The Monthly Update

October, 2002 Update


Bits and Pieces from across the United Methodist Church


SayingThou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord,and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.  

            - St. Augustine

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The Good Stuff.  Following are the variations of the "God Speaks" billboards.  These billboards are a simple black background with white text. No fine print or sponsoring organization is included. 


Tell the kids I love them. - God


Let's meet at my house Sunday before the game. – God


C'mon over and bring the kids. – God


What part of "Thou Shalt Not..." didn't you understand? - God

We need to talk. - God

Keep using my name in vain, I'll make rush hour longer. - God

Loved the wedding, invite me to the marriage.  - God

That "Love Thy Neighbor" thing...I meant it. - God


I love you and you and you and you and... - God


Will the road you're on get you to my place? - God


Follow me.  - God

Big bang theory, you've got to be kidding. – God


My way is the highway. – God


Need directions? - God


You think it's hot here? - God


Have you read my #1 best seller? There will be a test. - God


Do you have any idea where you're going? - God


Don't make me come down there. - God


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

United Methodist board denounces family planning fund stop
WASHINGTON (UMNS) -- The United Methodist Board of Church and Society has decried the Bush Administration's decision to withhold funding from the United Nations Population Fund for 2002, calling it a politically motivated act that serves to increase oppression, poverty and the spread of HIV/AIDS. Opponents of the $34 million allocation to the U.N. fund urged the president to withhold the funding and asserted the United Nations Population Fund supported practices in China that sometimes resulted in forced abortion or sterilization. "This decision will severely impact the well-being of
thousands of women around the world, will increase the number of abortions and the spread of HIV/AIDS," said Jim Winkler, staff head of the Board of Church and Society. "We view this as a frontal assault on women and the
United Nations. It is unfortunate that the administration is caving into extremist forces in society."

- {321}; United Methodist News Service (UMMNS) Weekly Digest July 26, 2002;

(UM) General Council on Finance and Administration.

Board sticks to long-term outlook in turbulent stock market
CHICAGO (UMNS) -Managers of the United Methodist Church's pension fund remain true to their strategy: Invest for the long term. The Board of Pension and Health Benefits' largest pool of investment dollars, the Diversified Investment Fund, has performed well compared with its benchmarks, but it hasn't emerged unscathed. After the Dow Jones industrial
average lost 390 points on July 20, board officials estimated that the fund was down to a little more than $10 billion in assets. Since the beginning of the year, it has lost about $1 to $1.2 billion. Staff executive Dave Zellner estimated that the board's reserves for the Diversified Investment Fund were at minus 11 or 12 percent, leaving it with 88 cents for each $1 of liabilities.                                                                                                - {310}; UMNS Weekly Digest July 26, 2002.

 (UM) Judicial Council.   Judicial Council's fall docket poses new questions
WASHINGTON (UMNS)-When the United Methodist Church's "supreme court" meets this fall, some of the 25 items on the docket relate to familiar issues, such as restructure and fair process, but some are more unusual.

     The denomination's financial agency, the General Council on Finance and Administration, has asked the Judicial Council for a declaratory decision related to the number of bishops assigned to each jurisdiction.

     The closing of a church in the Alaska Missionary Conference led to the bishop's decision of law that will be reviewed by the nine-member council, when they meet Oct. 23-26 in Baltimore. Bishops' decisions of law are given when a question on the meaning or application of the church's regulations in The Book of Discipline is asked during an annual (regional) conference session. All bishops' decisions of law are forwarded to the council for review.
     One decision will be on the bishop's ruling in the East Ohio Annual Conference related to whether the bishop and conference were in violation of the Discipline when they substituted the words "in the name of the Triune God" for the words "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" during the ordination service at last year's conference session. In the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference, the bishop was asked to decide if a clergyperson whose ministerial office is being reviewed may refuse to answer questions that are a part of that review. The council will examine the bishop's response.

