The Monthly Update

August 2002 Update


Bits and Pieces from across the United Methodist Church


We work so hard trying to give kids the things we didn’t have that we don’t have time to give them what we did have.

- Dr. James Dobson on a Focus on the Family Radio broadcast.

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The Good Stuff.  The Flight 93 crash into Pennsylvania and Todd Beamer’s actions on September 11th.


"I don't think we're going to get out of this thing. I'm going to have to go out on faith."
     It was the voice of Todd Beamer, the passenger... and Wheaton College graduate ... who said,"Let's roll" as he led the charge against the terrorists who had hijacked United Flight 93, the one, you will remember, that crashed in the Pennsylvania countryside. The whole world knows how brave Beamer and his fellow passengers were on September 11th. But this week we learned more fully what buttressed that bravery: Faith in Jesus Christ. Todd died as he lived . a faithful evangelical believer. In an article titled "The Real Story of Flight 93," Newsweek reveals gripping new details from the actual transcripts of the now-recovered cockpit voice recorder. "Todd had been afraid," Newsweek relates.
"More than once, he cried out for his Savior."
     After passengers were herded to the back of the jet, Beamer called the GTE Customer Center in Oakbrook, Illinois . He told supervisor Lisa Jefferson about the hijacking. The passengers were planning to jump the terrorists, he said. And then he asked her to pray with him.

As Newsweek related.

"Beamer kept a Lord's Prayer bookmark in his Tom Clancy novel, but he didn't need any prompting. He began to recite the ancient litany, and Jefferson joined him:

            “Our Father which art in heaven,

    Hallowed be Thy name…"

As they finished, Beamer added, "Jesus, help me." And then, Beamer and his fellow passengers prayed a prayer that has comforted millions down through the centuries - the prayer that David wrote in a time of great anguish:

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want ...

   Yea, though I walk through the valley

     of the shadow of death,

    I will fear no evil.”

And then the famous last words: "Are you guys ready? Let's roll."

     We now know from the cockpit voice recorder that Beamer and other passengers wrestled with the hijackers and forced the plane to crash into the ground, killing themselves but foiling what was believed to have been the hijackers' plan to fly Flight 93 into the Capitol or the White House.

     As Christians, we know that God can bring good out of evil. In Todd Beamer, the world witnesses a faith that held up in the extremity of fear: A faith that is even now comforting his widow and two young sons. Lisa Beamer told NBC's Dateline, "You know, in the Lord's Prayer, it asks us to forgive our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." "As Todd prayed this prayer in the last moments of his life, in a way," Lisa said, "He was forgiving those people for what they were doing, the most horrible thing you could ever do to someone."

     It wasn't Todd Beamer's job to fight terrorists. He was just a passenger, who along with several others, did what he didn't have to do but foiled a terrible evil that might have been done to his country.
     As Flight 93 hurtled towards destruction, Todd Beamer could not have known that his quiet prayers would ultimately be heard by millions - that the story of his last acts on earth would be a witness to the Lord he loved and served and a lasting example of true heroism. [Note: Todd was also a member of the Christian organization Promise Keepers. Assuredly, he kept the faith with his fellow Americans.]                                           - Source: Received by e-mail.

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Results from the Annual Conferences


Baltimore-Washington .  An interactive satellite downlink to 37 sites throughout the conference [joined participants]  during its 218th annual session in Washington, DC. Following two confidential clergy sessions, Bishop Felton May released statements concerning the status of the Rev. Rebecca Ann Steen, a transgender clergy, and following Thursday's clergy session, announced that Steen had voluntarily returned from leave of absence and was part of the pool of clergy available for appointment July 1. Following a Saturday clergy session, he reported that a complaint had been filed against Steen and that , the cabinet began the process of placing Steen on an involuntary leave of absence, removing “her” from the pool of clergy currently available for appointment. Conference members also: 1) approved a $15.4 million conference budget for 2003, representing a 5.9% increase; 2) celebrated the quick response of the conference disaster team, the outpouring of Volunteers in Mission, and gifts of more than $100,000 to assist in recovery from the April tornado that struck La Plata and other Maryland communities; 3) voted to implement a provision in the Book of Discipline that allows a conference to require all churches receiving no new members by profession of faith to appear before an appropriate agency to make explanation; and 4) received offerings to support Russia's first UM seminary, hunger relief efforts in Zimbabwe, and conference new church starts. The Rev. William Willimon preached an ordination service. Membership is 206,830, down 1,126.

