The bishops of the United Methodist Church had their annual meeting recently. This area is divided into 5 parts as it pertains to that gathering. If you want to go directly to any one of these areas, click on your preference:
- UMC Bishops' Annual Meeting (News Release)
- UMC Bishops' Pastoral Letter
- Ah, a question or two on the bishops' statements???
- Letter to the UMC bishops about their letter!
- See some of the bishops' quotes with a very appropriate photo! -- notice how nicely they fit together!
Nov. 9, 2001
News media contact: Thomas S. McAnally at (615)742-5470
NOTE: The full text of the bishops' pastoral letter follows the close of this story. For further coverage of the United Methodist Council of Bishops' meeting, see UMNS stories #520-524.
By Tom McAnally*
LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. (UMNS) -- During the closing hours of their weeklong meeting Nov. 5-9, the United Methodist Council of Bishops issued a pastoral letter offering words of "hope and peace" to people struggling with the consequences and fear of terrorism.
They also expressed concern for the "thousands of people who live in fear and terror and those displaced by war and poverty." Violence in all its forms and expressions is contrary to God's purpose for the world, they declared. The letter was approved Nov. 9.
Officials of the council issued a statement within hours of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, but their semiannual meeting at Lake Junaluska was the first opportunity for all bishops to explore issues with one another and to consider what action they should take as "pastors" of the church and its nearly 10 million members worldwide.
To accompany the brief pastoral letter, the bishops are planning a list of resources, developed in cooperation with the top executives of churchwide agencies. The list, expected soon, will include official statements on war, peace and terrorism adopted by the 2000 General Conference and found in the Book of Discipline and Book of Resolutions. The General Conference, a legislative assembly of nearly 1,000 delegates that meets every four years, is the only body that can speak officially for the church.
The bishops voted to ask one of the church's agencies, United Methodist Communications in Nashville, Tenn., to include a resource guide for the study of terrorism in the next edition of Interpreter, a magazine sent to nearly 300,000 pastors and local church officials.
The bishops also voted to ask the United Methodist Publishing House in Nashville to reissue "In Defense of Creation," a document on nuclear concerns, which the council produced in 1986. They asked that the reprinted document have a new introduction that will explain its relevance to "America's new war."
In their letter to the church, the bishops call on church members to join them in prayer for:
- Those who have lost companions and loved ones.
- Military chaplains and others who are providing the "ministry of presence, comfort, healing and hope."
- Public servants and volunteers.
- "All who are redemptively reaching out to those persons who have been erroneously connected to terrorism."
- People "placed in harm's way and their loved ones."
- President Bush and leaders of all nations.
- Innocent victims who have experienced injuries, loss and death.
- "Those who wish to do harm."
The bishops called for prayers that "violence, terrorism and war will cease."
The letter went through several revisions as the bishops debated whether it should be "pastoral" or "prophetic," or both. Bishop Joe Pennel, leader of the church's Richmond (Va.) Area, argued "the need for pastoral care right now is greater than a prophetic word."
He told his colleagues of visiting people at the crash site at the Pentagon soon after the Sept. 11 attack. "I'm trying to put myself in the place of those people who will be worshipping on a Sunday morning when this (letter) is read," he said. "At this point, write what people can hear ... and put people in touch with the sources of our faith."
"I could never understand that you can divorce the pastoral and the prophetic," said Bishop Joseph Sprague of the Chicago Area.
While people are in a period of grief, they are also in the grip of fear, observed Bishop Ann Sherer of Missouri. "At some point, we the church must bear witness to issues such as violence in the Mid East."
Bishop Kenneth Carder of Mississippi suggested a letter and other resources that might provide a balance between the pastoral and the prophetic. At some point, he said, it would be important "to confront the rightful place of patriotism but also the idolatry of the way we deal with patriotism."
After further revision, the resolutions committee recommended a pastoral letter with accompanying resources. Bishop Ernest Lyght of New York, chairman of the resolutions committee, said the letter was kept brief so it could be read easily from pulpits and included in local church newsletters and Web sites.
Much of the debate centered on what should be said for or against the military action being undertaken by the United States and coalition countries.
Those who pushed for the letter to be more specific about war included Angolan Bishop Jose Quipungo. "The letter doesn't need more words; it needs peace," he said through an interpreter. "Either we want the war to continue or we want peace. If we want peace, we need to say, 'Stop the war.' We should say we want this war to stop and that is our prayer."
"We need to pray that violence, terrorism and war will end," said Bishop Michael Watson of the church's South Georgia area. "I believe we are in one accord on that." However, he expressed concern about a phrase in the letter urging church members to study and work toward alleviating the "root causes of terrorism." Such language, he said, appears to suggest there is "moral justification for terrorism."
