The Monthly Update

February  2003 Update


Bits and Pieces from across the United Methodist Church


The Good Stuff.  30 Ways to Pray for People in Authority, by Gary P. Bergei

The life of every citizen is impacted by a multitude of individuals who wield significant influence each day. Consider: millions of elected officials, appointed judges, lawyers, police officers, bureaucrats, military officers, business executives and managers, those involved in church leadership, educators, medical practitioners and hospital administrators. How might we pray for these individuals? Here are 30 things based on Scripture. Don't overwhelm yourself. Select one person or group of people and then pray one of these things each day for them.

1.  That they be God-fearing and recognize that they are accountable to Him for each decision and            act (Prov. 9:10).

2.  That they be granted wisdom, knowledge, and understanding (James 1:5).

3.  That they be presented with the gospel and a loving Christian witness (Ro. 10:14).

4.  That, if unsaved, they be drawn to a saving encounter with Christ; if born-again, they be           strengthened and encouraged in their faith (1 Tim. 2:4; Eph. 1:17-23).

5.  That they recognize their own inadequacy and pray and seek the will of God (Prov. 3:5-8;

            Lk. 11:9-13).

6.  That they be convicted of sin, transgression, and iniquity (Ps. 51:17; Jn 8:9).

7.  That they heed their conscience, confess their sins, and repent (Prov. 28:13; Jas. 4:8).

8.  That they read the Bible and attend prayer meetings and Bible studies (Ps. 119:11; Col. 3:2).

9.  That they value and regard the  Ten Commandments and the teachings of Christ (Ps. 19:7-11; Jn. 8:31-32).

10. That they respect and honor their own parents if living (Eph. 6:2-3).

11. That they respect authority and practice accountability (Ro. 13:1-7).

12. That they be given godly counsel and God-fearing advisors (Prov. 24:6).

13. That they be honest and faithful to spouses and children (Mal. 2:15-16).

14. That they be practicing members of local congregations (Heb. 10:25).

15. That they desire purity and avoid debauchery, pornography, perversion, and drunkenness

            1 Cor. 6:9-20; Titus 2:12).

16. That they be timely, reliable, and dependable (Mt. 21:28-31).

17. That they be honest in financial, tax, and ethical matters (1 Cor. 6:10; 1 Tim 6:6-10).

18. That they seek pastoral care and counsel when needed (Heb. 13:7).

19. That they seek out and nurture godly friendships (Ps. 1:1-3).

20. That they have thankful and teachable spirits (Ro. 1:21).

21. That they be generous and have compassionate hearts for the poor and needy (Ps. 112:9;

            Lk. 10:33-37).

22. That they redeem their time and know priorities (Eph. 5:15-17).

23. That they desire honesty, integrity, and loyalty (Psalm 26; Prov. 11:3).

24. That they have courage to resist manipulation, pressure, and the fear of man (Prov. 29:25;

            2 Tim. 1:7).

25. That they be shielded from occultism, New Age cults, false religions, and secret societies

            (Is. 1:29, 2:6).

26. That they be presented with biblical worldviews and principles (Eph. 3:10).

27. That they endeavor to restore the sanctity of life, families, divine order, and morality in our       nation (Eph. 5:22-6:4).

28. That they would work to reverse the trends of humanism in our nation (1 Chron. 12:32;

            Is. 59:19).

29. That they desire humility and meekness and be willing to serve and cooperate (Jn. 13:14;         Titus 3:2).

30. That they be prepared to give account to Almighty God (Heb. 9:27).

                                                - Excerpted from Pray! Magazine issue #13;

Abortion, Assisted Suicide, Euthanasia & Other Life Issues.

