The Monthly Update

March, 2003 Update

 

Bits and Pieces from across the United Methodist Church

 

Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof. - Inscription on the Liberty Bell

*†††††††††† *†††††††††† *†††††††††† *†††††††††† *

Of Interest.

*Commentary: Being Anti Anti-War, Diane Knippers†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† January 27, 2003

The Religious Left went into a virtual hibernation after Sept. 11, 2001. Many were disquieted about the public evocations of God and the rampant patriotism, but they understood that expressing those concerns out loud would earn them no friends. How does one criticize the popular President Bush, they bemoaned? But now the Religious Left is back. Thereís a possible war with Iraq to oppose. The movement has a cause around which to organize. There are buses to charter, placards to design, press releases to draft. There is a reason for full-page newspaper ads, fact-finding trips to Iraq, and Washington marches.

All this makes me want to start my own religious campaign. Itís called the anti-anti-war movement. So, whatís my beef with the religious anti-war movement? And why donít I just start a pro-war campaign?

First, why do I object to the religious anti-war movement? Itís largely because a serious and important debate is being reduced to superficial, even deceptive, slogans and arguments. One of the worst is ďNo blood for oil.Ē Well, the threatened Iraq war isnít about oil, itís about a brutal tyranny that has weapons of mass destruction that it is willing to use. Some religious leaders oppose war by simplistically asserting that Jesus taught us to turn the other cheek. This willfully confuses the different obligations that the Bible gives to individuals and to government. Jesus didnít take up the sword, but He didnít organize mass demonstrations against Caesar either.

So, am I for the war? Am I certain that a war against Iraq satisfies all the Just War criteria? I donít know, but neither do the anti-war church leaders. For example, a just war must be proportionate. That requires carefully calibrating the threat and the necessary means to overcome the threat. Making such judgments requires access to intelligence data and expertise in military strategy that fall beyond the competence of theologians and clerics. It is a lay vocation - the responsibility of lay people with the expertise and information. Church leaders ought to be teaching Just War principles and praying for a just and righteous peace. But they ought not presume knowledge they donít have. In the end, such presumption destroys their credibility on any issue.

I donít want a war. But I recognize that this war may be necessary. We need fewer marches and more serious discussions. And most of all, we need prayer, recognizing that those prayers are the greatest gift that people of faith can offer in these perilous days.

- The Institute on Religion and Democracy, 1110 Vermont Avenue, NW, Suite 1180, Washington, DC 20005

Phone: 202-969-8430; Fax: 202-969-8429; Website: http://www.ird-renew.org/Feedback/Feedback.cfm

 

* Commentary: Just cause exists for action against Iraq A UMNS Commentary By the Rev. Donald Sensing*

Methodists are rightly concerned about the Iraq problem, but so far our denomination has shed more heat than light on the issue. The United Methodist Church is neither officially nor historically pacifist. Our Social Principles denounce war, but acknowledge that when peaceful alternatives fail, armed force may be necessary. We all wish for a world where force would never be needed. We all hope for it. But serious reasoning, not wishful thinking, is our duty in these perilous times. Wishes are not plans, and hope is not a method. Sojourners magazine editor Jim Wallis wrote this month, "For nonviolence to be credible, it must answer the questions that violence purports to answer, but in a better way. I oppose a widening war that bombs more people and countries, recruiting even more terrorists and fueling an unending cycle of violence. But those who oppose bombing must have an alternative."

Simply using religious language and claiming divine authority is not offering a credible alternative. Just saying "Jesus" and "love" and "peace" is not a plan. The Bush administration's claims about Saddam's rule of terror and the threat his regime poses to world peace deserve our sober consideration of what they are and our understanding of what they mean.

Many details are not pleasant. They are often technical. "Connecting the dots" is often frustrating. Interdisciplinary expertise and strategic vision - not just theological education - are required by religious leaders now. If we wish our voices to be heeded, they must be worth listening to. Saddam's regime threatens American lives and the peace of the entire Middle East.