In the closing of their letter, the bishops call upon the church, leaders, nations and individuals around the world to "make room for love so that the patterns of common life might reveal God's justice."
They then quote the angel in the Christmas story found in Luke 2:10: "Do not be afraid; for see I am bringing you good news of great joy for all people."
Council members voted to continue their discussion of the issues at their 2002 meeting. The body includes 50 active bishops in the United States, 17 active bishops in Europe, Africa and the Philippines, and about 50 retired bishops. Only active bishops vote on business matters during the council meeting. The denomination has 8.4 million members in the United States and more than 1 million in other countries. Serving a one-year term as president of the council is Bishop Elias Galvan of Seattle.
Each bishop agreed to take responsibility for distribution of the letter in his or her own area.
# # #
*McAnally is director of United Methodist News Service, the church's official news agency.
The full text of the letter follows:
A Pastoral Letter to the Whole Church
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Grace and peace be to you in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
The sad and terrible events in the United States of America, on Sept. 11, 2001, and beyond, compel us to speak words of hope and peace to United Methodist people in the 120 annual conferences in more than 50 countries of the world. Stunned and shattered by terrorist attacks in the United States and the threat of bioterrorism, we, your bishops, call upon the church to join us in seeking solidarity with victimized peoples throughout the world.
Our fervent and constant prayers are for those who grieve because they have lost companions and loved ones; for military chaplains and for those persons who are providing the ministry of presence, comfort, healing and hope; for public servants and countless volunteers who have demonstrated selfless generosity; for all who are redemptively reaching out to those persons who have been erroneously connected to terrorism; for the people who have been placed in harm's way and their loved ones; for President Bush and the leaders of all the nations that they may have wisdom and courage to lead people toward justice and peace. We pray for innocent victims who have experienced injuries, loss and death. We also pray for those who wish to do harm. We pray that violence, terrorism and war will cease. We ask you to join us in prayer.
We are extremely concerned for the thousands of people who live in fear and terror and those displaced by war and poverty. We sincerely believe that every conceivable effort must be used to protect those who are innocent and most vulnerable. We are persuaded that we must use the spiritual and human resources of The United Methodist Church to respond in a loving and caring way. We commend churches around the world for their contribution to the appeal, "Love in the Midst of Tragedy," and all other humanitarian offerings.
We, your bishops, believe that violence in all of its forms and expressions is contrary to God's purpose for the world. Violence creates fear, desperation, hopelessness and instability. We call upon the church to be a community of peace with justice and to support individuals and agencies all over the world who are working for the common good for all of God's children. We also call upon the church to study and work toward alleviating the root causes of poverty and the other social conditions that are exploited by terrorists.
As people of the resurrection, we believe that peace has been achieved in Christ; however, this peace is yet to be fully realized in human relationships. The message of the resurrection is that love is stronger than all the forces of evil. Furthermore, it is only sacrificial love, not war, which can reconcile people to God and to each other. We call upon the church, leaders, nations and individuals around the world to make room for love so that the patterns of our common life might reveal God's justice.
We offer this letter with the wondrous promise of Advent ringing in our ears: "But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid; for see I am bringing to you good news of great joy for all the people.'" (Luke 2:10)
Bishops of The United Methodist Church
It's always interesting to see what the bishops of the United Methodist Church come up with when they do their annual thing. You can always be sure that it will be interesting to say the least. One question that CR has raised during these years of their emphasis on children and poverty is why there has never been one clear statement on concern about the unborn children, quite a number of which are massacred in the womb each year, here and in other countries, most of which claim to be civilized! It's almost as if there were a conspiracy in which the UMC "shepherds" unanimously agree that the border line is the entrance to the womb -- "We will not cross that border line, and, heaven forbid, that we should ever mildly suggest that the destruction of unborn children is not just morally wrong, it is an abomination in the sight of the God we claim to serve!"
In that widely distributed letter, note the following statements made by the bishops:"We pray that violence, terrorism and war will cease.....We sincerely believe that every conceivable effort must be used to protect those who are innocent and most vulnerable...We, your bishops, believe that violence in all of its forms and expressions is contrary to God's purpose for the world"
Now then, in reference to the desire for violence to cease, and the expressed belief that every "conceivable effort must be used to protect those who are innocent and most vulnerable," are the bishops including the thousands of unborn children in this nation that are violently destroyed each week? Isn't it true that violence is involved in the demise of these whom God has been forming in the womb, and it's not far fetched, is it, when one says that these are "innocent and most vulnerable?" And the bishops state that they "believe that violence in all of its forms and expressions is contratrary to God's purpose for the world." Ah, just thinking a little bit out loud on the latest from the UMC "shepherds!"
