|New mission head makes poverty fight a priority|
The Rev. Edward Paup addresses directors of the United Methodist Board
of Global Ministries during their fall meeting in Stamford, Conn., as
Bishop Bruce Ough listens. UMNS photos by Cassandra Heller.
By Linda Bloom*
Oct. 20, 2008 | STAMFORD, Conn. (UMNS)
The Rev. Edward Paup is convinced poverty can be eliminated.
As the new top executive of the United Methodist Board of Global
Ministries, he expects the mission agency to provide denominational
leadership toward that goal through networking with other organizations
both inside and outside the church.
"We have the responsibility to work toward the kind of world where poverty can be eliminated," he said.
During the board’s Oct. 13-17 annual meeting, Paup told directors that
the three issues of concern "that burn passionately within me" are the
perils of planet earth, peace among all people and eradication of
"I believe what our world is in desperate need of is a missional extreme makeover," he said.
Paup, 62, was passionate enough about wanting to be the church’s top
mission leader—a job he officially started on Sept. 1 after serving as a
Global Ministries director for the past four years—that he gave up his
position as a bishop of The United Methodist Church.
When he was elected to the board post last spring, Paup explained that
he felt called to the job and wanted to "model the possibility" of
moving beyond the episcopal role.
Parents set example
In Oil City, Pa., where Paup grew up, his parents demonstrated
firsthand what it means to serve the church. Both were educators and
active Methodists. "I experienced both of them in some key leadership
roles in the life of our local church," he said.
As an elementary school student, Paup was influenced by missionaries who
often visited his church and told their stories. He decided to become a
"I believe what our world is
in desperate need of is
a missional extreme makeover," Paup says.
But after his father died at the age of 35 from an accidental fall,
those influences changed. When his pastor took on the role of a
surrogate father, "I began to shift my thinking," he said, and followed
that call to ministry "to the point I turned down a professional
baseball contract (with the Philadelphia Phillies) out of high school."
After earning a bachelor’s degree from Lycoming College in Williamsport,
Pa., in 1967, Paup headed west. He graduated from Iliff School of
Theology in Denver with a Master of Divinity degree in 1970, the same
year he became an ordained elder in the denomination’s Rocky Mountain
He served as a pastor in Colorado through 1989, when he became a
district superintendent for the Utah/Western District. From 1993 to
1996, he was the assistant to Bishop Mary Ann Swenson before being
elected a bishop himself, serving as the episcopal leader in Portland,
Ore., from 1996 to 2004 and Seattle from 2004 to 2008. He and his wife,
Carol, have three children and five grandchildren,
Paup’s interest in mission also grew through his longtime involvement
with The Advance, the denomination's second-mile giving program to fund
missions and relief work. He served as chairperson of The Advance from
1996 to 2000.
Experience from the West
His allegiance to baseball teams has shifted with his assignments.
The former Rockies and Mariners fan is now following the Yankees—but he
also believes he brings with him "an open mind and spirit to the work of
His life in Denver, Seattle and Portland led him to appreciate the
shifting populations in the West. "The diversity through immigrant
populations has had a remarkable influence on the ethos of the West …
and I believe has had an influence on me as well," he explained.
In fact, Paup views the Pacific Northwest not just as the northwest part
of the United States, but as the northeast part of the Pacific Rim,
giving an added perspective of what it means to be global and the
recognition "that while there are differences among us," the goal is to
work together for the planet and its people.
In Asia, for example, "the statistics suggest that over 2,000 Filipinos a
day leave the Philippines seeking employment in some other part of the
world," he said, wondering what the impact of such migration is on the
Philippines. "How can we look at these issues and address the systemic
reasons people leave their homeland in the first place?"
Like other United Methodist agencies, the Board of Global Ministries
will be guided by the denomination’s four areas of ministry
focus—leadership development, church growth, global health and ministry
with the poor—over the next four years.
Paup plans to rearrange his staff so that a deputy general secretary
serves as a liaison for each area of focus, both within the board’s
units and in relation to other church agencies and commissions.
The four areas of focus represent the denomination’s Wesleyan heritage, a
heritage, he added, that "should be claimed by everyone who calls
himself or herself a United Methodist."
Bishop Bruce Ough, the board’s new president, believes there is "a
renewed heart for mission" across the church. He told directors that the
mission agency has the resources and leadership necessary to help the
denomination carry out its goals.
"We have a significant role in making sure all these areas are
implemented so our love for our neighbors and our love for God is put
into action," Ough said.
*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in New York.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Audio: The Rev. Edward Paup
"…will help set the stage for an improved planet…"
"…working for the eradication of poverty."
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