The Monthly Update

May 2006

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

Things don’t always go as planned. In the work that we do in Concerned Methodists we utilize three different companies in town who do different types of printing for us. We had run into a delay in getting our letterhead stationery from one company – that is why last month’s "Update" did not have an accompanying letter with it. More recently when we were publishing the April edition of The Christian Methodist Newsletter the quality of the work was such that we had to reject the shipment of printing they had provided. Hence, we shall not be sending out an April edition of The Christian Methodist Newsletter but will be providing the same information over the course of three subsequent newsletters.

This copy of the "Update" contains a disproportionate amount of information on the state of our United Methodist Church since we have reason to be concerned over its direction. It comes as no surprise that when an institution, whether it is secular or spiritual, abandons its primary purpose, it tends to suffer.

This is no different with our denomination. Combine this with the fact that we have a priceless message – that of the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ – and when that message is diluted or abandoned altogether, people will go elsewhere to get the same "good news" when it is offered by evangelical churches. It seems that we as a denomination are addicted to involving ourselves in causes that are peripheral to what we should be about as Spirit-filled Christians. I cannot help but remember Jesus’ phrase "straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel" when I look at the priorities our church employees pursue. And then they wonder why we are declining! This is truly amazing.

Finally, one other difference in this "Update" is the use of smaller type to get more information into the six pages of the publication. Please let us know if you like getting more data with the smaller print, or you would prefer the way we have done it in the past.

In the March "Update" letter I had given you a briefing on the situation with St. Paul Church in Fairbanks, Alaska; this congregation had their property taken from them by officials with the Alaska Missionary Conference for no discernible reason other than the members opposed the conference’s liberal agenda. This case is still being considered by the good justices of the Alaska Supreme Court. I ask that each of you continue to pray that the Godly people of this church will find favor with the judges of that court as they continue to deliberate the case - and that all of their property will be restored to them.

And please continue to remember us with your prayers and financial support. Both are so much needed at this time.

In His service,

Allen O. Morris,
Executive Director

May 2006 Update

Bits and Pieces from across the United Methodist Church

A task half done is as useless as a task never begun: the skydiver who almost pulls the ripcord in time; the architect whose bridge almost spans the mighty Mississippi; the chef who almost bakes the cake long enough - each experiences the agony of an unfinished task. Good intentions and careful workmanship count little if the task is never completed.

- The Navigators' Daily Walk, March 7, 1997

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Of Interest.

+ Editorial Note: We received this from one of our supporters who had noticed its similarity to what we had printed in our last "Update" under "The Good Stuff"; this is possibly the original author, so we offer it by way of correction and further enlightenment – since it does have a bit of a different conclusion.

What Is An American? A primer.

You probably missed it in the rush of news last week, but there was actually a report that someone in Pakistan had published in a newspaper there an offer of a reward to anyone who killed an American, any American. So I just thought I would write to let them know what an American is, so they would know when they found one.

An American is English…or French, or Italian, Irish, German, Spanish, Polish, Russian or Greek. An American may also be African, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Australian, Iranian, Asian, or Arab, or Pakistani, or Afghan. An American is Christian, or he could be Jewish, or Buddhist, or Muslim. In fact, there are more Muslims in America than in Afghanistan. The only difference is that in America they are free to worship as each of them choose.

An American is also free to believe in no religion. For that he will answer only to God, not to the government, or to armed thugs claiming to speak for the government and for God. An American is from the most prosperous land in the history of the world. The root of that prosperity can be found in the Declaration of Independence, which recognizes the God-given right of each man and woman to the pursuit of happiness.

An American is generous. Americans have helped out just about every other nation in the world in their time of need. When Afghanistan was overrun by the Soviet army 20 years ago, Americans came with arms and supplies to enable the people to win back their country. As of the morning of September 11, Americans had given more than any other nation to the poor in Afghanistan.

An American does not have to obey the mad ravings of ignorant, ungodly cruel, old men. American men will not be fooled into giving up their lives to kill innocent people, so that these foolish old men may hold on to power. American women are free to show their beautiful faces to the world, as each of them choose. An American is free to criticize his government's officials when they are wrong, in his or her own opinion. Then he is free to replace them, by majority vote.

