The Monthly Update

May 2005 Update


Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

This Monthly Update contains initial information on the next General Conference in 2008. We already have some of the ideas of what people deem as priorities for this event and shall, assuredly, monitor that with a great deal of interest. In addition to the other information on issues in the United Methodist Church, we are including how the Anglican communion is continuing to address the aberrant behavior of the Episcopal Church in their consecration of Gene Robinson, and an excellent examination by UM Bishop Tim Whitaker on "life issues" and Terri Schiavo.

It is with a great deal of sadness that we review the passing of Pope John Paul and all that he has accomplished.

I remember that as a young Army captain stationed in Germany during the 1970s, we trained constantly to meet any hostile action that might be mounted by the Warsaw Pact nations led by the Soviet Union. We knew all too well the odds against us; we were severely outnumbered in personnel, artillery, and armor (tanks). I had studied Soviet tactics for over ten years and knew what to expect. I knew that if "the balloon ever went up" (i.e., we went to war), the men in my unit and I would not survive. We would be killed by artillery, chemical/biological weapons, or the treads of Soviet tanks.

When I heard that a Polish cardinal had been elected pope of the Roman Catholic Church, my immediate thoughts were, "This has possibilities." I knew two characteristics of the Polish people: they were very determined and they were a very religious country in that the overwhelming majority of the people were Catholic. I remembered seeing a picture of a classroom in Poland (a few years before the election of Pope John Paul) right after the communist government had issued an edict that there would be no outward sign of the Christian faith visible anywhere in the country. On the chest of all but one student in that classroom was a cross – plainly visible even in the photograph - in direct defiance of government edicts.

The election of a Polish cardinal was a crack in the armor of the Soviet monolithic war machine. The new Pope John Paul would have an "inside" connection to a very determined Polish population and undermine this atheistic government by his witness.

History proved this analysis correct. In fact, three people were responsible for engineering the collapse of the Soviet empire in Europe as it existed until the early 1990s: Pope John Paul, Prime Margaret Thatcher, and President Ronald Reagan. They accomplished by political and spiritual means what we probably could not have accomplished by military warfare.

The Lord works in mysterious and wonderful ways!

We would ask that you continue to pray for us as we serve the Lord in what He has called us to do, and continue to partner with us in His work. Without your help in both areas, we could not continue with the same degree of effectiveness we have had in past actions.

In His service,

Allen O. Morris,
Executive Director


May 2005 Update

Bits and Pieces from across the United Methodist Church

There are no roses without thorns, nor victories without battles. - The Daily Walk, December 16, 1992.

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Of Interest.

+ A Question of Trusts: Court says Methodist church may leave denomination and keep its property.

In a judgment that has implications for mainline Protestant property disputes across the country, a California congregation has won the right to keep its property after breaking its affiliation with the United Methodist Church (UMC). In December, the Supreme Court of California ruled against the nation's third-largest denomination—rejecting a request to review an earlier court decision that awarded the Fresno-based property, worth more than $1.5 million, to a breakaway Methodist congregation. "We just praise God. This is his victory. This is his property," said Kevin Smith, senior pastor of the formerly Methodist church, renamed St. Luke's Church. Smith said his congregation is "just relieved that [the case is] done, so we can go about ministry without having to worry about where we are going to be tomorrow or next week or next year." The 180-member congregation severed ties with the UMC in 2000. Members, believing the denomination has departed from biblical teachings, sought to retain the church building, which parishioners had paid for over a 50-year period. Since, according to Methodist church law, all church property is held in trust for the national church, the local Methodist jurisdiction, the California-Nevada Annual Conference, sued for ownership. It won the initial trial in 2002. But the Fifth District Court of Appeal overturned that decision last August. The appeals panel ruled that St. Luke's had indeed entered into a trust agreement. But it said that California statutes allow such trusts to be revoked. The California Supreme Court's decision not to review the case made St. Luke's one of just two congregations nationally to win a denominational property dispute in a high court in recent years.

