The Monthly Update

July 2003 Update

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

As a final reminder, our new e-mail address is: concmths@infionline.net

This edition of the Monthly Update contains a continuation of the summaries of the annual conference meetings from the Methodist Church.

As we go into the Fourth of July holidays let us pause to consider all of the factors that go into making the United States a great country. While we have been generously blessed by a merciful God we have strayed from our foundation - which has been centered on His goodness in our endeavors. A few weeks ago I was given a copy of something that presents an eloquent perspective on our duties as Christians in a way I had not previously considered. Please think about the words that The Reverend Dr. Billy Graham penned:

The Social Obligations of a Christian

The Bible teaches that the Christian should be law-abiding. The Bible also teaches loyalty to country. A loyalty and love of country does not mean that we cannot criticize certain unjust laws that may discriminate against special groups. The Bible also says that God is no respecter of persons. All should have equal opportunities. The government of God is to be our model.

The Bible also teaches that we are to co-operate with the government. Jesus was asked, "Is it lawful to give tribute?" Jesus set the example forever by paying taxes. It takes money to run a government and to maintain law and order. The tax dodger is a civic parasite and an actual thief. No true Christian will be a tax dodger. Jesus said we are to, "render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's." We ought to be more than taxpayers. To be simply law-abiding is not enough. We are to active seek and work for the good of our country. Sometimes we may be called upon to die for it. We are to do it gladly - as unto God. We are to be conscientious in our work as good citizens.

- Billy Graham

 

All of us here at Concerned Methodists wish you a happy, safe, and joyous Fourth of July.

In His service,

 

 

Allen O. Morris,

Executive Director


July 2003 Update

Bits and Pieces from across the United Methodist Church

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield. - Alfred Tennyson

* * * * *

Of Interest....Heritage Foundation research fellow Melissa Pardue has released the findings of a study that compares how sexual activity affects teens psychologically. The study found a solid link between sexual activity and depression and suicide. According to the study, sexually active girls are three times more likely to suffer from depression and suicide than those who are not. Among sexually active boys, depression is twice as likely to occur, and suicide ten times more likely. Pardue says as a teen, she would have wanted to be made aware of those numbers. She also says if had reached her mid-twenties, had several sexual partners, and was depressed -- but not been told those statistics -- she would have felt lied to. Pardue says such information must be included in the so-called "safe sex" message being conveyed to teens in the public schools. - AgapePress; June 6, 2003.

(UM) General Council on Ministries. Agency begins putting 'common table' plan into legislation

A United Methodist agency is beginning work on legislation for creating a single "Connectional Table" of church leaders who would coordinate the denomination's work worldwide in their "Living Into the Future" proposal, in which agencies at a global common table would meet to guide the church's programs. The common table would comprise about 100 people from a cross section of church roles and geographic areas.

- United Methodist News Service (UMNS); by Tim Tanton; Nashville, Tenn.; 10-71B{305}; May 29, 2003.

Homosexuality.

+ North Carolina Sexual Orientation Bill Dies in House Committee

RALEIGH, NC - A bill that would have added sexual orientation to an existing equal employment opportunity law in North Carolina died recently in a House committee, when it failed by one vote to gain the majority. John Rustin, director of government relations for the North Carolina Family Policy Council <http://www.ncfpc.org>, testified at two hearings on the bill at the end of last month. He argued that adding the classification of sexual orientation to the government's hiring, promoting and firing policy could open the door to "include bisexuality, pedophilia or even bestiality." Rustin pointed out that "alternative sexual lifestyles," as well as homosexuality, are criminal offenses under state law. "In essence, you would be providing special legal protection to individuals based on their participation in illegal activity," he said. He also argued, along with Christians for Morality in Government president Victoria Peterson, that the U.S. Supreme Court's criteria to determine whether a group should receive special legal protection include an immutable characteristic, a history of political powerlessness, and economic deprivation. Rustin argued that homosexuals' sway over large corporations is a "clear indication that these individuals aren't powerless." "They have tremendous power and resources, evidenced by the fact that they've been able to prevail on these Fortune 500 companies and government entities in other states," Rustin said, adding that homosexuals are also far from "economically deprived." "Two homosexuals living together versus a traditional couple is on average a much higher cumulative household income," he said. But the bottom line? Homosexuals are really not seeking avoidance of discrimination, according to Rustin, but legal legitimacy for alternative sexual lifestyles. "If this bill had passed, there would be legal recognition for individuals based on their sexual orientation, so there would be a flood of lawsuits challenging so-called discrimination on this basis," he said. The House State Government Committee members voted mostly along party lines, except for one Democrat who opposed the bill. - Src.: AgapePress; by Dorothy Moore May; May 29, 2003.

