April 12, 2005
|A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose
Women's Division President Kyung Za Yim (center) visits with children at a tsunami-refugee camp in Bateilik, Indonesia.
By Linda Bloom*
Conn. (UMNS)—United Methodist Women and other church officials are
being called to action regarding the use of torture in war and
about recent allegations of torture in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo
Bay, Cuba, directors of the Women’s Division of the United Methodist
Board of Global Ministries, voted to ask their membership to study,
reflect and act on the issue. The division is the administrative arm of
United Methodist Women.
their April 8-11 spring meeting, the directors also called upon the
denomination—through its agencies and Council of Bishops—“to reflect on
this grave concern and move towards a prophetic stance against the use
of torture.” Division directors agreed to consider writing a resolution
on torture for the 2008 General Conference, the church’s top legislative
United Methodist Social Principles state that “mistreatment or torture
of persons by governments for any purpose violates Christian teaching
and must be condemned and/or opposed by Christians and churches wherever
and whenever it occurs.”
also supported the efforts of the National Council of Churches in its
call for full human rights for prisoners being held by the United States
in Guantanamo Bay.
to implement three resolutions adopted by the 2004 General
Conference—on “Teen Sexual Identity and Suicide Risk,” “In Defense of
International Law and Cooperation: Cornerstone of Multilateralism” and
“Compensation for Comfort Women”—was approved by directors.
Za Yim, president of the Women’s Division, recounted her own experience
of meeting former “comfort women” in Korea in 1991. These women were
among more than 200,000 forced by the Japanese to serve as sexual slaves
for the military during World War II.
joined the women as they staged a weekly demonstration in front of the
Japanese Embassy in Seoul, seeking an official apology from the Japanese
government. “There were many lawsuits against the Japanese government,
but nothing has been resolved,” she added.
encouraged the directors to circulate petitions urging the United
Nations to pressure the Japanese government to make a written public
apology to all “comfort women” and offer some sort of compensation.
was reminded recently of the global nature of the Women’s Division’s
work when she served on a Board of Global Ministries delegation to
tsunami-stricken Indonesia in January.
her trip home, she visited with Methodist women in Singapore and Korea.
“I was deeply moved by the outpouring of love and concern these Asian
sisters had for the Women’s Division,” she told the directors. “More
than a hundred years ago, many of these Asian countries did little for
the education of women. Through the mission efforts of our predecessor
organizations, seeds were planted for the betterment of girls and women
in many places around the world.”
work is still necessary today, according to Yim. “I have witnessed in
Indonesia that when sisters and brothers around the world put efforts
together, we can do anything we want done,” she noted. “Even the
economists say that there are solutions to the global crises of hunger,
poverty and illness. We, as members of United Methodist Women, have an
incredible history and legacy of addressing these global issues by
empowering women and children through education and training.”
other business, directors learned the division has put constraints on
its budget. Treasurer Connie Takamine reported that total operating
revenue for 2004 was $30.6 million, but expenditures were $35.26
million, which included retirement benefits for 350 retired missionaries
are now operating on spending limits for non-fixed items in order to
rebuild reserves,” she said, “and the future income outlook is a
*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.