Manila Episcopal Area

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Report to the Coordinating Council

Harris Memorial College, Barangay Dolores, Taytay, Rizal
February 16-17, 2007

Strengthening Partnership in Mission and Establishing New Mission Outposts

The Manila Episcopal Area continues to be faithful to the mandate of our Lord Jesus Christ to make disciples of all nations, strengthen the partnership between clergy and lay and reach out uncharted areas by establishing new mission outposts for the transformation of the Church and the world. We will try to present to you a glimpse of what is happening in various conferences, districts, local churches and agencies in our Area.

A. Mission Updates
1. Strengthening our ministry with the toiling OFWs outside the country
a. While the MEA-Innovative Ministries Partnership Program sets its focus on organizing/planning programs with OFWs and their families through the district migrant desks and committees, we continue to reach out to OFWs themselves particularly in Asia. The ministry for OFWs of Rev. Egmedio Equila is flourishing in Barker Road Methodist Church in Singapore, a total of 504 members and visitors. The pastor’s wife, Dr. Noemi Equila and their 3 children have joined Rev. Equila in his missionary work since September last year; he started his ministry five months earlier. We witnessed the growing number of OFWs joining the Filipino worship service when we were invited to the anniversary celebration of the Barker Road Methodist Filipino Ministry on November 10-12, 2006. The missionary pastor from MidPAC is not only ministering to the spiritual needs of OFWs but also advocates just wages, fair labor treatment, and implementation of government policies that are beneficial to migrant workers such as the right to a one day off per week. Rev. Equila visits the Philippine Consulate regularly for referrals.
b. We had an opportunity during the World Methodist Conference in Seoul, Korea last July 2006 to consult with Korean Methodist Church leaders regarding the possibility of setting up a migrant ministry in Korea. Mr. Pastor Galang, a Filipino migrant-worker/organizer who is connected with the Korean Presbyterian Church, offered to help in establishing a partnership in ministering to the needs of documented and undocumented Filipino migrants working in Korea. We plan to hold a consultation on February 28, 2007 with Korean missionaries serving in the Manila Episcopal Area to facilitate the mission partnership of MEA and the Korean Methodist Church for OFWs and other migrants in Korea. We will study the possibility of expanding our ministry in countries where many Filipinos are present such as Israel, Taiwan, Italy, and the Middle East.
c. Knox UMC Ministry for OFWs is a daring new mission outpost of the local church starting next month. Knox is sending Pastor Nathaniel Letana as a missionary to Dubai, United Arab Emirates to open mission work among Filipino overseas workers. An initial three-month budget of Php270,000 has been approved and a mission team of five members headed by Dr. Carlito S. Puno (Chair of the Dubai Committee) and the Administrative Pastor, Rev. Carlos Onilla is scheduled to go to Dubai and do the initial evaluation and follow-up work. Other members of the team are Engr. Gamaliel de Armas and Mr. Jovito Sermonia, Jr. The Dubai Mission seeks not only to minister spiritually to OFWs, but they have also coordinated with the president of Tarlac State University, Dr. Priscilla Viuya to conduct continuing education and skills training to OFWs. This is the first time that a local church is sending a missionary to the Middle East with full financial support. Praise God!
d. Learning from a BulPAC GBGM missionary couple serving in Japan, ministering to seafarers the Rev. and Mrs. Lamberto and Angelita Valino, have been working with Seafarer’s Mission in Kanagawa District, Yokohama City, Japan. The program, “Christian Coalition on Refugee and Migrant Workers’ Ministry” is a GBGM funded program in cooperation with UMMO - United Church of Christ in Japan (UCCJ). The missionary couple shared their experiences and work strategy to some members of the MEA staff and volunteers who are committed to continue and enhance the seafarer ministry in the area that was started last quadrennium. Rev. Valino is also willing to give orientation workshop for church workers who are interested in maritime/seafarer ministry.

2. Strengthening Our Ministry to Indigenous People
There are 996,468 indigenous people in Central Luzon, Mindoro, Palawan, and Rizal in 1989, according to Philippine Statistics. Indigenous Peoples (IP) within the scope of MEA include the Aetas, the Mangyans, the Dumagats, and the Bataks/Tagbanuas. We are reaching out these people through our Filipino Persons-in Mission (PIM), pastors, deaconesses and lay workers assigned to IP congregations. You will appreciate their various ministries to the Indigenous people. Literacy and health programs are among the regular services jointly sponsored by churches and PIM.
Livelihood programs, such as mushroom production, get favorable market and income for the Aetas in Camachile UMC in Camachile, Florida Blanca, Pampanga. Building and production materials totaling Php110.000 were given as loan by friends, and they pay back the amount after each harvest. The Aetas’ need to construct another building for the same project as the market demand increases. Pastor Lesley Casupanan-Dela Cruz and her husband are committed to empower the Aetas in Pampanga, Bataan, Zambales and Tarlac.
A worship center for the Dumagats in Sitio Nayon, Tanay, Rizal will soon be started as a project of PACE Board of Church and Society. Aside from health and literacy, Ptr Dexter Ceballos, the PIM for the Dumagats in Rizal Province is doing organizing work among them. Together with the PACE-BCS, they continue to lobby against the construction of Liban Dam that will displace not only hundreds of Dumagat families but also inhabitants of neighboring Barangays.
Mangyan women in Mindoro have developed their skills in handicraft, and are currently earning from the sale of their beads and durable hand-woven clothing. The PIM, Ms Candy Cayat Ruedas, a Mindoro born Igorot, has trained para-teachers and tapped Mangyan youth who are graduates of education courses to teach in the literacy classes. The PIM serves and ministers to the indigenous people in several towns of both Oriental and Occidental Mindoro.
Encroachments upon the ancestral lands of the IPs, militarization, and development aggression (mining and dam construction by foreign investors) continue to work havoc in the lives of IPs in different areas. Candy Ruedas, the deaconess PIM in Mindoro, reported that even during calamities, church people cannot bring relief goods such as food to the affected tribal communities because the military suspects them of providing support to the NPA. The Church has to respond to the needs of Mangyan tribal people in the midst of military food blockade done in places where malaria and tuberculosis are still prevalent.

