The Monthly Update

October 2006

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

This edition of the Monthly Update should provide the final report of annual conference summaries from the Methodist Church around the world. You will see that other parts of the Update itself cover a wide plethora of subjects.

Our country has many challenges facing it at this time – not only from the Middle East where we are engaged in what is really World War III with the fighting of our brave men and women in Afghanistan and Iraq and that of the Israeli forces in Lebanon, but also closer to home. In the "Of Interest" section former Governor Dick Lamm of Colorado offers a stirring insight into a challenge we face as to our sovereignty as a country. Advocacy from the General Board of Church and Society (GBCS) is raising the issue of "immigrant concern" which should be understood as advocacy for "illegal immigrants" in oppositions to our government; other GBCS priorities are indicated by its expenditures.

Please take especial note of the numbers of missionaries sent out by the General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) – and the change in makeup of that group. Whether missionaries come from our own or from foreign cultures we are not always assured of their qualities or commitment to the evangelical Christian faith, in addition to the type of job that is actually being performed. We have recently gotten word that one of the GBGM "missionaries" is in actuality a staffer for Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the United States.

There are also articles on "Women’s issues" and news from the World Methodist Conference that was recently held in Korea. It is disappointing that this latter body, which does good evangelical work around the world, engages in political advocacy. Their pronouncements on the "reunification" of North and South Koreas is ill-conceived at best. The Bible asks, "What does light have to do with darkness"? In the same way, how can a free and openly democratic country in the South that is prospering under the free-enterprise capitalistic system be expected to merge with the most repressive communist regime on the face of the earth that has made a concerted effort to stamp out Christianity?

We continue to have our work cut out for us. We would ask that you pray for our service to the Lord at the same time we would invite your prayerful support. This has been a "lean" summer with reduced giving from our faithful contributors. Your help is very much needed at this time.

In His service,


Allen O. Morris,
Executive Director


October 2006 Update

Bits and Pieces from across the United Methodist Church

The best bridge between despair and hope is a good night's sleep.

- E. Joseph Crossman

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Anti-American advocacy

* Immigrant Facing Deportation Seeks Sanctuary in Church

Elvira Arellano, in her ongoing fight to remain in this country, has taken refuge in Adalberto UMC, Chicago. She was previously arrested in 2002 when she was using a fake Social Security card to work in the United States at O'Hare International Airport. At that time, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois asked officials to allow her to remain in order to care for her son, a U.S. citizen, who has health problems. Durbin now says the son's health has improved. Arellano took up refuge in the church, where she is a lay leader, after she was ordered to report to the Department of Homeland Security.
Bishop Minerva Carcaño (Phoenix Area), who was in the city for the International Clergywomen's Consultation, joined with Bishop Hee-soo Jung (Chicago Area) and James Preston, Chicago Northwestern District superintendent, in visiting Arellano at the church Aug. 16. That day, Carcaño spoke on CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight. She, as well as the church and its pastor, Walter Coleman, has been speaking in support of immigration reform. Arellano is also president of an organization called La Familia Latina Unida, which is asking President George W. Bush to place a moratorium on deportations until Congress approves reform. - United Methodist News Service (UMNS), as reported in UMNewscope, August 25, 2006.

* Prompted by a Fort Lewis Army officer’s decision to refuse to fight in Iraq, First UMC of Tacoma, Wash., declared itself a sanctuary for servicemen and servicewomen who also do not want to go to Iraq. The administrative council of the 300-member congregation voted to open its doors, beginning June 17, after First Lieutenant Ehren Watada said he thinks the war in Iraq is illegal and that he has sought to resign his commission. Monty Smith, pastor, said the church stands "in solidarity" with others who hold similar social-justice convictions.

- Seattle Post Intelligencer, as reported in the June 30, 2006 edition of Newscope

The Good Stuff.