     Additional issues relate to bylaws of the Illinois Great Rivers Conference Foundation on a foundation’s accepting gifts from non United Methodist-related sources; a property action taken by the conference was also questioned; and the bishop's ruling on a resolution establishing a review process for clergy who participate in or allow events to be held in their church buildings that promote dialogue on homosexuality. Examination of the bishop's decision in the Rocky Mountain Conference will determine if prohibiting annual conference members from participating in legislative committees to which they are not assigned is in keeping with the church's constitution. Conferences on opposite coasts and in the Midwest have generated concerns about clergy's involuntary leave of absence and the process of assigning it.
     The bishop's ruling in the West Virginia Annual Conference about the conference's board of pensions use of funds invested with the denominationwide Board of Pension and Health Benefits will be reviewed as the council will look at the 2001 East Ohio Annual Conference action to use interest from capital raised to fund pre-1982 pension liability for partially funding health care costs and replenishing the health care reserve account for conference claimants.
     Four docket items involve reviewing matters related to earlier decisions. These include the restructuring plan and related documents from the West Virginia Annual Conference, as specified in Decision 914; the revised insurance program of the North Georgia Annual Conference per Decision 923; the revised sexual ethics policy of the East Ohio Annual Conference as required by Decision 839; and the revised restructure plan of the Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference as noted in Decision 928.
- UMMNS; Joretta Purdue; Washington; 10-21-71B{324}; July 25, 2002; UMNS Weekly Digest; July 26, 2002.


The World Methodist Council.  Macedonian intern assists World Methodist Council
LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. (UMNS) -- Magdalena Petreska, a United Methodist student from Macedonia, is learning more about the history of her faith as she interns this summer at the World Methodist Council's museum. She is working on a database. The rising junior at church-related High Point (N.C.) University junior is majoring in international business and computer information systems, with a double minor in German and economics. Eventually, she plans to




return to her country and work with Macedonia's developing economy and perhaps establish an Internet presence for the
country's United Methodists.                                                                  - {311}; UMNS Weekly Digest July 26, 2002.

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One man with courage makes a majority. - Andrew Jackson


Global Outlook


Sin will take you places that you don't want to go.

Sin will keep you places that you don't want to stay.

Sin will cost you more than you want to pay.

- Anonymous

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+ Churches confront post-war Angola's humanitarian crisis
LUANDA, Angola (UMNS) - After a quarter century of war, Angola is at peace. Yet an immense humanitarian crisis has emerged in the wake of the armed conflict, leaving international aid organizations struggling to meet the urgent needs of the war's many victims. Four million people - almost a third of Angola's population - have been displaced by the conflict, according to officials with Action by Churches Together, the international alliance of churches and church agencies, including the United Methodist Church, that responds to disasters.      {312}; UMNS Weekly Digest July 26, 2002.


+ Angola's former rebels face uncertain peace
LUCUSSE, Angola (UMNS)-While the war is over for many of Angola's soldiers, officials of relief organizations are uncertain if peace will last.                                                                       - {313}; UMNS Weekly Digest July 26, 2002.

Great Britain. Leaders of the British Methodist Church welcomed the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Wales, who has been appointed as the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury. The Rev. Ian White, British Methodist president, said that Williams' skill "as a leader, communicator and teacher will serve the church and nation well."

- News In Brief; UMNS Weekly Digest July 26, 2002.


India.  Extremism threatens peace in South Asia,  world, speaker says
Religious extremism and the threat of nuclear war are two of the biggest challenges to peace in South Asia, according to experts familiar with that region. In a July 18 symposium co-sponsored by the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, Admiral L. Ramdas, retired head of India's naval staff, said various kinds of extremisms are at work in the world and many of them use violence, but the tendency since Sept. 11 has been to treat virtually all terrorism as Islamic terrorism or Islamic fundamentalism. He urged the United States to be a "ringmaster in the peace arena" by opening up discourse on historical, cultural, religious, scientific and ecological realities, while resisting the tendency to be a powerbroker. Other speakers noted that trade might help reduce or end the conflict within South Asia.

- UMNS Weekly Digest July 26, 2002; {308}



+ Global youth conference goes on, despite world's unrest
NEWTOWNABBEY, Northern Ireland (UMNS) -- The suspicion and fear resulting from global unrest, a war on terrorism and failed diplomacy kept 50 official representatives from Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Cameroon, Angola, Mozambique, Kenya, the Philippines, Pakistan and India from attending the 7th International Christian Youth Conference on Evangelism held July 17-23. The purpose of the meeting was to help break down the barriers between cultures. The conference, held every four years, hosts people ages 17 to 30 from all over the world in a weeklong exploration of faith and mission. The theme of this year's conference was "Christ Jesus, God's Way." With the reality of the world's divisions so close at hand, the Rev. Grace Imathiu, a Kenyan-born pastor and international speaker, challenged the 276 conference-goers to "cross the seas" that divide people from one another.                  - {315*}; UMNS Weekly Digest July 26, 2002.