3. Solidarity with People who suffer
a. MEA responds to Victims of calamity. MEA churches regularly respond to victims of calamities. Rizal District/PACE Board of Church and Society, through the leadership of its chairperson, Rev. Zosimo Mabuti, gathered 200 plastic bags of relief goods including medicines before Christmas. They transported the goods to Naga City and Albay. The Quezon City District brought their relief goods to the province of Aurora, while Laguna-Quezon Mission District chose the victims in San Francisco, Quezon as recipients of their gifts. South Nueva Ecija District was the first group to send financial assistance to the family of slain Pastor Isaias Sta Rosa in Bicol. The special offering amounting to Php5,000 was sent to the family via MEA office. Church workers and lay people also got involved in the Fact finding and mercy mission to Barangay Conversion, Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija. The three districts of Nueva Ecija, South, Central and North, and Wesleyan University-Philippines participated in gathering relief goods for victims of calamity in Aurora province. The District Superintendents of PAC sent their relief assistance to Bicol Peninsula through DS Denis Laguardia, who is based in Legaspi, Albay. Asuncion Perez Memorial Center reported that as of January 31, 2007, PAC churches have contributed Php53, 619.75 for BICOL aside from the dry goods given by 8 local churches. Bringing the gathered relief goods to Bicol had been a problem because we do not have transportation facilities. There is a need to support Asuncion Perez Memorial Center, our relief agency in the Central Conference level, in its effort to acquire at least a truck that will be used for relief operations.
b. Another fact finding and mercy mission was organized last October 9, 2006 to respond to the expressed need of North Nueva Ecija District through DS Antonio Cleto. The actual FFMM was done last November 2006 with 43 participants composed of MIDPAC DSes, church workers, para legal volunteers, a dentist, a medical doctor, UMYF/UMYAf, Social Workers and a representative of The Commission on Human Rights. Mr. and Mrs. Librado and Martina Gallardo, of Conversion UMC in Brgy Conversion, Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija, were driven to suicide because they could no longer bear the torture and harassment of the military unit that has set up camp in the Barangay Hall since Oct 2006. Mr. Gallardo was the church council chairperson. Other members of the church, including a son of the Gallardos, experienced severe torture from the military. They were brought to Manila for temporary sanctuary, financial assistance and psychological help. Part of the mercy mission was a medical-dental relief operation. 350 families were given relief goods and medicines. We acknowledge the participation of a lone lawyer, Atty Rey Cortez, district lay leader of Quezon City District, who led the legal/fact finding team. He also participated in the Bicol Fact Finding Mission last August 2006.
Result of the FFMM: Tortures/harassments among UMC members were reported to have stopped. After staying in Manila for a few weeks, members of Conversion UMC including Gallardo’s son were able to go home, with no report so far of experiencing any form of human rights violation.
c. A pre-Christmas visit to Domus Dei. Domus Dei is a Roman Catholic sanctuary for internal refugees and/or victims and for families of victims of torture and/or killings in Central Luzon. With this visit, some of my Cabinet members and church workers were able to listen to the cries and agony of people who suffer because of displacement, loss of loved ones, torture, and physical assault. We saw the faces that are behind the statistics that we read in the newspapers – the victims of extra-judicial killings are children, widows, young people. In conversing with them, they ceased to be mere numbers. We also discovered that some of them, a couple who were accepted into the sanctuary of the Roman Catholic Church, are United Methodists.

B. Intensifying Our Task of Disciple-Making
1. North Nueva Ecija District has set an example of effective partnership between the laity and church workers in disciple-making. For the last 3 years, through the leadership of DS Antonio Cleto, Jr, the number of preaching points reached 82. Ten (10) were already recognized as local churches and another 6 will be recommended for recognition this conference year. All the 16 congregations have either purchased or donated lots, buildings, assigned pastors with salaries/allowances ranging from Php1,500.00 to Php9,000.00.
2. The Southwest Metro Manila District through the leadership of DS Johann Osias is doing mission expansion as the district formally launched its mission work in the town of Rosario, Batangas on October 21, 2006 at a mission rally in Laurel Park. Prior to this, the MEA bishop led in the dedication of the new sanctuary of Zion Pamplona UMC last September 30, 2006 in Pamplona, Las Piñas. The cost of the building is Php1.1M. Present during the dedication service were Honorable Cynthia Villar, Congressional Representative of Las Piñas, Rev. Weon Sik Yi, Mr. Gamaliel De Armas, PAC BOT Chair, Architect Antonio Naval, project supervisor, SWMMD church workers and members of Zion Pamplona UMC and Yang-Mun KMC. Another thanksgiving service was held for the construction of Parola UMC Chapel, sponsored by the Korean Central Methodist Church of Manila.
3. The Northwest Metro Manila District held a mission rally at Calatagan, Batangas last August 26, 2006. About 200 people participated, with a motorcade parade around Calatagan town. The district held 2 mission caravans held in Balayan, Batangas last October 14, 2006 and in Lipa City last November 11, 2006. The Mary Johnston medical and dental team joined the last caravan and were able to serve 200 patients, many of whom accepted Jesus Christ as Savior.
4. New mission work in Sitio Pukanin, San Roque, Bulalacao, started by members and leaders of Blessed Christian UMC in Mansalay, Oriental Mindoro. This is the first congregation in the town of Bulalacao. They have built a worship center made up of light indigenous materials (coconut leaves, bamboo, bakawan).
5. Pila UMC in Laguna adopted a new name, “Jesus Reigns UMC,” with a new constructed building amounting to nearly 2 million pesos. This is part of the District’s congregational revitalization program.
6. Quezon City District: Lagro UMC has started its mission in Mt. Heights, Camarin and Amparo Subdivision; Kamuning First UMC, in Laura Hills and Batasan Hills; John Mark UMC, in Passacola area D abs Dona Rosario. Part of the district’s program for mission is the holding of Sowers’ Training for Evangelism and Mission and Evangelistic Revival Services held at Bagong Silang UMC on November 4, 2006 and at Maligaya UMC on November 25, 2006.
7. South Nueva Ecija district started its new ministry to and with disabled persons. Dr Jonathan Salting, district lay missioner committed the use of his dental clinic for training of deaf and mute persons. They are being taught livelihood skills that generate regular income and at the same time join cell groups for spiritual and social growth. The Risen Lord UMC in General Tinio has started its ministry to Aetas and Dumagats by sponsoring some of their children to school and attending to some of their basic needs. Part of the mission priorities of Bethsaida UMC is responding to the health needs of mountain people in Sitio Sabangan, Nazareth, General Tinio. A worship center made up of local indigenous materials was built as venue for Bible study. Two new outreach points were opened and now serving Igorots from Abra, Cagayan and Baguio.
8. Two preaching points in Acli, Sta. Theresa, and Remedios, Lubao, Pampanga of West Pampanga District have grown into regular worshiping congregations. They will be recognized as new churches in the next Annual Conference session. The District also established a Trust Fund for workers’ welfare and is now ready for SEC registration.

9. Sta. Cruz Mission in Sta. Cruz, Occidental Mindoro has grown into a regular worshiping congregation with a church building and a parsonage. It is recommended for recognition as a new local church in the Annual Conference session next month.