January 22, 2003 marks the 30th anniversary of the Roe versus Wade Supreme Court decision that ushered into the United States legalized abortion. Since that time, over 42,000,000 babies are estimated to have been killed by abortion. In addition, countless women have died, been physically injured or crippled, or been psychologically traumatized by the abortions performed on them.                                                                                                                                               - Allen O. Morris


(UM) Bishops.   Bishop stresses need to find common ground in diversity

 MUTARE (UMNS) - Speaking to an audience representing a variety of cultures, United Methodist bishop Woodie White emphasized the need for using diversity to unite people. He spoke on diversity in a sermon at Africa University's 10th anniversary worship service Nov. 17, 2002. White centered his remarks on the apostle Paul's words to the Corinthians, urging that they find common ground and join together to make something new. The ancient city of Corinth was like any metropolitan city today, with different cultures, languages, races and ethnic groups, White said. As people from all over converged on the city, its newly established church was challenged to be true to itself and not be shaped by its cultural context, he said. "God made the human family as God wanted to make the human family," he said. "God knew that no one part of it was sufficient in and of itself. God requires every part of God's creation to make a whole better." He told the students and the congregation that their task is to find common ground with one another, regardless of race, class, status, economics and the numerous other "judgments" that keep people apart or separate. For Christians, common ground is found through being in relationship with God, the bishop said. The two words that open the Lord's Prayer, "our father," make all Christians related, even though the people gathered at Kwang Lim Chapel were of different colors, cultures, countries, income levels, education and styles of dress, he said. "When we claim God as father or parent, you have a whole lot of kinfolk you had not counted on. Our common ground is our father."

             United Methodist News Service (UMNS); Linda Green; Nashville, Tenn.; 10-31-71BP{530};

                        Nov. 18, 2002.


The Confessing Movement. The "Confessing the Faith" Conference

The "Confessing the Faith" Conference in Indianapolis was a wonderful and encouraging time as some 650 persons from 12 denominations and 33 states plus Canada came to worship, fellowship, and affirm the historic faith of the church. Distinguished speakers such as Dr. Dennis Kinlaw, president emeritus of Asbury College.


(UM) General Board of Pension and Health Benefits.

Church agency explores global, faith-based investment

LONDON (UMNS) - The United Methodist Church's pension agency is working alongside Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Sikhs, and other faith-based investors to put hundreds of billions of dollars worth of global corporate wealth to work for good. Drawing on decades of experience in the area of ethical investment, the United Methodist Board of Pension and Health Benefits is playing a key advisory role in the formation of the International Interfaith Investment Group, dubbed "3iG." The group is the brainchild of the U.K.-based charity the Alliance of Religions and Conservation, and aims to consolidate the financial might of the world's religions. Laura Michalowski, the pension board's coordinator for corporate responsible investing, traveled to Britain in November with members of the U.S. Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility, for three days of meetings and events focusing on the power of faiths worldwide to be a force for change. Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip joined Michalowski and other 3iG representatives Nov. 13 at London's historic Banqueting House for a celebration of religion's contribution to environmental conservation. "We have come together with our consciences and with our money to effect a positive global impact," commented Michalowski, who also met with British Methodists



working on ethical investments while in London. "The ultimate goal is to get corporations to join us in partnership," she explained. "Imagine the potential and power of corporations and faiths coming together in a way that all people are recognized, human dignity is respected, and our heritage cared for and preserved for future generations. [Note: This has possibilities but should be viewed with caution. The Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility has a record of being anti-capitalist.]                  - (UMNS); Kathleen LaCamera; New York; 10-71BP{535}; Nov. 19, 2002.

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            Let me not mourn for the men who have died fighting, but rather, let me be glad that such heroes have lived.                                                  - General George S. Patton, "Soldiers Prayer"


Global Outlook


Sin does not serve well as a gardener of the soul.

- The Navigators' Daily Walk, taken from Walk Thru the Bible Ministries,

February 1993.

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Commentary: We are starting to see it in our United Methodist Church and to hear criticism of President Bush for taking deliberate action against Iraq's Saddam Hussein. Comments such as, "George Bush wants to go to war" and "We are rushing into this" and "Bush has not given any justification for going to war" are being heard.