+...Mainline Presbyterians remain divided over whether homosexual lifestyles are sinful or should be embraced by the church. At the Presbyterian Church (USA)'s General Assembly in Denver, delegates have approved a "gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender ministry" -- despite concerns expressed by some that it will further divide the denomination. The debate and vote followed a gathering of more than 70 men and women to form a new group of homosexual seminarians and their supporters. The luncheon included a drama about a seminarian who struggles with her love for God, her calling to the ministry, and a lesbian relationship. [Note: This is similar to the perennial debates going on in the UMC with the same tactics used by the denomination's bureaucracies: they keep bring the issue up year after year hoping that it will finally pass. The majority of the laity in the Presbyterian denomination do not approve of this and many say that they will leave if this ever does pass. - Editor] - AgapePress; May 30, 2003.

 

+ New Hampshire Episcopalians Elect Homosexual Bishop (AgapePress) - "Open rebellion against God." That's how the head of a conservative Episcopal group is reacting to the election this weekend of an open homosexual as the denomination's next bishop in New Hampshire.The Episcopal Church USA is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, whose bishops five years ago approved a resolution calling homosexual behavior "incompatible with scripture." But on Saturday, Episcopal clergy and laymen gathered in Concord, New Hampshire, and chose V. Gene Robinson to be their new bishop; he has been an open homosexual since 1986, when he divorced his wife with whom he had two daughters. He and his "partner," Mark Andrew, have been together for 13 years. David Moyer is president of the group Forward in Faith, an association of Anglicans with conservative views. He calls Robinson's election "an open rebellion against God's created order and the teachings of the church." Robinson's election must be approved at the Episcopal National Convention in Minneapolis next month. Reports say although there are many Episcopalians who believe the Bible condemns homosexuality, Robinson's election is likely to be confirmed. More information is available on the Episcopalian website: Episcopal News Service <http://www.episcopalchurch.org/ens/2003-126.html>. The Times [reports] that many people say that this is the "last straw" and that they are leaving the Episcopal Church." The Episcopal Church USA has approximately 2.3 million members. [Note: The Episcopal Church has been edging closer to this all the time. The morality of this bishop's position should be obvious; as a minimum, he left his wife and family for another "lover" in a homosexual relationship. - Editor] - By Fred Jackson and Jody Brown; Agape Press; June 9, 2003

Results from the Annual Conferences

Alabama-West Florida met at Frazer Memorial UMC in Montgomery, Ala., June 1-4. Among the preachers/speakers this year was Bishop Ruediger Minor from Russia. An offering was taken for The Bishop's Initiative on Russia in the amount of more than $63,000. Other speakers were Jim Winkler, general secretary of the General Board of Church and Society, and Irene Howard, general counsel for the denomination. Other conference actions include resolutions to support tax reform so that the poorest of the state are not penalized by excessive taxes and to include private and church-related colleges, as well as public, when awarding proposed student scholarships for graduating seniors from high school. Gov. Bob Riley appeared at the conference, and Bishop Larry Goodpaster presented both of these resolutions to him in person. Riley addressed the conference and offered his words of thanks, saying "people of faith must and can lead the way in the fight for tax reform." One petition to the General Conference regarded inclusiveness in general church agency representation. Lay Delegates elected to General Conference are: Steven Furr, Robert Powell, Roy Dunaway Jr., Imogene Mixson, Benjamin Bowden, Mary Kate McClellan, and Edna Williams. Clergy delegates: John Ed Mathison (head of delegation), Karl Stegall, Reba D. Wiley, Larry Bryars, Robert Spicer, Herbert Sadler, and Paul Wolfe. Membership stands at 145,786, up 933 from the previous year. Worship was up by 12 over the previous year. - Steven A. Wiley, as reported in Newscope; June 13, 2003.