C. Capability Building
1. The clergy of South Nueva Ecija District (SNED) appropriated some amount for the continuing education/capability building program. Thirty two pastors attended a Church Administration Seminar last September 27-29, 2006 at the Institute for Religion and Culture (IRC). IRC is a network program institution of MEA-Innovative Ministries Partnership program.
2. Forty four church workers of Palawan Philippines Annual Conference held their workers convocation at Maranatha Bible School in San Manuel, Puerto Princesa City. Church workers were joined by bible school students in their biblico-theological studies and review of the Book of Discipline’s provision on the Ministry of the Church.
3. PACE church workers held their Workers’ Convocation in Daet, Camarines Norte, October 22-26, 2006 with an attendance of 104. Topics included: Review of the UMC Social Principles, Preaching, Evangelism and the New Family Code. Other districts held their own continuing education with themes and discussions relevant to the needs of church workers.

D. Healing and Wholeness Ministries
The Rev. David Sablan, Jr., newly appointed pastor to the very first Healing & Wholeness Ministry, his wife, Mrs. Melba Jocelyn Sablan, together with their five member team (Sister Tess Abdon, Sister Janet Baguio, Sister Evelyn Ruiz, Brother Pol Penetrante, and Pastor Marlon Diaz) went to different local churches, districts, annual conferences, and schools to conduct healing and wholeness retreats, seminars and conferences. Most of the events were held in Central Luzon churches particularly in West Middle Philippines Annual Conference. Some of the major events were done during the Laity Congress of the West Middle PAC held at Subic Bay Arts Central in August 12, 2006, and during the Clergy & Laity Convocation of West Middle PAC in Sept. 6-9, 2006 at National Power Corporation. The team also went to Palawan Philippines Annual Conference to hold a Conference wide Healing & Wholeness in Aug. 24-26, 2006 in Narra, Palawan. They also held Healing Spiritual Retreat for the faculty and Staff of big schools like Olongapo Wesley School, which is operated by Wesley UMC in Olongapo City.

E. Developing our Stewardship for Mission
1. Part of the nine-hectare district farm of Oriental Mindoro-Romblon District is being developed into an Agro-Reforestation and Ecological Rehabilitation Project. 2000 calamansi, 1500 citrus fruit trees, and 3000 trees (narra, mahogany and gemelina) are among the growing trees added to some coconut, rambutan and bananas that were grown a few years back. The farm is expected to draw income that will help the mission work in Romblon and Marinduque provinces.
2. A work camp participated in by church workers and some lay in Laguna Quezon district was held last October 13-14, 2006 at Kalingan UMC, Tinambulan, Calauag, Quezon. A multi purpose building was started. The whole area of the Tinambulan property is 37 hectares. Some areas are productive with some coconut and mango trees, ginger and cassava.
3. Puerto Princesa Methodist Children’s Shelter, Inc is located in Sitio Barimbing, Bgy. San Manuel, Puerto Princesa City. The Shelter deals with persons who are very indifferent in terms of behavior, specifically, street children and minors. The Shelter continues its coordination with partner agencies with regards to the management of sheltered children and minors. It also accommodates and counsels clients referred to it by their partners and by parents and barangay officials. It continues to enhance its linkages with partners. The hired social worker facilitates the release of minors back to their parents and relatives after months of guidance counseling. The staff also conducts ocular survey of bars and clubs operating in the city proper to look for exploited working minors.
4. Nasugbu UMC Radio Program is now RN-UMC 87.7. In 1998 our local church in Nasugbu, Batangas pioneered a radio ministry through the efforts of one of its members, Mrs. Pricila B. Ferrer and her son, Oliver, a licensed electronics and communications engineer. They bought a franchise from the Manila Broadcasting Company and started a five kilometer-radius radio ministry. In 2006, Mr. Ferrer, together with Nasugbu UMC pastor, Rev. Buenavista, met with DS Johann Osias and BCEC representatives to plan the revival of the program that closed down in 2004. Through BCEC, the United Methodist Communications promised to support the radio program. The radio station in Tuy, Batangas began its test broadcast in October 2006 using the old equipments and bearing the call name RN-UMC 87.7 in the FM band. It was dedicated on December 29, 2006. We thank the Lord for church members who continue to share their talents and resources for mission.

F. Episcopal Visits to the Philippines
1. Bishop Minerva Carcaño and her team of a dozen clergy and lay, including two district superintendents from Desert Southwest Conference in Arizona, USA visited some selected local churches of MEA in Manila, Bulacan, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija and in Baguio Area on December 5-12, 2006. They interviewed the pastors and lay leaders of these growing churches and noted the various methods and principles the said congregations applied specifically in the mother-daughter and sister church relationship. They also got some information on the extra-judicial killings happening in the Philippines and promised to help by writing their political leaders in the USA. Foremost is their desire to learn from our own experience of church growth and how they can apply it in their conference and local churches in America.
2. The Team of Bishop Beverly Shamana of more than twenty clergy and lay with some district superintendents (Rev. Dr. Benoni Silva-Netto included) has arrived early this week for two purposes: first, to do medical-dental mission work in the Baguio Area; and second, to do some fact-finding mission on extra-judicial killings by interviewing victims, families of victims, government officials and the military authorities. The team will divide into three and go to Central and Northern Luzon, and Mindanao. A dialogue with us is also scheduled on February 22, Thursday, at a dinner in Central UMC in Manila. Bishop Shamana will preach at Central UMC on Sunday, Feb. 18; other members of the team will mount the various pulpits of other UM churches in Metro Manila, such as, Knox, Good Samaritan, Kamuning and St. John.

G. Church Structure and Judicial Council Meeting
1. The issue on Church Structure is an on-going discussion not only in the Philippines but in the Connectional Table and in the Council of Bishops. A proposal to make The United Methodist Church in the U.S.A. a central conference is again being studied and discussed thoroughly by both the Connectional Table and the Council of Bishops. This may be presented for deliberation and debate to the General Conference next year.
2. The Judicial Council is meeting in Manila on April 25-27, this year, to deliberate and decide on the question: who are qualified to vote on the issue of affiliated autonomy, the manner of voting and ratification. The College of Bishops requested for a declaratory decision on the right interpretation and application of Par. 602.1, a), b), c), and d) in relation to Par. 572. Any member of the annual conference within the Philippine Central Conference may submit a brief to the Judicial Council on or before February 28, 2007. Atty. Rodolfo Beltran, the only Filipino member of the Judicial Council, requested that Chief Justice Reynato Puno of the Philippine Supreme Court, and two Filipino bishops address the Judicial Council in their three-day meeting.

H. A Cause of Rejoicing
For the first time in the history of the Philippine Judiciary, two United Methodists occupy the highest positions in the Supreme Court and in the Court of Appeals: Chief Justice Reynato Puno and Presiding Justice Ruben Reyes, respectively. Let us pray that more of our lay brothers and sisters occupy positions of authority in the government that they may become the salt and light in our society, as Jesus said, and in their faithful Christian witness be agents of transformation and new life. They can create new mission outposts in the government and other non-government institutions for the betterment of Philippine society.