Americans welcome people from all lands, all cultures, all religions, because they are not afraid. They are not afraid that their history, their religion, their beliefs, will be overrun, or forgotten. That is because they know they are free to hold to their religion, their beliefs, their history, as each of them choose.

And just as Americans welcome all, they enjoy the best that everyone has to bring, from all over the world. The best science, the best technology, the best products, the best books, the best music, the best food, the best athletes.

Americans welcome the best, but they also welcome the least. The nation symbol of America welcomes your tired and your poor, the wretched refuse of your teeming shores, the homeless, tempest tossed.

These in fact are the people who built America. Many of them were working in the twin towers on the morning of September 11, earning a better life for their families.

So you can try to kill an American if you must. Hitler did. So did General Tojo and Stalin and Mao Tse-Tung, and every bloodthirsty tyrant in the history of the world. But in doing so you would just be killing yourself. Because Americans are not a particular people from a particular place. They are the embodiment of the human spirit of freedom. Everyone who holds to that spirit, everywhere, is an American.

So look around you. You may find more Americans in your land than you thought were there. One day they will rise up and overthrow the old, ignorant, tired tyrants that trouble too many lands. Then those lands too will join the community of free and prosperous nations.

And America will welcome them.

- By Peter Ferrara, associate professor of law at the George Mason University School of Law. Sept. 25, 2000.

+ New President for the Institute on Religion and Democracy

On Thursday, March 16, the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD) welcomed Dr. Jim Tonkowich as its new president. Jim comes to IRD from Prison Fellowship, where he served as the managing editor of BreakPoint. He succeeds Diane Knippers, who died of cancer last April. Alan Wisdom, who had served as interim president of IRD in the months following Diane's passing, has returned to his role as vice president. - News release by the Institute on Religion and Democracy

+ Alaska Conference chancellor dies while doing relief work

Thomas H. Dahl, 66, of Anchorage, lawyer and chief counsel to the Alaska Missionary Conference, died following a fall in southern Mississippi. He was injured when he fell from a ladder in Moss Point on March 28 while working on the St. Paul United Methodist Church in the town east of Biloxi. He never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead March 30 at an area hospital.

Dahl was for many years the chancellor (chief legal counsel) of the Alaska Missionary Conference, handling a landmark case that resulted in the upholding of the property trust clause of the United Methodist Church.

- By Elliott Wright, United Methodist News Service (UMNS); New York {UMNS #186}.

Life Issues....With South Dakota moving toward the strictest limits on abortion in the nation, all sides on the question are preparing for a possible showdown in the U.S. Supreme Court. A South Dakota bill -- designed to spark a courtroom showdown over the legality of abortion by targeting Roe v. Wade -- would ban abortions except when the woman's life is in danger. Governor Mike Rounds says lawyers would take a close look at a bill which would ban most abortions. Rounds says he is pro-life and believes Roe will ultimately be taken apart "piece by piece" by the high court. But he says a lot of people in his state and elsewhere think it is worth trying a "full frontal attack" on the ruling. Opponents say it is too extreme and unconstitutional. Planned Parenthood, which operates the only clinic that provides abortions in South Dakota, pledges to challenge the measure if it becomes law. Pro-life advocates say with the recent appointments of John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, the chances for banning abortion have improved. Meanwhile, pro-life legislation was passed by the Oklahoma House Thursday and sent to the Senate, where the measures are likely to face strong opposition. In bipartisan votes, the House overwhelmingly approved bills that would require girls under 18 to get their parents' permission before they get an abortion, and that women who are 20 weeks or more pregnant be informed that their fetus could experience pain during an abortion. Both measures were opposed by the legislature's only physician, Representative Doug Cox, who said they would burden doctors with paperwork, interfere with the doctor-patient relationship, and bloat the size of government. He is also worried the parental consent bill would create problems for young women who are incest victims. Similar abortion bills in the Oklahoma Senate have died in committee. - AP, as reported in AgapePress, February 24, 2006.