Robert Shannon, the trial attorney for the California-Nevada Annual Conference, said the St. Luke's ruling provides an opportunity for the UMC to strengthen its claim to local church property—though he would not elaborate. Legally, the denomination's only recourse is to take the case to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals or the U.S. Supreme Court. Shannon said "that is a topic we are not discussing at this point." - By Kathleen K. Rutledge, Christianity Today, February 2005.

+ What evangelicals can learn from the pope, by Janice Shaw Crouse

The non-stop television coverage of Pope John Paul II’s death and the retelling of his life as the final spark of his vibrant personality flickered and died has dramatically brought into focus the profound impact and significance of this man from Poland. From the unprecedented gathering of mourners –– kings and presidents, rich and poor –– it is clear that his influence extended far beyond the Catholic Church. The response to the death of the pope –– more than 2 million are expected at his funeral –– proves the truth of the oft-repeated claim that there is a God-shaped vacuum inside each human being. The millions of people who have watched the television coverage or made pilgrimages to Rome to pay their last respects to the pope lying in state at St. Peter's Basilica are testimony to the yearning in people’s hearts for an example of someone passionately committed to loving the Lord God, undividedly, with heart, soul, and mind. Even those who disagreed with John Paul respected his spirituality and conviction that would not bend in the face of disapproval and opposition.

What can evangelicals learn from a man who inspires such an outpouring of respect and affection? What can we learn from a man who, despite his age and old-fashioned commitment to the ancient truths of his faith, stirred the hearts of young people and rallied them in multiple nations around the world?

The pope embodied commitment and consistency. In an era rampant with scandals and hypocrisy, the pope was a leader whose integrity both challenged and inspired. He was a public figure whose life was a consistent embodiment of his faith. He was willing to put everything, including his life, on the line. His authority stemmed not just from his position at the head of the Catholic Church, but also from his inner strength and stances of moral integrity. During his papacy, the number of Catholics worldwide doubled.

The pope was both moral and intellectual. In an era when pseudo-sophistication reigned, John Paul developed deep intellectual roots that informed his faith and provided a strong rationale for his moral stances. The pope was not willing to settle for what Ralph Woods’ described in First Things as "saccharine substitutes for the hard-thinking that the Christian faith requires." He combined spiritual depth with intellectual rigor. He published 14 tightly-reasoned encyclicals on social, theological and moral issues that became a strong voice for Judeo-Christian values and Biblical truth in an increasingly secularized and coarsening culture.

The pope related across generations. Those who embrace the cliché that everything has to be novel in order to appeal to the next generation, could learn from this pope whose winsome ways drew youth to him and to faith. John Paul related to young people with genuine concern coupled with an enthusiastic spirit, a sharp sense of humor and quick wit. In so doing, he embodied and interpreted faith in fresh and vital ways for a whole new generation of believers. His background in drama taught him the power of image-making but he did so without sacrificing his dignity or crossing the line to embrace the latest fads. His piety, however, was not for show.

The pope was willing to go against the tide of popular opinion. For over a quarter of a century, John Paul, an essentially humble priest, stood fast against the tide of secularism in uncompromising support of the fundamental tenets of the faith. He protected the vulnerable –– including the unborn, by consistently opposing abortion –– and he stood up to the powerful who sought to replace Christian dogma and traditional standards of morality with trendy ideology generated by mere human imagination. Those who are prone to be swept along with cultural trends in their frantic efforts to be relevant could learn much from this pope who proved that conviction is more appealing than contemporary repackaging of the faith.

The pope made holiness manly. Many of today’s generation have never seen holiness manifested in manly demeanor. They think of believers as weak wimps in contrast to the proud swaggering behavior of worldly non-religious men. This pope, even when frail and limited by Parkinson’s disease, was resolutely masculine.