The Bush administration and the U.N. inspectors have provided conclusive proof of Iraq's programs to develop mass-destructive weapons and its extensive efforts to conceal them - efforts that continue to this day. There is solid evidence of Iraq's links to transnational terrorists. Saddam's regime is brutally repressive of its own people. Whether the status quo with Iraq constitutes a cause for war should be debated. That the status quo should continue cannot be faithfully maintained. The question is not whether Saddam's regime must be ended and the Iraqi people freed; the question is...how. We pray that open war may yet be avoided. But to fail to act effectively to accomplish the just end is to make oneself an accomplice of injustice and ally oneself with murderous oppression.

The United Methodist Church's Council of Bishops has twice commended President Bush for his diplomacy. He has worked with the Congress, the United Nations, NATO and the European Union to resolve this crisis. There has been no "rush to war."

Iraq has defied 17 U.N. resolutions over 12 years. In 1998, President Clinton withdrew the UN weapons inspectors so he could bomb Iraq. President Bush insisted they return to confirm that Iraq has disarmed as the United Nations requires.

Therefore, last November the U.N. Security Council voted unanimously that Iraq should be given a "final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations under (existing) relevant resolutions of the council." Note: The United Nations placed the burden of proof and the onus of compliance on Iraq, not on the inspectors or the United States. Yet every report to the United Nations by the inspectors details more lies and deceit from Saddam's regime. U.N. Chief Weapons Inspector Hans Blix said he does not need more inspectors and does not want them, nor is there insufficient time for inspections....The problem, he said, is that Iraq is not cooperating and is not complying with the United Nations' ultimatum.

Every nation in the world, except Iraq, agrees that Iraq must disarm. The desired outcome of the crisis is not in question. The only question now is that of means: how shall Iraq be disarmed? If Iraq does comply, fully and quickly, open war will be avoided; if not, the last peaceful means to resolve the crisis will have been exhausted. If military action against Iraq comes, it will be neither pre-emptive nor unilateral. America has been legally and actually at war with Iraq since 1991 with varying intensity. President Clinton struck Iraq repeatedly, claiming 1991's resolution authorizing force never expired. America has the announced support of 35 nations (19 European) against Iraq if such action comes.

A key fact is being overlooked in today's debate. The choice is not really between peace and war. We have not been at peace with Iraq since 1991, and Saddam wages war upon his own people every day. The issue is not beginning a war, but how long the present war will continue. Absent Iraqi compliance, the choice is between brief, controlled warfare imminently or the continued suffering of the Iraqi people, the continued absence of peace and almost certainly a truly terrible war later.

President Kennedy's words during the Cuban missile crisis still apply: "We no longer live in a world where only the actual firing of weapons represents a sufficient challenge to a nation's security... The 1930s taught us a clear lesson: aggressive conduct, if allowed to go unchecked and unchallenged, ultimately leads to war. ... Our policy has been one of patience and restraint, but now further action is required. ... The greatest danger of all would be to do nothing."

Sadly, Saddam's cruelties toward Iraqis are barely noticed by religious leaders. Iraqi exile Rania Kashi wrote, "Saddam has murdered more than a million Iraqis over the past 30 years. Are you willing to allow him to kill another million Iraqis? Out of a population of 20 million, 4 million Iraqis have been forced to flee their country during Saddam's reign. Are you willing to ignore the real and present danger that caused so many people to leave their homes and families?" So far, our denomination is answering, "Yes."

Reasoning about war, wrote Catholic theologian George Weigel, is not to "set a series of hurdles that statesmen must overcome before the resort to armed force is given moral sanction." The first consideration is "the moral obligation of government to pursue national security and world order." Just cause exists for decisive action against Iraq, exhaustively documented in the public record. Just intention has been stated by the administration: halting Iraq's weapons programs, creating conditions for Iraqi democracy, freeing the Iraqi people from Saddam's murderous regime.

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There have been many strident, uninformed people claiming that war with Iraq will kill hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. One man told me recently, and incorrectly, that we will "flatten Baghdad." War is violent, let no one doubt. But at no time in history has the just-war tenet of discrimination and proportionality been more achievable than it is today by American forces. If war comes, our forces will strive to end the issue quickly, with minimum death and destruction, abiding by international conventions and the U.S. Law of Land Warfare.

Liberation theologian James Cone wrote that in opposing oppression, the choice for Christians is not between violence and nonviolence because violence is already present. Christians must decide whether violence to overcome the oppression is a greater evil than the violence of the oppression itself.