        - Dean J. Snyder, as reported in Newscope; June 21, 2002; Vol.30, No.25; and July 19, 2002; Vol.30, No.29.


Central Pennsylvania met at Messiah. Presiding Bishop Neil Irons led conference members in Bible study on two mornings based on the Book of Revelation. Conference members: 1) unanimously approved the purchase of a 48,000 square-foot building to serve as a center for mission outreach and disaster response for the conference; 2) voted to oppose the expansion of legalized gambling; 3) defeated a resolution calling for the closing of the UM Lobby Office; 4) defeated a resolution calling on conference churches to observe an annual HIV/AIDS Awareness Sunday; and 5) adopted an $11,054,869 plan for funding ministry calling for 4.5% increase in total Conference Shares of Ministry. Membership is 157,916, down 1,863.                                            - Skip Spangler, as reported in Newscope; June 28, 2002; Vol.30, No.26.


Dakotas met in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The conference's Futures Task Force presented its report urging greater communication with local congregations, affirmed support of each congregation wishing to be in ministry, and urged the continuation of creative models of pastoral leadership. No district superintendent was appointed to the NE district for 2002-2003 conference year. Conference members: 1) approved a budget for 2003 that represents a 7.6% increase, and discussion of the budget included a limitation of funding of the Director of Mission Engagement only through June of 2003; and 2) approved a proposed structure and process for capital development initiatives under the Dakotas UM Foundation. Membership is 45,293, down 917. - Randy Cross, as reported in Newscope; June 28, 2002; Vol.30, No.26.

Florida. Bishop Timothy Whitaker presided. The 986 lay and 958 clergy members voted nearly unanimously to approve two new conference ministries: The new Office of Congregational Transformation will take the responsibilities of church redevelopment from the Committee on New Church Development and Church Redevelopment, and it will also assume the responsibilities of Operation Evangelization, a ministry focusing on reaching new people. Members also approved a new Conference Table that will meet on an as-needed basis to discuss matters of strategic importance to the conference. The conference held a service of Repentance and Reconciliation for Racism, with East Ohio Area Bishop Jonathon D. Keaton sharing the history of American Methodism and the participation of African Americans. Conference members adopted resolutions: 1) calling for the Florida legislature to provide DNA testing to convicts who believe it will prove their innocence; 2) calling for increased sales tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products to help combat use of those products by teens; 3) supporting any referendum effort to curtail or eliminate environmental tobacco smoke; 4)opposing Internet gambling; 5) calling the Florida Conference to pray for peace, especially for people involved in conflicts in Afghanistan and the Middle East; and 6) approving an $18,031,535 conference budget for 2003, a 3.85% increase over 2002. Membership is 334,053, down 1,185.    - Mike Wacht, as reported in Newscope; June 21, 2002; Vol.30, No.25.


Holston, representing the 931 congregations in East Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, and North Georgia, met at Lake
Junaluska, NC. Bishop Ray W. Chamberlain Jr. presided, challenging church leaders to reflect the light of Jesus Christ by accepting pastors regardless of gender or race and welcoming homosexuals in the pews. Conference members: 1) approved a $15.66 million budget; 2) shipped supply kits collected by local churches valued at $161,035 to needy children in Zimbabwe and Liberia; and 3) took special offerings to benefit needy children in Africa and within Holston



($39,725), to offset conference costs ($5,290), and to be presented as a gift to the Cuba Annual Conference by Bishop Chamberlain when he preached there the week of June 17 ($9,000). Membership is 169,339, down 1,507.

- Annette Bender, as reported in Newscope; June 28, 2002; Vol.30, No.26.

Illinois Great Rivers. Met in Peoria, IL. Bishop Sharon A. Brown Christopher led the people in prayer, singing, worship dialogue, Bible study, polity decisions, and community formation. Worship was led by and held in a variety of languages and cultures, helping all to see the great diversity in our communities and in the church. Conference members: 1) recognized and remembered 20 churches that discontinued services the past year; 2) authorized the Episcopal Residence Committee to secure plans to be presented in 2003 for the building of a new episcopal residence; 3) learned that construction of a new UM Center in Springfield, costing approximately $5.2 million, will begin soon; 4) approved a resolution on "Christian Healing Ministries" for "persons struggling with homosexuality," asking local churches to "reach out with love and support to all those persons involved in homosexual practice, offering God's love and acceptance, leading to repentance, forgiveness, restoration, and healing"; 5) took a written ballot on a "Resolution Affirming the General Board of Church and Society," which failed 317-422 after much discussion about the statements made by the agency following September 11; 6) approved resolutions "Against All Forms of Gambling" and "Against the Expansion of Gambling," which will be communicated to the Illinois legislature, the governor of Illinois, and the president of the United States; and  7) adopted a 2003 budget of $16,640,825, a 3.02% increase. Membership is 164,495, down 4,141.