The United Methodist Church.

+ U.S. churches face crisis, discipleship leaders say

[Note: When one examines the efforts to address the declining membership in our United Methodist church it comes as no surprise that we continue in a downward spiral. In all of these efforts where is the key factor of getting back to the Bible and its teachings along with the urgent need to truly evangelize – bring sinful, lost people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ? This is truly the "blind leading the blind." Additional commentaries will be provided throughout the article at specific points as needed.]

The fact that 43 percent of United Methodist churches in America did not receive a member by profession of faith in 2004 is an indicator that congregations are in trouble, say leaders of the denomination's discipleship agency. Both the Rev. Karen Greenwaldt, top executive of the United Methodist Board of Discipleship, and Bishop Michael Coyner, board president, cited that statistic during addresses at the March 14-18 board meeting. Coyner, leader of the United Methodist Church's Indiana Area, made the observation during a presentation on the seven vision pathways the Council of Bishops, with the denomination's Connectional Table, is using to help the church make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation the world. One of the council's pathways is transforming existing congregations by helping them become more effective and faithful in ministry.

"There is one number in our denomination which keeps going up," Coyner said. "It is the percentage of churches that did not receive even one person as a new member by profession of faith, a number that is now up to 43 percent. "If there is any number in our denomination that is steadily growing, that is it, and it is causing all kinds of other numbers to decline, including our ability to stand before God and say we are doing a good job in making disciples." Existing congregations need to be transformed in a variety of ways, but at the heart of the transformation is "simply to have a passion that we are all about making disciples for Jesus Christ," the bishop said. [Note: The answer is, "No, Bishop, you have to spell it out – the heart of what we are to be about is to bring people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Then you can ‘make disciples’ in the true sense of the word – and not just make them ‘good Methodists’."]

The other pathways include developing new congregations; teaching the Wesleyan model of forming disciples of Jesus Christ; strengthening clergy and lay leadership; reaching and transforming the lives of new generations of children; eliminating poverty in community with the poor; and expanding racial-ethnic ministries.

Greenwaldt said many of the denomination's U.S. churches "are in real trouble." In addition to receiving no members by profession of faith, she said, membership and church attendance are also in decline, as well as contributions to conference benevolences. She noted that the average age of people in the denomination's U.S. churches is between 57 and 62, but millions of young people who live in the same towns, cities and suburbs are attending house churches, marketplace ministries and cyber-churches. "They continue to avoid going to our churches and to similar denominations," she said. [Note: If we just offer them "religiosity" and do not offer them real spiritual substance, why should they come? They will go to more evangelical churches where they are fed spiritually.]

‘Consumer church’ problem

Though the denomination emphasizes clergy and lay collaboration, Greenwaldt said "the reality is that many churches continue practices that call for a passive laity who wait for the direction of the clergy." She described this laity as "passive churchgoers" or "lethargic consumers" who are addicted to a "consumer church." The Rev. Tyrone Gordon, pastor of St. Luke "Community" United Methodist Church in Dallas, agreed. He and the Rev. Kent Millard, pastor of St. Luke United Methodist Church in Indianapolis, addressed openness, the need for being passion-driven, evangelism and discipleship, and the impact of evangelism on the local congregation. "We are producing a generation of religious consumers who are always looking at what the Lord can do for them, instead of committed disciples who ask what is it that we can do for the Lord," Gordon said. He attributed the continuous growth of his congregation and his understanding of discipleship to a cycle of reaching, teaching, training and employing - a cyclical view of the task of evangelism and discipleship. "In order to make disciples ... we must capture the minds, hearts, trust and respect of people," he said. "The task of evangelism and discipleship is to make the liberating power of the gospel of Christ become real in word and deed."

Radical change needed

The time for an incremental quick fix has passed, Greenwaldt said. "We are living in a world and in a church that need radical intervention. The status quo will not overcome the inertia holding us in place." She called on church leaders and members to return to the basic disciplines of the Christian faith: prayer, Bible study, fasting, participating in worship and the sacraments, doing good and doing no harm - the essential work of spiritual formation. [Note: Where in all this is evangelization? This is the first step of "spiritual formation".] "The church does not need more managers," she said. "Rather, the church needs leaders."