"Of course it would be ideal if an invasion could be undertaken ... by the Nelson Mandela International Peace Force," wrote Ms. Kashi. "That such a force does not exist - cannot exist - in today's world is a failing of the very people who do not want America to invade Iraq, yet are willing to let thousands of Iraqis die in order to gain the higher moral ground."

Shall we fret over our personal piety while Saddam murders his own people?

I believe that America may justifiably use force to resolve the crisis. Let everyone decide this question prayerfully, trusting as theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer did that grace will ultimately abound. And let us agree to be united in desiring God's will to inform the decisions and actions of every national leader. Let us pray for God's wisdom to prevail and God's justice to be obtained. Let us give thanks that God is one who, in times and places he chooses, can indeed break the bow and shatter the spear asunder (Ps 46).

*Sensing is pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church in Franklin, Tenn. He also is a retired Army artillery officer.

- The Rev. Donald Sensing; United Methodist News Service (UMNS); Nashville, Tenn. 10-21-71BPI{093};

††††††††††† Feb. 20, 2003.

 

* PRAY FOR THE PRESIDENT'S TROOPS AS THEY MAY BE HEADING INTO BATTLE...

At the request of the President that we pray for his troops, The Presidential Prayer Team has set up a way for people to register their military friends and loved ones (no confidential information is taken) so that the 1.4 million members of The Presidential Prayer Team can "adopt" each military person and pray for them specifically every day. This service to the military folks you know will be of great value to them and will comfort their families. It is without cost and those praying are given a printable certificate (downloadable to print without cost on the web) that allows them to be reminded daily to pray for the person they've "adopted." Anyone registering or adopting can also receive a beautiful decal (free) indicating their prayer support for our military.

To see how this works, please go to http://www.presidentialprayerteam.org/troopsadopt.htm and select "adopt" or "register." Thousands have already signed up to adopt military members for prayer in the past week. If you have not done so, we encourage you to adopt a military person yourself.

It is imperative that each member of the military be prayed for, wherever they are stationed.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† - E-mail received from The Presidential Prayer Team

 

(UM) Bishops.

* Anti-War Ad Claims Attack on Iraq Would 'Violate God's Law'. Networks Refuse to Run Commercial

By Jim Brown and Fred Jackson††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† January 31, 2003

(AgapePress) - A report says CNN, Fox, and NBC are refusing to run a series of anti-war ads sponsored by the National Council of Churches (NCC). A liberal United Methodist bishop is featured in the new anti-war ad airing this weekend. In the 30-second spot, Bishop Melvin Talbert claims the United States has no right to remove Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Talbert appears in the commercial with Hollywood liberal Jeneane Garafalo, and claims U.S. military action against Iraq "violates God's law and the teachings of Jesus Christ."

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Conservatives have denounced such charges. They say rather than the Bible, the real source of the NCC's philosophy is worldly humanist thinking that refuses to recognize that there is good and evil in the world. The NCC has a long history of representing the liberal left of the religious community. So the fact that their ads denounce the Bush Administration's threat of war against Iraq is not all that surprising. The Council had hoped to run their ads on major cable and broadcast outlets like CNN and NBC. But according to The Washington Post <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A3764-2003Jan30.html>, the networks turned them down because of their controversial content. The ads will run, however, in some local TV markets across the country.

NCC Spokesman Pat Patillo hopes the ad causes Christians to ponder what he calls the "unintended consequences" of war. "We hope that it will make thoughtful Christians and others in society think twice about the rush to war, in the true prophetic tradition of the Old Testament prophets who called their governments to be accountable and to look for other alternatives to violence," Patillo says. "There are many unintended consequences to war -- and we think war should be the very last resort after we have tried everything else." According to Patillo, the ad is based in biblical teachings. "It is a way of our calling the nation to prayer and to concern for what we may be unleashing here, [such as] the deaths of innocent civilians in Iraq who have done nothing except suffer under a tyrant. They've done nothing to our country," he says. Patillo includes among those unintended consequences the possible launching of a new wave of terrorism against the United States. "We think there may be a better way," he says. "In fact, we know there must be a better way than this." Patillo says the commercial is not related to a similar anti-war ad featuring actress Susan Sarandon and former U.S. ambassador to Iraq Ed Peck.

