, have very little credibility to talk about the situation - especially if they have yet to set foot in Iraq. Everything Americans believe about Iraq is simply perception filtered through one's latent prejudices until you are face-to-face with reality. If you haven't seen, or don't remember, the John Wayne movie, The Green Berets, you should watch it this weekend. Pay special attention to the character of the reporter, Mr. Beckwith (the Journalist in the movie). His characters’ experience is directly related to the situation here. You'll have a different perspective on Iraq after the movie is over.]

The US media is abuzz today with the news of an intelligence report that is very negative about the prospects for Iraq's future. CNN's website says, "[The] National Intelligence Estimate was sent to the White House in July with a classified warning predicting the best case for Iraq was 'tenuous stability' and the worst case was civil war." That report, along with the car bombings and kidnappings in Baghdad in the past couple days are being portrayed in the media as more proof of absolute chaos and the intransigence of the insurgency.

From where I sit, at the Operational Headquarters in Baghdad, that just isn't the case. Let's lay out some background, first about the "National Intelligence Estimate." The most glaring issue with its relevance is the fact that it was delivered to the White House in July. That means that the information that was used to derive the intelligence was gathered in the Spring in the immediate aftermath of the April battle for Fallujah, and other events. The report doesn't cover what has happened in July or August, let alone September. The naysayers will point to the recent battles in Najaf and draw parallels

between that and what happened in Fallujah in April. They aren't even close. The bad guys did us a HUGE favor by gathering together in one place and trying to make a stand. It allowed us to focus on them and defeat them.

Make no mistake, Al Sadr's troops were thoroughly smashed. The estimated enemy killed in action is huge. Before the battles, the residents of the city were afraid to walk the streets. Al Sadr's enforcers would seize people and bring them to his Islamic court where sentence was passed for religious or other violations. Long before the battles people were looking for their lost loved ones who had been taken to "court" and never seen again. Now Najafians can and do walk their streets in safety. Commerce has returned and the city is being rebuilt. Iraqi security forces and US troops are welcomed and smiled upon. That city was liberated again. It was not like Fallujah - the bad guys lost and are in hiding or dead.

You may not have even heard about the city of Samarra. Two weeks ago, that Sunni Triangle city was a "No-go" area for US troops. But guess what? The locals got sick of living in fear from the insurgents and foreign fighters that were there and let them know they weren't welcome. They stopped hosting them in their houses and the mayor of the town brokered a deal with the US commander to return Iraqi government sovereignty to the city without a fight. The people saw what was on the horizon and decided they didn't want their city looking like Fallujah in April or Najaf in August.

…Just like that two major "hot spots" cool down in rapid succession. Does that mean that those towns are completely pacified? No. What it does mean is that we are learning how to do this the right way. The US commander in Samarra saw an opportunity and took it - probably the biggest victory of his military career and nary a shot was fired in anger. Things will still happen in those cities, and you can be sure that the bad guys really want to take them back. Those achievements, more than anything else in my opinion, account for the surge in violence in recent days - especially the violence directed at Iraqis by the insurgents. Both in Najaf and Samarra ordinary people stepped out and took sides with the Iraqi government against the insurgents, and the bad guys are hopping mad. They are trying to instill fear once again. The worst thing we could do now is pull back and let that scum back into people's homes and lives.

So, you may hear analysts and prognosticators on CNN, ABC and the like in the next few days talking about how bleak the situation is here in Iraq, but from where I sit, it's looking significantly better now than when I got here. The momentum is moving in our favor, and all Americans need to know that, so please, please, pass this on to those who care and will pass it on to others.

It is very demoralizing for us here in uniform to read & hear such negativity in our press. [Emphasis added.]It is fodder for our enemies to use against us and against the vast majority of Iraqis who want their new government to succeed. It causes the American public to start thinking about the acceptability of "cutting our losses" and pulling out, which would be devastating for Iraq for generations to come, and Muslim militants would claim a huge victory, causing us to have to continue to fight them elsewhere (remember, in war "Away" games are always preferable to "Home" games). Reports like that also cause Iraqis begin to fear that we will pull out before we finish the job, and thus less willing to openly support their interim government and US/Coalition activities. We are realizing significant progress here - not propaganda progress, but real strides are being made. It's terrible to see our national morale, and support for what we're doing here, jeopardized by sensationalized stories hyped by media giants whose #1 priority is advertising income followed closely by their political agenda; getting the story straight falls much further down on their priority scale, as Dan Rather and CBS News have so aptly demonstrated in the last week.