Strengthening clergy and lay partnership in mission and establishing new mission outposts here and abroad require total commitment and dedication. With God’s guidance and help, in the power of the Holy Spirit, by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, let us continue to be faithful disciples and witnesses of God’s saving grace until the Church and the world shall have been transformed under God’s rule and reign. Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus, and reign in our hearts and lives! Amen!

Submitted by:

Bishop Solito K. Toquero
Manila Episcopal Area

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Philippines Report on Political Murders

By R. Randy Day*

The General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church
joins with church leaders in the Philippines in the hope that the
government of the Republic of the Philippines will take seriously a
report indicating that military personnel are responsible for a wave of
political murders in recent years.

Many of an undetermined number of persons killed-estimates range from
111 to 724-were political activists, including clergy, who have sided
with the poor in protesting both government and business policies since
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo came to power in 2001.

We have previously joined with United Methodist and other Christian
colleagues in the Philippines in calling for a government investigation
and action to stop the killings. The matter of human rights in the
Philippines is of broad concern within the United Methodist family.
Several annual conferences, including California-Pacific and
California-Nevada, addressed the matter in resolutions at their 2006
meetings. A delegation from California-Nevada just returned from a
visitation of concern this month. Protection of human rights was high
the agenda of a group from the Desert Southwest Conference that went to
the Philippines last December. Denominational representatives went to
Manila a year ago to stand in solidarity with United Methodist bishops
and others in the Philippines calling for an end to the killings.

The report holding members of the Philippines armed forces responsible
for the murders was drafted by a commission named under pressure by
President Arroyo last August and headed by retired Supreme Court
Jose Melo. The report was completed in January 2007, but it took the
intervention of the United Nations and demands from Philippine
leaders to win the report’s public release on February 23. The Arroyo
government at first refused to release the document, the findings of
which are strongly rejected by the military.

We commend Dr. Philip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur on
Extrajudicial Killings, for his endorsement of the Melo report and his
efforts to win its release. We also note that some responses see the
report as letting the Arroyo government “off the hook” by putting
the responsibility on military personnel alone.

The Melo report leaves open the question of the number of civilians
killed by the military. The report itself estimates the number as
between 111 and 136. Amnesty International puts it at 244, and
Karapatan, a Philippines human rights organization, says the total is

While the military enjoys broad immunity in the Philippines, the Melo
Commission said that some officers could be culpable and even brought
trial, singling out Retired Major General Jovito Palparan as
particularly vulnerable to charges. Some military leaders insist, in
rejecting the Melo findings, that civilians were inadvertently killed
the process of defense against communist insurgents. The Melo report
does not buy that argument.

The United Methodist mission board has watched and prayed as Protestant
and Roman Catholic leaders in the Philippines moved to the forefront in
demanding that their government protect advocates of economic and
justice. We commend their courage as they now urge government to heed
the findings and recommendations of the Melo Commission.

The General Board of Global Ministries is pleased to be taking a major
role in planning an International Ecumenical Conference on Human Rights
in the Philippines, to be held in Washington, DC on March 12-14.
Additional information on the event is available online at

The Melo report makes seven specific recommendations:

Exertion of a political will “to do what is right however great the
cost” on all levels of government.
Prompt, impartial, and effective investigations, conducted
independently of the military, of all the killings.
Naming of a special prosecution team to handle trials in a safe venue.

Effective protection of witnesses.
Passage of a strict law on chain-of-command responsibility within the
Enhancement of the investigative capabilities of the police and other
law enforcement units.
Proper orientation and training of security forces.
The report also cites approval of a 2006 Amnesty International report
on the Philippines that includes a 14-point program for the prevention
of what is known in legal and diplomatic circles as “extra-judicial
executions,” better known as “political murders.” These points
include official condemnation, chain-of-command control, restraints on
use of force, action against death squads, protection against death
threats, no secret detention, access to prisoners, legal prohibition of
such murders, individual responsibility, and investigation of charges.
This report can be read in full at

*The Rev. R. Randy Day is chief executive of the General Board of
Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Message Points

Council of Bishops
The United Methodist Church
Maputo , Mozambique
Nov. 1-6, 2006

Nelson Mandela Appearance, Presence of President, Generous Hospitality

Highlight Council’s First Meeting Outside Continental United States

The surprise appearance of former South African President and Nobel Laureate Nelson Mandela capped off a busy and exciting meeting of United Methodist bishops in Maputo , Mozambique . It was the first full council meeting ever held outside United States territory.

Mandela’s Nov. 5 appearance at dinner, with his wife, Gracia Machel, former first lady of Mozambique , highlighted the important role of the United Methodist Church in Africa . Both were educated in Methodist schools. Machel is an active United Methodist. In calling for an increased role for women in Africa , both said the church is leading the way in education, health care, and the fight against HIV/AIDs.

Mozambique President Armando Emilio Guebuza met twice with bishops. On Oct. 31, a 12-member delegation spent 35 minutes with him in his office. On Nov. 1, he attended the opening worship at a government civic center, where he praised the church and asked it to start a new university in his country. Both events received extensive media coverage in Mozambique .

Bishop Janice Riggle Huie, president of the council, presented him with gifts and a resolution of appreciation. During the week, representatives of the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry began meetings on broadening the church’s relationship in the country through distance learning and Africa University .

The generous hospitality of Mozambicans was evident everywhere the bishops and guests went. After the opening worship, the host conference catered a banquet featuring local foods on the grounds of the civic center. After a Nov. 4 storm rained out an outdoor cultural celebration, the bash was moved indoors to a local United Methodist Church . For three hours, bishops ate, danced, sang, and celebrated with local United Methodists.

On Nov. 5, bishops split up into 16 groups to visit local United Methodist congregations for worship. At each church, they were presented with gifts and enjoyed traditional Mozambican and African dishes.

At one church, Catembe United Methodist Church , in a poor, rural area less than 10 miles from downtown Maputo , members of the congregation celebrated the laying of the first building blocks of a church building by Missouri Bishop Robert Schnase. The growing congregation meets under a large cashew tree.

Bishops Become Africans During First Council Meeting Outside U.S.

Host Bishop João Somane Machado greeted colleagues warmly when they arrived at their headquarters hotel by telling them “when you are in Mozambique , you are an African. Welcome to Africa . Welcome home.”

Vision Pathways Complimented by Bishops’ Adoption of ‘Call to Action’
Acting on a Plan Team proposal, the Council adopted a “Call to Action” for the people of The United Methodist Church.

The Call to Action represents a convergence of the Council’s Seven Vision Pathways with work of churchwide agency executives and The Connectional Table . The four adopted elements are grounded in Wesleyan theology, global in nature, action-focused, and should be readily understood by United Methodists around the world, said Bishop Bruce Ough, plan team chairman.

