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Study guide helps church groups consider faith in wartime

4/15/2003 News media contact: Tim Tanton · (615) 742-5470 · Nashville, Tenn.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - The United Methodist Church is offering a free, online study guide to help congregations and groups "consider God's Word" in this time of war.

Interpreter magazine, and United Methodist News Service have teamed up to offer the four-part study guide, "Can We Talk? Seeking God's Heart in Time of War." Ray Waddle, a seminary-trained journalist and former religion editor of The Tennessean newspaper, wrote the guide, in consultation with M. Garlinda Burton, Interpreter editor and director of UMNS. The magazine, news service and Web site are operated by United Methodist Communications.

"All of the leaders at UMCom have been looking at ways that we can help United Methodists give voice to their feelings about the war," Burton said. She developed the idea of a study guide as a "blueprint" that people could use for discussion, she said.

The guide's stated purpose: "To invite U.S. Christians of good will and differing viewpoints to consider God's Word and our faith in that Word in the face of war."

Its sections cover "Just War, Just Peace," "Love of Enemies, Love of Country: Issues of Patriotism and Faith," "Believing in a Sovereign God in an Insecure World" and "Prayers During Wartime: Finding Common Ground Among Us."

"What I hope is, by making it free and accessible on the Web, that local churches will pull it down and use it to talk about tough issues in a way that honors different points of view and find some common ground," Burton said. "Regardless of what side of the issue you're on with regard to war, all Christians want peace. (The question is:) how do we get to that peace?"

Waddle and Burton offer guidelines for using the resource, as well as questions for discussion. The guide is recommended for use by Sunday school classes, congregations, church leadership teams and small groups, under the direction of a pastor, district superintendent, Sunday school teacher or other Christian educator.

The guide is available at the United Methodist Church's official Web site,, as well as at the UMNS site, The first two sections are already online, and the other two will be posted by April 21.

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