Instead of emphasizing what is wrong, the church's focus instead must be on gifts and opportunities for ministry, she said. "We must throw away our belief that command and control systems will change the church in order to impact the world. Instead, we must learn our way into the future" and follow God's lead."Our task of making disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world is not a small task," she said. "It is a worldwide task, and it is needing urgent attention."

Making disciples means helping people understand the basic patterns and practices of the faith and using the formula found in Micah 6:8, she said. "We must do justice. We must love kindness, and we must walk humbly with God. This work of being a disciple and making a difference in the world is not our work, it is God's work through us."

[Note: There are so many missing ingredients in this attempt to formulate a solution. If we don’t identify the church’s problems ("emphasizing what is wrong" as she put it, we cannot hope to come up with solutions to reverse our decilne.]

- By Linda Green, UMNS; Mar. 21, 2006. UMNS News In Brief; Mar. 24, 2006.

+ UM Membership dips in U.S. but increases in other countries/ Membership continues its decline even in growing counties

The number of United Methodist members in the United States decreased and worship attendance was down by 0.96 percent from 2003, according to the General Council on Finance and Administration's report, The State of Our Connection. Membership has declined annually since the formation of the denomination in 1968. During the last 10-year period, the number of members churchwide decreased by 5.48 percent.

Countering the U.S. decline, United Methodist lay membership in the central conferences - regions of the church in Africa, Asia and Europe - increased more than 68 percent from 1995 to 2004, to 1,883,772.

"In the central conferences, significant growth has been seen in Africa, with a growth rate of 30 percent in the last four years," said Scott Brewer, GCFA senior researcher. Europe, particularly in the former Soviet Republics and Eastern Bloc areas, has also experienced expansion, reporting a growth rate of 3.5 percent during the same period, he said. The finance agency noted that data reporting in the central conferences is limited, and Brewer said GCFA is working with church leaders in those areas to improve the exchange of information.

Of the 63 U.S.-based annual (regional) conferences, 13 reported increases in membership in 2004. A slightly higher number, 16, reported attendance growth.

Tool for planning

The agency said it is consulting with the Council of Bishops and the Connectional Table to analyze the membership and attendance statistics. "Preliminary analysis has begun to make its way into dialogue regarding church vision and programming," said John Goolsbey, deputy general secretary of administration at GCFA. "In early March, GCFA staff discussed the report with the Council of Bishops Executive Committee. We have shared the report, as well, with members of the Connectional Table. "The 2004 membership and attendance data show declines in membership and attendance that are greater than projected," he said. "These are continuations of long-term trends requiring thoughtful analysis and critical dialogue. We will continue to collaborate with the Council of Bishops and the Connectional Table regarding the implications of these trends for the denomination's vision and future ministry."

GCFA also offers annual conferences an expanded analysis of trends and customized reports for use in planning. "This annual report is a significant tool for the church in planning at the general, regional and local levels," Brewer said. The report is available at

By the numbers

Membership at 64.1% of UM churches decreased or stayed the same in 2004. Using the latest data available, the General Council on Finance and Administration recently released its annual statistical report on the state of the connection. Membership in the United States declined by 0.8% from 2003 to 2004, leaving a total of 8,074,697 persons. The membership decline in the United States occurred despite the location of 68.4% of UM churches in growing counties. Nevertheless, 52.5% of churches in counties with a shrinking population were able to add persons on profession of faith or restoration of membership.

Average church membership is 230 persons, a decline from 253 members in 1974.

The 13 U.S. conferences reporting membership increases included Alabama-West Florida (0.54 percent), Alaska Missionary (0.02 percent), Central Texas (0.52), Kentucky (0.15), Louisiana (0.17), North Carolina (0.63), North Georgia (1.19), North Texas (0.57), Oklahoma Missionary (0.34), Red Bird Missionary (2.41), Tennessee (0.57), Texas (0.34) and Western North Carolina (0.39).

