The Monthly Update

January 2004 Update

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

As we welcome in a new year, we can look back to a truly memorable one that has just ended. I thank the Lord that we have national leadership that is determined to resolve decisively the tragedy that started on September 11th. Let us pray that we as the people of the greatest nation on earth will continue to have the perseverance to see this through to the its completion. We shall continue to include information on Islam, Iraq, and other world issues in our Updates since this is and will continue to be a significant influence in world affairs.

May I take this opportunity to thank you for the support you have offered to this ministry - both in terms of prayer and finances? We are purely a "faith-based" ministry and depend solely on contributions that are provided to us by our supporters. It does look as if we are on track to accomplishing our financial goals for preparations for the 2004 General Conference in Pittsburgh.

We are including a narrative written by Ms. Cam Carlson of St. Paul Church in Fairbanks, Alaska. They are the ones who are fighting for their property against the unfair actions taken by the Alaska Missionary Conference. It is important that you know the reality of what is going on with them. Please do all that is in your power to help them by informing other laypeople; encouraging them; and registering your complaints with your bishop, district superintendent, and pastor. Remember, the money you pay into the apportionment is funding this action trying to close their church and take their property.

Please be in prayer for them – and for us as we continue to assist them and prepare for the General Conference.

In His service,



Allen O. Morris,
Executive Director

January 2004 Update

Bits and Pieces from across the United Methodist Church

A Twentieth-Century Martyr: A few thoughts from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German Evangelical pastor hanged by the Nazis for his Christian stand: "What man has the right to shun danger and shrink from it? The past two years in prison I learned how little one can do with. The inactivity of long imprisonment is an especially strong incentive to do everything possible within one's limited power for the common good."

The Good Stuff.

+ I send greetings to those celebrating Christmas.

During Christmas, we gather with family and friends to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. As God's only Son, Jesus came to Earth and gave His life so that we may live. His actions and His words remind us that service to others is central to our lives and that sacrifice and unconditional love must guide us and inspire us to lead lives of compassion, mercy, and justice.

The true spirit of Christmas reflects a dedication to helping those in need, to giving hope to those in despair, and to spreading peace and understanding throughout the Earth. As we share love and enjoy the traditions of this holiday, we are also grateful for the men and women of our Armed Forces who are working to defend freedom, secure our homeland, and advance peace and safety around the world.

This Christmas, may we give thanks for the blessings God has granted to our Nation and in each of our lives. May the joy of the holidays renew our commitment to working together for a future of peace, opportunity, and hope.

Laura joins me in wishing you a Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year. --George W. Bush, Received by E-mail.

+ The UMC supports more Cub Scout dens than any other denomination. A report on 2003 activities found that there are 218,207 Cub Scouts participating in dens sponsored by the UMC. The second highest faith community sponsoring dens is the Roman Catholic Church, with 196,915 Cub Scouts. The UMC has nearly twice as many Cub Scout affiliations as all the public schools in the United States, with a total of 114,891. There are 130,417 Boy Scouts affiliated with troops chartered by UMCs, the second highest of all faith groups. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints leads the nation, with 191,670 Boy Scouts.

- J. Richard Peck, General Commission on UM Men, as reported in Newscope, November 28, 2003.

+ Samuel Thompson wrote:

I don't believe in Santa Claus, but I'm not going to sue somebody for singing a Ho-Ho-Ho song in December. I don't agree with Darwin, but I didn't go out and hire a lawyer when my high school teacher taught his theory of evolution. Life, liberty or your pursuit of happiness will not be endangered because someone says a 30-second prayer before a football game. So what's the big deal? It's not like somebody is up there reading the entire book of Acts.

They're just talking to a God they believe in and asking him to grant safety to the players on the field and the fans going home from the game. "But it's a Christian prayer," some will argue. Yes, and this is the United States of America, a country founded on Christian principles. And we are in the Bible Belt. According to our very own phone book, Christian churches outnumber all others better than 200-to-1. So what would you expect-somebody chanting Hare Krishna?

If I went to a football game in Jerusalem, I would expect to hear a Jewish prayer.

If I went to a soccer game in Baghdad, I would expect to hear a Muslim prayer.

If I went to a ping pong match in China, I would expect to hear someone pray to Buddha.

And I wouldn't be offended. It wouldn't bother me one bit. When in Rome...

"But what about the atheists?" is another argument. What about them? Nobody is asking them to be baptized. We're not going to pass the collection plate. Just humor us for 30 seconds. If that's asking too much, bring a

Walkman or a pair of ear plugs. Go to the bathroom. Visit the concession stand. Call your lawyer. Unfortunately, one or two will make that call.