In a world where so many "believers" are unwilling to "bend the knee" before the Almighty, the pope was a man who spent at least 4 hours a day in prayer. When the world around him was demanding that religion be watered down to conform to the postmodern worldview, he challenged believers to a more rigorous faith. In a culture more responsive to a gospel of prosperity, he challenged Catholics to reject materialism and lifted up a vision of sacrifice and service. He issued a high calling and people responded. Out of the depths of rock-solid character, this was a man who, even when stooped and palsied, spoke with authority...and the whole world listened. - Janice Shaw Crouse; Townhall.com; April 8, 2005. She is Senior Fellow at Concerned Women for America.

+ Bishop Earl G. Hunt Jr., church 'giant,' dies at age 86

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (UMNS)-United Methodist Bishop Earl Gladstone Hunt Jr., 86, a leader in the church and in world Methodism, died March 26 at Mission Hospital in Asheville, N.C. During his 46-year career, Hunt served at all levels of the United Methodist Church and was active in the World Methodist Council. "He was a strong, articulate, passionate voice for the spread of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ," said the Rev. H. Eddie Fox, director of world evangelism for the World Methodist Council in Nashville, Tenn. "…When he stood to speak, everyone listened."

Funeral services were held March 30 at Long's Chapel United Methodist Church in Lake Junaluska. Memorial gifts may be sent to the Foundation for Evangelism, P.O. Box 985, Lake Junaluska, NC 28745; Given Estates Resident Supplementary Assistance Fund, 2360 Sweeten Creek Road, Asheville, NC 28803; or Emory & Henry College, P.O. Box 947, Emory, VA 24327.

[Note: It was Bishop Hunt who had the courage to speak out against the "Re-Imagining" theologies that emanated from the Minneapolis conference, calling them the "worst heresy in 15 centuries"; he was a man of integrity. Editor.]

- By Dawn Hand, United Methodist New Service (UMNS); Nashville {05183}; Mar. 29, 2005.

+ Hispanic leaders attack Iliff advertisement

Hispanic leaders are incensed by United Methodist Iliff School of Theology's newspaper ad, in which the school extols its accomplishments following the controversial departure of its Hispanic president. The advertisement, that appeared in the March 25 issue of the United Methodist Reporter (UMR), said it was resolved to address the findings of an investigative team...related to the retirement of the Rev. David Maldonado, former president of Iliff School of Theology. Maldonado, the seminary's first Hispanic president, became president in June 2000 and abruptly retired last May 26. He said the faculty resisted his leadership. He said that some faculty accused him of being too theologically conservative or moderate, or told him that he did "not fit" or was "culturally different." In addition, Maldonado said, he felt pressured to leave by faculty leadership and some trustees. Hispanic critics say Iliff's letter puts a "slant" on the seminary's progress in advance of an April 26-28 visit to the school by the Religion and Race Review Team and issued a rebuttal letter to the UMR. The investigative team from the denomination's University Senate and the United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race issued a public warning to the school last November after finding "patterns of institutional governance and perceived racial and cultural insensitivities." The team issued the warning after determining that "institutional racism was a major, significant factor" leading to Maldonado's departure.

Iliff is at risk of losing $900,000 in Ministerial Education Funds from the United Methodist Church. In a March 30 letter of response to UM Rev. Philip Wogaman [evidently one of the writers of the UMR ad], two Hispanic leaders wrote: "We urge you to not attempt to pull a fast one on the Latino/a community or the community at large on this issue by simply whitewashing the situation at Iliff with this particular ad. This ad is misleading and untruthful....While we appreciate the fact that Iliff continues to address 'some' issues, Iliff has much to fulfill before it starts to trumpet its success in a meaningless ad of blatant propaganda...."