Florida met May 27-30, hearing Reginald Mallett, an ordained minister in the British Methodist Church and a physician, deliver the opening sermon on their theme "To Serve the Present Age." Conference treasurer Randy Casey-Rutland said that a large number of churches have not fully paid their apportionments and urged ministers and laity do so as soon as they return to their churches. He said even if churches achieve their financial obligations, it may be necessary to take out a $1 million line of credit in the event of a financial shortfall. The request was approved. However, the recommendation that district superintendents be given a 2% or $1,500 raise above their 2003 salary of $74,200 was defeated. The conference also debated the finances of constructing the Florida Conference Heritage Center, Leesburg, slated to begin Dec. 2004. The Conference Commission on Archives and History has already collected $500,000 in pledges toward an anticipated budget of $890,000 to build and furnish the center and provide five years of operating costs and two years of part-time staff. The Conference Committee on Clergy Housing revised its list of required standards and recommended they be implemented by June 1, 2007. The conference began a long-term relationship with the Eastern Angola Conference by collecting approximately $122,000 to rebuild Quessua UMC. Legislative action included the approval of a requirement that churches develop child and youth protection policies, Inclusive Representation on Higher Education and Campus Ministry, a living wage resolution, and a resolution that communication directors be part of the extended cabinet. The conference elected the following lay delegates to General Conference: Mary Alice Massey, Terrell Sessums, Joseph Ha, Lynette Fields, Bill Walker, Amy Miller, Neila Morales, Emily Ann Zimmerman, Disney Weaver, Judith Pierre Okerson, Betty Sue Mason, Allison Mitchell, Gail Christy-Jones, Ressie Mae Bass, and Leland P. McKeown. Clergy delegates elected are Dick Wills (head of the delegation), Jorge Acevedo, Debbie McLeod, Jim Harnish, Anne Burkholder, Bill Barnes, David Dodge, Candace Lewis, Geraldine McClellan, Jacques Pierre, Teri Hill, Aldo Martin, Phil Roughton, Dan Johnson, and Clarke Campbell-Evans. Membership stands at 332,124, down 1,185. Worship attendance stands at 163,990, down 2,827. - J.A. Dunn, as reported in Newscope; June 13, 2003.

Illinois Great Rivers met May 28-31 in Peoria. Bishop Sharon A. Brown Christopher presided over the gathering under the theme "Living in the Promised Land . . . Together!" This is the second year of meeting in a venue selected for its ability to seat more than 2,000 members at round tables in order to facilitate and encourage Christian conferencing. Eric Law, an Episcopal priest and professional consultant in the areas of multicultural leadership and organizational development, helped the members of the conference explore the nature of Christian community in the midst of the diversity of the human family. Grace Imathiu, an ordained elder in the Methodist Church of Kenya, presented Bible study. The conference took the following legislative actions: 1) Approved a conference benevolence budget of $2,526,047 and an overall conference budget of $16,970,954, up 1.98% over 2002. 2) Bishop Christopher ruled out of order two resolutions regarding those who have identified themselves with the Reconciling Ministries Network. In action related to General Conference, members voted to support: 1) To Establish a Denominational Health Plan; 2) Annual Conference Voting Rights for Appointed Student Pastors (Discipline 341.7 and 602.1); and 3) research of issues related to artificial insemination. A petition to terminate dialogue on homosexuality was defeated. Lay delegates [to General Conference] are: Mike Krost (co-chair of delegation), Paul E. Black, Marlene Simms Cummins, Carolyn Yockey, Bettie W. Story, Rhonda Whitaker, Nicholas McGheeon, Scott Eugene Carnes, and Elouise J. Hahs. Clergy delegates are: Timothy L. Bias (co-chair of delegation), Cynthia A. Jones, Beverly L. Wilkes, Robert K. Freeman, Terry L. Clark, In-Sook Hwang, Roger Ross, Randall L. Robinson, and Shane L. Bishop. Membership is 159,658, down 4,837 over the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 78,654, down 1,670. - Susan J. Meister, as reported in Newscope.