           - Paul Widicus , as reported in Newscope; June 21, 2002; Vol.30, No.25.


Iowa met at the Hilton Coliseum, Iowa State University, Ames. For the first time the plenary sessions of the conference were translated simultaneously into Korean and Spanish. Also highlighted in a special service of worship was the conference's partnership with the UMC of Nigeria and the denominational commitment to Africa University. An offering was also collected for the Bishop's Initiative: Hope for the Children of Africa. Conference members: 1) voted to continue the position of Conference Justice Advocate for the conference; 2) increased the minimum base compensation for clergy in full connection with the annual conference by $525 per year; 3) voted to purchase land and develop a new conference center to be completed by 2005 when the lease on current facilities expires; 4) approved the development of conversation / study materials on homosexuality and the church as presented this coming fall in consultation with CUIC; and 5) increased the operating budget of the annual conference by 4%. Membership is 199,534, down 1,009.

 - Kristin Knudson Harris, as reported in Newscope; June 21, 2002; Vol.30, No.25.


Kansas East was held on the campus of UM-related Baker University in Baldwin City with Bishop Fritz Mutti presiding. Conference members struggled with the issue of clergy confidentiality, particularly as it related to abuse of children and other vulnerable people. Conference members: 1) defeated two separate petitions that sought to establish an apportioned fund for conference minimum clergy salaries and benefits; 2) celebrated the growing Hispanic ministry in the conference and enjoyed a demonstration of Hispanic worship music led by Hector and Sherri Sanchez of Emporia, Samuel Castro of Topeka, and the members of the Hispanic congregation at Central UMC in Kansas City; 3) approved capital campaigns for UM Homes, Inc., and Camp Chippewa; and 4) approved a 2003 budget of $4.47 million. A new church start, Faith UMC, in Shawnee was lifted in prayer. Membership is 76,706, up 3,283.

-          Karen Robertson, as reported in Newscope; June 28, 2002; Vol.30, No.26.

Louisiana met at Centenary College in Shreveport. Bishop William W. Hutchinson presided. Louisiana UMs welcomed keynote preacher Bishop Melvin G. Talbert, retired bishop and Louisiana native. Global efforts of the conference were shared through reports from Encounter with Christ in Latin America; a video presentation featuring the dedication of First UMC, Ekaterinburg, Russia; and a video highlighting the efforts of Louisiana Volunteers in Mission ministry throughout the world. Conference members: 1) celebrated their continued support of Hispanic Ministries, conference-related institutions, Shalom Zones, and a new Vietnamese ministry in Baton Rouge; 2) adopted a resolution to hold their annual conference in a South Louisiana venue once every four years; 3) called for a special session of the conference to be held in January 2003 to study and address the effectiveness of the current number of districts in the conference; 4) recognized the 100th anniversary of Goodwill Industries and celebrated with a presentation by Jessie Schmidt, Shreveport; and 5) held the first annual "Walk for Missions," benefiting Hispanic Ministries, at the Centenary Fitness Center as members walked laps in an effort to raise funds. No new churches were started in 2001, but two have begun in the first half of 2002: Hope Community in the Baton Rouge District and an as yet unnamed congregation in the Acadiana District. Membership is 126,664, down 782.  - Betty Backstrom, as reported in Newscope; June 21, 2002; Vol.30, No.25.



