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New mission head makes poverty fight a priority

  The Rev. Edward Paup addresses directors of the United Methodist Board
of Global Ministries during their fall meeting in Stamford, Conn., as
Bishop Bruce Ough listens. UMNS photos by Cassandra Heller.

By Linda Bloom*
Oct. 20, 2008 | STAMFORD, Conn. (UMNS)

The Rev. Edward Paup is convinced poverty can be eliminated.

As the new top executive of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, he expects the mission agency to provide denominational leadership toward that goal through networking with other organizations both inside and outside the church.

"We have the responsibility to work toward the kind of world where poverty can be eliminated," he said.

During the board’s Oct. 13-17 annual meeting, Paup told directors that the three issues of concern "that burn passionately within me" are the perils of planet earth, peace among all people and eradication of poverty.

"I believe what our world is in desperate need of is a missional extreme makeover," he said.

Paup, 62, was passionate enough about wanting to be the church’s top mission leader—a job he officially started on Sept. 1 after serving as a Global Ministries director for the past four years—that he gave up his position as a bishop of The United Methodist Church.

When he was elected to the board post last spring, Paup explained that he felt called to the job and wanted to "model the possibility" of moving beyond the episcopal role.

Parents set example

In Oil City, Pa., where Paup grew up, his parents demonstrated firsthand what it means to serve the church. Both were educators and active Methodists. "I experienced both of them in some key leadership roles in the life of our local church," he said.

"I believe what our world is
in desperate need of is
a missional extreme makeover," Paup says.


As an elementary school student, Paup was influenced by missionaries who often visited his church and told their stories. He decided to become a medical missionary.

But after his father died at the age of 35 from an accidental fall, those influences changed. When his pastor took on the role of a surrogate father, "I began to shift my thinking," he said, and followed that call to ministry "to the point I turned down a professional baseball contract (with the Philadelphia Phillies) out of high school."

After earning a bachelor’s degree from Lycoming College in Williamsport, Pa., in 1967, Paup headed west. He graduated from Iliff School of Theology in Denver with a Master of Divinity degree in 1970, the same year he became an ordained elder in the denomination’s Rocky Mountain Conference.

He served as a pastor in Colorado through 1989, when he became a district superintendent for the Utah/Western District. From 1993 to 1996, he was the assistant to Bishop Mary Ann Swenson before being elected a bishop himself, serving as the episcopal leader in Portland, Ore., from 1996 to 2004 and Seattle from 2004 to 2008. He and his wife, Carol, have three children and five grandchildren,

Paup’s interest in mission also grew through his longtime involvement with The Advance, the denomination's second-mile giving program to fund missions and relief work. He served as chairperson of The Advance from 1996 to 2000.

Experience from the West

His allegiance to baseball teams has shifted with his assignments. The former Rockies and Mariners fan is now following the Yankees—but he also believes he brings with him "an open mind and spirit to the work of the board."

His life in Denver, Seattle and Portland led him to appreciate the shifting populations in the West. "The diversity through immigrant populations has had a remarkable influence on the ethos of the West … and I believe has had an influence on me as well," he explained.

In fact, Paup views the Pacific Northwest not just as the northwest part of the United States, but as the northeast part of the Pacific Rim, giving an added perspective of what it means to be global and the recognition "that while there are differences among us," the goal is to work together for the planet and its people.

In Asia, for example, "the statistics suggest that over 2,000 Filipinos a day leave the Philippines seeking employment in some other part of the world," he said, wondering what the impact of such migration is on the Philippines. "How can we look at these issues and address the systemic reasons people leave their homeland in the first place?"

Like other United Methodist agencies, the Board of Global Ministries will be guided by the denomination’s four areas of ministry focus—leadership development, church growth, global health and ministry with the poor—over the next four years.

Paup plans to rearrange his staff so that a deputy general secretary serves as a liaison for each area of focus, both within the board’s units and in relation to other church agencies and commissions.

The four areas of focus represent the denomination’s Wesleyan heritage, a heritage, he added, that "should be claimed by everyone who calls himself or herself a United Methodist."

Bishop Bruce Ough, the board’s new president, believes there is "a renewed heart for mission" across the church. He told directors that the mission agency has the resources and leadership necessary to help the denomination carry out its goals.

"We have a significant role in making sure all these areas are implemented so our love for our neighbors and our love for God is put into action," Ough said.

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

News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or newsdesk@umcom.org

Audio: The Rev. Edward Paup

"…will help set the stage for an improved planet…"

"…working for the eradication of poverty."

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