Percentage decreases ranged as high as 4.33 percent, posted by the Yellowstone Conference, followed by 3.5 percent in Northern Illinois and 3.3 percent in New England. Fifty conferences posted membership declines from 2003.

All the annual conferences in the North Central, Northeastern, and Western jurisdictions reported decline in membership with the exception of Alaska Missionary Conference, which reported a gain of one member. Red Bird Missionary Conference had the highest percentage gain with 2.4%. Compared with 1994, two conferences (Illinois Great Rivers and Minnesota) reported a 20.3% decline. Illinois Great Rivers also reports the largest membership decline (44.1%) from its 1974 totals.

The 16 conferences reporting attendance growth in 2004 included Alabama-West Florida (up 2.35 percent), Alaska Missionary

(0.58), Central Pennsylvania (0.67), Florida (0.02), Holston (0.73), Missouri (0.57), Nebraska (1.72), New York (1.0), North Georgia (0.22), North Texas (0.25), Northern Illinois (0.66), Oklahoma (0.57), Peninsula-Delaware (0.27), Tennessee (1.03), Western North Carolina (0.96) and Wyoming (2.28).

Worship attendance dropped 17.39 percent in the Troy Conference, followed by 8.43 percent in the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference and 5.13 percent in the Pacific Northwest Conference. A total of 47 U.S. conferences posted drops in attendance between 2003 and 2004.

Hispanic membership was up 6.18 percent, the eighth consecutive year of growth, according to GCFA. In addition, Asian membership was slightly up for the fourth consecutive year. Of all churches reporting statistics in 2004, 35.9 percent reported membership increases, the agency said.

The largest U.S. conferences in terms of membership were Virginia, 341,850, North Georgia, 337,635, and Florida, 326,272.

Other findings in the report:

- The church had congregations in 2,997 U.S. counties in 2004, which GCFA said is more than any other denomination.

- The percentage of churches that did not receive any members "on profession of faith or restored" rose from 37.8 in 1984 to 42.1 in 2004 (see the UMNS report "U.S. churches face crisis," March 21, 2006).

- Since 1994, the number of United Methodist churches in the United States has decreased 4.9 percent, while the number of pastoral charges has risen 1.8 percent. The denomination had a total of 34,966 U.S. churches (a decline of 4.9%) and 26,327 charges (an increase of 1.8%).

- The number of elders in full connection has decreased by 1.9% from 1994, but the number of full- and part-time local pastors has increased 46.3% in the same period.

- Between 1993 and 2004, local congregations have seen increases in expenditures for capital and debt (up 30 percent), local church needs (41.7), connectional clergy support (7.5) and annual conference support (32.3). In the same period, expenditures for general church and for World Service and conference benevolence needs have declined 22 percent and 3.6 percent, respectively.

"This report cannot provide the final word on the state of our connection, but it can contribute to a continuing conversation about what it means to be a strong, faithful and living church," GCFA staff noted in the text. "Our goal is to raise some of the questions we believe are relevant in forming the vision that will lead our connectional church into its mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world." [Note: One question we can raise is, "Are we just repeating slogans without a serious examination of what it means to ‘be a disciple of Jesus Christ’ much less to ‘make a disciple of Jesus Christ’?" We certainly need to examine ourselves as a denomination on this and, more importantly, our denominational leaders need to examine themselves and their roles.]

- By Tim Tanton, UMNS; Nashville {220}; Apr. 21, 2006. UMNewscope, April 7, 2006.

+ UM Elders Under the Age of 35 Declining

UM clergy are getting older than the population the church is trying to reach, according to a report examining clergy age trends for the past 20 years. In 1985, the average age of ordained elders was 46.8 years, compared to the 51.5 years in 2005. The research was conducted by the Lewis Center for Church Leadership at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C., and the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits. The denomination is not attracting clergy from the younger population, the report said.