Memphis met June 1-4 at UM-related Lambuth University under the theme of "Weaving Together the Family of God," a few weeks after two tornadoes crashed through Jackson, Tenn.'s downtown, damaging the proposed site of the 2003 session. The June 1 opening service, billed as a service of repentance and reconciliation, featured a liturgy of repentance, testimonials from those impacted by racism, and responses to the act of repentance by leaders from the Christian Methodist Episcopal and African Methodist Episcopal denominations and by a UM pastor who was a member of the former Central Jurisdiction. As a sign of repentance, the congregation was encouraged to write on paper any sins of which they wished to repent. Youth of the conference then nailed the sins to crosses. Of the 11 resolutions presented, nine were approved. Two resolutions were in support of expanding Igniting Ministry, one calling on Igniting Ministry to "employ explicit means of communicating concern for persons with handicapping conditions." The other resolutions supported: 1) altering the Discipline to allow alternative compensation plans for clergy; 2) reinstating the Purpose, Priorities, and Mission Statement of the UMC found in the Discipline before 2000; 3) affirming commitment to the historic doctrines of the Christian faith and resolving that "any bishops, pastors or other leaders . . . who cannot honestly subscribe to these most basic teachings . . . are unqualified to hold leadership positions in The United Methodist Church"; 4) petitioning that all general agency staff "shall uphold the [denomination's] doctrinal and ethical standards"; 5) requiring that bishops exercise oversight "to maintain the doctrinal expressions of the church within the boundaries of the Doctrinal Standards"; 6) supporting the National Plan for Hispanic Ministry; and 7) expanding compliance with the conference's policy on the prevention of child abuse by screening adults serving on the Conference Youth Council or at any event it sponsors. Lay delegates elected to General Conference were (in order of election): Anita Kay Archer (co-chair of delegation), Sandra Burnett, Solomon Christian, and Ellen Peete. Clergy delegates were: Harry Durbin Sr. (co-chair of delegation), Ben Boone Jr., Gail Gaddie, and Roger Hopson. The conference endorsed both Durbin and Liana Perez-Felix (a jurisdictional conference delegate) as episcopal candidates. The endorsement of Perez-Felix marks the first time a Southeastern Jurisdiction annual conference has nominated a Hispanic for bishop. Membership in the Memphis Conference stands at 91,098, down 284. - Cathy Farmer, as reported in Newscope; June 13, 2003.

Minnesota met in St. Cloud, Minn., May 28-31, for their 149th session where members participated in a service of confession and repentance. The service was the first of two responses to a General Conference request that all annual conferences hold services of repentance and reconciliation for racist policies that divided U.S. Methodism. In the coming year, Minnesota UMs will study the book Steps Toward Wholeness: Learning and Repentance (published by the General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns) and participate in a service of reconciliation and healing at the 2004 annual conference. Among legislation attracting the most discussion was a plan to reduce medical benefits for future retired clergy in order to trim the conference's significant unfunded postretirement medical benefit liability and reduce future cash flows needed for the retirees' medical benefits. Members also wrestled with resolutions to oppose a new Minnesota law allowing licensed owners to carry concealed handguns in public places (including church and school parking lots) and to support a suit filed by the Edina (Minn.) Community Lutheran Church claiming that the law violates church/state separation. The conference approved the above three items. An apportioned budget of $7,130,819 was passed, an increase of 4.47% over the previous year. Members affirmed petitions to General Conference that: 1) recommend that activities promoting "care of the soul" be added to those covered by the Ministerial Education Fund (Discipline 632.2[u]); 2) request the establishment of a denominational task force that would research the effectiveness of apportionments and other funding systems; 3) encourage UMs to discuss the viability and importance of universal medical insurance, and 4) call General Conference delegates to build an atmosphere of respect and tolerance as they discuss disputed issues and to avoid debate styles that set up winners and losers. Lay delegates elected to General Conference: Mary Jo Dahlberg (head of delegation), Jean Justice, Dwain "Pete" Peterson, and Mary Gates. Clergy delegates: David Bard, Katherine Austin Mahle, Elizabeth Lopez, and Dennis Alexander. Conference members approved the closing of three churches: Salem UMC in New Avon, Wesley UMC in Duluth, and Ruthton UMC. Bishop John L. Hopkins ordained eight elders and recognized the orders of one person ordained in another denomination. Membership stands at 88,610, down 2,290 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 43,806, down 812 from the previous year. - Victoria Rebeck, as reported in Newscope; June 13, 2003.