+ Irish Methodist president welcomes IRA apology
BELFAST, Northern Ireland (UMNS) - The president of the Irish Methodist Church, the Rev. Winston Graham,



welcomed news of an apology from Irish Republican Army paramilitaries for the suffering caused to civilians and
their families in 30 years of violence in the region. "As others in the past have already shown, it is only when we acknowledge pain and hurt caused to each other that we are enabled to find the freedom needed to move forward,"
Graham said.  In a July 16 statement, the IRA made no apologies for actions against police or other security forces but did acknowledge the suffering of their relatives. Critics of the statement point out that the apology prioritizes civilian lives over those of the police and military. - {316}; UMNS Weekly Digest July 26, 2002.



+ Delegation considers hardships imposed on Palestinians
A 13-member delegation sponsored by the United Methodist Board of Church and Society and Board of Global Ministries visited the Middle East July 19-29. The group, consisting largely of peace with justice educators, wants to alert church members to the depth of the problems there, [concentrating on] hardships imposed on the Palestinian people at large. The main issue is one of basic human rights, according to the delegation. Nelda Reid of Dallas said she now more fully understands the abuses that occur as Palestinian crops are destroyed to make way for Israeli settlements and roads, as soldiers take nocturnal potshots at tanks that then leak precious water, as curfews keep people trapped in their homes and communities for days on end. Outside the urban areas, conditions are just as bad, according to Hughes, who along with other delegation members spent the night of July 27 in the homes of Palestinian farmers. "Almost nothing has been said of the villages, which is where we were," he said. "They have been victimized in the name of security."
     A Sunday morning walk taken by six delegation members and five farmers came to a standstill when the group was stopped by an assortment of Israeli police, soldiers and private security guards. The United Methodists were viewing the fields and orchards that had belonged to the farmers' families before the property was confiscated by Israel. Les Solomon of Alexandria, Va., noted that despite his extensive travels to other parts of the world, "I have never experienced the levels of repression on a people that I experienced during the visit. The repression is economic, it is in violation of basic human rights, and it is psychological. Its basic intent is to break the will of the Palestinian people by breaking their
     The Rev. Janet Horman, a Church and Society executive and leader of the delegation with David Wildman, a Global Ministries executive, reported that the hopelessness, fear and despair being experienced by Palestinians was particularly evident when they arrived in Gaza about 30 hours after an Israeli warplane had fired a missile into an apartment complex. Although the specific target was a Hamas leader wanted by Israel, nine of the 15 people killed in the attack were children. The militant Hamas group said that its bombing of Hebrew University was in retaliation for the Gaza attack. Horman said she spoke with about a half dozen women at a medical clinic in Gaza who were horrified over the realization that they could be bombed in their beds. "They were terrified for the sake of their children," she added. "Our hearts are terribly saddened by the loss of any life over there," she said. "We grieve for all the Israeli children and families and the Palestinian families who live in fear."
     The delegation made positive connections as well, meeting with church and peace movement leaders, visiting with teen-age boys who still managed to get to vocational school, carting cement blocks and performing other chores with
Israeli volunteers rebuilding a demolished Palestinian home, talking with farmers whose ancestors had been on the land for more than 200 years.
     The message delegation members took home is that ending the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories is the only path to a negotiated peace. They plan to strengthen the church's network of advocates for Middle East peace, which not only involves providing information and educational activities but also promoting political lobbying.
     Officially, the United Methodist Church has long advocated for a peaceful solution in the Middle East and upheld the basic rights of Palestinians and Israelis. For example, the 2000 General Conference, the denomination's top legislative body, requested that the U.S. and other governments urge Israel to cease the confiscation of Palestinian lands and the building of settlements in the West Bank and Gaza. It also called upon the United States to accept the authority of U.N. resolutions dealing with the conflict.
     Reid, who is the Dallas regional coordinator for Churches for Middle East Peace, wants to arrange for high-level church officials to speak with members of Congress. "The main problem with the United States is our continuing aid (to Israel), which is largely military aid," she said. "To get that to change, we've got to change the votes in Congress."