The study sought to identify clergy age trends among elders during the last 20 years so church leaders will have background information for monitoring future changes. There has been a dramatic drop in the number and percentage of elders under the age of 35 in the last 20 years, according to the report. The number of elders under 35 declined from 3,219 in 1985 to 850 in 2005. Young elders as a percentage of all elders dropped from 15.05% in 1985 to 4.69% in 2005. The study focuses on the increasing age of elders in the five jurisdictional conferences but also provides comparable data on deacons and local pastors. Available data on clergy age trends in other denominations are included for comparisons.

Some of the other findings of the report show that the decline in young elders has been significantly greater than the decline in church membership, number of churches, and number of pastoral charges. The proportion of elders aged 55 and above has increased from 27% to 41%. The median age of elders (half older, half younger) has increased from 48 to 52. The mode age among elders (single age most represented) in 2005 was 58, the age of the first Baby Boomers to become elders. The Southeastern Jurisdiction has the greatest number of young elders with 42% of the total. The Holston Conference has the highest percentage of young elders with 10%. There is a higher percentage of women among young elders than in older age categories, although women are significantly represented across the age groups. Women make up 31% of elders under 35, 25% of elders aged 35-54, and 23% of elders 55 and older. - Linda Green (UMNS) - UMNewscope, April 7, 2006.

+ United Methodist panel addresses church property issues

[Note: This is one of the crucial issues facing our United Methodist Church – with profound implications for our future. Increasingly, local churches that abide by the Bible, the Book of Discipline, and the orthodox Christian faith are being bullied into submission to a liberal (not "holy") agenda by its conference headquarters with the threat of loss of its property for failure to comply. This must end.]

"Do the property rights of a local congregation ever supersede the rights of the denomination?" That is one of the questions U.S. civil courts are answering in the affirmative, and denominational questions related to property issues are on the rise.

As a result — and in light of secular legal and regulatory changes — the United Methodist General Council on Finance and Administration has created a panel to work on challenges facing the denomination with regard to corporate, property and trust issues. Historically, the denomination fared well in property dispute cases, thanks to a trust clause with origins that date back to Methodism founder John Wesley. On occasions when a local congregation wanted to break away from the denomination and take the church building too, the civil courts upheld the denomination’s ownership based on the clause. In recent years, however, courts have not sided with the denomination in some cases.

The United Methodist panel on property issues organized March 17 to address the theological context of property ownership and the preservation of the denomination’s Wesleyan heritage of connectionalism. GCFA coordinates and administers finances and safeguards the legal interests and rights of the United Methodist Church. The panel anticipates working for 12 months to develop recommendations for the GCFA, including possible changes to The Book of Discipline, to be considered by the denomination’s legislative assembly in 2008. Specific issues identified by the panel include trust clauses, local church corporations, and property deeds. People wanting to provide suggestions about property issues can do so by writing to "We are in search of strategies to preserve the denomination’s property for future generations of United Methodists," said James R. Allen, church counsel. The Book of Discipline states that all property held at any level of the church is kept in trust for the United Methodist Church. The "panel will be reviewing current legal structures to ensure appropriate policies and procedures are in place for the denomination to maintain this trust for future generations of worshippers," Allen added.

In today’s changing legal environment, the primary trust issue is related to the Uniform Trust Code, which has been adopted by many states. The code includes language that changes the legal presumption that trusts are irrevocable. This change requires more specificity on the part of the United Methodist Church in regard to property deeds and may require changes in The Book of Discipline. In addition, many local churches go through an incorporation process that does not address relationships delineated within The Book of Discipline, Allen explained.

- By Linda Green, UMNS; Nashville {#185}; Mar. 31, 2006.

Homosexuality. North Carolina Christians Take a Stand

Christians in North Carolina have taken a stand against the pro-homosexual agenda -- and they're winning some of the battles. Churches in the Charlotte area have taken on homosexual activists recently, and the results have been encouraging. Flip Benham of Operation Save America says he is elated. "As the Church comes out of the closet, we are finding out that many of the enemies of God are moving back into the closet," he says. A case in point, Benham says, was the recent cancellation of the "Charlotte Pride" parade, a springtime gathering that in past years has featured transvestite dancers, homosexual comedians, and vendor booths pushing sadomasochism (S&M) merchandise. He credits the activist members of Operation Save America and their supporters with the turnabout. "They just got so fed up with us that many of them left," he says. "And by the way, many of them came to know Christ through the witnessing of hundreds of Christians who came out in the street."