High-school students from across the country [gave] part of their summer vacations to help hurricane victims, while getting a living history lesson and a dose of Cajun culture along the way. About 1,000 students from UM churches in 24 states have signed up for Project Noah (New Orleans Area Hope). Each group will spend a week rebuilding flooded and wind-battered homes in the Slidell and Covington areas near New Orleans. The groups will get a taste of the culture with a makeshift Mardi Gras parade of floats made of hurricane debris. They will also tour some of the hardest-hit areas. George Ragsdale, Project Noah's director, said that he hopes to extend the program beyond this year. - UMNS

The General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM)..The percentage of missionaries from outside the United States and serving through the General Board of Global Ministries is at its highest level ever. In total, 32% of the 230 standard support missionaries come from countries other than the United States. The number of UM Volunteers in Mission has also increased. In 2005, about 135,000 UMVIMs served in 70 countries and in 48 U.S. states, making it the busiest year ever for the program. In comparison, in 2004, about half of the 2005 number (68,204) served in 51 countries and 37 U.S. states. The increase was driven largely by the volunteer response to hurricanes on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

- Mary Beth Coudal, GBGM (UMNS)

(UM) General Board of Church and Society (GBCS).

* This year marks the 50th anniversary of the UMC's call to end executions and the 30th anniversary of a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate the death penalty. In commemoration of the 50th anniversary, the General Board of  Church and Society is resurrecting the UMs Against the Death Penalty network. Bishop Ray Chamberlain (retired) spoke during Starvin' for Justice, an annual fast and vigil opposing capital punishment. The vigil was held in front of the Supreme Court June 29-July 2. The dates commemorate the historic 1972 and 1976 Supreme Court rulings that first suspended the death penalty and later allowed executions to resume. - Kathy L. Gilbert (UMNS)

* The General Board of Church and Society is encouraging UMs to participate in a ten-week campaign from independence Day to Labor Day to raise awareness about and commitment to the concerns of immigrants. The board is asking for 100,000 UMs to sign a pledge to respond to the immigration issue with faith. Details and a weekly study guide are available at <> For more information on immigration issues, contact Bill Mefford at [Note: When the GBCS calls on the "immigrant issue" they invariably come down on the side of "open borders" with our government’s having no control over who enters this country illegally.] - UMNS

* Ethnic grants support nine ministries in Africa, U.S.

[Note: The question should be asked is, "Is this a wise use of church money?"]

Among the nine grants totaling $138,600 that will help programs serving ethnic minorities across the globe reach their ministry goals are:

Grants for 2006:

- "2006 Ethnic Young Adult Summer Internship ($55,000). Eleven interns will live together in Washington June 4-Aug. 1 and work in organizations addressing social justice concerns.

- "The Quechan Elders Treasure, Fort Yuma United Methodist Church, Desert-Southwest Annual (regional) Conference ($11,000). This is a local indigenous Quechan-language church project to develop cultural curricula for children to strengthen traditions and identity.

- "Every Member in Ministry for the 21st Century, Southern Jurisdiction Agency for Native American Ministries ($10,000). This is a continuing leadership development initiative to crisis in the Native American community.

- "Black Church Summit, BMCR/Conference Advocacy Team/Connectional Ministries, South Georgia Conference, Southeastern Jurisdiction ($9,800).

- "Sisters, Methodist Mission Church Extension Society, Methodist Action Program, Peninsula-Delaware Conference, Northeastern Jurisdiction ($9,000). The multiethnic project for economically marginal young women focuses on improvement of life skills, self-esteem, socialization and mentoring, followed up by local church relationships.

- "United Methodist Church Women's Society, Mozambique South and North Conferences, Africa Central Conference ($7,000). A four-day leadership development and training project is held once during the quadrennium and focuses on the Social Principles. It will provide women from across Mozambique with foundational knowledge and advocacy skills to interpret the Social Principles in their own contexts.

- "Youth Leadership Training and Development, Mozambique United Methodist Youth, Mozambique South and North Conferences, Africa Central Conference ($6,800). A leadership training seminar for 35 youth leaders from across Mozambique focuses on community response to the Social Principles, facilitated by GBCS.

"St. Paul's United Methodist Church Creative Arts Program for Youth, California-Nevada Annual (regional) Conference, Western Jurisdiction, $5,000. An arts-based development program for San Jose youth in an ethnically pluralistic, this initiative builds on the conference vision for ethnic ministries and focuses on drama, music, dance and visual arts classes.