MARCHA, an unofficial church caucus in the UMC, called on Iliff to reinstate Maldonado as president and to issue a public apology to him and the Hispanic/Latino community. But three seminary trustees resigned in January, citing impatience with board decisions in the wake of Maldonado's departure. The trustees allege that the racial climate at Iliff is unchanged since the investigative team's report. - By Linda Green, UMNS; Apr. 5, 2005.

+ New Hampshire (Episcopal) Bishop Implies Jesus Might Have Been Gay

WENHAM, MA (3/11/2005)--The homoerotic bishop of New Hampshire V. Gene Robinson told parishioners at Christ

Church of Hamilton and Wenham that while Jesus was on this earth he was only in the company of men, his disciples,

and referenced that Jesus talked about the "one he loved," implying that Jesus may have been a homosexual himself.

[Note: This indicates the extreme rationalization of someone who has allowed his disobedience to Christian moral teachings to become his own god. We need to realize that we ourselves are not the final arbiters of what is true and right.]

- By David W. Virtue, VirtueOnline. Website for this story: http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/article.php?storyid=2196

+ Schism: Conflict mediators explore communion's role in healing schism

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS)-United Methodists must engage conflict constructively if the church is to find peace, according to a group of people who practice mediation and conflict resolution. JUSTPEACE, an organization of practitioners of conflict resolution and mediation, organized the Nashville meeting. The group, with headquarters in Washington, is affiliated with the United Methodist Board of Discipleship in Nashville. Since 2000, members of JUSTPEACE have been trying to help the denomination deal with divisiveness, develop peace-builders and offer strategies for reconciliation. Referring to the schism talk at the 2004 General Conference and the subsequent adoption of a unity document, Rev. Tom Porter said, "We believe in community. We believe that we can live with our differences." At General Conference, the church moved from talk of schism to unity but did not examine what was in between, he said. "How do we say to folk that we need to talk about a lot of things in ways that are authentic and have integrity?" Like the early church, United Methodists find themselves in a fragmented and multicultural society that yearns for relationships, identity and meaning, said Bishop Larry M. Goodpaster, bishop of the Alabama-West Florida Area, president of JUSTPEACE and chairperson of the Council of Bishops' Task Force on Unity and Bridge-building. Goodpaster said that if United Methodists want to reframe the conversation, overcome differences and be agents of grace, they must look around to see where, how and toward whom they practice kindness and hospitality. "We tear down the barriers and dare risk a relationship with people we do not know or agree with," he said. The practice of hospitality enriches the faith and helps align Christian practice with basic values, he said. After another round of gatherings, JUSTPEACE will offer a unity and peace document to the Council of Bishops' Task Force on Unity and Bridge-building, as well as to the group's network of practitioners and to the church at large. [Note: Much of the schism is based in real differences and the question as to whether or not UM clergy will obey the teachings of the Bible and the United Methodist Church.]

- Linda Green, UMNS; Nashville, Tenn.

(UM) Bishops.

+ Terri Schiavo: Killing or Letting Die or Letting Live? [Note: This was written before Ms. Schiavo died.]

The tragic ordeal of Mrs. Terri Schiavo causes most of us to engage in moral reflection on that borderland of human existence where there has to be a decision about killing, letting die or letting live. A fundamental moral principle consistent with faith in God revealed in Jesus Christ is to always care rather than kill. In 1991 the Ramsey Colloquium of the Institute on Religion and Public Life (named after the late Paul Ramsey, a United Methodist ethicist) issued a declaration titled "Always to Care, Never to Kill." The declaration says, "In relating to the sick, the suffering, the incompetent, the disabled, and the dying, we must learn again the wisdom that teaches us always to care, never to kill. Although it may sometimes appear to be an act of compassion, killing is never a means of caring."

On the basis of "always to care, never to kill" we would never give moral approval of physician-assisted suicide or active euthanasia. Approval of techniques to terminate the lives of the dying would distort the purpose of physicians to care for persons and open the way to destroy the lives of the disabled.