     May I offer the observation that this appears to reflect a publicity initiative by those who would forestall our taking meaningful action against what is potentially a serious threat? In answer to these and other criticisms against possible military action against this country, may I offer one initial answer? "September 11" There is little doubt that Hussein was involved in this attack against our country, and is only the latest in a series of actions that indicate that he poses a threat to world peace and the stability of the United States that has no precedent in history.

     For those who remember the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, did you hear many objections against our going to war with Japan? I doubt that there were. In my reading of history, there were some by leaders of the Methodist Church at that time who objected to our country's going to war. In retrospect, we know that to have appeased Japan and Germany would have spelled the doom of England and probably our country as we know it. Appeasement never works. Neville Chamberlain had tried to appease Adolf Hitler with a series of inactions and concessions in the 1930s: Germany's reoccupation of the Rhineland; the Danzig Corridor; splitting off of the Czech Republic from Slovakia and the resulting annexation; and finally the invasion of Poland. In each of these actions, if the Allies (England and France) had fought, there would have been a price to pay, but not nearly as great as that of the subsequent war. There would have been possibly 300 - 1000 casualties in fighting over the Rhineland occupation, and 1,000,000 million (most of the casualties being German soldiers) over the annexation of a strategic part of the former Czechoslovakia. The fight would have resulted in Germany's defeat and the toppling of Hitler from power. In the latter situation, Chamberlain had returned to  citizensEngland from Munich after his infamous meeting with Hitler proclaiming he had achieved "peace in our time" - but had negotiated away the freedom of Czechoslovakia without its  being consulted. Less than eighteen months later, England was in a fight for its very survival.

     As tragic as December 7th was, September 11th was worse. At Pearl Harbor military facilities and personnel were targeted; we understand that giving one's life in defense of one's country may be called for when wearing the uniform. On September 11 primarily civilian facilities and personnel were targeted, with the sole exception being the Pentagon. May I say again that on that latter day, innocent men, women, and children were the victims? In addition, this was perpetrated on the mainland of America. Other attacks had been planned but were foiled by the immediate grounding of all aircraft and by alert governmental security personnel.



     We know that Hussein is willing and capable of using his chemical and biological weapons; he has used them on his own people, fellow Muslims like himself. Why should he hesitate to use it on us, not only Christians but also the country who defeated him in warfare eleven years earlier? He wouldn't. We must not kid ourselves.

    I speak not only from having studied, lived, and worked in international relations for over forty years, but also from having experience in the Iraqi theater of operations itself. I am a retired Army officer (and served in both enlisted and officer ranks, and in elite airborne units), having been involved in military actions from Vietnam through Operation Desert Storm (in addition to others). I can say with no hesitation that those of us who were on the ground in Southwest Asia knew of Hussein's capabilities and ruthlessness. During the military action, those of us on the ground fully expected to completely resolve the problem by dealing with Hussein. When we were told "cease fire in six hours" some of us were incredulous; we knew that if we did not deal with the Iraqi problem we would face it - and worse - later. These fears have proven correct.

     May I ask each of you to fully support President Bush in whatever action he decides to take? Our denominational employees do not have a good record of credibility when it comes to dealing with international relations; they are not trained in that area. In actuality, they cannot even resolve leadership problems in our own denomination (witness the numerical decline for the past 34 consecutive years, and their inability to discipline Bishop Joe Sprague when he denies essential beliefs of our faith); how can they presume to advise the president on how to best run the country? In considering just the public information available, our leaders have not taken a credible stand; Saddam Hussein is judged as a potential threat for our future. Yet, President Bush has more information of a classified ("Secret" "Top Secret" etc.) nature that is not available to the general public and can provide a more detailed, accurate picture of the threat; we must understand and respect that reality.

     I have more confidence in President Bush's decision-making capability in this area than I do in our denominational employees.