- By Kathy L. Gilbert, UMNS, Nashville {302}; May. 23, 2006.

National Council of Churches. The National Council of Churches USA and Church World Service have renewed their objections to new U.S. government travel restrictions to Cuba. "The current U.S. policy toward Cuba restricts religious freedom and is contrary to the principles upon which our nation was founded," said Brenda Girton-Mitchell, a NCC staff executive. Last year, the General Board of Global Ministries and the mission arm of other denominations received notices from the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets that their existing licenses for religious travel to Cuba would not be renewed.

Of Interest.

* California UMs reached an out-of-court agreement to resolve a sexual abuse lawsuit stemming from actions of a former pastor during the 1970s. The California-Nevada and California-Pacific conferences, joined by two congregations, agreed to pay $6.7 million to end the suit. Three men who claimed their former pastor, Gary Carson-Hull, abused them when he was associate pastor at Los Altos UMC in Long Beach brought the suit. Carson-Hull was immediately dismissed from the ministry when parents of one of the plaintiffs complained to the church's senior pastor in 1979. The suits were brought after the California legislature re-opened the state's statute of limitations in 2003.

Awareness of clergy sexual misconduct was raised July 26-29 at a UM conference on sexual ethics. More than 250 clergy and lay people from 54 conferences spoke openly about "sex in the church" in an effort to help prevent sexual misconduct and to intervene and offer healing when it occurs. Called "Do No Harm," the event focused on encouraging more dialogue about both healthy and unhealthy sexual behavior; resisting the temptation to become secretive when sexual misconduct by pastors and church staff occurs; and extending God's grace with accountability to all sexual sinners, even those who have been called and set apart for ministry and licensed by the church as clergy.

- UMNS, as reported in UMNewscope, August 4, 2006.

* The Foundation for Evangelism, an affiliate of the General Board of Discipleship, has a new $2 million office building at Lake Junaluska. The foundation was begun in 1949 by Harry Denman, a former Methodist evangelism executive.

* The general council of the Methodist Church in Brazil voted to withdraw from interchurch bodies that include the Roman Catholic Church and non-Christian groups in membership, Ecumenical News International reported. "This is a real backward step," Methodist bishop Adriel de Souza Maia told the Latin American and Caribbean News Agency. The decision means that the Methodist church would have to withdraw from the National Council of Christian Churches in Brazil, or CONIC, of which de Souza Maia is president. "A thorough review of the situation must be made from a legal point of view," he stated, noting that he was unable to say whether he was still president of CONIC. - UMNS

* Abbott UMC, closed by the 2006 session of the Central Texas Annual Conference, received new life as a community church when country music artist Willie Nelson purchased it. Nelson grew up in the church, which dates from 1899. He said he bought the tiny church to save a piece of hometown history. According to published reports, he celebrated the church's preservation at a July 3 celebration that brought together family, friends, and longtime parishioners of the neighborhood for prayer and gospel music. - UMNS

* UM Membership in United States Drops below 8 million. According to the reports submitted to Newscope, only six annual conferences experienced membership growth in 2005: Alabama-West Florida, Central Texas, North Carolina, North Georgia, Red Bird Missionary, and Tennessee. Meanwhile, 16 conferences reported growth in worship attendance. Of those reporting church school attendance, nine conferences increased. - As reported in UMNewscope, July 28, 2006.

* The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America reported Aug. 1 a 1.6% decline in membership from 2004 to 2005. Lowell G. Almen, ELCA secretary, said the denomination has 4.85 million baptized members, an average of 460 per church. Confirmed membership was at 3.6 million in 2005, a 1.3% decrease. The last increase in membership for the denomination was in 1991. The church also records "communing and contributing membership" to give evidence of those active. This also declined to 2.26 million persons, a 2.1% decrease. - UMNewscope, September 8, 2006.

* Thought provoking article

We know Dick Lamm as the former Governor of Colorado. In that context his thoughts are particularly poignant. Last week there was an immigration overpopulation conference in Washington, DC, filled to capacity by many of American's finest minds and leaders. A brilliant college professor by the name of Victor Hansen Davis talked about his la test book, "Mexifornia," explaining how immigration - both legal and illegal was destroying the entire state of California. He said it would march across the country until it dest royed all vestiges of The American Dream.