A United Methodist Call to Action:

ü Live the United Methodist way

ü Start new churches

ü Reach and save children

ü Stamp out the killer diseases of poverty: malaria, HIV/AIDS

Bishop Ough emphasized the Call to Action does not replace the Vision Pathways. In effect, it is a distillation of the work of the Council, general secretaries and The Connectional Table . Bishops who have begun using the pathways document in their annual conference ministries are encouraged to continue doing so, Bishop Ough said.

Bishops Approve Clergy Pension Pilot in Liberia

A pilot pension plan for clergy members and surviving spouses of the Liberia Annual Conference was approved by the Council. The proposal will use investment earnings from $1million in over-funding from the pre-1982 United Methodist pension program as seed money to create an income stream.

Many pastors outside the United States who served 20, 30, 40 or more years have little or no pension.

The Central Conference Pension Committee has been collecting information and developing models. The General Board of Pensions and Health Benefits is working on developing funding streams for pension plans, beginning in Africa .

Barbara Boigegrain, top executive of the pensions’ board, said bishops are leading the way in the effort.

The Central Conference Benefit Fund, Boigegrain said, has built to $2.25 million. Annual conferences have donated their share of money they receive annually from the United Methodist Publishing House to start the fund. In two years, she said, earnings from the fund will begin to be used for pension benefits.

Draft plan Would Create Central Conference for United States

In what would be a dramatic change in church governance, a joint task force of bishops and members of the Connectional Table is suggesting the United States become a Central Conference.

The proposal would end the current system that splits the United States from the Central Conferences that govern the church outside the U.S. The existing U.S. jurisdictional conferences would exist within a U.S. Central Conference. Since 1964, the church has had numerous studies, task groups and legislative attempts to clarify the world-wide nature of the denomination.

The Book of Discipline would be revised into a general book of doctrine, mission and discipline, deleting all portions that apply only to the United States . Each Central Conference would have a book of discipline outlining rules applicable to its life and ministry. These changes would require approval by the General Conference.

Authority of the General Conference would essentially remain the same. General agencies will remain as agencies for the whole church. The Judicial Council would remain as a general church body elected by the General Conference. The Council of Bishops remains as the council for the entire church. U.S. jurisdictional conferences would continue to elect bishops in the United States .

Central conferences would consider resolutions pertinent to their regions. They could create and fund their own agencies. They could establish mission initiatives appropriate for their context.

(A previous story on this proposal erroneously said the plan would eliminate the U.S. jurisdictional conferences.)

New Thinking Urged on Controversy, Debate Leading to 2008 General Conference

The Council’s Task Force on Unity is asking bishops to open a wider dialogue when speaking to denominational caucuses.

The task force wants bishops to show leadership by making sure theological, jurisdictional, and racial ethnic lines are crossed when they speak at caucus events.

The task force has offered a model “Covenant for Conversation” for the 2008 General Conference in Fort Worth .

Stemming from Wesley’s General Rules, the biblical model is based on James 1:19, “Be swift to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger,” and Ephesians 4:15, “to speak… the truth… in love… together.” The elements are:

- To speak: we invite all voices into the conversation

- The truth: it takes all voices to discern the truth; requires “I” statements

- In love: speaking to and about others with generous compassion

- Together: truth and love come only through community, the need to broaden the conversation, not to remain in isolated pockets

Study of Episcopacy Group Seeks Bishops’ Input

The denomination’s Task Force to Study the Episcopacy is seeking input from bishops on a number of suggestions that have arisen out of its work. Bishops are receiving a questionnaire asking them to rate the issues that rose from their work. Participants are asked to give ratings of 1 – absolutely not; 2 – worthy of exploration; and 3 – absolutely. The issues are:

- Limiting bishops’ terms to 8-12 years with an option for re-election.

- Ending a bishop’s term at retirement, and returning the bishop’s membership to the annual conference from which he/she is elected.

- Annual conferences pay for its bishop’s health benefits.

- Reduce the number of bishops in the United States .

- Establish a permanent office of presidency for the Council of Bishops.

- General Conference legislation on the complaint process, administrative leave for ineffective clergy, expanding 8 year assignments to 12 years.

- Designating bishops as a third order.

- Aligning changes in the episcopacy to a strong theology on the bishop’s relationship to making disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.


Comments may be directed to Bishop Sally Dyck of the Minneapolis Area.

Bishops Congratulate Democratic Republic of Congo on Democratic Election

Bishops sent a message to the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo, congratulating it on the country’s Oct. 29 election. In that election, Jean-Pierre Bemba faced off against incumbent President Joseph Kabila.

Calling the election a “glorious occasion,” the Council congratulated Kabila’s government for “this historic accomplishment.” The bishops said they hope the results of the election will be accepted by the candidates and the people. They expressed their prayers for the government and the Congolese people in this new era that is dawning.

Results from the election are scheduled to be announced on Nov. 19.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Mozambique Congregation Knows Church is More Than Building

Worshippers at Catembe United Methodist Church know that a church is more than a building: they’ve never had one.

That will change in the next year or so. For years, the congregation has worshipped beneath a big cashew tree. With three United Methodist bishops participating, on Sunday, Nov. 5 construction began when the congregation laid the first pressure-formed building blocks into the ground.

Missouri Bishop Robert Schnase had the honor of lowering the first blocks into a trench dug by hand in the sandy soil. The Missouri Conference has had a special relationship with Mozambique since 1986. Since 1998, congregations across Missouri have partnered with congregations in Mozambique .

The Catembe congregation worships in a poor neighborhood most easily accessed by ferry and a bumpy ride over winding dirt roads less than 10 miles from downtown Maputo .

A large banner from the Lafayette Park United Methodist Church in St. Louis , proclaiming the spot under the tree as “Igreja Metodista Unida Catembe,” ( Catembe United Methodist Church ) hung from limbs of the tree.

Many of Catembe’s worshippers live in wood and straw huts. They pump water from community wells. Most homes in this neighborhood have no electricity. Goats tied to trees and bushes graze on tall grass throughout the neighborhood.

About two dozen women cooked a celebratory feast of goat, chicken, prawns, rice, bean stew, vegetables, cassava, and sadza, a bread-like staple, on fires built in long trenches.

The congregation enthusiastically worships, standing to sing and pray. Children sit on straw mats in front of the altar table. The choir sits on wooden benches on this cool, breezy Sunday.

Leaders of other churches in the neighborhood joined in the celebration. Two women representing a Presbyterian congregation and three from a nearby Anglican congregation, flash broad smiles as they shake hands with their visitors. Malanga United Methodist Church in Maputo , mother church of this congregation, is also represented.