The principle of always caring does not prohibit letting the terminally ill die in dignity and comfort. The hospice movement is based upon the moral assumption that it is permissible to let the dying die as long as they receive caring while they are dying. The statement on "Faithful Care of the Dying" in the Social Principles of The United Methodist Church expresses the moral wisdom of limiting the use of medical technologies in caring for the dying: "The use of medical technologies to prolong terminal illness requires responsible judgment about when life-sustaining treatments truly support the goal of life, and when they have reached their limits. There is no moral or religious obligation to use these when they impose undue burdens or only extend the process of dying. Dying persons and their families thus have the liberty to discontinue treatment when they cease to be of benefit to the patient."

The extreme case of Mrs. Schiavo demonstrates how difficult it can be to distinguish between killing and letting die or to choose between letting die and letting live.

One concern is how to assess the technique of feeding a person through a tube. Without the feeding tube Mrs. Schiavo would have died years ago. There is a difference between eating and being fed by the insertion of a tube into one's stomach. Mrs. Schiavo has been unable to eat ever since she entered the "persistent vegetative state." Some think that providing a feeding tube to a person in a "persistent vegetative state" is an extraordinary medical intervention and that removing the tube is not killing, but letting die. On the other hand, there are those who say that providing fluids and food is not an extraordinary medical intervention, but a necessary means of caring. There are many disabled persons who live by means of a feeding tube. Therefore, they say that to deprive a person of fluids and food would be killing not letting die.

Another concern is how to characterize Mrs. Schiavo's condition. It is morally permissible to allow the terminally ill to die, but can Mrs. Schiavo be described as one who is terminally ill? As long as she received fluids and food she would continue to live. It is more accurate to describe her as a person who is severely disabled rather than one who is terminally ill. To make matters even more complex, there is the concern of how to define "life." The simplest rule is that life is life: as long as a person is alive, regardless of whether or not one's brain is dead or the cortex of the brain is dead, then that person should be allowed to live and should receive care.

Jews and Christians who consider the body an essential dimension of being human should not place too much value upon one's capacity for consciousness; to do so would imply a spiritualistic view of a human being and pose a potential threat to the lives of the mentally incompetent. Yet, even very conservative Jewish and Christian bio-ethicists think that brain death should be viewed differently than other kinds of disabilities since the cortex of the brain is the means through which a person expresses herself.

Moreover, to make "life" per se an absolute category is to obscure the value that should be placed upon "a way of life," i.e. an ability to interact with the rest of the world and to relate to others. Indeed, there is a spiritual danger in hypostatizing life, i.e. viewing life as something that subsists in itself and thus makes moral claims upon us, rather than viewing life as a gift of God offered to us under the conditions of creaturely limits. It is not "life" itself, but God's purposes for human beings that make the ultimate moral claims upon us. Similarly, I would argue that the Christian protest against the violence of abortion should not be based upon a "right to life," but upon God's peaceable purposes and God's call for us to care for the most vulnerable. To continue to acknowledge the complexity of a case such as Mrs. Schiavo's, there is also the concern about the value of the person in a "persistent vegetative state" to her loved ones. A person who is in a "persistent vegetative state" is not a vegetable, especially not to those who know her and love her. The love that Mrs. Schiavo's parents and siblings have toward her and the care they display toward her is of immense value. It should be humbly acknowledged that no one - no physician, no ethicist, no judge, nor any other human being - can absolutely know the effect that the power of love has upon someone even as severely disabled as Mrs. Schiavo....To Christians this kind of display of love is a witness to the love of God revealed in Jesus Christ and poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. Moral reflection should include consideration of the value of the love of caregivers as well as the condition of the one receiving care.