Moments later, former Colorado Governor Richard D. Lamm stood up and gave a stunning speech on how to destroy America. The audience sat spellbound as he described eight methods for the destruction of the United States. He said, "If you believe that America is too smug, too self-satisfied, too rich, then let's destroy America. It is not that hard to do. No nation in history has survived the ravages of time. Arnold Toynbee observed that all great civilizations rise and fall and that 'An autopsy of history would show that all great nations commit suicide.'"

Here is how they do it," Lamm said:

"First, to destroy America, turn America into a bilingual or multi-lingual and bicultural country." History shows that no nation can survive the tension, conflict, and antagonism of two or more competing languages and cultures. It is a blessing for an individual to be bilingual; however, it is a curse for a society to be bilingual. The historical scholar, Seymour Lipset, put it this way: "The histories of bilingual and bi-cultural societies that do not assimilate are histories of turmoil, tension, and tragedy." Canada, Belgium, Malaysia, and Lebanon all face crises of national existence in which minorities press for autonomy, if no t independence. Pakistan and Cyprus have divided. Nigeria suppressed an ethnic rebellion. France faces difficulties with Basques, Bretons, and Corsicans.

Lamm went on: "Second, to destroy America, invent 'multiculturalism' and encourage immigrants to maintain their culture. I would make it an article of belief that all cultures are equal, that there are no cultural differences. I would make it an article of faith that the Black and Hispanic dropout rates are due solely to prejudice and discrimination by the majority. Every other explanation is out of bounds."

"Third, we could make the United States an 'Hispanic Quebec' without much effort. The key is to celebrate diversity rather than unity." As Benjamin Schwarz said in the Atlantic Monthly recently: "The apparent success of our own multiethnic and multicultural experiment might have been achieved not by tolerance but by hegemony. Without the dominance that once dictated ethnocentricity and what it meant to be an American, we are left with only tolerance and pluralism to hold us together." Lamm said, "I would encourage all immigrants to keep their own language and culture. I would replace the melting pot metaphor with the salad bowl metaphor. It is important to ensure that we have various cultural subgroups living in America enforcing their differences rather than as Americans, emphasizing their similarities."

"Fourth, I would make our fastest growing demographic group the least educated. I would add a second underclass, unassimilated, unde reducated, and antagonistic to our population. I would have this second underclass have a 50% dropout rate from high school."

"My fifth point for destroying America would be to get big foundations and business to give these efforts lots of money. I would invest in ethnic identity, and I would establish the cult of 'Victimology.' I would get all minorities to think that their lack of success was the fault of the majority. I would start a grievance industry blaming all minority failure on the majority population."

"My sixth plan for America's downfall would include dual citizenship and promote divided loyalties. I would celebrate diversity over unity. I would stress differences rather than similarities. Diverse people worldwide are mostly engaged in hating each other - that is, when they are not killing each other. A diverse, peaceful, or stable society is against most historical precedent. People undervalue the unity it takes to keep a nation together. Look at the ancient Greeks. The Greeks believed that they belonged to the same race; they possessed a common language and literature; and they worshipped the same gods. All Greece took part in the Olympic games. A common enemy, Persia, threatened their liberty. Yet all these bonds were not strong enough to overcome two factors: local patriotism and geographical conditions that nurtured political divisions. Greece fell. "E. Pluribus Unum" -- From many, one. In that historical reality, if we put the emphasis on the 'Pluribus' instead of the 'Unum,' we will balkanize America as surely as Kosovo."

"Next to last, I would place all subjects off limits; make it taboo to talk about anything against the cult of 'diversity.' I would find a word similar to 'heretic' in the 16th century - that stopped discussion and paralyzed thinking. Words like 'racist' or 'xenophobe' halt discussion and debate. Having made America a bilingual/bi-cultural country, having established multiculturalism, having the large foundations fund the doctrine of 'Victimology,' I would next make it impossible to enforce our immigration laws. I would develop a mantra: that because immigration has been good for America, it must always be good. I would m ake every individual immigrant symmetric and ignore the cumulative impact of millions of them."