One or two will tell thousands what they can and cannot do. I don't think a short prayer at a football game is going to shake the world's foundations.

Christians are just sick and tired of turning the other cheek while our courts strip us of all our rights. Our parents and grandparents taught us to pray before eating, to pray before we go to sleep. Our Bible tells us just to pray without ceasing. Now a handful of people and their lawyers are telling us to cease praying. God, help us. And if that last sentence offends you, well..........just sue me.

The silent majority has been silent too long.. it's time we let that one or two who scream loud enough to be heard, that the vast majority don't care what they want.. it is time the majority rules!

It's time we tell them, you don't have to pray.. you don't have to say the pledge of allegiance, you don't have to believe in God or attend services that honor Him. That is your right, and we will honor your right..but by golly you are no longer going to take our rights away. We are fighting back… and we WILL WIN! After all, the God you have the right to denounce is on our side!

God bless us one and all, especially those who denounce Him...

God bless America, despite all her faults, is still the greatest nation of all. God bless our service men who are fighting to protect our right to pray and worship God...

May 2003 and 2004 be the years the silent majority is heard and we put God back as the foundation of our families and institutions. - Received by E-mail from Capt Ernie Saunders.

Of Especial Interest. This is included because it poses important questions of property rights for the local church. At present this is one of the cases before the denominational public dealing with this issue. The case of St. Paul Church poses chilling implications for churches that support the orthodox Christian doctrine within a liberal conference.

In Whose Name?! by Cam Carlson

It was a gorgeous summer June day in Fairbanks, Alaska when the call came. Dazzling sunshine, brilliant blue sky and not a cloud in the sky. Nature was bursting forth all around with wild flowers adorning the roadsides and trees and bushes leafing out making the snowy winter a distant memory.

Into all this loveliness came the phone call……the call that would drastically impact our lives in the days, months and years ahead. It was Pat Turner, chair of the administrative council at St. Paul Church, calling to report an incident that had just occurred at the bank. When Pat and Tom Hallinan, church treasurer, had gone to the bank to change the signatories and update the church name on our account, they were told that the church account had been closed out and all the money withdrawn.

We headed out to see if our church had been attacked in any other manner. As we approached our little brown country church, the most appalling sight revealed itself. There on our member-built, member-paid for church were 12" X 18" fluorescent orange signs saying, "NO TRESPASSING"! FIVE of them: one at each door and one on the walkway. That anyone would place such a sign on the house of the Lord was shocking. Who would have such disrespect for God’s house?

We tried the doors; all were locked and our keys could not open them. The locks had been changed. The view through the window into the sanctuary revealed missing items: the candlestick holders and offering plates were gone from the altar. Our thoughts turned to the parsonage. A trip there revealed another set of changed locks preventing any access.

We learned from the former treasurer that he had been driven to the bank by Glenn Gibson, a former church member, along with Rev. Rachel Lieder Simeon, superintendent of the Alaska Missionary Conference (AMC) of the UMC, and Lonnie Brooks, a member of the Administrative Unit of the AMC. They had directed the former treasurer to withdraw the money from the St. Paul Church account, close the account, and write a cashier’s check for all of the withdrawn money made out to the Alaska Missionary Conference.

At this point we reported these findings to the legal authorities to the State Troopers’ offices.

My thoughts went back to when we’d first dreamed of starting our church and the chain of events that brought us to this day….

It was December 18, 1983 when "The Proposed Methodist Church" held its first worship service in rented space. AMC Superintendent Thom White Wolf Fassett traveled up from Anchorage to Fairbanks to preach for us. After the service we enjoyed a potluck dinner, then discussed how to become a full-fledged church. We accepted this challenge with enthusiasm. Most of us in the group had at one time been members of the First UMC in Fairbanks, but over the years had wandered off for one reason or another: some went to the Presbyterian church; some to the Lutheran, Assembly of God, or Baptist church - and elsewhere. And some had chosen to just stay home on Sunday mornings. We were excited to come together and begin a second Methodist church that could offer the community a Wesleyan type experience of a spiritual, God-centered worship, void of political overtones…undertones…or agendas!

By January 5, 1984 we had organized an Administrative Council and committee areas, opened a checking account, obtained a post office box and decided to put out a weekly newsletter. Plans were moving ahead to file articles of incorporation with the state; begin Sunday School in March; settle on rental space for the long term; and seek a full time pastor by June 1984. Such a flurry of activity: meetings, potlucks, choosing a name, fund raising for hymnals, woodcutting cutting parties (wood stove), social events.