Bishop Talbert recently visited with Iraqi government officials in Baghdad and called on the U.S. to negotiate with Saddam Hussein.††††††††††

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† - E-mail received.

* United Methodists among those requesting meeting with Bush

A group of 46 religious leaders, including 24 United Methodists, has asked President Bush for a face-to-face meeting on Iraq. In a Jan. 30 letter to the White House, the leaders of 11 denominations and four religious organizations told President Bush they want to "bring to you the insights and perspective of one of the largest segments of the Christian community of our country" regarding any military action against Iraq. "Because you are weighing the prospect of war on Iraq and all the terrible consequences that war involves, you will have faced firsthand the truth that war is not only - or even primarily - a military matter," the letter said. "We draw on the tenets of our Christian faith in all these encounters, seeking a way toward peace that is both prophetic and practical," the letter stated. "It is with the utmost urgency that we seek a meeting with you to convey face to face the message of the religious community that we represent on the moral choices that confront this nation and your administration," the leaders wrote to Bush.

†††† The signers included 20 United Methodist bishops, some current and some retired: Bishops Kenneth Carder of Jackson, Miss.; R. Sheldon Duecker; William Boyd Grove; Kenneth Hicks; William Hutchinson, Baton Rouge, La.; S. Clifton Ives, Charleston, W. Va.; Rueben P. Job; Charles Wesley Jordan; Leontine T.C. Kelly; and James Lloyd Knox; Felton Edwin May, Washington; Marshall L. Meadors; Fredrick Mutti, Topeka, Kan.; Don Ott, Pewaukee, Wis.; Sharon Zimmerman Rader, Sun Prairie, Wis.; Roy Sano; Jack Tuell; Timothy W. Whitaker, Lakeland, Fla.; Richard P. Wilke; and Joseph H. Yeakel. Other United Methodist signers were Rev. Robert Edgar, chief executive, National Council of Churches; Rev. Bruce Robbins, chief executive, United Methodist Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns; James Winkler, chief executive, United Methodist Board of Church and Society; and Ray Buchanan, director and founder of Stop Hunger Now. The remaining signers included the Rt. Rev. John Chane, Episcopal bishop of Washington; His Grace Bishop Dimitrios (Couchell) of Xanthos, Greek Orthodox Diocese of America; the Rev. Mark Hanson, presiding bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; and Elenie K. Huszagh, NCC president.

[Note. Two points need to be made: 1) These church leaders are giving the appearance of speaking for the laity, and 2) they do not have adequate experience and education in international relations to give a responsible recommendation.]††††

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††††††††††††††††††† - UMNS; Linda Bloom; New York; 10-21-71B{044}; Jan. 31, 2003.

 

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* Complaints dismissed against Bishop Joseph Sprague

United Methodist Bishop Bruce B. Ough, president of the church's North Central Jurisdiction College of Bishops, has announced that complaints filed against Bishop C. Joseph Sprague of Chicago have been dismissed. A four-person supervisory response team met in January and February to review the complaints and respond to them.

A group of 28 United Methodist clergy and laypeople filed the complaint against Sprague on Dec. 30, calling for his removal based on comments that he made about Christ's divinity at a speech at Iliff Theological Seminary and in his book Affirmations of a Dissenter. A pastor in the Mississippi Conference had filed a similar complaint in September.

The supervisory response process is required by church law to be confidential. However, the supervisory team said Feb. 17 that it decided to make the response public to the church because of three factors. "First and foremost was the decision by the group of complainants to publicly disclose their complaint," the response states. "Second, the theological and doctrinal issues raised in the complaint are already a matter of considerable public debate within the United Methodist Church. "Third, the supervisory response team desires to speak to the whole church, as well as the parties to the complaint. The parties to the complaint (Bishop Sprague, the Mississippi Conference elder and the spokesman for the group of complainants) have agreed to this public disclosure of the supervisory response." In its recommendations, the supervisory response team asked Sprague to release a public statement clarifying and reaffirming his adherence to the doctrinal standards of the United Methodist Church. The team also recommended Sprague and the complainants participate in a third-party public dialogue; that the Council of Bishops enter into serious theological reflection on issues of Christology, biblical authority and the mission of the church; and that the complainants offer a public apology for disregarding the spirit of confidentiality intended in the supervisory process.[Note: There was no "confidentiality violated.]

