Latino United Methodists learn value of Social Principles
11/13/2003 News media contact: Linda Green · (615) 742-5470 · Nashville, Tenn
A photograph is available.
Methodist Latino leaders attend an Oct. 31-Nov 2 training event on the
Social Principles to learn practical methods of teaching the Social
Principles in their local ministry settings. UMNS photo by Ron
Whitlatch, Photo number 03-471, Accompanies UMNS #552, 11/13/03
No Long Caption Available for this Story
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS)--"We acknowledge our
complete dependence upon God, in birth, in life, in death and in life
eternal. Secure in God's love, we affirm the goodness of life and
confess our many sins against God's will for us as we find it in Jesus
No, the words are not part of some pledge or oath to
join an organization. The words are a part of the preamble to the Social
Principles, "a prayerful and thoughtful effort on the part of the
General Conference to speak to the human issues in the contemporary
Many United Methodists are not aware of their
denomination's beliefs nor of the church's legacy of advocacy, said the
Rev. Clayton Childers, staff member of the United Methodist General
Board of Church and Society (GBCS). Increasing that awareness is the
reason that a group of Hispanic ministry leaders came to Washington,
D.C. for the first ever Social Principles training event for United
Methodist Latino leaders.
"Faithfully Engaging the World" brought
44 Latinos to the United Methodist Building Oct. 31-Nov. 2 to meet with
GBCS staff and for an "opportunity to come together and discuss the
church's Social Principles and learn practical, experiential methods of
teaching the Social Principles in local ministry settings," Childers
The training provided the Rev. Tim Espinoza with the
opportunity to learn about the commitment of the denomination to human
"I was surprised at the extent to which the United
Methodist Church is involved in worldwide to human rights," said
Espinoza, pastor of Fuente de Vida United Methodist Church, Oklahoma
"The church is a constant voice of justice," he said. "I
was surprised at this and happy to learn about the level of commitment
the church has."
As GBCS director of annual conference relations,
Childers said it is unfortunate that many United Methodist leaders are
not well versed in the Social Principles and "many are unaware of our
rich history of prophetic advocacy and action in the public square."
numerous members are aware of what the church teaches about societal
issues, Childers said just as many are hesitant to talk about those
issues in church.
"There are ways the Social Principles can be
discussed respectfully, and without division," he said, knowing that
everyone is not going to agree with every point. Referring to the
document's preface, he said, "The principles," he said, "exist to lead
United Methodists into 'prayerful studied dialogue and faith of
He noted that the Social Principles could draw United
Methodists together, challenge them and lead them to take actions that
faithfully engage the world.
"The Social Principles are
important," said Thelma Flores, a doctoral student at United
Methodist-related Drew University, Madison, N.J. "There needs to be
greater awareness of what we as United Methodist believe," she said.
a member of the Emanu-El United Methodist Church, Dallas, said the
opportunity to meet with the GBCS members and to attend the training
event on the Social Principles was empowering for her as a member of the
Rio Grande Annual (regional) Conference. She said the event enabled her
to "gain whatever knowledge I could and bring it back to the Rio
The benefit of such a training event was in the
meeting of Latino ministry leaders from across the United Methodist
Church who have an interest in the Social Principles, Flores said. "I
also appreciated the fact that they brought John Wesley into the event,
tying us back to the roots of who are and what we believe."
training event also enabled the participants to put a human face on
societial issues and to gain familiarity with the scope of the GBCS
work. The participants also heard from one another about community
advocacy needs, priorities and passions and to brainstorm about the ways
the board can effectively support Latino ministry.
*The Social Principles may be found on pages 95-121 of the 2000 Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church