“We are moving from worshipping under this cashew tree to laying the first stone today,” said the church’s pastor, the Rev. Paulo Saubino during the opening of the worship service. “I was happy when they told me ‘let us go to the house of the Lord.’”

Looking at the bishops and other visitors sitting in blue and green resin lawn chairs under the tarp, Saubino said “next time when you come, we will have a church building. You will have a difficult time getting a place to sit.” He explained that every congregation in Mozambique has two budgets: one for finances and one for saving souls.

Worshippers walked from beneath the tree to a nearby field for the laying of the first construction blocks. After Bishop Schnase lowered the first blocks into the trench, District Superintendent Arlindo Romão invited bishops Max Whitfield and Alfred Gwynn to shovel cement onto them. Then other visitors and leaders of the congregation shoveled cement onto the blocks.

These blocks will serve as a cornerstone of sorts. A bible wrapped in plastic was placed between the square of blocks. Romão said the square will be beneath the church’s floor as the building is built.

“This floor will be built on the book of God,” he said through a translator.

United Methodist Bishops Worship With Mozambique Congregations

Split into small groups, nearly 80 United Methodist bishops from around the globe worshipped with 16 Mozambique congregations on Sunday, Nov. 5.

Some of the bishops, joined by spouses and other visitors, loaded into buses and vans at Avenida Hotel in Maputo as early as 7:30 a.m. to get to worship on time.

At most Council of Bishops’ meetings, many bishops arrive early or stay late to preach at local congregations. At this meeting, the bishops did not preach the sermon, but took part in worship, offering greetings and prayers.

At every stop, the bishops and visitors were greeted with smiles, singing and gifts. Many received hand-crafted straw hats. Some were given traditional carved walking sticks. Spouses and other visitors were given hats and straw handbags. Women were presented with the traditional capulana, the sarong-like skirt that Mozambique women wear. Women from the congregations wrapped and tied the capulanas around the waists of their visitors.

Bishops spent several days preparing for their worship experience. They learned a traditional African hymn, Nzamuranza (I Worship Christ), in Xitswa, a native southern Mozambique language, to sing at each worship service.

Bishop after bishop noted the enthusiasm of their host congregations. United Methodist congregations in Mozambique have two budgets, one financial, and one for winning souls to Christ. They also take their weekly offerings seriously. Unlike offerings in most Western churches, United Methodists in Mozambique line up to make their offerings in front of fellow worshippers. Children, the choir, and other groups come forward separately. And they take several offerings each Sunday. After they finish, the result of the offering is announced.

Technology Links Catembe Congregation With Missouri Partner Church

If Sunday was a milestone day at Catembe United Methodist Church in Mozambique , it was a milestone day at Lafayette Park United Methodist Church in St. Louis , too.

The two congregations are partners in the Missouri-Mozambique Initiative.

It was 2 a.m. in St. Louis when the parishioners at Catembe United Methodist Church gathered to break ground for their church building. The eight-hour time difference allowed Carol Kreamer, a member of Lafayette Park who serves as the U.S.-based director of the initiative, time to send photos of the service to St. Louis from Mozambique .

Kreamer, a commissioned missionary from the General Board of Global Ministries, first tried to email the photos taken by Stephen Drachler, a consultant for United Methodist Communications, from the Council of Bishops’ headquarters hotel. When technical glitches foiled that attempt, she and Ezekiel Marcos Nhantumbo, an Africa University graduate who is the Mozambique-based representative for the initiative, went to his office to email the photos a different way: via much slower phone modem

Back in St. Louis , it was “Presence Sunday” at Lafayette Park , where prayers, presence, gifts and service around the world were being celebrated. As time grew short, Chris Finley sat in a pew, receiving four, slowly downloaded photos on his laptop.

After he received them, he hooked his laptop to the projector and showed them to the congregation.

At 10 a.m., the same time that Catembe United Methodist Church had worshipped in Mozambique eight hours earlier, Lafayette Park saw its presence in ministry a half-a-world away.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Draft Plan on the Current System

A high-level group examining the global nature of The
United Methodist Church is suggesting significant
organizational and governance changes for the denomination.

The proposal would end the current system that splits the
United States from the Central Conferences that govern the
church outside the U.S. It would end the jurisdictional
conference system and make the United States a Central

These proposals come from a joint task force of
bishops and members of The Connectional Table, the key
coordinating arm of the denomination. Since 1964, the
church has had numerous studies, task groups and
legislative attempts to clarify the world-wide nature of
the denomination.

The draft plan given to bishops on Nov. 3 would
revise the Book of Discipline into a “truly general book of
doctrine, mission and discipline, deleting all portions
that apply only to the United States.” Each Central
Conference would have a book of discipline outlining rules
applicable to its life and ministry. Other publications
such as hymnals could be specific to each Central

These changes would require approval by the
General Conference. “These changes would strengthen our
unity and missional effectiveness as a united church
working on our continents,” the task force said.
While adding flexibility and support for regional units of
the church, “the changes… do not solve all the problems
facing the church… They do address the fundamental
structures and processes,” the task force concluded.

The power of the General Conference will
essentially remain the same, the task force said. General
agencies will remain as agencies for the whole church. The
Judicial Council would remain as a general church body
elected by the General Conference. The Council of Bishops
remains as the council for the entire church.

Central conferences would consider resolutions
pertinent to their regions. They could create and fund
their own agencies. They could establish their own
educational requirements for clergy. They could establish
mission initiatives appropriate for their context.

The task force is continuing its work. It is
inviting feedback from annual conferences, districts, and
local churches. It has asked the General Commission on
Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns to engage its
partners in conversations on the ecumenical implications of
a U.S. Central Conference. It is exploring what General
Conference legislation will be required.

The group will make a second report to the
Connectional Table and Council of Bishops in spring, 2007.

Bishops’ Unity Group Urges New Thinking on Division,
Controversy, Debate

Bishops are being urged to take a “cross every
line” approach when dealing with controversial theological
and social issues before denominational caucuses.

The Council of Bishops’ Task Force on Unity
called on bishops to invite colleagues “from a different
corner” to join them when asked to speak on issues before
the special-interest groups.

In its report, the task force said the council
needs to take responsibility to cross theological,
jurisdictional, and racial ethnic lines in bishops’
presence at such events. This is another move to focus the
church on the need and benefit of holy conferencing.

Reflecting widespread concern over the tone of
debate at General Conference, the group is developing a
“Covenant for Conversation” it hopes will be a model, or
“rules of engagement” for the 2008 General Conference in
Fort Worth.

Stemming from Wesley’s General Rules, the
biblical model is based on James 1:19, “Be swift to hear,
slow to speak and slow to anger,” and Ephesians 4:15, “to
speak… the truth… in love… together.” The elements are:
- To speak: we invite all voices into the
- The truth: it takes all voices to discern the
truth; requires “I” statements
- In love: speaking to and about others with
generous compassion
- Together: truth and love come only through
community, the need to broaden the conversation, not to
remain in isolated pockets

The recommendations are elements of a strategy focused
on bishops taking a more proactive role in the time
approaching General Conference. More discussion is
continuing on bishops’ role in leading the church toward
unity, in presiding at General Conference, how annual
conferences handle controversial issues, and their
interaction with caucus groups.