In the last minute of his speech, Governor Lamm wiped his brow. Profound silence followed. Finally he said, "Lastly, I would censor Victor Hanson Davis's book Mexifornia. His book is dangerous. It exposes the plan to destroy America. If you feel America deserves to be destroyed, don't read that book."

There was no applause. A chilling fear quietly rose like an ominous cloud above every attendee at the conference. Every American in that room knew that everything Lamm enumerated was proceeding methodically, quietly, darkly, yet pervasively across the United States today. Discussion is being suppressed. Over 100 languages are ripping the foundation of our educational system and national cohesiveness. Even barbaric cultures that practice female genital mutilation are growing as we celebrate 'diversity.' American jobs are vanishing into the Third World as corporations create a Third World in America. Take note of California and other states - to date, ten million illegal aliens and growing fast. I t is reminiscent of George Orwell's book "1984." In that story, three slogans are engraved in the Ministry of Truth building: "War is peace," "Freedom is Slavery," and, "Ignorance is Strength."

Governor Lamm walked back to his seat. It dawned on everyone at the conference that our nation and the future of this great democracy is deeply in trouble and worsening fast. If we don't get this immigration monster stopped within three years, it will rage like a California wildfire and destroy everything in its path, especially The American Dream.

[Contrast the information in this with the aggressive advocacy of our UM officials for "immigrant advocacy" – on behalf of illegal immigrants and against the interests of the United States.]

- Received by E-mail from Randolph & Kaye Hite, Sunday, May 14, 2006 12:27 PM.

Women’s Issues. Global Gathering of Women Precedes Methodist Conference

Methodist women from around the world gathered in Korea in the days leading up to the World Methodist Conference last month. Some 800 women leaders from 71 countries joined the 11th World Assembly of the World Federation of Methodist and Uniting Church Women July 11-17 at Jeju Island, the Island of Peace. The World Methodist Conference met a few days later, July 20-24, drawing more than 2,000 Methodists from around the world to Seoul. The women's assembly theme was "Women Making a Difference," focusing on the roles of women in society, churches, and homes as well as strategies to use in everyday life. Chita Milan of the Philippines was elected to a five-year term as president of the body, which represents 4 million Methodist women from Africa, East Asia, West Asia, North America, and Europe. Else M. Adjali, executive secretary for global concerns with the Women's Division, General Board of Global Ministries, was elected vice president.

The assembly affirmed the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations and will adopt specific strategies to help achieve the goals on a regional basis. A new scholarship program was introduced, commemorating Helen Kim, a Korean Methodist who initiated the launch of the World Federation of Methodist and Uniting Church Women in 1939. This year, the program covered assembly expenses for two Methodist women, ages 18 to 35, from each of the federation's nine regions as well as two students from Ewha Women's University of Seoul, where Kim was a student and later became president. Participants had a chance to sample traditional music, art, and other cultural activities during "Korean Day" at the assembly. The governor of Jeju province welcomed the guests with a dinner and tours of the island. Local Methodist churches also invited the women to participate in Sunday worship services.

- Keihwan Ryoo, UM Communications (UMNS), as reported in UMNewscope, August 4, 2006.

World Methodist Conference. Methodists From Around World Gather Amid Global Tensions

[Note: Although the World Methodist Council provides credible ministry, even it is not immune from ill-advised political pronouncements.]

Concerns about tensions on the Korean peninsula and bombings in the Middle East were acknowledged as more than 2,500 Methodists gathered in Seoul. Drawing representatives from churches in 132 countries, the World Methodist Council met July 18-19, followed by the July 20-24 World Methodist Conference. Conference participants came during a time of high tension following North Korea's recent missile tests. Bishop Sunday C. Mbang of Nigeria, council chairman, expressed concern over the situation. "It is through the special providence of God that all Methodists from of heightened tension." Some UMs had previously planned a visit to North Korea before the conference with the intent of sharing interests and understandings concerning peace, but the visit was cancelled at the urging of the U.S. State Department following the North Korean missile launches.