Memphis  met in Paducah, KY. An offering of over $55,000 was collected to support the feeding program in Kamina in North Katanga. Bishop Nkulu Ntambo, leader of the North Katanga Area, said the partnership has given his people hope and dignity. Ntambo preached the opening Sunday evening worship service, saying, "The Memphis Conference has given us hope, freedom, and dignity and has challenged us to be responsible." Conference members opposed the institution of a lottery in Tennessee and [resolved to] prevent the expansion of legalized gambling in Kentucky. Rev. Tom Grey, executive director of the National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling, called upon the conference to educate and mobilize the voters of both states. Conference members: 1) established covenant relationships between the conference and two new agencies, Hannah's Hope Inc. and Western Kentucky UM Family Services; 2) adopted a resolution written in response to the September 11 terrorist attack, encouraging clergy and leaders within the conference to enter into dialogue on war and peace, church and state, and related matters and to offer balanced biblical teachings that "have led some Christians to embrace the just war tradition and some Christians to embrace principled pacifism"; 3) heard Bishop William Morris rule out of order a resolution proposing that all members seeking to represent the conference at General or Jurisdictional Conferences be required to state their positions on controversial issues; 4) heard Bishop Morris declare September to be Open House Month, and [heard him] ask each congregation to set aside Sunday, September 8, 2002, for "Remembering 9/11" services; 5) adopted a $9.6 million budget, an increase of 4.22%; and 6) learned that an African American pastor was assigned to a church in Western Kentucky for the first time in the history of the conference. Membership is 91,382, down 429.                - Cathy Farmer, as reported in Newscope; June 21, 2002; Vol.30, No.25.


Missouri East. After a long day of proposed amendments and debate, the two Missouri UM Conferences voted to unite January 1, 2003. The vote in Missouri East was 382 for and 220 against; in the Missouri West Conference, it was 360 for and 308 against. A mixture of extended debate over some issues and speedy disposal of others led the Missouri East Conference session up to the morning of June 3, culminating in a joint session with the Missouri West Conference when the vote was taken. Three hours on the opening day of the Missouri East Conference were spent clarifying apportionments, direct billing for health insurance, and other clergy support issues. Consideration of the 2003 budget brought impassioned discussion on goals versus apportionments. Membership is 73,788, down 577.

- Dulci McCoy, as reported in Newscope; June 28, 2002; Vol.30, No.26.


Nebraska. The conference event moved to downtown Lincoln . Conference members: 1) approved a study committee regarding restrictive immigration policy; 2) approved a resolution that pastors and laity support alternatives to war; 3) approved a resolution promoting adoption; 4) called for the abolition of the death penalty; 5) opposed expanding gambling through a possible ballot referendum in November; 6) called for lifting the US embargo of Cuba; 7) collected offerings and donations totaling nearly $8,000 to benefit the Bishops' Initiative on Children and Poverty in Nebraska, a local homeless shelter, the Youth Service Fund, the Nigeria/Nebraska Partnership orphanage, and Nebraska rural response; and 8) accepted the recommendation of the Conference Council on Finance and Administration for a zero growth budget of $6,478,434. Membership is 92,196, down 2,197.

 - Cheryl Hahs Edwards, as reported in Newscope; June 28, 2002; Vol.30, No.26.


New York. The opening night of the conference included "September 11th: In Their Own Words," a dramatic presentation created and performed by members of the Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The script consisted entirely of the actual words of those involved in the tragedy or its immediate aftermath. In the opening, "Morning Has Broken" was heard. The singing of Carly Simon's "Let the River Run" closed the performance to grateful and sometimes tearful applause. Trustee president Robert Dutton congratulated the conference on the establishment and completion of the new UM Center in White Plains, where the conference offices are now. Presiding Bishop Ernest Lyght's address to the conference reflected on the need for growth and concern for several
areas of conference life. He spoke of the carefully developed plan of the denomination for handling questions of sexual misconduct by clergy, of the need for safe sanctuary for children, and of the work of the sexuality task force. Conference members: 1) adopted a budget of $8,388,625, a 1.3% increase; and 2) approved a provision for health insurance that includes the need for pastors to pay a portion of the premiums and, for the first time, requires that retirees pay 20% of their health care premiums. Membership is 135,059, down 4,594.

- Donald E. Collier, as reported in Newscope; June 28, 2002; Vol.30, No.26; and July 19, 2002; Vol.30, No.29.


North Alabama  met on the campus of Birmingham-Southern College, Birmingham, and the city at the heart of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s became a place of reconciliation. Conference members joined together for a Prayer



Service of Repentance and Racial Reconciliation and Celebration of Holy Communion that featured testimonies from African American conference members and included video accounts of the racist past of Alabama and the UMC. Bishop Robert E. Fannin preached a sermon entitled "All Hearts Beat the Same." Conference members: 1) packed UMCOR health kits to be sent to refugees in Afghanistan; 2) attended workshops to equip their churches in many areas of ministry; 3) passed a $11,289,549 budget; 4) heard the conference will plant three new churches in the next year, including a Hispanic congregation; 5) passed a resolution for the bishop and cabinet to assign a Child Abuse Prevention Task Force to draft a Child Protection Policy; 6) defeated a resolution critical of an opinion that Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore had written in response to a child custody case involving a homosexual parent; and 7) celebrated the announcement that the General Board of Global Ministries' Global Gathering event will be hosted in Birmingham in April 2003. Membership is 159,730, down 1,042.              - Danette Clifton, as reported in Newscope; June 21, 2002; Vol.30, No.25.


