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United Methodists to observe U.N. Sunday

Oct. 11, 2006

By Linda Bloom*

NEW YORK (UMNS) — United Methodists are being asked to observe United Nations Sunday on Oct. 22, with particular attention to the global HIV/AIDS pandemic.

The observance also includes an essay contest and visual arts contest and children's participation in "Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF."

The Rev. Liberato Bautista, a staff executive for the United Nations and International Affairs for the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, says issues of peace, security and development are intertwined with how the HIV/AIDS crisis is handled.

"The historic mandates of the U.N. deal with peace, security, prosperity and human rights," he says. "Increasingly, these mandates have been demonstrated to be interdependent. Today, it is widely understood there cannot be security without peace and that there is no peace without security and no security without sustainable development."

Focus on HIV/AIDS

"Combating HIV and AIDS, malaria and other diseases illustrates the importance of this interdependence," Bautista adds.

Some 38.6 million people around the world live with HIV. More than half the new HIV infections occur in young people under 25, mostly girls and women. AIDS has killed one or both parents of 15 million children.

The United Nations and its agencies already provide the "multilateral platform" needed to respond to the pandemic, Bautista says. The most recent U.N. summit this June dealing with HIV and AIDS revisited every effort — local and global — in combating HIV and AIDS.

When the United Nations was founded in 1945, member nations were starting to recover from a genocidal holocaust and a world war. Created to promote social progress and better standards of life for all, as well as to "save succeeding generations from the scourge of war," the organization continues to pursue those goals.

New challenges for UN

In today's world, both global terror and globalized market economies challenge the United Nations' commitment to better the livelihoods, health, rights, and security of humanity and the cosmos in which it thrives, according to Bautista.

The commitment of the United Methodist Church to the United Nations is physically evident by the nearby Church Center for the United Nations, which was built in 1963 and is owned by the Women's Division, United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.

Over the years, the Board of Global Ministries and the Board of Church and Society have raised biblical, theological land ethnical considerations related to critical issues brought before the United Nations. Both agencies have consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations as international nongovernmental organizations.

Essay and arts contest

Resources produced for United Nations Sunday are a combination of biblical, theological, ethical and prayerful materials that urge church members to combine the power of prayer with concrete action.

The Annual U.N. Essay and Visual Arts Contest is built around "final questions" offered in each of four Bible study sessions. Contestants are required to do the study with a group. The essay contest is for adults and the visual arts contest for youth and children. The deadline is Dec. 16.

Over the years, United Methodists have been the largest group of faith-based donors to Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF, which is the U.N. Children's Fund. Last Halloween, $5.2 million was raised through the project, including nearly $200,000 from United Methodists. The fund benefits the health and nutritional needs of the world's children.

Biblical, theological, ethical and prayerful study materials will urge church members to combine the power of prayer with concrete action. Downloadable resources for United Nations Sunday and Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF are available at on the Church and Society Web site. More information also is available by calling Bautista at (212) 682-3633 or sending an e-mail to

*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in New York.

News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or


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