Missouri met for the first time May 29-June 2 as a united state-wide body. Last year at a one-day combined session of the Missouri West Conference and Missouri East Conference, members of the two conferences voted to form one new conference. On May 31, thousands gathered at the University of Missouri-Columbia Hearnes Center to attend "One Day, Igniting Missouri's United Methodists." The day started with a potato drop of 40,000 pounds of potatoes coordinated through the Society of Saint Andrew. A six-person choir from Mozambique named Kuzwanana, which means "understanding" or "being together" in the Xitswa language, also performed. Bishop Ann B. Sherer made Mozambique an area initiative in the 1990's and sought covenant churches for every church and district. UMs in Missouri have now made more than 400 covenants with Mozambique. Zan Holmes preached a sermon during the Saturday event. Bishop Judith Craig preached at ordination, and Bishop Fritz Mutti preached during the Sunday celebration service. All three of these bishops are from Missouri or have served in Missouri. The conference considered 22 petitions and resolutions. A petition opposing the use of federal tax dollars for faith-based initiatives was defeated. A General Conference petition requesting that the 2000 Discipline wording that prohibits the ordination of self-avowed practicing homosexuals be retained was defeated. Lay delegates elected to General Conference were: Jerry Williams, Larry Fagan, Adam Mustoe, Beverly Boehmer, Randy Biggerstaff, Carol Smith, John Gray, Margie Briggs, and Paula Ackerson. Clergy delegates were: Cody Collier (head of delegation), Michele Sue Shumake-Keller, Robert Casady, Nancye Dunlap, Brent Mustoe, Jim Bryan, Carl Schenck, Yolanda Villa, and Steve Breon. Membership stands at 178,112 members, down 1,906 from the previous year. - Fred Koenig, as reported in Newscope.

New Mexico met May 28-31 at Glorieta, N.M., for its 128th session with Bishop Max Whitfield presiding. The theme for the conference was "OPEN MINDS . . . Being of the Same Mind," the second in a three-year emphasis based on the national Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors campaign from Igniting Ministries. Bishop Richard B. Wilke, bishop in residence at Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas, was guest preacher. The conference observed a service of repentance and reconciliation. The conference approved a resolution endorsing Daniel A. Ivey-Soto as a lay candidate for the UM Judicial Council. Members also approved a resolution acknowledging the ongoing gifts of salvation and discipleship that are represented not only in those in the armed forces but also in chaplains. The conference celebrated five new church fellowships started on the Navajo reservation as part of the Four Corners Native American Ministry. Lay delegates elected to General Conference: William H. Wood (head of the delegation) and Daniel A. Ivey-Soto. Clergy delegates: Charles N. Crutchfield and Ran Loy. Membership stands at 41,721, down 412 over the previous year.

- Julianne "Juli" McAchran, as reported in Newscope; June 13, 2003.

