Reunions, Links, and Regional News
Southeast Asia Missionary Reunion, June 29 - July 1, 2012, Lake Junaluska, NC (Lambuth Inn), contact David or Shirley Wu (, ), for details or download registration information here (pdf).
Why Christians Need to Support Palestinian Drive Towards Statehood
by Alex Awad
In the coming days, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will be at the United Nations to request an official recognition of Palestine as an independent state with full statehood status at the UN. The majority of Christians and church leaders in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip support the Palestinian bid to seek full statehood at the United Nations. This position is not driven by anti Israeli or anti American sentiments but rather because most Arab Christians believe that without a resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict they have no future in the Middle East and without Palestinian statehood, there will be no end to the conflict. The political turmoil in Palestine and the neighboring countries has prompted many Christians to abandon their homeland and seek refuge in Western countries. This trend will continue until the political chaos that springs up from the Arab-Israeli conflict ends.
Consequently, Western Christians who are concerned for the future of the Church in the Palestinian territories and the rest of the Middle East need to support the Palestinian drive for statehood. Palestinians, like most nations, are seeking a free, independent and peaceful state on 22% of historic Palestine and have already recognized Israel's sovereignty on 78% of the land. Palestinians have shown willingness to swap land with the State of Israel in order to make accommodations for what Israelis call 'new facts on the ground'. In addition, Palestinians are willing to consider the Israeli demand that a future Palestinian state would be demilitarized and allow for measures that create secure borders for the State of Israel. Furthermore, as the Middle East and North Africa experience tremendous political awakenings, peace with the Palestinians is the top guarantee to peace and security for the State of Israel. A genuine peace treaty will bring as much peace to the Israelis as to the Palestinians and to many countries of the world including the United States. Those who pray for "the peace of Jerusalem" need, at the same time, to support the immediate creation of a Palestinian state.
Christians tarnish their testimony in the world when they continue to endorse or be passive about the lingering injustice in Palestine. The Israeli government refused to halt the building of Jewish settlements in the West Bank in order for negotiations to resume. Even when the American administration requested a two months' freeze on settlement construction to allow for negotiations, the Israeli government wouldn't cooperate. Now, Israelis are accusing Palestinians of refusing to return to negotiations. How can one negotiate with a friend on dividing a cake when, all the while, the friend is eating the cake? It is not that Palestinians are against negotiations, but rather, they are exhausted by two decades of fruitless and painful wrangling with Israeli leaders. It is our Christian duty to become aware of what is going on in political circles and on the ground and then to take a stand with the truth. Christians are not called to be morally passive and politically indifferent but rather to be active in promoting solutions that will bring about reconciliation and an end to the suffering of both Israelis and Palestinians.
Some Christians hesitate supporting the Palestinian bid for statehood for fear that it may result in creating a militant Islamic state. Fortunately, the current move for statehood is driven by the most secular, progressive and non-violent branch of the PLO. For this reason, Hamas, the Islamist movement in Palestine is not in agreement with the move. The danger is this, if the Palestinian Authority fails to deliver to Palestinians an independent Palestinian state due to US and Israeli political maneuverings, in the near future, the secular Palestinian government will surely fall and only Hamas will be left to lead the Palestinian struggle for independence. This does not bid well for Israelis, Palestinians, future peace talks or for the Christian communities in the Middle East.
The Church has loses its influence in the world if it abandons its mission to be "the salt of the earth" and "a light to the nations". May the light of Christ in us help guide the Palestinian people in their perilous path towards statehood.
September 18, 2011
Statement on the Kairos Response Endeavor in the United Methodist Church
From: DarEll Weist
To: all my friends who are a part of the United Methodist Missionary Association
As an Ordained Elder in the California and Pacific Annual Conference, having served 45 years in active ministry and now retired, I am concerned about the Portfolio of the United Methodist General Board of Pensions and Health Benefits.
I have been to Israel and Palestine off and on for the last 30 years and yearly since 2006. In my visits, I have experienced the Occupation first hand. Each visit introduced me to new despair. I have seen Negotiations fail, settlements continue to expand and hope for change diminishing.