In response to the decision, the Rev. Thomas Lambrecht, spokesman for the complainants, said, "The signers of the complaint against Bishop C. Joseph Sprague are deeply disappointed in the decision by the supervisory team to dismiss the complaint. Upon first reading, it appears the rationale of the complaint did not objectively consider our perspective, but was heavily weighted against our point of view. We affirm the supervisory team's recommendations for theological dialogue and declare our willingness to participate. We believe, however, that we as a church need to go beyond dialogue to develop an understanding of what binds us together theologically in the United Methodist Church - what our theological identity is. This decision appears to give official sanction to the personal interpretation of our doctrinal standards in a way that diminishes their unifying and binding force. Sadly, this approach to theology within the United Methodist Church will only deepen our divisions and weaken the mission and ministry of our church. We call for the church, in a spirit of civility, mutual respect and fidelity to the Lord whom we serve, to reclaim 'the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.' (Jude 3) This is the faith for which the apostles and martyrs gave their lives - the faith for which many Christians suffer and die around the world today. This faith alone can provide the impetus for the loving, grace-filled ministry that will lead our church to become spiritually vital and growing once again."

When filing the complaint, Lambrecht had said, "In his address and book, Bishop Sprague appears to deny the apostolic, orthodox and ecumenical Trinitarian understanding of Jesus as God in favor of a form of Unitarianism or 'adoptionism' that denies the virgin birth and full deity of Christ. He denies the physical resurrection of Christ's body. He maintains that Jesus Christ is not the only way to salvation and appears to deny the substitutionary atonement of Christ through his sacrificial death on the cross."

[Note: This is extremely serious. Although we did not believe that the charges against Sprague would be upheld since he is a bishop and there is no effective method of bringing a bishop to accountability, he did in fact deny some of the essentials of the Christian faith - and was upheld in his actions.] ††

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††† - UMNS; Kathy Gilbert; Nashville, Tenn.; 10-21-71BP{086}; Feb. 18, 2003.

 

(UM) General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM).

* United Methodists to cut 18 missionaries in 2003

NEW YORK (UMNS) - Eighteen full-time missionaries whose contracts expire in 2003 will not be renewed because of financial shortfalls at the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries. The affected missionaries,

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along with board directors, were notified Jan. 24 about the reduction, which had been expected since the agency's annual meeting in October. Edith Gleaves, the executive in charge of the board's mission personnel unit, told United Methodist News Service the cuts are not as severe as originally projected. Of the 144 standard support missionaries whose contracts expire this year, 93 will be reappointed. The remaining 51 missionaries include the 18 whose contracts will not be renewed, as well as 15 who are retiring and 18 who have asked not to be reassigned. Fourteen of those leaving are clergy. In addition, all 2003 contracts will expire July 1, which means shortened terms for 19 of the 51 missionaries leaving service. Those 19 had contracts that would have expired between July 1 and Dec. 31. That number includes eight of the retirees, three of the people leaving voluntarily and eight of the missionaries not being renewed.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† - UMNS; Linda Bloom; New York; 10-71B{035}; Jan. 28, 2003.

 

* Church mission executives issue call for peace

NEW YORK (UMNS) - Staff leaders of the United Methodist Church's mission agency issued an international call Jan. 31 for peace and justice in Iraq. The Rev. R. Randy Day, chief executive of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, noted the need for prayer and advocacy on that issue. "We are praying that God will provide an alternative to a United States-led attack on Iraq, and we are also praying that the leaders of Iraq will give strong assurances of their commitment to peace and freedom for their people," he said in a response to President Bush's State of the Union address.[Note: Another "call for peace by a denominational head.] ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† - UMNS; Linda Bloom; New York; 10-21-71B{045}; Jan. 31, 2003.

 

Homosexuality.