Study of Episcopacy Group Seeks Bishops’ Input on Change

The denomination’s Task Force to Study the Episcopacy is
seeking input from bishops on a number of suggestions that
have arisen out of its work. The task force is comprised of
laypersons, clergy, and bishops.

Bishops are receiving a questionnaire asking them to rate
the issues that rose from their work so far. Participants
are asked to give ratings of 1 – absolutely not; 2 – worthy
of exploration; and 3 – absolutely. The issues are:

- Limiting bishops’ terms to 8-12 years with an
option for re-election.
- Ending a bishop’s term at retirement, and
returning the bishop’s membership to the annual
conference from which he/she is elected.
- Annual conferences pay for its bishop’s health
- Reduce the number of bishops in the United States.
- Establish a permanent office of presidency for the
Council of Bishops.
- General Conference legislation on the complaint
process, administrative leave for ineffective clergy,
expanding 8 year assignments to 12 years.
- Designating bishops as a third order.
- Aligning changes in the episcopacy to a strong
theology on the bishop’s relationship to making disciples
for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
Bishops are asked to provide their comments and additional
suggestions to Bishop Sally Dyck of the Minneapolis Area.


Powered by United Methodist Communications.

Nelson Mandela Tells Bishops Achievement No Guarantee of Heaven

South African Leader’s Surprise Appearance Electrifies UM Leaders

A life of achievement is no guarantee of a place in heaven, Nelson Mandela told United Methodist bishops as they neared the end of their historic meeting in Maputo , Mozambique .

Mandela and his wife, Gracia Machel, surprised the bishops with their appearance at dinner on Sunday, Nov. 5. Machel is the former education minister of Mozambique and the widow of Mozambique president Samora Machel, who died in an air crash.

Both Mandela and Machel have deep Methodist roots. Mandela was educated in a Methodist school in South Africa . Machel is United Methodist and attended a Methodist school in Mozambique .

The 87-year-old Mandela spoke with a feistiness in his voice as he recounted his Methodist education and the role of the church in his upbringing.

Mandela told the bishops that when he arrived “I had no idea whatsoever that I would be brought so such a sacred gathering.” He said that to arrive in this setting and praise “what we believe is a superior gift.

The former South African president and Nobel Peace Prize winner invoked the African-American spiritual “May the Work I’ve Done,” as he told bishops of a story he often tells about leaving this earth, going to heaven’s door and knocking. An angel comes forth and asks his identity. He identifies himself as “Madiba.” The angel responds by saying there is no space for him.

His message was that one should be recognized for the work they have done and not for who they are or where they come from.

As Mrs. Machel addressed the bishops, Mandela sat next to Bishop Gregory Vaughn Palmer of the Iowa Area. He leaned over to talk with and shake the hands of two young boys who had nervously come forward to meet the world leader.

“I am standing here mainly as a Methodist child,” Machel, one of six daughters raised by her widowed mother, told the bishops. Her mother “did the impossible to educate all of us.”

Machel became the minister of education for the country of Mozambique in 1975, the first woman of education in the country.

“From the Methodist church I had an obligation to give back to those who had supported me. I had to give back to the community. My experience as the minister of education was based in linking national policies with communities. In helping communities to fight very actively in building schools, selecting teachers, and supporting the teachers in school,” Machel said.

She cited disturbing statistics on the impact of HIV/AIDS on women and children in Mozambique .

It has been estimated 1-in-5 persons in Mozambique is infected with the AIDS virus. She said that women are the caregivers and sometimes the providers and if they are sick they cannot provide.

“Empowering women . . . through education is a must for us,” Machel said. Her country faces serious challenges. Providing statistics, she said Mozambique is in the top 10 countries affected by HIV/AIDS with 1.8 million infected and of those aged 25-49, the percentage of women infected is 58 percent, “far more than men,” she said. Of those aged 15-34 years who are infected, girls comprise 76 percent of the infected.

“No matter what we can try to do” to tackle the HIV/AIDS problem with women, Machel said, “we will not be able to turn around this problem, in terms of reduction of infection” without educating women regardless of where they live, regardless of the African country about “gender relations.”

“It is a matter of survival for our women,” she said.

Mandela and Machel married on Mandela’s 80th birthday. They have a home in Maputo where the bishops met. It is the first meeting of the bishops outside of United States territory.

After Mandela spoke, Bishop Janice Riggle Huie of Houston, president of the Council, told her colleagues, “We have been in the company of saints.”

Turning to look at Mandela and Mrs. Machel, she told them “you are hope in action. We stand with you. You have shown us how to make the world a better place.

“Mrs. Machel, you are an inspiration to young girls born poor, particularly United Methodists. We will pray for you. We trust you will pray for us.”

As Mandela and Mrs. Machel moved from their table to leave the dining room, bishops lined up to speak with them, shake their hands or to touch Mandela’s arm.

Their appearance was hastily arranged. Mrs. Machel had originally been scheduled to speak at a cultural event for the bishops on Saturday night. Her appearance was canceled after a last-minute downpour forced the moving of the event into a local church.

Machel was appreciative that the Council of Bishops chose Mozambique to conduct its Nov. 1-6 meeting and despite the issues the country has faced poverty, it “has shown such a resilience . . . to reinvent itself.

“Our people reinvent themselves even before huge challenges,” such as they did when everything was disrupted by the war, she noted. Now, she said “poverty” is the only signal that there were problems. “In about 10-12 [years], this country has changed its face.

“Having you here is an additional recharging of our energies; to know that we are not alone, you are there as leaders. Thank you for clearly sending that message that we are not alone,” Machel said./ UMCom

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Council President Exhorts Church to Live the United Methodist Way

Vol 1 No 3 Nov. 3, 2006
Released by UMCOM
Stephen Drachler

United Methodist Council of Bishops President Janice Riggle Huie says the people of the church expect bishops to lead boldly by making disciples and saving lives around the globe.

“This meeting is a threshold… It is decision time,” Huie told bishops during her presidential address in Maputo , Mozambique . “I believe that a new Pentecost can happen here… I believe the Holy Spirit is calling the people of the United Methodist Church into action.”

“Christianity has changed. The day and time when people went to church because it was expected and ‘everybody did it’ is gone. Christian discipleship is now a matter of decision… [often] made in the face of obstacles and even hostility,” Huie said.

