|A UMNS photo by Tim Tanton
Peter Weaver (left) and Roy Sano confer during a break in the council
meeting. Weaver is council president; Sano is executive secretary.
May 9, 2005
(UMNS)—The United Methodist Council of Bishops has adopted new
resolutions on several issues, including capital punishment, Hunger
Awareness Day and the sexual enslavement of Asian women by the Japanese
military during World War II.
bishops met May 1-6 in Arlington, Va., for their spring gathering. The
bishops are the top clergy leaders of the 10 million-member church,
which has congregations throughout the United States, Africa, Europe and
the Philippines. The church has 68 active bishops and more than 90 who
are retired worldwide.
In their resolutions, the bishops:
Hunger Awareness Day. The council recognized the day, set for June 7 in
the United States, as a time to unite with the poor and the people who
minister to them. United Methodists are encouraged to pray for the poor
and hungry, enter into ministry with them locally and globally, and
lobby government officials in their behalf. The bishops noted that 840
million people worldwide struggle with chronic hunger—including 36
million in the United States—and that “the only factor hindering the
creation of a hunger-free world is the political and more-conscious will
to make it so.”
for an immediate moratorium on capital punishment. They noted the
United Methodist Church’s official opposition to the death penalty, and
said they joined with the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, the
National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States, and other
Protestant, Orthodox, Jewish and Muslim religious organizations in
calling for the moratorium. They resolved also to continue to engage
with elected officials and other government leaders in working to end
capital punishment. The bishops emphasized that the resolution applies
to all United Methodists around the world.
in support of “comfort women.” During World War II, the Japanese
military forced 200,000 women from Asian nations into sexual slavery.
The bishops noted that the Women’s Division of the United Methodist
Board of Global Ministries had recommended actions for implementing the
Resolution on Comfort Women, passed by the denomination’s top lawmaking
assembly. The bishops affirmed the Women’s Division’s leadership and
said they urge the Japanese government “to bring justice to the
survivors of sexual slavery who continue to suffer from their abuse.”
The council also recommended United Methodists study and take actions to
support the survivors.
the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Japan. The cities of
Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed in August 1945 by U.S. atomic
bombs, effectively ending World War II in the Pacific. The bishops said
they join in prayer for victims and survivors, and urged the governments
of all nations that are developing or possessing nuclear weapons to
stop further development and to vow never again to use such weapons as a
way of solving international conflicts. They called on any government
with nuclear weapons or on the verge of developing them to begin
immediate negotiations with the rest of the world toward a complete ban.
The council urged the study of its document, “In Defense of
Creation—The Nuclear Crisis and a Just Peace.”
bishops also approved a draft of a message for 2005 International
Workers Day and Labor Day. The message was written in such a way that it
could be used internationally at any time, said Bishop Ernest Lyght,
secretary of the council and leader of the West Virginia Area. Different
parts of the world celebrate a labor day at different times; the U.S.
Labor Day falls on Sept. 5 this year.
their message, the bishops applauded recent agreements with Mt. Olive
Pickle Co. and Taco Bell aimed at improving conditions for migrant
laborers who work for suppliers of those companies; the United Methodist
Church had participated in boycotting those companies before the
agreements were reached.
bishops encouraged individuals, congregations and conferences to
celebrate the gifts of farmer laborers and advocate for policies that
provide a living wage and fair working conditions. The council called
for governments to ratify measures that guarantee basic rights for
business reports, the bishops heard from Bishop Hans Vaxby that the new
seminary in Moscow is behind in its financing. The church has $134,000
in loans to be paid, and he needs $30,000 immediately to get the
contractor out of the building by the end of the month, he said. The
council collected an offering of $5,190 for the building.
newly elected bishop of the Eurasia Area, also reported that the
episcopal offices have been moved into the new seminary, and the Moscow
congregation, with an average attendance of 120, is worshipping and
ministering there. “This is something we’ve looked forward to a long
time,” he said.
highlights of the council’s meeting included receiving greetings from
the Liberian ambassador to the United States, and visits by two small
delegations of bishops to the White House and the mayor’s office in
bishops began their weeklong meeting with a memorial service at
Fairlington United Methodist Church in Alexandria, Va., followed by a
community dinner at Beth El Hebrew Congregation, also in Alexandria.
News media contact: Tim Tanton, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.