In another example 900 Christians showed up at a school board meeting where a proposal for a homosexual club in a local high school was denied -- because churches took a stand, says Benham. "I hope that this sends a bright ray of hope out to our entire country that many of the battles can be won if we, the Church, will simply come out of the closet, come out of the four walls, and just live our faith out in the streets," the ministry leader says. - By Bill Fancher; AgapePress; April 25, 2006.

(UM) Men. Veteran United Methodist Men leader becomes top executive

Nashville, Tenn. The Rev. David C. Adams, former president of Tennessee Conference United Methodist Men and pastor of First United Methodist Church in Lynchburg, Tenn., has been elected top staff executive of the Commission on United Methodist Men. Elected by the 23-member commission, Adams, 56, will assume leadership of an eight-member Nashville staff June 19. One of the challenges of the 9-year-old commission is finding ways to reach unchurched men.

In 1987, when Adams was elected president of the Tennessee Conference's United Methodist Men, the organization occupied last place in the number of new members. By 1990, the conference led the nation in growth. Over the same period of time, United Methodist Men went from using $2,000 in conference apportionment monies to raising more than $40,000. Working as an insurance salesman after graduating from Belmont University in Nashville, Adams said he received a call to the ministry while attending a 1994 meeting of United Methodist Men. Following his 1999 graduation from Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Ky., he was appointed associate pastor of First United Methodist Church in Shelbyville, Tenn. In 2000, he was appointed to Monterey United Methodist Church, and he was named to the 240-member Lynchburg Church in 2003.

Key challenges: One of the challenges of the 9-year-old commission is finding ways to reach unchurched men. Adams understands that challenge. The Commission on United Methodist Men must find ways to relate to the younger generation without losing its base of older men, Adams said. Noting the absence of young men in the pews and in chapters of United Methodist Men, he suggested following an Emmaus saying, "Make a friend, be a friend, and bring a friend to Christ."

One of Adams' concerns is for children who have no fathers. "We live in a culture where 50 percent of all families do not have a father in the home," he said. "Men need to be involved as role models in the passage of boys into manhood." The commission recently signed a partnership agreement with Big Brothers/Big Sisters to encourage men to mentor children of incarcerated adults.

- By J. Richard Peck, UMNS; Mar. 21, 2006. UMNS News In Brief; Mar. 24, 2006.

(UM) Women Women's Division addresses overspending issues

Stamford, Conn. Addressing "a long-standing pattern of overspending," directors of the Women's Division of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, approved major changes for the 2007 budget. Actions taken during the division's March 31-April 3 spring meeting will mean a reduction in both staff and programs. The division is the administrative arm of United Methodist Women and has about 100 paid staff. Directors agreed that the 2007 budget would be fully integrated, "displaying all sources of income and all spending in one comprehensive document." A spending reduction of about $5.5 million from 2006 is expected.

Jan Love, the division's chief executive, [said] that "This is overdue and now it is mandatory to keep us in financial good health."

Love told directors that the division was chronically overspending about $4 million a year. Another cost savings will be realized by paying the salaries of some staff at the Church Center for the United Nations out of that building's budget rather than the Women's Division budget. The building, owned by the Women's Division, earns its income from rental tenants.

The overspending problem was first identified in 2005. Between 2001 and 2004, the cumulative over-expenditure was $11.2 million and net assets in unrestricted funds had declined from $16.4 million at the end of 2000 to $5.2 million at the end of 2004. Factors accounting for the overspending, in addition to the problem of segregated budgets, include a long-term decline in undesignated giving, a declining return on investments, and rising costs for program and administration.

