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Agency postpones webcast, cancels Manila meeting

3/20/2003 News media contact: Tim Tanton · (615) 742-5470 · Nashville, Tenn.

By United Methodist News Service

A live, online discussion about the future of the United Methodist Church that had been planned for March 25 has been postponed.

The Forum on the Future webcast was to have been broadcast from Manila, the Philippines, in concert with the March 24-31 meeting of the United Methodist General Council on Ministries there. However, the general council cancelled its meeting March 18 after many of its members decided in recent days not to make the trip.

"We had invited some of the central conference (non-U.S.) members and the denominational leaders and scholars scheduled to be at the GCOM spring meeting to be panelists and engage in a conversation with ecumenical leaders from the National Council of the Churches of the Philippines," said Craig This, director of the general council's Office of Research and Planning in Dayton, Ohio. "When the GCOM meeting was cancelled, we decided to postpone the web cast because many of those participating were members of GCOM."

The Forums on the Future, sponsored by the general council in cooperation with the Inter-Agency Research Task Force, are focused on the theme, "What in the World Are We Talking About? Strengthening Our Global Connection and Ecumenical Relationships." They are designed to give church members a chance to ask questions and offer comments by phone or e-mail to a diverse panel of denominational leaders.

Nearly 500 people logged on during the first Forum on the Future webcast Feb. 26. Originating from Nashville, Tenn., it focused on the theme from a U.S. perspective. The second forum was to provide a central conference perspective.

The scheduled panelists for the Manila webcast included several people from the central conferences: Emma Cantor, the Philippines; Solomon Chiripasi, Zimbabwe; Roland Siegrist, Austria; and Sharon Rose Joy Ruiz-Duremedes, top staff executive of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines.

In addition, four people from the United States were going to participate: Bishop Alfred Johnson, leader of the church's New Jersey Area and chairperson of the Advance for Christ and His Church; Jan Love, professor, Department of Religious Studies, University of South Carolina; the Rev. Bruce Robbins, top staff executive of the United Methodist Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns; and Jay Williams, a Harvard University student. Love, Robbins and Williams had participated in the first Forum on the Future webcast.

Plans are already under way to hold the second forum later this year, This said.

He recommended that people check the Forum on the Future Web site or write to for updates.

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