Council delegates affirmed their support of Korean Methodist concerns by unanimously approving a resolution for reconciliation and peaceful reunification of the Korean peninsula. In the resolution, the council calls upon the 70 million Methodists of 132 countries to be mediators for peace and reconciliation as well as advocates for the peaceful reunification of Korea. Church members are encouraged to participate in the ecumenical efforts of the council and the National Council of Churches in the United States to help reunite separated Korean families. The resolution also asks the South Korean and North Korean governments to support "wide levels" of cooperation and collaboration; continue exchange programs; increase humanitarian programs; and "consider mutual understandings and cooperation which would lead us toward peaceful unity." Further, the statement urges North Korea to honor the principles of the United Nations' guidelines and to find a resolution to the nuclear issues through peaceful cooperation.

The body also approved a statement on the latest violence in the Middle East, calling upon the governments to comply with all U.N. resolutions pertaining to the region and to cease violent acts and seek resolution of their differences
through peaceful means. The resolution requested that member churches continue praying and working for a peaceful resolution of the issues involving Palestinians and Israelis.

World Methodists unanimously approved a resolution authorizing further dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church with the stated aim of "full communion in faith, mission, and sacramental life." The resolution was adopted when the World Methodist Council's 500-member governing body met July 18-19 in Seoul. Members also passed a resolution authorizing the association of the council and its member churches with the agreement on the Doctrine of Justification approved by the Lutheran World Foundation and the Catholic Church on April 31, 1999. Continuing dialogue between the council and the Salvation Army, first initiated in Brighton, England, in 2001, also was approved.

- Joan G. LaBarr, World Methodist Conference (UMNS)

Results from the Annual Conferences

Norway Reports on Annual Conference Session. [Late Report received]

Norway Annual Conference met June 21-25 in Sarpsborg. This year's session celebrated the 150th anniversary of the UMC in Norway. The first Norwegian Methodist congregation was founded in Sarpsborg on Sept. 11, 1856. Sarpsborg UMC was the host for this year's conference with the motto "The Future of the Church-Our Challenge." The cabinet's report focused on "The Call to Ministry in the Church." The report showed that 67% of clergy are more than 50 years old, and only 13% are under 40. This situation shows the need to focus on helping young people to answer a call to ministry in the church. After many years without any new church starts, Skånland UMC was founded in August 2006. The congregation was originally part of Harstad UMC and is closely connected to Soltun Folkehøgskole. Several of the congregations engaged in strategic thinking for their ministry through Natural Church Development.

An agreement with the Baptist Union of Norway, building on the final report from the Bilateral Conversations of 1994-2004, was adopted. The agreement states, "We acknowledge each other as brothers and sisters in Christ, belonging to the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church which is the Body of Christ in the world. We share the common foundation for Christian faith, given us in the Bible and the Apostles' Creed." The agreement also confirms that the "disagreement in the administration of baptism is still so great that we cannot advise full church unity." The issue of homosexuality became a main focus in the debate at this year's conference. The responsibility of a committee to work this issue is to make a document that may serve as background for a broader debate about homosexuality at the next annual session. Membership at the end of 2005 was 4,496 persons, down 92 from 2004.

- Vidar Sten Bjerkseth, UMNewscope, September 8, 2006.

* Annual Conferences Celebrate Clergywomen, Connection.

[Note in reviewing the priorities of the annual conferences is it any wonder that we as a denomination are declining?]

The highlight of this year's annual conference gatherings throughout the connection was celebrating the 50th anniversary of full clergy rights for women. Clergywomen sang, preached, and led Bible study. Stories were told about their service, and honor was given to those who paved the way. "Even full clergy rights, however, is not full acceptance," said Bishop Sally Dyck (Minnesota Area) to Yellowstone Annual Conference. "We are becoming the church our grandmothers envisioned us to be, thanks be to God. And thanks to the men of the church who opened the way. Now it is up to all of us to 'pay it forward' and keep the light alive for women everywhere."