     Finally, I would ask you to pray for President Bush - for protection against unwise influences, clearness of mind, and physical protection; and to pray a hedge of protection around all of our servicemen overseas.

                                    - Allen O. Morris, Executive Director, Concerned Methodists

                                        United States Army, Retired


Zimbabwe.  Africa University celebrates 10 years, dedicates buildings

MUTARE (UMNS) - People from around the world gathered at United Methodist-related Africa University Nov. 15-17 to celebrate the school's 10th anniversary, with special events that included the dedication of two new dormitories and a theology building. The school was born in a scrub field in 1992, with 40 students meeting in renovated farmhouses for classes in theology and agriculture and natural resources. The university today has been described as "cosmopolitan endeavor" with a world-class campus and a diverse community of 1,500 people. It is also the first United Methodist-related, degree-granting institution in Zimbabwe.

     More than 1,000 students from around Africa are enrolled there, and 899 graduates are working and providing leadership around the continent and the world. They are agriculturalists, teachers, researchers, entrepreneurs and pastors "who are responding to the critical needs with ideas that work and an attitude of service," Murapa wrote in an anniversary message.

     Africa University has not only diversified and expanded its programs since its beginning, but it has become a "continental university," according to Swithun Mombeshora, Zimbabwe's minister of higher and tertiary education. He gave the institution high marks for its contributions to Zimbabwe's national development, noting that it has widened access to education and introduced relevant disciplines and programs. "Our combined efforts have resulted in an institution that is a place of hope, renewal and innovation and a source of a new leadership model for the people of Africa," Murapa said. "In view of these phenomenal accomplishments, there is cause for celebration."



     "Africa University is proof that when we put God in front of our plans, they will be implemented, no matter how long it takes," said Tsitsi Kagurabadza, the university's food

service manager and one of 25 people to receive a 10-year pioneer service award. "It is prime. It is holy ground." The institution is "a beacon of light" in Africa, implementing knowledge with a spiritual foundation, she said.

     The opening ceremony featured African dignitaries from across the continent, as well as United Methodist pastors and church leaders from the United States. Murapa got them in a celebratory mood by leading the Africa University Choir in singing "Happy Birthday" to the university. The celebration was a rare and historic occasion, he said, because "you only celebrate a 10th anniversary one time." Africa University has built a solid position in the field of higher education, and the anniversary is a time to reflect on and honor the contributions that it has made, Murapa said. He also encouraged the United Methodist Church and the citizens of Africa to "finish the work we have been commanded to do." The school still needs prayers, as well as gifts and collective commitment, to "survive despite the ever growing hostile socioeconomic environment," he said.

     Graca Machel, a well-known education advocate in Mozambique, was an honored guest at the Nov. 16 event. The university conferred upon her an honorary doctor of law degree for her work in championing education, literacy, human rights, social justice and development in Africa. Machel thanked the university for its work in promoting the well-being of African children, respect for women's rights and peace across the continent.While the 21st century is a time of great promise, it is also a time of "great misery" for millions of Africans, she said. She described the overwhelming poverty that the continent is experiencing at a time when other nations are prospering, and the AIDS pandemic that has left 11 million children without parents. The disease has affected more than one-third of Africa's countries, she said. "If the rate of infection were stopped today, we (would) have to deal with the impact for the next 20 to 30 years." Machel gave the statistics not to cast a pall over the celebration but as part of an appeal for the students to work for eradicating AIDS and poverty and to regain a sense of what being African is about. Because of the continent's numerous problems, some African students are ashamed of who they are, she said, noting at the same time that people of her generation struggled to liberate their countries and people from colonial rule.