On a Palm Sunday April 15, 1984, Thom Fassett again came up to Fairbanks to preside at our Constituting Church Conference and present us with a Certificate of Organization. We had 51 adult members and 29 preparatory members, and, were paying all our own expenses. In the brief time since that first worship service until now we had evolved from "The Proposed Methodist Church" to "St. Paul Methodist Church" and now, to "St. Paul United Methodist Church!"

How richly God had blessed our little country church with a congregation full of people with many talents and skills. There were members who had previously: served as lay leaders and lay member to annual conference; chaired or been members on administrative board, council on ministries, PPR, trustees, finance committee, nominations committee, worship, education; and had served as treasurer and secretary. God also blessed us with members with musical ability and teaching experience. Thus we had 6 pianists, choir directors, a choir, and wonderful Sunday school teachers. All were ready and eager serve in these capacities in this new church.

In 1988 we found a lovely 3.4 -acre parcel on Farmers Loop around the north side of Fairbanks on which to build a St. Paul UMC building. That same year we also purchase a 3-bedroom house to use as a parsonage.

In late August 1993, we began constructing our church building! After the scare of an early September snow fall, we were blessed with a wonderful long Indian summer allowing us to complete the shell of the structure and enclose the basement. We remember nailing on the siding when it was 20% below zero. By Christmas 1994 our members had completed enough that we celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ in our almost-finished sanctuary.

We thanked God for his blessing of this new church building. There was room for Sunday School classes. Offerings could be expanded; acreage was available for outdoor activities such as games, volleyball, softball, BBQs.

In 1999, St. Paul UMC got a new superintendent, Rev. Rachel Lieder Simeon. Although contact with superintendents is quite limited (once a year at the All Church Conference for the congregation), it appeared that she did not like our church. The handling of the All Church Conference in January 2001, had not gone well. She seemed to be upset when her choice for administrative council chair was not elected to that position. In a loud and angry voice she told us we were a "conflicted" church. How strange. "Conflicted?" We didn’t know we were "conflicted."

The chain of events from January 2001 to the current leave us with numerous unanswered questions. In February 2001 she told us that Steve Eldred would be our pastor in June. In March 2001 Supt. Simeon called us from some airport as she was leaving the country and told us that he would not be coming, that Rev. Don Strait would be our new pastor. She did not give an explanation, nor did she have time to meet with the PPR committee.

When Rev. Don and Nancy Strait arrived in July 2001, we were told they were an interim appointment, but we were not given any firm date as to departure time. The Straits had some wonderful skills that could have been shared with our congregation and would have made it grow. But there appeared to be some other agenda at work. At Administrative Council meetings and committee meetings, Rev. Strait often insulted members and was argumentative with them. It became clear that some members would be his friends and others would not. He even told some members, "I can not be your pastor." Later, in a very strange Ash Wednesday service, he told us he was going to depart from the traditional Ash Wednesday service and do things differently. He said he needed to ask us for our forgiveness. We had no idea what that was all about.

In November 2001, just prior to Thanksgiving, the PPR committee received an undated, unsigned memo on plain paper from Supt. Simeon. She demanded that we read various paragraphs of the UMC Book of Discipline, and then "The lay leadership and congregation needs to consider seriously whether it is truly willing to be – and become – a United Methodist church."

Well,….that seemed like an unchristian, unloving slap in the face. For 18+ years, since the Proposed Methodist Church had become St. Paul UMC, we had followed the Book of Discipline faithfully. In fact Bishop Cal McConnell had said we were marching forward with the Bible in one hand and the Book of Discipline ion the other. We had faithfully paid our apportionments to the UMC in full every year, even the first year when not required to do so. We had a devout, active, viable congregation with: Sunday worship. Sunday School, bible study, prayer group, UMW, UMM, Whatever Tuesday, Family Day Out, special social events, special worship experiences, terrific receipts for Thank offerings, outreach into the community, cooperation with other UM churches for special events. We were financially solvent. What was the problem?

Supt. Simeon was present during our November 2001 Administrative Council meeting, but either couldn’t or wouldn’t give an explanation for the meaning of the memo. One member specifically asked her, "What are we doing wrong?" Again, she couldn’t or wouldn’t tell us.