     Solomon pointed out that the Palestinians do put responsibility on the United States "because we have basically given the Israelis a blank check on policy, weapons use and social responsibility." He hopes to offer courses on the conflict and prepare an "End the Occupation" newsletter for church bulletin boards. Hughes agreed that U.S. citizens are in part




responsible for the crisis because of military and other aid, but he also cautioned "we in the United States (must) not allow ourselves to fall into anti-Semitism as we criticize our U.S. government policies and the policies of the Israeli government." Horman stressed the importance of other groups making the trip to visit with Palestinian Christians and other communities of Palestinians. She encouraged church members to contact the United Methodist missionaries based in the United States "and find ways to be in touch through them." [Note: There is no talk about the responsibility being in any due to the “Palestinians’” suicide bombing of innocent civilian men, women, and children. This reflects a somewhat one-sided, naïve analysis of events.]                         - UMMNS; Linda Bloom; New York; 10-21-71B; {341}; April 2, 2002.


+ Mideast peace depends on end of occupation, delegation told
A 13-member delegation, representing 12 different United Methodist annual (regional) conferences, arrived July 19 in the Middle East as part of a continuing effort to broaden the denomination's advocacy for a just and lasting peace in Israel and the Palestinian lands. The Rev. Janet Horman, an executive with the United Methodist Board of Church and Society,
said the group has witnessed both the psychological toll and physical destruction caused by the long-term occupation of the Israeli military in the Palestinian territories.  Palestinian and Israeli partners have told the delegation that ending Israeli occupation is the only path to peace in the Middle East. [See note above. This suggestion would pave the way for national suicide for Israel.]                                                                     - UMNS Weekly Digest; {317}; July 26, 2002.


+ Setting the Record Straight. Contrary to widely disseminated but wholly erroneous allegations: a sovereign State of Palestine did not exist before 1967 or 1948; a State of Palestine was not promised by authoritative UN Security Council resolution; and a State of Palestine has never existed. From the Biblical Period (c.1350 B.C. to 586 B.C.) to the British Mandate (1918 – 1948), the land named by the Romans after the ancient Philistines was controlled only by non-Palestinian elements. Significantly, however, a continuous chain of Jewish possession of the land was legally recognized after World War I at the San Remo Peace Conference of April 1920. There, a binding treaty was signed in which Great Britain was given mandatory authority over Palestine (the area had been ruled by the Ottoman Turks since 1516) to prepare it to become the “national home for the Jewish people.”

– “Setting the Record Straight” by Louis Rene Beres, The Middle East Crisis – a Reality Check, Summer 2002, pp. 1, 2.


+ Gaza, April 3. The leaders of Hamas, the militant Islamic movement responsible for the deadly suicide attacks in Israel…are pleased and satisfied just now. By their estimation, the organization’s…attacks – the one at a Seder on Passover night in a Netanya hotel that killed twenty-five people, and the other in a Haifa café that killed fifteen – were the most successful they have even made. That is partly true, Ismail Abu Shanab [a Hamas leader] said, “because Hamas is now using weapons-grade explosives instead of homemade bombs manufactured using fertilizer.

     “Forty were killed and two hundred injured – in just two operations,” another of the leaders, Dr. Mahmoud al-Zahar, said with a smile….

     Hamas wants Israeli withdrawal from all of the West Bank and Gaza, the dismantling of all Israeli settlements, and full rights of return for the four million Palestinians who live in other states. After that, the Jews could remain, living “in an Islamic state with Islamic law, Dr. Zahar said. “From our ideological point of view, it is not allowed to recognize that Israel controls one square meter of historic Palestine.”

- “Bombers Gloating in Gaza as They See Goal within Reach: No More Israel” by Joel Brinkley, The Middle East Crisis-

a Reality Check, Summer 2002, pp. 1, 9, & 11.


Liberia. Former Bishop Arthur F. Kulah, principal of Sierra Leone Theological Hall and Training Center, celebrated May elections in that African nation. He said the elections ended ten years of civil war. Kulah told Newscope, "This war left over two hundred thousand people dead, millions of dollars of property damaged, and hundreds of thousands of people uprooted and displaced." He reports the voting process was "peaceful and calm [and] we now have a new government in place." He reports that his school was involved in voter registration, education, and monitoring. Because the war damaged so many dwellings, the bishop and his family are now living in a school dormitory.

- Newscope; July 12, 2002; Vol.30, No.28.