One of the things I've learned from my many trips is that companies around the world are making huge profits by building settlements, segregated roads that lead to them and by providing electronic and surveillance equipment for the checkpoints, settlements and the wall that annexes Palestinian land to Israel. Another thing I've learned is that Palestinian Christians are suffering from the occupation like all Palestinians. They have urgently asked churches and Christians around the world to help end the Occupation.
This is why I joined KAIROS RESPONSE with other concerned United Methodists from Annual Conferences across the US to write a resolution which will be presented to the 2012 General Conference. It calls for divestment by the United Methodist Church and especially by the General Board of Pensions from three companies that have been asked for years by church members and agencies to stop profiting from the occupation and have not. The resolution also asks that United Methodist boards and agencies engage with other companies sustaining the occupation and divest within two years if those companies do not change their practices. Divestment is a step recommended by our Book of Discipline when corporate engagement has failed.
*The Kairos Response group is responding to a call from Palestinian Christians to act along with many other groups in taking economic action to oppose the occupation. This is consistent with our Social Principles, our Book of Discipline and past resolutions approved by General Conference.
*We know that divestment has worked in the past, and it can work again. South Africa is a good example when General Board Pensions divested $77 million from companies doing business in South Africa. Once again, we have the opportunity for our investment decisions to help bring an end to human rights abuses.
*This is not a change in policy. It is an attempt to align our investments with existing United Methodist policy, which clearly opposes the occupation and discourages investments in companies that "directly or indirectly support the violation of human rights."
*This is not a call for divestment from Israel. It is a request to be sure we are not investing in companies from any country that keep the occupation going.
*This action will not harm the economy of Israel. Taking specific international companies out of our portfolios will not harm the economy of Israel, but it will send a strong message in support of justice and peace in the region.
*This action will not harm investors. It will not violate the fiduciary responsibilities of UM investment managers to their beneficiaries. The investment funds will simply be switched to other companies.
Selective divestment is consistent with the United Methodist commitment to a just and sustainable peace for all the people of the Middle East. If you would like more information I would suggest that you go to the Kairos Response website for articles and more.
I know that you would support investment decisions that reinforce our commitment to a just and sustainable peace for all the people of the Middle East.
Therefore I would urge you to sign the Resolution so that we can say to the United Methodist General Conference that a community of people of faith is behind the divestment of companies from the United Methodist Pension Fund if they profit from the oppression of Palestinians.
If you would send me an email when you have signed the resolution and the petition I would be grateful. You can do this easily do this by just hitting the reply button. Thanks for reading this email and responding.
The Rev. Dr. DarEll T. Weist ()
Of historical note: Letter from George Gish, a GBGM Missionary in Japan
Thanks for all your work to try and get a handle on the so-called Japan situation (see UMMA at Work article). There are several things I would like to share as background to give a perspective on where we are and where we can go from here.
The Mission Dilemma Today
I see a dilemma in the way the UMC looks at mission today. There is much confusion in the very concept of mission. This confusion is nothing new. However, in reading recent UMC materials and relating to persons in local UMC churches and organizations, I feel what people are talking about is a more limited area of mission work that has been spoken of familiarly as missions. The more wholistic meaning implied in speaking of the mission of the Church as the missio Dei seems to be missing in speaking of the work of the General Board of Global Ministries or the mission work of local churches, districts, and conferences.
There is also confusion about the various stages of mission as seen from a historical perspective. At one stage, there was the concept of foreign missions as an extension of the North American or European churches often referred to as the 19th Century model of mission. In the next stage, there was more talk of overseas mission as being church to church in which the relationship was between the older and sending churches and the younger and receiving churches. This became the more common 20th Century pattern. However, there was still the predominant sense that mission was from the wealthier churches to the poorer have-not churches.
In the post-WWII period, there was the developing idea of mutuality in mission which sees world mission as mutual cooperation and involvement in mission by Christian partners and colleagues wherever they are found around the globe. This would seem to be the direction that needs to be affirmed as we move into the 21st century.
When we look at the present reality, we must recognize that most of these patterns of mission can still be found co-existing side by side. The movement from one stage to another has not been universal or consistent. In our own UMC/GBGM we can observe recent shifts of emphasis and priority being placed on the above-mentioned 19th Century model of extending the denominational entity of the UMC into areas where there is no established UMC body or where the UMC presence had been weakened or discontinued. We can even see new US UMC work being established in areas where there are other Methodist-related bodies or historically affiliated ecumenical church bodies already present.
