Iraq, North Korea draws attention of mission agency
4/11/2003 News media contact: Linda Bloom · (646) 369-3759 · New York
NOTE: This report is accompanied by two sidebars, UMNS stories #218 and #219.
By Linda Bloom*BIRMINGHAM,
Ala. (UMNS) - Current events in Iraq and North Korea commanded
attention when the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries met April
Board directors also forwarded a raft of social
resolutions to be considered by the denomination's top legislative body
next year and decided to have a first-ever telethon to raise money for
As the war in Iraq continued, directors adopted
a resolution affirming the belief that war is incompatible with the
teachings of Christ but acknowledging "the divisions within the
household of faith in time of war."
Looking toward the war's
end, the resolution supported the distribution of humanitarian aid
primarily through non-military channels and called upon the occupying
powers to work with the United Nations. The governments involved are
asked to respect international agreements, such as the Geneva
Convention; devote sufficient resources to cleaning up land mines, toxic
wastes and other dangerous legacies of war; and let the Iraqi people
determine their own system of government.
Churches are encouraged
to continue engaging in interfaith dialogue, "create sanctuaries where
all are welcome, even in our differences," and support humanitarian aid
through the United Methodist Committee on Relief's "Iraq Emergency"
Advance No. 623225-4.
In a resolution on North Korea, directors
affirmed the longtime relationship between the Board of Global
Ministries and the Korean Christian Federation of the Democratic
People's Republic of Korea, as well as the denomination's continuing
work toward a peaceful reunification of the Korean peninsula.
urged the United States and North Korea "to reopen a dialogue to
resolve all issues related to nuclear proliferation and work toward a
non-aggression pact." The U.S. government also was urged to lift
economic sanctions against North Korea and provide humanitarian
United Methodist congregations are invited to
join in the humanitarian aid efforts as well and to work closer with
Korean United Methodist congregations in that effort. Funds can be
directed to UMCOR Advance No. 226435-0, "North Korea Emergency."
telethon, to be filmed as a live show but broadcast later, would be
used to raise funds for mission initiatives begun by the New York-based
Board of Global Ministries since 1989. Those new mission projects are in
Cambodia, Cameroon, Honduras, Laos, Latvia, Lithuania, Mongolia, Nepal,
Russia, Senegal and Vietnam.
Directors approved a transfer of
funds from money currently in reserve for the recently postponed Global
Gathering to cover the cost of the telethon, budgeted at $239,840. The
Global Gathering was to have been held in Birmingham, in conjunction
with the board meeting.
The Rev. ST Kimbrough Jr., staff
executive for mission evangelism and telethon director, told directors
that more than 320 faith communities had emerged from the new mission
initiatives since 1989. But the cost of maintaining those programs in
2003 is estimated at $1.78 million, and current funds are about $1
million short, he said.
A fund-raising goal of $2 million has
been set for the telethon. Broadcasting possibilities include the
Inspiration Network, which recently acquired access to Direct TV. The
program also may be distributed on CD-ROM.
Board members devoted
part of their meeting to an exploration of Birmingham's place in the
history of the civil rights movement. It was in that city that Eugene
"Bull" Conner led violent attacks on civil rights protesters and where
four young girls were killed when the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church
was bombed in September, 1963.
Doug Jones, an active layman from
the United Methodist Church's North Alabama Annual (regional)
Conference, spoke to directors about how he built cases against two of
the three men eventually convicted in the church bombing. As a U.S.
attorney, Jones led the prosecution against Thomas Blanton and Bobby
Frank Cherry, found guilty in 2001 and 2002 respectively. Both cases
currently are under appeal.
Directors also heard a reflection on
the legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights
movement from a theological context by the Rev. Josiah Young III,
professor of systematic theology at Wesley Theological Seminary.
re-creation of the cell where King wrote his famous "Letter From a
Birmingham Jail" can be found at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute,
across the street from both the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church and
Kelly Ingram Park, once a starting point for many civil rights marches.
Board directors toured the institute, which also includes information on
the role that the Rev. James Lawson, a United Methodist pastor, played
in the movement. Lawson, a former missionary and Board of Global
Ministries director, is retired and living in Los Angeles.
other business, the board considered resolutions to be submitted to the
2004 General Conference, the denomination's top legislative body, which
meets April 28-May 7 in Pittsburgh.
Twelve new resolutions were
approved. A "Mission Plan for Restorative Justice Ministries" outlines
actions related to the criminal justice system that United Methodists
should take at various levels of the denomination. A resolution on peace
and justice in Okinawa focuses on relations with the U.S. military
there. The board also updated a resolution regarding U.S. policy toward
asylum seekers from Haiti.
The board continues to call for an end
to the U.S. embargo on Cuba. A resolution focusing on "Africa
Reconstruction and Development" encourages United Methodists to increase
their support of church programs for the continent as well as deal with
specific issues such as HIV/AIDS and land-mine removal. Another
resolution gives guidance to local churches facing the situation of a
child sex offender returning to or joining the congregation.
resolution on "Drugs and AIDS" reaffirms the church's commitment to a
holistic approach to problems involving alcohol, drugs and HIV/AIDS.
Another resolution recognizes the need to care for a variety of
population groups suffering with HIV/AIDS in the United States.
Congregations and other church-related groups are encouraged to adopt
policies dealing with issues of "Violence Against Women and Children."
new resolutions recognize the problem of binge drinking on college
campuses; discuss the implications of "charitable choice" and deal with
issues related to immigrants and refugees.
approved re-submitting eight resolutions currently in the Book of
Resolutions with no changes and approved another 11 current resolutions
with slight revisions.
Legislative proposals for changes in the
Book of Discipline also were considered and approved. A proposal to
study the possibility of offering a minimum survival allowance for
people appointed in charge of congregations in the denomination's
central conferences outside the United States is being recommended to
# # #
*Bloom is United Methodist News Service's New York news director.
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