It seems to me that, all things considered, in the case of Mrs. Schiavo, it would be better to allow her to live. I would not go so far as to say that removing her tube is killing her. Since she is brain-dead it is understandable why some think it would be merciful to let her die and to entrust her to the care of the living God whose purposes for us transcend this life. Here motives of the decision-makers are very important: it makes a difference whether or not our motive is to release someone from being bound to her severely impaired body or to get rid of her because she is a burden. Yet, I believe it would be better to let her live because she is the beneficiary of abundant love. The decision is excruciating because of the complexity of the case. In my view there is not much room for moral condemnation on either side of the decision between letting die and letting live. Nevertheless, one must judge, and I would decide for preserving her life primarily because of the high value placed upon the self-giving love of those who want to care for her.

Of course, the case of Mrs. Schiavo is a legal one, as well as a moral one. The judges have ruled in accordance with the law of Florida that Mrs. Schiavo should be allowed to die because her spouse is a witness to her intention. The problem with the existing law is that (as far as I know) it does not contain a provision that would allow the court to render a judgment about whether the spouse should be the only witness where there is no written will or if the spouse's witness is compromised by a conflict of interest, such as living with another person with whom he is rearing children. The existing law does not permit consideration of the testimony or the moral claims of other members of the family who are willing to provide the love and care the disabled person needs. If I understand the law correctly, it seems to me there is a moral basis for modifying the existing law.

In our society the usual assumption is that consideration of whether or when to withhold life support to a person depends upon that person's own preference. Surely, it matters whether or not we would want to live with medical support if we were brain-dead. However, limiting moral considerations to only the intention of the person is an individualistic perspective that does not take into consideration the ability and willingness of others to love and to care. At worst, such individualism in moral deliberation and law can be an endorsement of absolute individual autonomy and self-determination and thus of moral decisions and law that could permit physician-assisted suicide and active euthanasia. It is important to society, and especially to Christians in society, to also introduce communitarian values into our moral deliberations as the basis of both decision-making and legislating.

We are grateful that we live in a nation where we are given freedom. As Christians we are especially grateful for the spiritual freedom given to those of us who are justified by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. The freedom we have received is not given to us for the sake of self-determination, but for the sake of service. The apostle Paul wrote, "you were called to be free; do not use your freedom as an opening for self-indulgence, but be servants to one another in love, since the whole of the Law is summarized in one commandment: You must love your neighbor as yourself (Galatians 5:13-14, The New Jerusalem Bible)."

Serving others in love is possible only by participating in the love of God. On Easter Christians heard again the proclamation that because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ God's love is stronger than death. Unless this proclamation is just a pious sentiment it creates a people whose practices are different than those of the world. The church's mission is not to be the chaplain to a culture of death, but to be a witness to the love of God in the world. Rather than assisting people to make living wills, wouldn't it be more fitting for the church to tell the stories of those who have found new life in giving loving service to the disabled? Their stories show us how to practice a way of life of participating in the love of the Triune God, which is eternal life. [Note: Bishop Whitaker addressed important "life" issues that we need to consider.]

Statement by Bishop Tim W. Whitaker, Florida Area, The United Methodist Church.

+ Bishop Impostor Targets Churches in Scam

A phone scam by someone posing as a UM bishop has robbed three African American UM congregations in Florida, Georgia, and Maryland of about $2,400, a bishop's assistant said. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation began investigating the matter April 6 at the request of Bishop G. Lindsey Davis (North Georgia Area), whose office is in Norcross. In the scam, a man posing as the bishop contacts churches and asks them to wire money-usually between $700 and $800-to his niece, identified as Diane Williams, who is traveling in their area and having car trouble. He asks the money be sent to a Wal-Mart or other large store. Davis, who was out of the office, said he did not make the calls and "doesn't even know anybody by the name Diane Williams," according to his administrative assistant, Chris Selleck. "These are usually small churches that have been targeted. They don't typically have this kind of money. But when the bishop calls, they do what they can to help." According to Selleck, church representatives in Ocala, Fla., southern Georgia, and Maryland wired the money. - Marta Aldrich (UMNS); UM-Newscope, April 15, 2005.