North Indiana, meeting at Purdue University in West Lafayette May 29-31, heard a call from Bishop Woodie W. White to acknowledge their sins of racism, ask for forgiveness, and be reconciled during a worship service of repentance and reconciliation. The conference approved five actions in one piece of legislation restructuring the conference's ministries. Actions included: 1) approved a study to be conducted by the episcopacy committee regarding the north and south annual conferences merging into a single conference; 2) approved a $10.68 million 2004 budget, up 3.45% over the current year; 3) acknowledged that Indiana is second in the nation for gambling activity and that the church needs to take a more assertive stance against gambling; and 4) established a 2004 equitable salary for elders at $29,600. Petitions to General Conference call for: 1) the General Board of Church and Society to support the National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling financially; 2) amending Discipline 1405.21 (evaluation of church-related higher education and ministries) by adding "and their commitment to uphold Christian and United Methodist values and perspectives"; 3) the use of biblical language, such as "Lord," "King," and "Father," in worship and educational resources; 4) strengthening the voice of pastor-parish relations committees to retain a current pastor; and 5) granting a two-month personal leave for pastors. Clergy elected to General Conference are: Frank Beard (head of the delegation), Mark Fenstermacher, Michelle Cobb, Cynthia Reynolds, Herb Buwalda, and Brian Witmer. Laity elected are: Jack Dwiggins, Carolyn Johnson, James Ottjes, Paula Schrock, Pat Weeks, Dixie Arter. Membership stands at 102,920, down 515 from the previous year. - Daniel R. Gangler, as reported in Newscope; June 13, 2003.

Oklahoma met in Oklahoma City May 26-29, welcoming the head basketball coaches of the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University, who are teaming up to help UMs of Oklahoma strengthen their ministry to children and youth who have special needs. Kelvin Sampson of OU and Eddie Sutton of OSU, both active UMs, are co-chairs of a $1.4 million sustaining drive for The United Methodist Circle of Care, which was kicked off at the conference. The UM ministry, which began 85 years ago, serves more than 200 children and youth through four residential programs. During the conference, the sustaining drive received a check for $100,000 from the Oklahoma Conference Foundation from a special endowment for the care of children. Bishop Bruce Blake read a letter from the bishop of Liberia describing the life-threatening situation of ministers in Liberia because of recent rebel uprisings. After the letter was read, Oklahoma Conference received an offering of $10,883 to help ease the crisis. Lay delegates elected to General Conference: Carl Young, Judy Benson, Tom Junk, Harold Wright, Debra Davis, Kurt Glassco, Mona Mae Waymire, Tal Oden, Samuel Aguirre, Larry Hodges, and Nicole Absher. Clergy delegates: Mouzon Biggs, Margaret Ball, Robert Pierson, Jessica Moffatt, Grayson Lucky, Guy Ames III, Joe Harris, David Severe, Robert Long, Wade Pascal, and Tom Harrison. The statistical report for the 2002 calendar year shows that Oklahoma Conference churches have 250,629 members, a decrease of 1,899. - Boyce Bowden, as reported in Newscope; June 13, 2003.

Red Bird Missionary Conference. Red Bird Missionary Conference was held May 9-10. Bishop James R. King Jr. presided over the conference, held at Evarts Congregational UMC, Evarts, Ky. Under the theme "Bread for the Journey," the conference celebrated the many ways God provides for the ministries of churches, outreach centers, and mission institutions of the Red Bird Missionary Conference. The members present voted to receive The Bennett Center of London into full mission institution status in the conference. This is the first agency to be incorporated into the conference since the denominational merger in 1968. The Laity Denman Award was presented to Kevin and Heather Costner of Hope UMC. Judith A. Fowler was approved as Conference Treasurer, and the conference adopted a 2004 budget for world service and program with a small increase over the 2003 budget. The conference accepted a certificate of recognition from the General Council on Finance and Administration for 100% payment of apportionments, presented by Jim Perry of the Minnesota Conference, chair of the Commission on General Conference. Lay delegate elected to General Conference: Joyce Sizemore. Clergy delegate: Charles A. Jack (head of delegation). Membership stands at 1345, down 8 over the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 776, down 34.

- Ruth Wiertzema, as reported in Newscope; May 23, 2003.

