Oct. 20, 2004
The Rev. R. Randy Day
By Linda Bloom*
STAMFORD, Conn. (UMNS) - United Methodists spend too much time, energy and money maintaining their institutions.
the denomination should be investing more heavily in people and their
communities, according to the Rev. R. Randy Day, chief executive of the
United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.
pledged to move the denomination’s mission agency away from
"institutional maintenance only" and talked about the need to "pursue
love" when he addressed board directors Oct. 18 during their annual
has led me to the firm conviction that our entire United Methodist
Church needs to look beyond itself, to get a better focus on the urgent
spiritual and physical needs of the world’s people," Day said. That
understanding came after spending months conversing with church members
and leaders, he said.
board’s mission goals for the next four years are to make disciples of
Jesus Christ, develop and strengthen congregations, alleviate human
suffering, and promote justice, freedom and peace. The energy to
accomplish such goals, he added, comes from Christian love.
would like the Board of Global Ministries to increase its efforts in
working with children and young people, people in crisis or emerging
from crisis, and those who are cast out or marginalized.
evangelism and early Christian education are priorities for new mission
congregations in parts of the world such as Senegal, Cambodia,
Lithuania and Honduras, Day noted.
such education does not always occur today. "I fear that in the United
States we have raised several generations of United Methodist young
people - and perhaps even seminary graduates - who know little or
nothing about the history of missions and the importance of this work,"
applauded the current mission study on U.S. public education and the
new program to educate AIDS orphans in Zimbabwe, thanks to the
generosity of an anonymous gift from a United Methodist family.
Promoting better health and nutrition for children who still die of
preventable diseases also is a priority for Day.
in crisis require direct services, too. An example of United Methodists
responding to crisis, Day pointed out, occurred after the recent
hurricanes in the Caribbean and Southeastern United States. He quoted
Bishop Larry Goodpaster of Montgomery, Ala., a new board director, who
spoke of the satisfaction of seeing "thousands of United Methodists"
working side by side with others in hurricane cleanups.
addition to work like disaster response and rehabilitation, Day asked,
"What more should we be doing to promote more effective diplomacy,
better global agriculture policies, fairer judicial systems and economic
systems that are more just?"
He reminded the directors of the outreach by Jesus to "nobodies and outcasts" and urged more mission work "on the edges."
"nearly invisible to mainstream society" include marginalized Native
American tribes in the United States with low life expectancy and high
unemployment, and people suffering from HIV/AIDS in any part of the
recalled meeting Laverne, a mother with full-blown AIDS struggling to
care for her three HIV-positive children, during a visit to Soweto,
South Africa, in August.
stood in the hot summer sun, wondering how the church, as the
collective body of Christ, the reservoir of love, could become the
spiritual and physical safety net for the Lavernes of South Africa or
the South Bronx," Day said. "I think we must keep struggling to find the
Christlike way in this enormous area of ministry."
*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or firstname.lastname@example.org.