North Arkansas  met at Hendrix College in Conway; delved into a proposed Plan of Union for the Little Rock and North Arkansas Annual Conferences. The proposed new Arkansas Conference will encompass the entire state of Arkansas and contain nearly 143,000 lay members and 600 active pastors serving more than 700 churches. Presiding Bishop Janice Riggle Huie preached for the Service of  Ordination and Commissioning. Conference members: 1) affirmed the UM position on family, marriage, divorce, single persons, men, and women; 2) condemned all forms of religious persecution and affirmed the church's position on the rights of religious minorities; 3) expressed support for UM cooperation with Roman Catholics, Evangelicals, Pentecostals, and other Christians; and 4) called for the formation of a conference task force that will strive to eradicate hunger in Arkansas. Membership is 80,271, up 1,821.

-                                                                       - Jane Dennis, as reported in Newscope; June 28, 2002; Vol.30, No.26.


North Carolina met under the theme "Come to the Water...Precious Fountain, Healing Stream" with Bishop Marion Edwards presiding. Bishop Ricardo Pereira Diaz, Methodist Church of Cuba, and Cuban choir Monte de Sion, through preaching and singing, demonstrated God's presence and ministry outside the conference. Missions in and outside the
conference were highlighted, including Disciple Bible Outreach, ministries to children and others in poverty, local church sponsorship and support of local public schools, and conference ministries in Armenia, Peru, Liberia, Russia, and Angola. Bishop Edwards and the disaster recovery committee were each presented "The Order of the Long Leaf Pine," the highest award for service given by the governor of North Carolina, for work done in the aftermath of Hurricane Floyd. Repentance and Reconciliation emphasis was continued with historical vignettes of Richard Allen, Bishop Hood, and the establishment of the Central Jurisdiction. Conference members: 1) voted to purchase 14.5 acres of land for a new conference center; 2) approved a $16.5 million budget, a 5.39% increase over last year; 3) accepted a 16% increase in health premiums with CIGNA; 4) witnessed the presentation of the Lay Ministry of the Year award to the Bolivia Lay Ministry Outreach of Prospect UMC; and 5) heard Bishop Edwards declare September as "United Methodist Open House Month" as he asked each congregation to set aside September 8 for "Remembering 9/11" services. Conference members by a 23-vote margin, decided to restore $16,000 in the conference budget for the North Carolina Council of Churches.

The funds were originally removed when the Metropolitan Community Churches was admitted to the council. Members also postponed indefinitely a resolution called “Freedom God Gives” which dealt with the freedom God gives to resist sin and bring unhealthy appetites under control. Membership is 230,836, up 1,896.

- Bill Norton, as reported in Newscope; June 21, 2002; Vol.30, No.25; and Annual Conference Reports on the Internet.


Peninsula-Delaware met in Dover. The conference recognized the 100th Anniversary of Goodwill Industries
and greeted Fonda Holland, local representative for the organization. The Bishop's Summit Report was presented by presiding Bishop Peter D. Weaver and other members of the task force, who highlighted stewardship, budget and funding, and future challenges. New Church Initiatives were highlighted with testimonies and a video presentation. Conference members: 1) approved a 2003 budget of $5,269,548, a decrease of 0.54%; 2) participated in a Service of Repentance and Reconciliation; 3) approved resolutions for funding health insurance cost increases and self-funding of the comprehensive major medical program; and 4) celebrated one new church start, Connection Community Church in the Wilmington District. Membership is 95,866, down 193.

- Tamara Ward, as reported in Newscope; June 28, 2002; Vol.30, No.26.