The various annual conferences also reflected on how they are continuing to respond to the destruction on the Gulf Coast caused by Hurricane Katrina last year. Representatives from the coastal areas and from Volunteer in Mission teams fanned out across the connection to give thanks for the generous support and to share about how the work continues. Conferences also celebrated their missions across the world with offerings, donations of pension funds, and in legislation calling for peace in areas of conflict. In other legislation, annual conferences responded to the U.S. debate over immigration legislation. New England Annual Conference called for study and prayer on the subject and opposed militarization of the border. Meanwhile, Rio Grande Annual Conference encouraged its churches to become sanctuaries for immigrants and to practice "radical hospitality" for all.

In addressing the needs of their own conferences, several reorganized their structure; and some reduced the number of districts. The conferences in Michigan and Indiana even took steps toward merging conferences in order to form two statewide annual conferences. Merger plans have yet to be developed and will require further approval. In response to Judicial Council decisions of the past year, several conferences also sought to declare their understanding of membership and the role of the pastor. The Rocky Mountain Annual Conference asked pastors to "voluntarily relinquish the authority granted them by the Judicial Council Decision 1032" and accept those into membership who are willing after having received instruction. The Florida Annual Conference approved a resolution in support of the Council of Bishops' statement on the Judicial Council decisions while also supporting the Judicial Council in "affirming the crucial role of the pastors." - As reported in UMNewscope, July 28, 2006.

* Addendum: The Kansas East Annual Conference approved, by an overwhelming majority, a petition entitled "Non-Discrimination for Kansas East Local Churches" that states that "no pastor in the Kansas East Conference shall deny membership in a Kansas East United Methodist Church solely based on the candidate for membership being a self-avowed, practicing homosexual." Immediately upon approval of this petition, a motion was made and approved that the conference petition the Judicial Council for a declaratory decision as to whether or not this petition is in compliance with Amendment IV of the constitution and ¶¶ 124.

- As reported in UM Newscope, June 30, 2006.

* Over a three-year period (2001–04), 11,697 out of 35,000 churches increased by at least one person; 10,657 increased by at least 3%. Therefore, less than one third of UM congregations are growing. How many new church starts are there? The General Council on Finance and Administration recognizes a new church start only after a congregation is chartered and given an identification number. Identification numbers are also changed for other reasons. Nevertheless, there were 72 churches given a new identification number in 2004 and 89 in 2003. - Background Data for Mission

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What the world really needs is more love and less paperwork.

- Pearl Bailey

Global Outlook

A cloudy day is no match for a sunny disposition.

- William Arthur Ward

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Islam U.S. policies in the Middle East would change if the Christian church, a "sleeping giant," would speak out in a loud voice against injustice and violence. Albert Isteero, a longtime Christian leader from the Middle East, expressed this personal opinion with strong emotion Aug. 16 when he spoke at the weekly worship service at the Upper Room Chapel. He also described the challenges Christians face in Muslim countries. Isteero, an Egyptian, has been contracted as editor of the Arabic-language edition of The Upper Room daily devotional guide since the mid-1960s, except for nine years when he was studying in the United States. A Presbyterian clergyman, he earned three masters' degrees, two doctorates, and taught at Hartford Seminary in Connecticut and John Hopkins University, Baltimore. Isteero lived in Lebanon for 13 years while serving as general secretary of the Middle East Council of Churches and now resides in Cairo.

As a member of a minority religion in all countries of the Middle East, Isteero understands oppression by Muslims and Islamic governments. Only 10-15% of Egypt's population of 78 million is Christian, he said. At one time, Lebanon's population was 55% Christian and 45% Muslim, but he said that percentage is reversed today. In Egypt, Isteero said Christians can worship freely, but they are not allowed to preach openly or evangelize outside church buildings. Muslims broadcast on television 24 hours a day, he said, while Christians are denied any time except for brief programs at Christmas and Easter. The Arabic edition of The Upper Room is mailed to about 5,000 subscribers in 22 countries. Isteero said he has few problems printing the quarterly booklet but runs into difficulties regarding shipping. Some countries such as Algeria reject the distribution of any Christian literature.

- Tom McAnally (UMNS) , as reported in UMNewscope, August 25, 2006.

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If Noah had been truly wise, he would have swatted those two flies.

- Helen Castle

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