(UM) General Conference. 2008 General Conference to Be Shorter with Smaller Budget

The 2008 General Conference will be shorter than the 2004 conference. Meeting in Schiller Park, Ill., April 4-6, the Commission on General Conference set the dates for the Fort Worth, Texas, conference as April 23-May 2. The commission also reduced its budget by approximately 3.8%. Sandra Lackore, general secretary of the General Commission on Finance and Administration, told commission members, "How a denomination spends its money reflects how it values its ministries." Members voted to include input from JUSTPEACE. The 2008 theme will be "A Future with Hope," and a contest will be held to design a logo. Finally, the commission authorized a subcommittee to examine sites in the Southeastern Jurisdiction for General Conference 2012. - Marvin Cropsey; UM-Newscope, April 15, 2005.

The Good Stuff.

This is an excerpt from an e-newsletter I get. With these thoughts from a Ugandan pastor, I was reminded again how much we need to be learning from Christian brothers and sisters in other parts of the world. The Anglican Communion is being challenged to faithfulness by their African and Asian bishops. We UMs owe our African delegates to the General Conference a huge measure of appreciation for the fact that we have been able to hold the line on our church's current stance on the issue of homosexuality. Sons and daughters in the faith have grown to maturity in Christ and God is now using them to minister to us. - Received from a Concerned Methodists friend.

Imagine What God Could Do!

In mid-March, my wife and I attended the "Imagine What God Could Do Renewal Conference" sponsored by Strategic Renewal International at Arcade Church in Sacramento, California. There, we were privileged to hear several challenging messages from a Ugandan pastor named Jackson Senyonga. Jackson's words (taken from Romans 1 and 2 Corinthians 4,10) were so clearly inspired by the Holy Spirit and heart-stirring that I'd like to leave you with several of his thoughts:

God has never called us to be comfortable. Rather, we are supposed to focus on being obedient. Scripture's simple injunctions to us are (1) hear, (2) believe, and (3) do. They are NOT (1) to analyze whether we like God's instructions, (2) to think about whether we want to be obedient, (3) to consider all possible alternatives, (4) to read a few more books before obeying, (5) to talk to our friends to see what they think, (6) to visit a bunch of websites just to be sure we're on the right track, and then finally (7) to ask ourselves, "Will choosing to be obedient be comfortable, will it be convenient for me?"

In many ways we in America are educated beyond our level of obedience. We have multitudes of Christian tools and resources at our disposal. We have great seminary-trained preachers who with deep and theologically-astute sermons speak God's Word with regularity into our lives. But, in spite of all these spiritual advantages and greater levels of intellectual understanding, we still often choose to ignore God's commands.

God's message hasn't changed. He has called us to obedience and to prayer. If we choose not to obey Him–choosing rather to live in willful disobedience–we will continue to see spiritual decline in both ourselves and in the North American church. But if we choose to follow God–to live in obedient relationship with Him–He has promised that He will do miraculous works in our hearts, in our churches, and in our country!

Praying for personal and corporate revival in America, Dave Wilson, Editor, DJ Online News

UM Women. UMW Kicks Off Green Team Environmental Justice Program

A new program activating local UM Women members to work on environmental issues in their communities was launched at the spring board meeting of the Women's Division, General Board of Global Ministries, in Stamford, Conn., April 7-11. Toting green bags, coffee mugs, and scarfs, team members marked the program's orientation and kickoff at the Stamford Marriott Hotel and adopted "A Voice for the Voiceless" as the motto of their work. "The Green Team's advocacy goal is to realize environmental justice," explained Sung-Ok Lee, executive secretary for community action and coordinator of the program. "Environmental justice is the fair treatment and involvement of all people-regardless of race, ethnicity, or economic status-in the decision-making process on environmental public policies." The Green Team adopted a national campaign to continue to work on a chlorine-free products campaign-because of the dioxins caused by chlorine-and to work on the U.N.'s global WASH campaign, which calls for water, sanitation, and hygiene for all. [Note: How does this win people to Jesus Christ? Is this a wise use of money? In reality, it is one of the "causes" that left-wing political activists have taken to channel the effort that had been devoted to socialist causes.]