Thanks for listening.

- E-mail received; Bruce Gombar. Sent: Friday, September 24, 2004 2:25 PM

+ A statue is currently on display outside the Iraqi palace that is now home to the 4th Infantry division. It will eventually be shipped and shown at the memorial museum in Fort Hood, Texas. This statue was made by an Iraqi artist named Kalat, who for years was forced by Saddam Hussein to make the many hundreds of bronze busts of Saddam that dotted Baghdad. This artist was so grateful that the Americans liberated his country; he melted 3 of the fallen Saddam heads and made a memorial statue dedicated to the American soldiers and their fallen comrades. Kalat has been working on this night and day for several months. To the left of the kneeling soldier is a small Iraqi girl giving the soldier comfort as he mourns the loss of his comrade in arms.

  Want to know why we don't hear this in the news? Because it does not have the controversy of a political race.

- Received by E-mail from Patricia Wittenborn.

+ A best selling author and national defense correspondent has released a new book that reveals how the double-dealing of some of America's so-called allies has helped Islamic terrorists murder more American soldiers. The book is called Treachery: How America's Friends and Foes Are Secretly Arming Our Enemies (Crown Forum, 2004). Author Bill Gertz says Iraqi terrorists are killing U.S. soldiers with weapons supplied by Russia, Germany, and France. "In the book, I show that the French were among the most egregious in supplying weapons to Saddam that are now being used by the insurgents in that country against Americans," he says. However, the defense expert says top U.S. officials want to keep these facts from coming out. "A number of senior U.S. officials have been asked about this issue," he says, "and they all duck the question. It seems as though the administration wants to sweep this under the rug so we don't end up offending these European nations who were guilty of treacherous behavior in their arms transfers." But America's 'friends' have put greed over principle, Gertz says; and, in so doing, they have made America's enemies far more deadly and the world far more dangerous. - AgapePress, September 24, 2004.

The National Council of Churches. Boycott of Mt. Olive Pickle Co. ends

The boycott of Mt. Olive Pickle Co. by the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC)-an action supported by the United Methodist Church-has ended with the signing of two agreements Sept. 16. The FLOC and the North Carolina Growers Association signed a collective bargaining agreement that covers an estimated 8,500 federal H-2A guest workers from Mexico and other Latin American countries who work on about 1,000 farms. It does not cover workers who may be in the state illegally. After the agreements were signed, the Rev. Bob Edgar, top staff executive of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA-which was also boycotting Mt. Olive-placed $20 in front of Bryan. "Let me be the first to purchase a jar of Mt. Olive pickles for myself and one for my colleague Jim Winkler at Church and Society," said Edgar, a United Methodist pastor. [Note: Many UMs I know never supported the boycott but regularly used Mt. Olive Pickles. This company is known for its quality product and public-service work. This was seen by many UMs as being seriously misguided. With all of the serious problems around the world in Sudan, Indonesia, etc., why was this action joined?]

From the time the boycott of Mt. Olive began in 1999 until it ended Sept. 16, the company said it took steps to address farm worker issues, such as creating a code of conduct and providing education and incentives for good farm employment practices by its suppliers. It worked with the United Methodist Church's North Carolina Annual (regional) Conference and United Methodist-related Duke University to address specific worker concerns. The company has commissioned and is helping fund the construction of new worker housing.

The Ohio-based FLOC, an affiliate of the AFL-CIO, is a labor union representing migrant farm workers. The North Carolina Growers Association’s members recruit workers under the federal H-2A program. Mt. Olive, a privately-held corporation, has the second-best selling brand of pickles in the United States.

"I am one pickle packer who is glad to be out of a pickle," said Bill Bryan, president of Mt. Olive and a member of Mt. Olive (N.C.) United Methodist Church,. "It's a big relief to have the boycott behind us so our full attention can be focused on packing quality pickles."

"My thinking is we joined the FLOC boycott, and since it is over, then the church's boycott of Mt. Olive has ended," said Jim Winkler, top staff executive of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, the denomination's social action agency. Winkler said the board, which worked on the Mt. Olive situation for five years, will monitor progress on the agreements.

- Bill Norton; UMNS; Nashville {0421; Sep. 17, 2004.

* * * * *

We have often been told, "Let your walk match your talk!" That’s good – but it’s not enough.

Make sure your walk matches God’s talk – as revealed in the Bible. - Allen O. Morris