For a related subject on this, go to President Bush's "Selective" War on Terrorism! -- use reverse feature on web browser to come back here
OK, here is a letter that is going out by email to UMC bishops, raising the issue as mentioned above. How will they respond? And if CR's fingers still work, and his computer hasn't been sabotaged, you may be informed about those responses, if any appear!
COPY of Letter to UMC Bishops, starting with CR's own bishop, Bishop Kim, of the W PA Annual Conference in which CR is an ordained elder.
Friday, November 23, 2001
Dear Bishop Kim:
I am attempting to write personally by email to as many bishops in the United Methodist Church as I can about a very important issue.
The recent pastoral letter issued by the UMC bishops contains statements which demand clarification as to intent. The letter would have a much greater impact if a couple of rather murky areas had been made explicitly clear.
The question is this -- when you say, "We pray that violence, terrorism and war will cease.....We sincerely believe that every conceivable effort must be used to protect those who are innocent and most vulnerable...We, your bishops, believe that violence in all of its forms and expressions is contrary to God's purpose for the world," just who are included in the scope of those statements?
More specifically, are you willing to go on public record that this does indeed include all unborn children?
Consider the rationale for this meddling question -- are not huge numbers of unborn children violently assaulted and destroyed in the womb each week? Is this not in itself an act of "terrorism" of a different kind that exterminates over 1 million unborn children each year on American soil? And when you say that "every conceivable effort must be used to protect those who are innocent and most vulnerable," are you willing to include the unborn children in this statement? Are they not to be considered among the innocent and vulnerable?
And why in all these years with an emphasis on caring for children on the part of the bishops of the United Methodist Church have we not heard a definitive statement challenging the abominable practice of mass destruction of the unborn in the most violent fashion by individuals who fit the pattern of how a terrorist by definition operates? Are you aware that the bloody tally now stands at over 40 million? Have you ever given some thought as to how some of that number would likely have become a part of the UMC and made significant contributions had they been permitted to live? And we groan because of having lost a few million since the merger of '68! Maybe if we had been more aggressive and been more consistent in professing to be concerned for children, born AND PRE-BORN, that 40 million victim figure would be considerably less and the UMC would have more members than it presently has!
For related subjects on this, see President Bush's "Selective" War on Terrorism" at www.crrange.com/comment15.html "Justice Denied!" at www.crrange.com/denied.html and The United States Holocaust Gallery at www.crrange.com/page50.html
A follow up letter would be most welcome which simply says that when it was stated that "every conceivable effort must be made to protect those who are innocent and vulnerable" that you want it to be clearly understood that this indeed includes all unborn children. And further that all violent acts carried out against the unborn are opposed by the bishops of the United Methodist Church and considered to be an abomination in the sight of Almighty God!
Finally, please don't attempt to remind me of what the UMC position on abortion is as stated in the BOD. I am quite familiar with the statement, and anyone who honestly compares that statement with what God has stated about His involvement in the formation of a child, His identity of the same prior to conception and birth, and His purpose for that child will quickly see a glaring conflict between the two!
News report about your meeting, the issuing of the pastoral letter, questions to be raised about certain statements, copy of letter to you, and an appropriate graphic to make a point are posted at www.crrange.com/wall3.html
Still contending (Jude 3 & 4)
Clayton D. Harriger
Elder in Full Connection
W PA Annual Conference
cc: District Superintendents of the W PA Annual Conference
"We sincerely believe that every conceivable effort must be used to protect those who are innocent and most vulnerable...We, your bishops, believe that violence in all of its forms and expressions is contrary to God's purpose for the world."
(quoted from the United Methodist Bishops' pastoral letter - fall 2001)
Unborn Babies Killed
since Roe vs. Wade
Notice the little number cruncher above -- it keeps a running tally on victims of the most heinous forms of violence committed in this nation -- the kinds of violence UMC bishops are very careful not to mention! Now then, why is CR often getting on the abortion issue as well as hammering the United Methodist Church leaders for their reluctance to speak up and protest this abominable practice even as they give highly publicized attention to other issues? Go to Why the Heavy Emphasis on the Abortion Issue? and see for yourself!
And another area the UMC bishops and many church leaders in other denominations have not honestly faced is the "spin off" business since abortion on demand has become rather popular and socially acceptable in our nation -- the lucrative abortion industry has spawned a very profitable enterprise -- selling baby parts! Think you got the stomach for this one in which the "baby parts" business thrives in the "land of the free and the home of the brave?" See Baby Parts for Sale! Hey! Don't get upset -- we have auto parts stores all over the place -- why not "baby parts" stores? It must be OK -- how many church leaders do you hear screaming over this one?
Take me up to the beginning -- I'm having difficulty digesting what these fellows and girls are trying to say!
Return to Range 1 (Home Area)
Return to Building Walls with Untempered OR Tempered Mortar!
CR's Leap of Faith! OR The Whole Spread of CR's Range!