     Africa University presents an "opportunity to bring together a wealth of our diversity to build a deep sense of oneness," Machel said. She asked the students to revive "our sense of self-worth, self-use, self-confidence and of our dignity and our pride of being." She also asked them to use their knowledge to generate wealth for the future by identifying the root causes of poverty. She urged the students to build a culture that acknowledges differences and respect, noting that mutual acceptance will provide opportunities to resolve conflict. "In some places on our continent, it is much easier to buy a gun than a book," she noted. Machel challenged Africa University to be an institution that gives value to Africa and African culture. The university can address poverty and HIV/AIDS by promoting research, training and curriculum that emphasizes positive behavior, she said.

     The visitors at the anniversary celebrations included 80 people from the South Carolina Annual (regional) Conference, who came to see the formal dedication of the Bishop J. Lawrence McCleskey Faculty of Theology Building. The conference had financed the building, named for the South Carolina bishop. The South Carolina Conference has 244,000 members, including the largest constituency of African Americans of any U.S. conference. The theology building is a result of the conference's three-year campaign to raise $2.5 million for Africa University and church projects in Zimbabwe. Of that, $1.7 million was given to construct the theological building, $300,000 to endow scholarships at the university and $500,000 to support Zimbabwe

Annual Conference children's programs. [It] provides a separate facility for people preparing for full-time ordained ministry in the United Methodist Church. The building was designed to be a place where men and women will acquire theological education and training for ministry in an African context; the building also has helped relieve overcrowded classrooms and offices.



     Eight South Indiana delegates attended the dedication of two residence halls that their conference had financed. The buildings were dedicated as the Rukudzo and Helen Murapa Hall of

Residence, honoring the vice chancellor and his spouse, and the James Henry Salley Hall of Residence, for the university's associate vice chancellor for institutional advancement. During the dormitory dedication service, Murapa said the buildings are manifestations of God's love by people far away but close in faith. The dorms will allow some students to have a place to call their own for the first time, he said. "For them to know that it is theirs for the time that they are here is a source of gratitude ... for without you and without God speaking in you and sending you to do what you are doing, they (the students) would not be what they are. ... And we say to our friends from South Indiana thank you ... not for what you did, but for being obedient servants of God by giving his words to us through this gift."

     Indiana Area Bishop Woodie White said it was a privilege for the South Indiana Conference to share in building two dormitories. "Thanks so much for giving us the opportunity to share God's abundance in this place." Dora Largent, South Indiana's conference lay leader, challenged the students to use their potential and talents to share God's love not only in Africa but across the globe. She encouraged them to follow God's call because God has "has lots of creative surprises" in store.

     Speaking on behalf of the students, Ken Mwez expressed gratitude for the dormitories. Because of the South Indiana Conference's good will, 110 extra spaces in triple occupancy have "gone a long way in alleviating the problem of accommodation at Africa University," he said. The dormitories will house male students, but female students will live on the lower floors until another dorm is built for them.

     The university also celebrated the pending launch of its Institute of Peace, Leadership and Governance. The first such effort on the continent, the institute will serve as a forum for debate, research, analysis and scholarship on peace and governance issues. The university has spent two years developing the institute and its programs. The first students will enroll in January, and Machel has accepted an appointment to join the institute's faculty. Mombeshora praised the institute, calling it an important innovation for meeting the challenges of peace, leadership and governance that face Africa today. "These are critical ingredients if Africa is to realize her full potential in national development and unity," he said. "Peace is life itself, and every one of us should treasure it."

     At the end of the dedication, the South Indiana visitors announced that their conference had raised $50,000 more than its $1 million capital campaign goal for the dormitories. That money will be given to the university for use in dormitory projects or for other needs, the group said.

                                     UMNS; Linda Green; Nashville, Tenn.; 10-31-71BP{528}; Nov. 18, 2002.

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God loves me just as I am today. He knows all my junk. He knows all my inadequacies and lack of faith, and loves me anyway. However, he loves me too much to leave me the way I am.

            - Michelle Akers, Olympic medalist and member of the U.S. Women's World Cup Soccer Championship team, as quoted in Guideposts, May 2001.