Then as we were entering the joyous Advent season leading to the celebration of Christ’s birth, St. Paul UMC received a memo from Supt. Simeon with a formal request that all our officers step down and be replaced with all new officers. And, we were told, the new officers must stay in place a minimum of three years. Once again, we were accused of being a "conflicted" church. And, once again, no explanation or examples of how we were "conflicted" were given.

At this point, since conversations with Supt. Simeon had produced no information or explanations, I tried to reach Bishop Paup. After a week of repeated attempts, I had a brief conversation with the bishop. He informed me that the AMC cabinet had spent a lot of time on St. Paul UMC and he didn’t really have any more time to spend on it. I asked when St. Paul UMC would see the fruits of all the time spent on St. Paul UMC. To this date our congregation had heard nothing from the cabinet except for this current "request" about our officers.

At the January 22, 2002 All Church Conference, upon seeing the slate of officers, Supt. Simeon stated that she saw we had not complied with the cabinet’s request. She said she would note that. Both Joyce Carlson, co-chair of Lay Leadership Committee (LLC), and Pat Turner were questioned about the slate. Supt. Simeon made no other comments to us about either the "conflicted church" issue or any other problems.

At our February 12, 2002 Administrative Council meeting, Pastor Strait read a letter from Supt. Simeon for the PPR chair to the council stating that the she was "calling a special meeting to discuss and share plans for the immediate needs of St. Paul UMC," on March 12, 2002. It was anticipated that the full cabinet and the bishop would be there. She also indicated that March 3, 2002, would be Pastor Strait’s last Sunday at St. Paul UMC. All attempts to find out what the special meeting was about met with no response from Supt. Simeon.

So, at that March 12th meeting the full cabinet Bishop Paup and Supts. Monte Baker, Dennis Holway and Rachel Lieder Simeon had her announce that the Annual Conference of the Alaska Missionary Conference would be asked to vote on a recommendation for St. Paul UMC to be discontinued. When asked under which paragraph of the Book of Discipline we were being discontinued, she stated paragraph 2548.2(a). According to that paragraph, when asked how we were no longer serving the purpose for which we were organized and incorporated, she merely replied, "I’ve told you that already." All questions as to what we were doing or had done wrong and why we were being recommended for discontinuance were unanswered. Bishop Paup, and Supts. Simeon, Holway and Baker refused to give any explanations or reasons. Except for telling us Rev. John Campbell would preach one Sunday, no plans for the immediate needs of St. Paul UMC were addressed.

Between the March 12 meeting and the Annual Conference on May 30th, the members of St. Paul UMC made numerous attempts to find the answers to these questions:

-What have/had we done wrong?

-What can stop this railroad job of discontinuance?

Questions to all levels of United Methodism failed to find anyone at any level the could/would offer any solutions or help. Contacted parties included: Pastor Strait, Supt. Simeon, Rev. Tom Dahl, chair of the AMC Administrative Unite; Lonnie Brooks, rule chair of the AMC Administrative Unit; Bishop Paup of the AMC and the Oregon/Idaho Conference; Bishop Elias G. Galvin, President of the College of Bishops; and, Sally AsKew, secretary of the UMC judicial council.

Unknown to the St. Paul UMC congregation, in April/May of 2002, the AMC superintendents Baker, Holway and Simeon were "visiting" the churches throughout Alaska and telling them about St. Paul UMC. We have no idea what was said about us and we, obviously, had no opportunity to speak for ourselves. It is little wonder then that on May 30, 2002 when the AMC Annual Conference was asked to vote to discontinue St. Paul UMC the vote was 61 to 1 in favor of discontinuance. This was a standing vote before Bishop Paup, who of course makes the pastoral appointments. Although an hour of "testimony" was allowed, no real debate or discussion took place.

Interestingly, before the floor vote, Bishop Paup called private meeting of the few St. Paul UMC members that were there at the conference. At that time he offered to give St. Paul UMC its own St. Paul church building and indicated the AMC would take possession of the St. Paul UMC parsonage. This was a rather specious offer, since he had no authority to make the offer and the St. Paul member to annual conference had no authority to accept such an offer.

Again, let me emphasize:

-No charges were made against St. Paul UMC.

-No charges were made against any St. Paul UMC officer/officers.

-No charge were made against St. Paul UMC member or group of members.

So, back to June 7, 2002. There we were, "St. Paul Church" locked out of our church building, locked out of our parsonage and our bank account stolen. We also discovered all our business accounts had been transferred to the AMC without ever contacting us about it. All the phones were disconnected and the AMC even tried to abscond with our St. Paul Church post office box, which was ours even before we were ever a United Methodist church.