Japanese Methodist History and Ecumenism
Almost from the beginning of the Methodist mission in Japan (1873), it was seen as a vital part of mission strategy to train Japanese for leadership in the newly established churches and schools (e.g. By1890 the leadership of a major mission school in Tokyo, Aoyama Gakuin, was in the hands of Japanese Christians never to be relinquished.)
In 1907, under the influence of Yoichi Honda, three Methodist mission churches, the Meth. Episcopal (North), Meth. Episcopal,South and the Canadian Methodist Church were united as the Japan Methodist Church under Japanese leadership.
In the early 1940s the wartime government of Japan forced all Christian religious bodies to be administered as one organization for purposes of control. At the end of the war, the leadership of the Japanese Methodist Church and the related mission boards agreed to remain within the United Church of Christ in Japan along with several other mainline protestant denominations.
In summary, the missionary role in Japan for several decades has been that of co-worker and colleague under the leadership of the United Church of Christ in Japan and related institutions and agencies. We work side by side with other missionary co-workers who have been requested and sent by other denominations with ties to the United Church. Ever since 1945, the Christian community in Japan has felt it was absolutely necessary to have the continued presence of international and ecumenical persons in mission serving as witmesses to the global nature of the church in a way that would prevent the Japanese church and society from reverting back to the narrow nationalism of the first half of the 20th century. This is the over-arching motivation of the Japanese church which places such a high priority on the presence of international persons in mission in that nation.
Issues for the UMC Today
Issue one: What is the UM Mission Today?
Since the amalgamation of the World and National Divisions of the GBGM, the trend has been to establish and develop programs and projects that are not yet self-sustaining. Such programs and projects are of vital importance in many parts of the world including the US and even Japan, however, by ignoring the economic undergirding of mission, there is the growing need to eliminate other forms of ministry that are already self-sustaining or autonomous.
This is not to say that such missions are not important, but to lift up commitment to overcoming poverty and all the injustices that come from economic exploitation as if there were no other mission for the church today defies our Wesleyan tradition.
I recall a time when the theology of mission that provided the vision for the former World Division was one that could be referred to as wholistic. It was a concept that encompassed all the ministries of the church regardless of economic needs of the various missions because it embraced evangelism, education, community development, health and welfare to mention the major endevers. There was no area of human concern that was outside the mission of the Church. This was a vision that offered the best of the Wesleyan social gospel with the theology of missio Dei and liberation theology which understood salvation as the saving acts of God working in history for the liberation of all persons through the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Somehow, this wholistic theology of mission needs to be reclaimed by all the General Boards and agencies of the UMC beginning with the GBGM. Without this vision in place, there is little potential for restoring the mutual trust and integrity for persons in mission in full cooperation with historically related churches around the world.
Issue Two: Who determines the definitions and policies of Christian mission for the UMC?
We need to ask: What is the role of the General Conference and the General Council on Ministries vis-a-vis the various boards and agencies of the UMC?
For the GBGM, we need to feel assured that it is the directors who determine the guidelines and policies to be carried out by all the support staff from General Secretary down.
What is the role of colleague and partner churches as well as Christian communities historically related with the UMC in policy formation? What part do they play in determining missional priorities?
When the United Church of Christ in Japan to which we United Methodists relate and its connected institutions and program agencies have come to a consensus as to which projects and what type of mission personnel is a priority for the life and mission of the church in Japan, what should be the response of the GBGM and the UM church at large? Further, when the Christian institutions in Japan have gone the second mile for almost 30 years in providing mutual support for mission personnel that has relieved the financial burden of sending boards, how should the GBGM respond?
In several cases the amount of "Shared Support" sent to the GBGM from institutions in Japan to help eleviate the high cost of living for missionaries assigned to them have totalled more than the actual costs of the missionaries' support and benefits provided by GBGM. However, when the Chancellor of Aoyama Gakuin asked GBGM to account for the use of the funds sent to the UMC, he received no reply. This is an area that perhaps needs full disclosure if there is to be continued trust with our colleagues in Japan.
A final issue: How did GBGM get into the present financial crisis develop that has resulted in the firing of some 20% of the executive and support staff at 475 and is now being used as the rationale for the unilateral removal of several missionary couples from Japan?