- Yvette Moore; UM-Newscope, April 15, 2005.

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He who is not open to conviction is not qualified for discussion. - The Daily Walk, December 22, 1992.

Global Outlook

What's true of biology is also true of faith. If it isn't growing, it's probably dead. - The Daily Walk, December 15, 1992.

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The Episcopal Church. IRD President Diane Knippers Reports on the Anglican Primates Meeting in Ireland

Newry, Northern Ireland. The February 2005 communique of the Primates moved the Anglican Communion, slowly and inexorably, toward division. Leaders among the primates of the Global South assert that division has already occurred. But they want to offer the Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada ample time to reconsider their abandonment of church teaching. The Primates affirmed the October 2004 Windsor report and commended its recommendations for strengthening the Communion, including a proposed Anglican Covenant. The Primates went further than the Windsor report in two important respects:

1. While providing a waiting period for the North American church to consider their responses to the Windsor Report, the Primates took steps to remove official North American representation on the Anglican Communion's executive body, the Anglican Consultative Council. This "voluntary withdrawal" is to last until the 2008 Lambeth Council. But several primates also noted that the 2006 General Convention of the Episcopal Church would no doubt reveal ECUSA's definitive response to Windsor.

2. The Primates did not affirm the Windsor Report's commendation of DEPO, a woefully inadequate provision of alternative oversight for U.S. congregations in theological conflict with their bishops. While they agreed to limit further unilateral "cross-boundary interventions," they recommended that the Archbishop of Canterbury appoint, "as a matter urgency," a new panel of reference that would "supervise the adequacy of pastoral provisions made by any churches."

Several of the primates from the Global South attended this primates' meeting thinking it was likely to be their last. However, their resolve to remain within the Anglican Communion -- and to force out the North American churches if necessary -- was strengthened. The leaders of the Global South are learning to work together and, as a block, are effectively proving their new political muscle. Their ability to capture the agenda of this meeting is a primary example of a new day. The refusal of many to share communion with the primates of the United States and Canada illustrates the depth of the division and their resolve.

From the point of view of church history, Global Anglicanism is moving with dispatch toward resolution of the crisis and, indeed, toward global realignment. From the point of view of orthodox Anglicans in North America, held captive in churches that propagate false teaching, the pace is agonizingly slow and inadequate.

What will happen in the Episcopal Church now? I have no doubt that many of the ECUSA laity and even the clergy will simply not feel a call to continued struggle and will leave Anglicanism entirely. This, for many, will be an honorable, honest, and necessary choice.

Others have a vision for a new unified orthodox Anglican witness in North America, one that could re-unite mainstream Anglicans outside ECUSA with the remaining orthodox within. Building visible unity among these orthodox elements is a necessary pre-condition for eventual recognition by the Anglican Communion, when ECUSA will no longer claim the exclusive Anglican franchise for the United States.

Building this new church -- strong, healthy, unified, mission-minded, and growing -- and building it, for now, both within and without the dying structures of the Episcopal Church is our most urgent task.

- Source: The Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD) President Diane Knippers. February 26, 2005. The Institute on Religion and Democracy, 1110 Vermont Avenue, NW, Suite 1180, Washington, DC 20005. This is on the internet

at: http://www.ird-renew.org/Episcopal/Episcopal.cfm?ID=1055&c=21

[Note: It is with the greatest regret that we inform you that Mrs. Diane Knippers has lost her fight with cancer. Her passing is a great loss to the renewal movement in the Episcopal Church and international Christianity.]

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If you are wearing self-righteousness, you are over-dressed. - As quoted in LoveLights newsletter, November 2001.