During the March 31-April 4 meeting, Andrea Hatcher, division treasurer, reported that undesignated giving was down by $1.4 million, or 7.6 percent, in 2005 and that operating revenues had dropped by 4.4 percent, or $1.25 million. "Every channel of giving was down from 2004," she told directors. Total operating revenue for 2005 was $27.8 million. The operating deficit for 2005 was $8.02 million, compared to a deficit of $6.49 million in 2004.

As a response to financial needs, the division will make more giving opportunities available during the May 4-7 Women's Assembly in Anaheim, Calif. It will provide more interpretive materials and will work with conference finance committees to analyze giving trends, Hatcher reported. - By Linda Bloom, UMNS; New York {190}; Apr. 4, 2006.

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People who love soft words and hate iniquity forget this - that reform consists in taking a bone away from a dog.

- John Jay Chapman

Global Outlook

When you reject the truth you have accepted a lie. - Lovelight Ministries

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China. Just Recently China and Australia Signed a Mega Deal...

The Wall Street Journal just reported that China and Australia have signed a mega deal that paves the way for one of the biggest profit opportunities in energy in more than four decades... China's on a nuclear power rampage, and now they're locking up worldwide resources and driving the price of uranium to new highs. According to John Deutch, former CIA director, China could be powering up more than 200 nuclear plants in the coming years to support its massive population and industrial growth...

– Advertisement contained in the Robert Novak Report e-mail; April 25, 2006.

India. After two months of captivity, the Rev. Tongkhojang Lunkim, the editor of the Kuki (in India) edition of the Upper Room Daily Devotional Guide, has been released by a group of rebels called the Kuki Liberation Army. The Upper Room received word March 18. Lunkim was held for 64 days by the rebel army for reasons that remain unclear. "It is a mystery to us about what has happened both in his capture and release," said the Rev. Stephen Bryant, world editor and publisher of the Upper Room, which is a ministry of the United Methodist Board of Discipleship in Nashville. - UMNS News In Brief - Mar. 24, 2006.

South Korea. South Koreans may soon pass United States in number of missionaries sent

The growth of evangelical Christianity in many parts of the world is in large part the result of years of missionary activity. For many years the missionary effort was spearheaded by the Western world, and, in more recent years, by America. Within America, the major missionary-sending agencies were the mainline churches. This is changing. Liberals in mainline churches are no longer committed to the proposition that peoples apart from Christ are lost. With that in mind there is little passion for sending missionaries.

South Korea presently sends a missionary for every 4.2 congregations. The United States, in terms of missionaries sent per congregation, does not even rank in the top ten countries.

The radical change in the way Protestant missions is now being done is forcing scholars and missionaries to rethink the faith of Christianity and the global scene. Asia, for example, after years of missionary activity, can claim only 8% of its population as Christian. One big reason is that Christianity is perceived as a Western religion. Missionaries from Asian countries to other Asian countries can change this perception. Methodism at one time could claim more than 3,000 overseas missionaries. That number is now below 300, though many United Methodists are serving with the Mission Society for United Methodists or with other agencies.

- Taken from multiple sources

The United Kingdom. British Methodists ponder blessings for civil partnerships

[Note: This illustrates the widening nature of the homosexual problem.]

The British Methodist Church is deciding how to respond when same-sex couples request the church's blessing on their civil partnership. Since December, same-sex couples in Britain can opt for legal recognition of their relationship through a civil partnership agreement. These legal contracts give same-sex partners many of the rights of married couples, including survivor benefits, pension rights and paternal responsibility for each other's children. Opinion among British Methodists about how the church should address this issue is wide ranging. [UM] Rev. Cynthia Park said she was "thrilled to oblige" [when] two local women, among the very first in England to undertake a civil partnership, asked Park to offer a prayer at a celebration following their official signing ceremony.

- By Kathleen LaCamera, UMNS; Mar. 21, 2006.

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Parents who are afraid to put their foot down usually have children who step on toes.

– The Navigators’ Daily Walk, March 14, 1997

Published by Concerned Methodists, P.O. Box 2864, Fayetteville, NC 28302. Tel. 910/488-4379; FAX: 910/488-5090

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