Troy. Troy Annual Conference met for its 171st session May 7-10 in Burlington, Vt. A Volunteer-in-Mission team of 11 women and men from the Mozambique Area of the UMC was present throughout the session, bringing a message of unity in Christ and sharing the gifts of music and friendship. Francois Clemmons, Alexander Twilight Artist-in-Residence and choir director at Middlebury College, served as song leader and also delivered a keynote address, presented primarily in song, on the role of spirituals in African American history. Members of the conference presented a dramatic reading and reflections arising out of an ongoing anti-racism training process. In legislation, the conference: 1) committed to ensure conference funding support of Hispanic ministry when general church funding sources expire; 2) requested its health insurance committee to report back on the feasibility of providing domestic partner benefits to employees; and 3) withdrew sponsorship of United Methodist Health and Housing Inc. at that corporation's request. In action related to General Conference, six petitions that would amend language referring to sexuality were approved. Among the changes proposed by these petitions: 1) 161G would state that "all human beings are persons of sacred worth"; 2) 306 would include "fidelity in marriage and responsibility in all relationships"; 3) the restriction against ordination of "self-avowed practicing homosexuals" would be removed from 304; and 4) 806.9 would be removed. Lay delegates elected to General Conference: Paul Wiley (head of delegation) and Shirley Readdean. Clergy delegates: Michelle Ruller and Bill Barney. There were seven persons ordained as elder, and five elders retired. One associate member retired. Three persons were commissioned and received into probationary membership. Membership stands at 55,077, down 820 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 18,274, down 467.

- Holly Nye, as reported in Newscope; May 23, 2003.

* * * * *

They never sought in vain that sought the Lord aright! - R. Burns

Global Outlook

..It is in the highest degree unwise to submit to any wrong

without making an immediate and resolute effort to avenge it upon the wrong-doers,

at no matter what the cost of risk and trouble

To submit tamely and weakly to theft, or to any other injury

is to invite almost certain repetition of the offense.

- Theodore Roosevelt, as quoted in Before Barbed Wire

by Mark H. Brown and W. R. Felton, p. 120.

* * * * *

Islam.

+ Christian Persecution Escalates in Muslim Regions

For several years now, radical Muslims in northern and central Nigeria have been carrying out a 'holy' war, or jihad, against Christians. The attackers, mostly Fulani Muslims, use guns and machetes as their weapons of destruction. They make no distinction between men, women, and children -- who will not only carry the physical scars for the rest of their lives, but the emotional ones as well. If you are concerned about the fate of persecuted Christians around the world, sign up for the free Voice of the Martyrs newsletter. More details are found on the website: <http://etools.ncol.com/a/jgroup/bg_wwwpersecutioncom_afa03_9.html> - AgapePress; May 30, 2003.

+...One well-known conservative voice is warning the public about the introduction of a new phrase that will likely be showing up in public discourse. Gary Bauer says Muslim special-interest groups in America, among them the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), have started using the term "Judeo-Christian-Islamic values" in their effort to mainstream the Islamic faith. Bauer says there are obvious problems with that terminology -- specifically, America was not built on Islamic values, nor was Western civilization built on an Islamic foundation. He points out that in the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia, "radical Islamic fundamentalists are at war with virtually every other religion as they attempt to impose Islamic law on everyone else." And he adds that in thousands of mosques around the world, "radical imams" continue to teach that the "infidels" -- Christians and Jews -- must be killed. But Bauer does not expect such facts to get in the way of the new phraseology. As he puts it: "You can bet that liberal multi-culturalists, who see all traditions as being equally valid, will join this parade." - AgapePress; May 30, 2003.

Iraq.

...The president of World Relief says Iraqi Christians are enjoying a sense of newfound freedom -- but they also need help to carry out projects designed to meet the physical and spiritual needs of war-weary Iraqis. Clive Calver visited Christians in Iraq earlier this month. He says the Christian church in Iraq is thriving and poised to undertake new projects and challenges. Calver shares that people in Iraq have died for their faith, and pastors have walked into security headquarters not knowing if they will ever walk out again. But he adds that "the church has faced that and has come out refined, refreshed, and ready for a window of opportunity" because it is afraid Iraq could become a fundamentalist Islamic nation. World Relief is helping coordinate school repairs and distribution of food and other necessities. - AgapePress; June 6, 2003.

* * * * *

Fear God and keep His

commandments,

For this is man's all.

For God will bring every work

into judgment,

Including every secret thing,

Whether good or evil.

Ecclesiastes 12:1a (NKJ) of the Wesley Study Bible, Thomas Nelson publishers.