The National Council of Churches.  National Council of Churches revives financial health
NEW YORK (UMNS) - The National Council of Churches is in its healthiest financial state in the past 12 years, according to the Rev. Robert Edgar, the ecumenical agency's chief executive. The United Methodist pastor pointed
to a balanced budget in 2002, a three-year, $500,000 grant from the Lilly Endowment and the addition of $625,000 to



long-term reserves as proof of the agency's emergence from the financial cloud of the last few years. In the NCC's $5 million annual budget, financial commitments from member denominations amount to about $1.2 million, and "cognate" funds, given for specific purposes, account for another $1 million, which leaves a financial gap to be filled. 

When Edgar started the job in January 2000, member churches were helping bail the council out of a deficit situation caused by unbudgeted but approved expenses in 1999. In addition, he said, long-term investments had dropped to $3 million from $24 million in 1994.
     Edgar attributes the council's successful reversal of fortune to its simple but clearer mission -- to create a "broader ecumenical table" focused on addressing the needs of the poor. The ecumenical vision -- encompassing mainline Protestant, Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Pentecostal and Evangelical church leaders -- has provisionally been named "Christian Churches Together in the U.S.A."

     But the NCC still looks to its 36 member denominations for financial support and Edgar pointed to a recent increase in contributions from members who had not given for awhile, such as the National Baptists and some Orthodox groups. Compared to 62 percent in 2000, 83 percent of the member denominations make financial contributions today.
     Edgar credited the two largest member communions - United Methodists and Presbyterians - "for their intense work in keeping our eyes on the prize of fiscal integrity" during the effort to rebound from a deficit situation. Part of the negotiations for the financial recovery included the fiscal separation of NCC and its relief agency, Church World Service.
     Member communions, for example, offer denominational staff assistance, specific funding and information sharing for programs addressing religious research, scholarship, faith formation, faith and order issues, poverty and a variety of justice and advocacy topics. Ties with state and local councils of churches and interfaith organizations help extend advocacy work….Other current partners include the National Religious Partnership for the Environment, Habitat for Humanity, the Children's Defense Fund, Families USA, National Coalition on Health Care, Good Schools Pennsylvania, Bread for the World, Call to Renewal, Agricultural Missions, The Fund for Theological Education and Seminary Consortium for Urban Pastoral Education.
     The NCC also has worked with Independent Sector, which connects it with corporations and foundations interested in anti-poverty work; with Hartford Theological Seminary and its MacDonald Center for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations; and with Religious Leaders for Sensible Priorities, which advocates the shifting of federal budget dollars away from wasteful military spending to domestic priorities for children and the poor.

    - UMNS; Linda Bloom; New York; 10-21-71B{326}; July 25, 2002. Also the UMNS Weekly Digest; July 26, 2002.

Russia. The number of ordained elders in Russia has increased from three in 1998 to 32 today, and the number of probationary elders has increased from 13 to 40.

- Bishop Ruediger Minor (Eurasia), Newscope; July 12, 2002; Vol.30, No.28.


Norway.  United Methodists, Lutherans hold third round of talks
OSLO, Norway (UMNS) – Bishop Melvin Talbert, ecumenical officer for the United Methodist Council of Bishops, [headed up the UM side of] a bilateral dialogue to form full communion between the United Methodist Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The Church of Norway (Lutheran) and the United Methodist Church in Norway adopted "Fellowship of Grace," in 1997 and the two churches have a relationship of full communion. They recognize each other's sacraments of baptism and Holy Communion, as well as ordination of clergy and administration. Members of the dialogue team explored justification and sanctification at the Sept. 12-15 meeting. Previous conversations have addressed baptism and Holy Communion. The dialogue will reconvene in February and focus ministry and mission in both traditions.

- UMMNS; Kathy L. Gilbert; Nashville, Tenn.; 10-21-71BP{414}; Sept. 17, 2002.


Sierra Leon.  Relief group encounters trauma, hope in Sierra Leone
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (UMNS) -- Members of [a] delegation to West Africa traveled throughout Sierra Leone July 9-15, to see for themselves how the country is faring in the aftermath of a brutal 11-year civil war. The visit was the third in a tour of the troubled Mano River region that includes the West African countries of the Republic of Guinea, the Gambia, Sierra Leone and Liberia. "Peace has come to Sierra Leone," the delegation concluded. "But the struggle to recover goes on."                                                                            - {320*}; UMNS Weekly Digest July 26, 2002.

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To your descendents I give this land, from the river of Egypt  to the great river, the Euphrates….”

– God to Abram, Genesis 15:19