Appeals committee upholds decision in lesbian pastor case

A United Methodist appeals committee has upheld the dismissal of a charge against a pastor who had disclosed that she was living in a same-gender relationship. The United Methodist Church's Western Jurisdiction Committee on Appeals, meeting Jan. 29-30 in Seattle, voted 4-3 to affirm the dismissal of the charge against the Rev. Karen Dammann. The ruling upholds a July 24 decision by the Pacific Northwest Annual (regional) Conference Committee on Investigation. A member of the Pacific Northwest Conference, Dammann had informed her bishop in 2001 that she was living in a "partnered, covenanted, homosexual relationship." Bishop Elias Galvan, who leads the Seattle-based conference, later filed a complaint against Dammann at the direction of the Judicial Council, the denomination's top court. He cited "practices declared by the United Methodist Church to be incompatible with Christian teachings." While affirming gays as people of sacred worth, the denomination's Book of Discipline forbids the ordination and appointment of self-avowed practicing homosexuals in the United Methodist Church. In handling Galvan's complaint, the committee on investigation determined that reasonable grounds did not exist for moving the matter to a clergy trial.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† - UMNS; Tim Tanton; Nashville, Tenn.; 10-28-71B{043}; Jan. 31, 2003.

 

Stewardship.United Methodist giving declines in 2002

The United Methodist Church's U.S. members gave more than $154 million to the churchwide work of their denomination in 2002. Most of the apportioned funds and special offerings declined a bit from last year. The seven apportioned funds, which support the basic budget of the general church, dropped more than $1.5 million in 2002. Receipts for the seven funds totaled almost $113.1 million, a 1.4 percent decrease from 2001 levels, according to the church's General Council on Finance and Administration in Evanston, Ill. Gifts to these funds were 88.5 percent of the amount asked for 2002, whereas 90.1 percent of the apportionment was contributed the preceding year. Twenty-four, more than one-third, of the church's 65 U.S. annual conferences gave more to the apportioned funds than they had the previous year, and nine contributed 100 percent of their apportionment. Lower giving by eight conferences significantly impacted the 2002 receipts, according to the finance agency. World Service, the largest apportioned fund and the one that supports basic churchwide mission and ministry through the church's agencies, received $61.7 million. This figure is a decrease of $771,000, or 1.2 percent, from the previous year and is 89.2 percent of the annual apportionment. Other administrative funds declined, with the Episcopal Fund down 2.6 percent and the Interdenominational Cooperation Fund

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down 4.4 percent. Giving to the denomination's six special Sunday offerings totaled nearly $6.3 million, a decrease of 6 percent overall. - UMNS; Joretta Purdue; Washington; 10-21-71B{046}; Feb. 3, 2003.

*†††††††††† *†††††††††† *†††††††††† *†††††††††† *

Forgiveness is the same bridge we allow others to cross that ensures our own passage to the Father.... Forgiveness is not a choice. It is not optional for Christians. It is a command.†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† - My Personal Prayer Notebook, 1986

 

Global Outlook

 

I have a question for you: Are you spending your life - or are you investing it?

-Dr. Tony Evans, WCLN radio broadcast, July 8, 2002

*†††††††††† *†††††††††† *†††††††††† *†††††††††† *

Iraq.Following are portions of two facsimiles sent to President Bush on the Iraqi situation:

 

Date: October 8, 2002††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Number of Pages: 1

 

To:President George W. Bush, The White House, Washington, DC 20500

 

Dear President Bush:

 

†††† First of all, may I say "thank you" for providing responsible Christian leadership to our great country? On Saturday mornings I breakfast with a group of members of the Full Gospel Businessmans' Fellowship International. We pray for you at every meeting and thank our God for you. On a personal level, you are on my daily prayer list....

 

†††† My last significant action in the Army was being deeply involved in Operation Desert Shield/ Storm as a part of the XVIII Airborne Corps. At that time, we saw "close up" what a threat that Saddam Hussein was. I still remember when we were closing on Basra and about to deal a decisive blow to the Iraqi army, we got the word "cease fire in six hours." I was shocked. As an example, I felt as if I had the football and was running for a touchdown when my own coach stood on the five-yard line with his hand up saying "stop, you can't cross." I recognized then and believe so today that it was a mistake for us to have stopped short of completely occupying Iraq.