What to do!? Having decided we were not dealing with rational people, we chose to worship at an alternate location for a few weeks in the hope that tempers would settle down. For several weeks we worshipped in Tom and Nancy Hallinan’s greenhouse, but decided it was time to return to the St. Paul Church building. On July 21, 2002, after a locksmith re-keyed the locks, we began worshipping in the church building once again with guest preachers leading worship.

We found the yard overgrown with weeds and un mowed grass. Upon re-entering the church we found that Supt. Simeon had taken (stolen?): all the; the beautiful myrtle-wood communion service, offering plates and candle stick holders; all the phones; the computer, monitor and printer; the copy machine; framed certificates and photos from the wall; membership book; UM Book of Worship; and, other books and records. At our first worship service after re-entry, just as the pianist was to begin playing the prelude, she exclaimed, "The piano is locked!" So much for Christian love!

Soon after the AMC filed a law suit to seize the property. We were required to attend an eviction hearing at which, thankfully, the judge ruled against the AMC and let us remain in our church building until a trial is conducted. It appeared that we would be needing legal advice to deal with this matter so we decided it would be best to meet with a lawyer.

Surely you are still asking, well, come on…..what precipitated all this. We are still asking the same question ands receiving no real answers from Bishop Paup and Supt. Simeon.

The only reason we can find for Bishop Paup, Supt. Simeon and the Alaska Missionary Conference to want to eliminate St. Paul UMC is that we were loyal to the United Methodist Book of Discipline and the Wesleyan teachings. Our church would take petitions to Annual Conference requesting that the AMC and the UMC be faithful to the Book of Discipline, that they not support partial birth abortion, politics, and homosexual "marriage" with UM money. We requested that they honor the BoD in matters such as paragraphs 431-432 on consultation on pastoral appointments. We suggested that bishops have term limits and not be bishops for life; that apportionments not be mandatory; and, that petition materials be sent out in a timely manner.

For the 18-plus years the St. Paul UMC congregation: worshipped and praised the Lord; taught and trained our children in the Christian beliefs; paid our UMC apportionments in full every year; were financially solvent and responsible; worked in mission with others in the community; were faithful to the Book of Discipline of the UMC and the Wesleyan teachings; provided many learning and social opportunities for our members; were a wonderful, warm, friendly group of Christians; and, opened our doors to all who wanted to worship with us.

And, more importantly, in whose name are Bishop Paup, Supt. Simeon and the AMC taking these actions? Surely not our Lord’s!

Written by Cam Carlson, College, Alaska; November. 15, 2003.

Editorial note: After having personally visited and worked with the people of this church in Fairbanks, I was impressed with their spirituality, enthusiasm, and diversity: University professors, a medical doctor, bush teacher, company owner, hourly workers, para-legal, and housewives. I asked the "hard" questions. Their cause is just. We need to do all that we can for them. - Allen O. Morris

+ The Barna Update: ARE YOU A LEADER? Have you ever wondered about your leadership capacity? To help evaluate that capacity we developed the Christian Leader Profile. This online, self-administered evaluation explores your calling to lead, the strengths and weaknesses of your character, your leadership competencies, and which of the four leadership aptitudes you possess. Until the release of our next Update, scheduled for two weeks from now, you can take the Profile for just $15 - that's a 25% discount on the normal cost. To do so, click on the Christian Leader Profile icon on the home page of our website and learn more about how you can lead God's people more effectively. A new study by Barna Research Group shows that young people less than 35 years of age are more likely to attend small churches (fewer than 100 members) than are older adults. Small churches are also more likely to attract those with lower incomes and those without college degrees. The research also said that small churches are less "spiritually alive," which refers to individual church attendance, Bible reading, and prayer during the week. Another study reported that 31% of persons in their 20s attend church on a typical Sunday, while 42% of those in their 30s and 49% of those 40 and older attend. Attendance by those 25-29 is 22%. - Source:

Homosexuality. Cardinal issues warning

Massachusetts court's gay marriage ruling undermines democratic process

PEORIA - The Massachusetts Supreme Court's recent decision to reverse the state's ban on gay marriage could undermine people's faith in the democratic process, according to Cardinal Francis George.

- By MATT BUEDEL of the Journal Star, November 23, 2003.