South Georgia met in Albany. Bishop Marion Edwards of North Carolina returned to his home conference to preach and to promote [the] Russia Theological Seminary. In response, South Georgians contributed $52,218. James Winkler, head of the General Board of Church and Society, addressed the conference and spoke at a luncheon as part of his effort to



build bridges between church members and the board. Conference members: 1) passed a resolution urging the state of Georgia to provide greater financial support for children placed in its care who are assigned to non-profit agencies; 2) asked the 2004 General Conference to review the financial status of the National Council of Churches and, if necessary, to work toward "creating a new agency for the expression of our denomination's historic commitment to Christian unity"; 3) approved a budget of $10.3 million; and 4) learned the conference will focus on the Humble Way Project in Mukono, Uganda, as part of its emphasis on children and poverty. Membership is 141,974, down 320.

 - Alice Smith, as reported in Newscope; June 21, 2002; Vol.30, No.25.


Southwest Texas met in Corpus Christi under the theme of "Building Bridges-Making Disciples: Repentance, Forgiveness, Grace." Rev. Zan W. Holmes of Dallas brought conference members to their feet May 31 during the service of Repentance and Reconciliation with a challenge to return to the site of their failures. The service kicked off a 12-month campaign across Southwest Texas to promote repentance and reconciliation in local congregations. Conference members: 1) authorized Bishop Joel Martinez to name a conference-level Hispanic ministry task force and empower it
to draft a comprehensive plan for Hispanic ministry in Southwest Texas; 2) supported the recommendation of St. Paul UMC, San Antonio--the oldest historically black congregation in Southwest Texas--as a UM historic site 3) approved a resolution from the Board of Church and Society asking the 2004 General Conference to designate 2005-2008 as a time to study the Social Principles; 4) defeated, after extended debate, a motion to cap salary and benefits for district superintendents at $84,974-the 2002 level-and approved total compensation of $88,133 for 2003; and 5) adopted a $7.51 million budget for 2003, a 6.3% increase over the 2002 budget. Membership is 120,853, up 1,383.

 - Douglas Cannon, as reported in Newscope; June 21, 2002; Vol.30, No.25.


Texas met at Houston's First UMC Downtown Campus and the Hyatt Regency Hotel. Bishop Alfred L. Norris challenged members of the conference with his vision for "Replicating the Kingdom of God." Conference members: 1) approved an expansion and renovation of the UM Center, which will add a third floor to the building at a cost of $2.2 million; 2) learned of the launch of a national Internet Service Provider, UMCMail; and 3) heard Bishop Norris welcome Truc Nguyen as the New Asian Ministries coordinator. Membership is 285,237, up 2,892.

- Nicole Benson, as reported in Newscope; June 28, 2002; Vol.30, No.26.

West Virginia launched a $5 million campaign for new church development, leadership training for lay and clergy, mission projects, and a retirement community founded by the conference in 1968. In its 2003 $11.2 million budget, the conference included $40,000 to be used to provide grants for needy pastors and their families. Worship services during the conference session followed the theme of repentance for racism. Conference members: 1) celebrated the ministry of small churches; 2) lamented a critical shortage of ordained elders; 3) approved a resolution pledging to actively recognize and resolve cases of sexual abuse by clergy; and 4) approved resolutions criticizing cuts in state programs that serve poor families, and supporting the efforts of American Indians and Alaska natives to protect the sovereignty over their land. Membership is 110,634, down 2,388.                - Tom Burger, as reported in Newscope; June 28, 2002; Vol.30, No.26.

Western North Carolina met at Lake Junaluska. Presiding Bishop Charlene P. Kammerer preached and welcomed more than 2,900 members, guests, and friends of the conference. During plenary sessions, two items garnered the most discussion: the conference per diem and the Middle East. Members approved a budget totaling $20.1 million. Rev. William C. "Bill" Wyman, conference treasurer, reported that the local churches paid 97% of apportioned funds in 2001 and had accepted 99% of the apportionments for 2002. Conference members: 1) approved a petition supporting the recent Council of Bishops' statement on the Middle East, calling for an immediate cease-fire in Israel and the Palestinian territories, criticizing both sides for using violence against civilians, urging the US government to make peace efforts in the region "the highest priority," and reaffirming the "right of the peoples of Palestine and Israel to live within nations which have safe and secure borders"; and 2) approved a petition in opposition to a state lottery which also urges UM congregations not to accept gifts or donations that come from lottery winnings. Membership is 291,727, up 243.

                                                                       - Dawn Hand, as reported in Newscope; June 28, 2002; Vol.30, No.26.

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Relationships don’t thrive because the guilty are punished but because the innocent are merciful.

- Max Lucado in “A Palm full of Mercy”