 

†††† I am aware that some in the National Council of Churches, and our own United Methodist Church (UMC) to include our bishops and personnel from the UM General Board of Church and Society, are actively opposing action against Iraq. Personnel from these agencies and most UM leaders do not have a sufficient understanding nor experience in foreign policy to give credible advice and do not represent the majority of UM laity in political perspective, even though they purport to do so. We receive complaints on a regular basis about the pronouncements of church employees on foreign relations. These people simply are not qualified and their advice [often] does not reflect reality.

 

†††† Once again, I thank you for the Christian leadership you provide our great nation, Mr. President....

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† In the service of our Lord Jesus Christ,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Allen O. Morris, Executive Director, Concerned Methodists

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Date: February 20, 2003†††††††††††††††††††††††† Number of Pages: 1

 

To:President George W. Bush, The White House, Washington, DC 20500

 

Dear President Bush:

 

†††† First of all, may I again say "thank you" for providing responsible Christian leadership for our great country?...

 

†††† Recently Melvin Talbert, a retired bishop from the United Methodist Church and currently [with] the National Council of Churches, publicly opposed the direction in which you are headed as far as going to war against Iraq. He, along with other leaders of the United Methodist Church have requested a meeting with you. I would offer the view that there is

 

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absolutely no reason for you to meet with them. If, however, you should agree to such a meeting I would request that you include me along with Mr. Mark Tooley of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, Dr. Ira Gallaway, former United Methodist pastor, and Dr James Heidinger, executive director of the Good News organization.

 

†††† As I had stated in my previous message to you, "the National Council of Churches, and our own United Methodist Church (UMC) to include our bishops and personnel from the UM General Board of Church and Society... do not have a sufficient understanding nor experience in foreign policy to give credible advice and do not represent the majority of United Methodist laity in political perspective, even though they purport to do so."

 

†† ††I have no confidence in the advice which they give in international relations. Indeed, they have a poor record of past political advocacy.....

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† In the service of our Lord Jesus Christ,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Allen O. Morris, Executive Director, Concerned Methodists

 

The National Council of Churches.

* United Methodist bishop talks peace with Tony Blair

LONDON (UMNS) - The results of war with Iraq would be catastrophic, a group of church leaders, including United Methodist Bishop Melvin Talbert, told British Prime Minister Tony Blair in a face-to-face meeting Feb. 18. Only days after U.N. Chief Weapons Inspector Hans Blix presented his latest report to the U.N. Security Council and more than 6 million peace protestors took to the streets worldwide, a U.S. National Council of Churches delegation visited Blair to express deep concern about a military response against Iraq. [Note the pattern of aggressive lobbying against potential war and the consistency in the anti-war rhetoric. In addition, the cited "6 million peace protestors" was shown to have been an exaggeration.]†††††††††††††††††††††††††† †† - UMNS; Linda Bloom; New York; 10-21-71BPI{087}; Feb. 19, 2003.

 

* Church delegations speaking with European leaders about Iraq

The Feb. 18 meeting at 10 Downing Street is the third such exchange about Iraq between U.S. religious leaders and European politicians. Two weeks earlier, members of a U.S. delegation joined their European and Middle Eastern counterparts in Berlin at a meeting with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. The meeting, sponsored by the World Council of Churches, included three United Methodist leaders: Bishop Walter Klaiber of Germany, James Winkler, chief executive of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, and the Rev. Robert Edgar, chief executive of the U.S. National Council of Churches.

On Feb. 10-11, a five-member NCC delegation met with French church members to discuss peaceful solutions to the Iraq crisis. The French Protestant Association hosted the Paris meeting.

The meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who has supported President Bush's position regarding Iraq, was sought to make him aware that many U.S. church leaders oppose a U.S.-led war against Iraq. President Bush himself has yet to agree to a request from church leaders for a meeting.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††††††††† - UMNS; Linda Bloom; New York; 10-71BI{089}; Feb. 19, 2003.

 

* NCC delegation heads to Rome

NEW YORK (UMNS) - A National Council of Churches delegation going to Rome will tell Pope John Paul II that it supports a request that he visit the United Nations to address the U.N. Security Council about the situation in Iraq.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† - UMNS; Linda Bloom; New York; 10-21-71BI{103}; Feb. 25, 2003.

*†††††††††† *†††††††††† *†††††††††† *†††††††††† *

Sloth, like rust, consumes faster than labor wears.- Benjamin Franklin

 

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