There needs to be full disclosure on this issue which seems to violate basic human rights of Board employees.
When there is an adequate response to this basic question, then other issues related to the Mission Personnel Handbook and policies governing the Letters of Agreement can be put in proper perspective. Is it really a financial crisis or rather, a question of mis-management resulting from a leadership crisis?
If the above issues are adequately addressed, then we may begin to see where the present staff leadership are in direct conflict with the historical thrust of the UMC in world mission.
Other specific issues that need further discussion and clarification
- What has happened to the Consultation process that includes Directors, support staff, colleague church representatives, and mission personnel?
- What has happened to the individual Letters of Agreement that no longer treat each person with dignity and justice?
- What is the status of the Collins pension fund since the reorganization of the GBGM? Is the seventy year age limit still considered legal under U.S. and New York state law?
|Of historical note: Former UMC Bishop Designated Protestant Chaplain by President of Chile|
by Stan Moore
December 14, 2001, was an historical day for the Protestant/Evangelical churches in Chile, as on that date President Ricardo Lagos Escobar designated Rev. Neftalí Aravena Bravo, out-going Bishop of the Methodist Church of Chile, as the first Protestant chaplain in the history of that country of La Moneda, Chile's presidental palace.
This designation is even more significant, in view of the fact that President Lagos is a declared atheist.
As President, he also supported congressional action that put the Protestant churches of Chile on the same legal basis as the Roman Catholic Church, ending many years of struggle to give Evangelical churches that recognition.
|Of historical note: Fund Cut Back = Cut Back in Mission for Southern Hemisphere|
by Stan Moore
The March 2002 issue of Mission Matters records the list of missionaries commissioned in Atlanta on December 9, 2001. Of the 26 missionaries commissioned, only 3 were assigned to Latin American, none to South America.
Together with a proportional decrease in the designation of funding to the Latin American churches, this would seem to reflect an emerging policy on the part of the GBGM which fails to recognize the enormous challenges and opportunities confronting our sister churches in that part of the world.
|"Wired For Mission"--Examples of Missionary Websites and Contacts|
Sandra Olewine, United Methodist Liaison - Jerusalem. The staff of the International Center have created a PowerPoint program entitled, "Aftermath." It presents pictures from the invasion of 18-28 October 2001, as well as a collection of stories from the people of Bethlehem gathered on Monday, 29 October, as the Israeli forces withdrew from the "A" areas of the Bethlehem district.
Former assignment of Jim and Helen Dwyer in Munich, Germany, currently served by Christine Erb-Kanzleiter. Current assignment of Jim and Helen.
This website includes materials and ideas for growing food under difficult conditions. More than 250 delegates attended their 8th Agriculture Missions Conference (missionaries and national agricultural workers) from 35 countries exchanged ideas and shared experiences. Jim Gulley and Motzart Adevu represented the work of SARDI and the UMC.
New World Outlook — The mission magazine of the United Methodist Church — online.
Janet and Luis Garcia worked as GBGM missionaries. Stan and Beryl Moore, now retired, helped found this school in the driest desert in the world.
|Other Websites Recommended by Missionaries|
Advance Gifts Search
UMC missionaries can search for your ADVANCE giving figures here. Look under Annual Conferences for your supporting churches, the pastor, address, telephone number, etc.
A possible source of class materials. The Internet is full of tests you can take to assess your knowledge, personality, love life, IQ, and just about anything else. Some are serious and others are just for fun. Either way, this search engine and directory will help you find them quickly. The entries are all rated and include brief descriptions.
|Librarians' Index to the Internet|
A network of over one hundred general and specialized daily news sites. In addition to the world and regional news sites, there are sites for media, entertainment, sports, science, health, education, environment, general business, and specific industries. Not all sites are listed in the pictorial directory on the main page; use the drop-down menus at the bottom of the page for many more sites.
Purportal.com provides search up-to-date access to about hoaxes, frauds, rumors, and false virus scares. Check that warning out before you forward it. Please.
Detailed and informative guides to over 140 of the world's most popular cities. As well as internet hotel discounts, each guide features maps of the city and area, city pictures, weather and climate information, attractions and restaurants and travel tips.
Please send any suggested additions or corrections to our communications officer c/o <email@example.com>.
|Last Modified: 19 September 2011
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United Methodist Missionary Association
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