May 4, 2004
By Linda Bloom*
PITTSBURGH (UMNS) — God is calling the churches “to do together what we cannot do apart.”
A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.
Bishop Melvin Talbert introduces ecumenical guests to the 2004 General Conference.
was the message of Bishop McKinley Young, presiding bishop of the 10th
Episcopal District in Dallas for the African Methodist Episcopal Church,
to delegates at the United Methodist General Conference.
bishop spoke during the May 4 Service of Christian Unity at General
Conference, held before a wide array of ecumenical guests. Featured
music was performed by a mass children’s choir.
–– who has been prominent in the National Council of Churches, World
Council of Churches and World Methodist Council –– reminded the
gathering that the ecumenical movement has a collective commitment to
society. “We, as the church, must not become the hands of government but
must remain the conscience of government,” he said.
concerns over public education, health care and housing, the bishop
argued that churches “must demand” that the comprehensive resources of
the nation are made available.
said the proposed Bush administration budget for 2005 eliminates more
than 60 federal programs addressing needs ranging from elementary and
secondary school counseling to educational programs for prison inmates.
the face of such social service cuts, Young called upon churches to
speak “boldly and daringly and courageously about what needs to be done”
and not allow the government to shift the burdens of societal care to
local congregations “that are already overworked and understaffed.
also called to speak boldly and courageously against a faith-based
war,” said Young. He added that churches cannot allow threats from
society and politicians or intimidation from the Internal Revenue
Service to stop them from speaking boldly.
expressed gratitude for the ministry of Bishop Melvin Talbert,
ecumenical officer of the United Methodist Council of Bishops, and the
Rev. Robert Edgar, a United Methodist pastor who serves as chief
executive of the National Council of Churches. Both were outspoken
advocates of peaceful alternatives to a war in Iraq.
A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.
Bishop McKinley Young of the African Methodist Episcopal Church preaches to General Conference delegates and guests.
said he also was gratified by the denomination’s confession of its sin
of racism and encouraged church members to go beyond talk and “find
credible, doable ways to show we are a new people. We have the capacity.
All that’s required is that we have the will.”
told General Conference delegates to take home “a new sense of
urgency,” with the realization that “we don’t have forever to do the
will of God.”
the worship service, the Rev. Robina Winbush, a representative of the
Presbyterian Church (USA) thanked United Methodists, on behalf of the
ecumenical guests, for being faithful partners “in the sharing of your
gifts, your resources and your talents.
“We share many concerns with you,” she reminded the delegates. “Your struggle is not (just) your own.”
United Methodists were recognized May 4 for their ecumenical
leadership. Bishop Albert “Fritz” Mutti, president of the United
Methodist Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns,
presented a certificate of appreciation to Edgar for his work in
restoring “vitality and visibility” to the National Council of Churches
over the past four years.
accepting the certificate, Edgar thanked the denomination for its help
with the council’s financial turnaround and new focus on poverty, the
environment, and peace and justice issues. “It is the commitment of the
United Methodist Church to the ecumenical movement that gives me hope as
I work day to day,” he said.
behalf of the United Methodist Council of Bishops, Talbert presented an
award for ecumenical witness to the Rev. Bruce Robbins, who served as
chief executive of the Commission on Christian Unity from 1990 to 2003.
Robbins’ many achievements, he said, included the development of the
church’s Acts of Repentance against racism, the fostering of dialogue
both inside and outside the denomination, and the push for the
advancement of youth and young adults in ecumenical work.
*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer.
News media contact: (412) 325-6080 during General Conference, April 27-May 7. After May 10: (615) 742-5470.