(UM) Men. President Bush receives top award from United Methodist group

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - President George W. Bush received top honors from United Methodist Men Dec. 17 for his statements of faith and his call for the nation to be in prayer following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. The award, certifying the president as a member of the Society of John Wesley Fellows, was presented by Gilbert Hanke, national president of United Methodist Men, which sponsors the award through its foundation. The presentation ceremony followed a decision made two years ago when United Methodist Men from the South Central Jurisdiction wanted to find a way to express their appreciation to Bush for his actions after the 9-11 tragedy. Bush is the 426th person to receive the award making him a member of the Society of John Wesley Fellows. Its sponsor, the United Methodist Men Foundation, was created in the early 1980s to ensure that scouting ministries (Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Campfire and 4-H) would always be a focus of the denomination. The foundation now supports scouting, evangelistic ministries, a prayer line and other men's ministries.

  The president spoke about the hymn, "Charge to Keep I Have," by Charles Wesley, John Wesley's brother, and showed Hanke a framed piece of calligraphy with the words of the hymn that hangs under a painting of the same name. The hymn was sung at his inaugurations as governor of Texas and president.

  Bush, a member of the Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas, sent his greetings and best wishes to the citizens of Nacogdoches, a city he has visited several times.

- J. Richard Peck; United Methodist News Service; Nashville; {03599}; December 19, 2003. 

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"Faith is putting all your eggs in God's basket, then counting your blessings before they hatch.

Daily Walk, December 13, 1996


Global Outlook

"If someone's sense of security depends on having all men speak well of him, he can never be secure following Jesus." - Daily Walk, October 10, 1996

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Iraq.  The next time you hear a [mainstream] network news story, or read a newspaper, keep these facts in mind and ask, "Why isn't this being reported?" Reporting of the news is biased and not always the truth. – Editor.

Below is the list that NEVER makes the Media Moguls' "news" headlines. They just keep printing the explosions, shootings, deaths and failures.

- Since May 1..The first battalion of the new Iraqi Army has graduated and is on active duty. Since May 1...over 60,000 Iraqis now provide security to their fellow citizens.

- Since May 1...nearly all of Iraq's 400 courts are functioning. Since May 1...the Iraqi judiciary is fully independent.

- Since May 1 . . . on Monday, October 6 power generation hit 4,518 megawatts exceeding the pre- war average.

- Since May 1...all 22 universities and 43 technical institutes and colleges are open, as are nearly all primary and

secondary schools.

- Since May 1... as of October 1, Coalition forces had rehabbed over 1,500 schools - 500 more than their target.

- Since May 1... teachers earn from 12 to 25 times their former salaries.

- Since May 1...all 240 hospitals and more than 1200 clinics are open.

- Since May 1...doctors' salaries are at least eight times what they were under Saddam.

- Since May 1...pharmaceutical distribution has gone from essentially nothing to 700 tons in May to a current total of 12,000 tons.

- Since May 1...a Coalition program has cleared over 4,000 kilometers of Iraq's 27,000 kilometers of weed-choked canals. They now irrigate tens of thousands of farms. This project has created jobs for more than 100,000 Iraqi men and women.

- Since May 1...we have restored over three-quarters of pre-war telephone services and over two-thirds of the potable water production.

- Since May 1... there are 4,900 full-service connections. We expect 50,000 by January first.

- Since May 1...the wheels of commerce are turning. From bicycles to satellite dishes to cars and trucks, businesses are coming to life in all major cities and towns.

- Since May 1...95 percent of all pre-war bank customers have service and first-time customers are opening accounts daily.

- Since May 1... Iraqi banks are making loans to finance businesses.

- Since May 1...the central bank is fully independent.

- Since May 1... Iraq has some of the world's most growth-oriented investment and banking laws.

- Since May 1... Iraq (has) a single, unified currency for the first time in 15 years.

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"Real Men Love Jesus" - Seen on a car driven by a husky 82nd Airborne Division paratrooper


UM missionaries evacuated from war-torn Liberia in June are returning to the West African country. The process is expected to be complete in early December. Bishop John Innis (Liberia Area) said, "The return of the missionaries is a sign of hope for the people of Liberia." Fourteen persons in UM mission service from other countries, mostly from other African countries, were evacuated from Liberia as civil war spread in the early summer. They took up posts in adjoining countries such as Sierra Leone, Ghana, and Guinea, many working with refugees or medical mission programs. They included six regular missionaries and eight Missioners of Hope, a special category of short-term mission personnel that is being phased out. Eleven Missioners of Hope who are Liberian nationals and could not be evacuated remained in the country during the upheaval. All survived. - Newscope, November 28, 2003.