While Christianity has changed, “what I see and hear is the deep human desire for hope,” Huie added. She cited the dramatic growth of persons in Volunteers in Mission ministries after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and the tremendous response to the 2005 tsunami in eastern Asia . To date, United Methodists have donated more than $100 million to those efforts.

To succeed, to follow Jesus and make disciples, bishops must take risks, Huie said. “Not many people are going to step out into a new future if the leaders are focused on the rear-view mirror of institutional survival and self-preservation… We need to do a lot of listening and a lot of loving… We will also need to remind people of what they already know: We follow Jesus… God is with us.”

Eleven million United Methodists, she said, can:

# Live the United Methodist way in their daily lives and public witness.

# Begin a new church every day somewhere around the globe.

# Reach and save children all over the globe.

# Lead in the effort to stamp out the killer diseases of poverty: HIV/AIDS.

These calls to action reflect a strategy under development by the Council, the church’s general agencies, and members of The Connectional Table, the denomination’s program coordination group.

Huie concluded by saying, “It is God who gives us hope. The Holy Spirit gives us courage. Jesus expects us to follow him. John Wesley gives us the method. The people of The United Methodist Church expect us to lead.”

Nearly 80 bishops are meeting in Mozambique for the council’s semiannual meeting. It is the first meeting to be held outside the territorial United States .

Bishop Innis Focuses on African Growth, Reality During Sermon

Liberian Bishop John Innis focused on the reality of preaching and leading in Africa during Thursday’s morning service or word and table.

“The church of Jesus Christ called United Methodist is indeed alive in Africa ,” Innis said during his sermon, citing the long history of mission and disciple-making on the continent.

The United Methodist Church has been in ministry in Africa since the 1830s. United Methodists have congregations and missions in two dozen African countries. United Methodist schools, clinics and hospitals play a key role in those countries

“By coming to Africa, we, the bishops, show recognition of the contributions of Africa to our church… The United Methodist Church is a powerful church… it is great [in Africa ],” Innis said.

Christianity is growing rapidly across Africa , Innis said. “Nowhere is there a record of such growth – 350 million Christians in Africa . We are a reality the Christian world cannot ignore.”

Pastors, district superintendents and bishops work under difficult conditions, Innis said, noting they often walk “10, 20 miles… 20 hours to reach our people… When they see us, they say, ‘Jesus is here.’”

Fact Check: United Methodist Church in Mozambique

Ø Methodism in Mozambique started in 1890. 10,000 people attended the 100 year anniversary celebration in 1990.

Ø Growth: The church has tripled in size in Mozambique in the last thirteen years. There are now over 125,000 members in the over 170 congregations of the twenty-three districts. The church works in all ten provinces of Mozambique and is divided into two annual conferences.

Ø Leadership: Bishop João Somane Machado leads both the Mozambique North and Mozambique South Annual Conferences. They are comprised of 23 districts, 50 circuits, over 170 local churches, 132 ordained pastors, 32 Deacons, and 278 evangelists. The Bishop also oversees 29 schools, 1 theological school, some agricultural programs, 1 hospital ( Chicuque Hospital ), 2 clinics, 1 seminary, and 4 bible schools.

Ø Local church life: United Methodist churches in Mozambique are community centers that impact every aspect of people’s lives. People gather at the churches for worship, fellowship and mutual support. Worship services (held in buildings or mud huts, or under trees) are filled with standing-room-only crowds on most Sundays. Worship is a wonderful experience with much music in a longer service than is traditional in the USA .

Ø Social action: Since the end of the 17-year war (1975-1992), the church has dedicated itself to rebuilding the social fabric and restoring property that supports the lives of Mozambicans. While the national government is overwhelmed with paying international debt and repairing the infrastructure following decades of war and natural disasters, the church presents dependability and security in the lives of people. The church is linked to hospitals, schools, trade schools, homeless shelters, and international aid throughout the country. The UMC in Mozambique is also active in ecumenical efforts and provides leadership in the Christian Council of Mozambique .

(Source: Mozambique Initiative: Carol Kreamer , U.S. coordinator)

Mozambique President Praises, Challenges United Methodists

Vol 1 No 2 Nov. 2,2006

Mozambique President Armando Emilio Guebuza opened the Council of Bishops meeting on Nov. 1 by praising the church’s role in the transformation of his nation and challenging it to commit more resources in the struggle to overcome poverty.

More than 300 bishops, spouses, and local United Methodists filled a Maputo convention center assembly hall to open the council’s historic meeting. This is the first council meeting ever held outside U.S. territory.

In a worship service sparked by the energy of three Maputo area choirs, the bishops celebrated the church’s 160-year presence in Africa and its broad influence on the continent’s religious and civic life.

The highlight of the event clearly was the presence of the president, a Presbyterian who demonstrated a deep knowledge the United Methodist presence throughout his nation and a close friendship with the nation’s bishop, João Somane Machado.

Guebuza said the church’s commitment to social justice created the conditions that helped Mozambique become an independent nation and begin to tackle its poverty. Mozambique was a Portuguese colony for 470 years. It became independent in 1975.

“This church has contributed to the rescue of our self-esteem,” he said, adding the United Methodist Church helped Mozambicans “gain the awareness that colonization was not a fact of life.”

“As we learned that foreign domination was not a fact, I hope Mozambicans will also learn poverty also is not a form of divine punishment and can also become something of the past.”

He praised United Methodists for seeking a “culture of peace” and helping the nation develop water resources to battle poverty and malaria, and called for a continued partnership with health and education initiatives. Saying education is the key to overcoming poverty, he specifically asked the church to create a new university in Mozambique .

Bishop Janice Riggle Huie, of Houston, president of the Council of Bishops responded, with a smiling understatement: “I believe His Excellency has given us a challenge for our work this week.” She said the church’s partnership on education and health initiatives would be taken to a new level.

She told the gathering that the council’s meeting in Maputo “expresses solidarity, partnership and continued prayers for you and all the people of Mozambique . It is our honor and privilege to be here during this time.”

Huie presented Guebuza with a resolution that included a pledge that the denomination would continue “to promote the welfare of Mozambique ” and promises of prayer for his continued leadership of the nation.

The Rev. Arlindo Romao, Maputo East District Superintendent told the welcoming gathering that “it was hard to describe the joy we feel when we heard for the first time in the history of the United Methodist Church that the bishops were meeting outside the U.S. and they chose our country. Not Europe or Asia but they chose Africa and our country of Mozambique .”

Romao said United Methodists in are “happy and proud to see that you are here and we see that what we were hearing is a reality. Welcome to our house that is your house.”

“Please see us as only beginners, as pioneers in this task, and if you return, you will see we are doing even better.”

Council Meeting Is National News Throughout Mozambique

The global gathering of United Methodist bishops is big news throughout Mozambique .

Television, radio and newspaper reporters from the national news corps covered the opening of the council’s meeting at the national civil center. Stories from the meeting were on the evening newscasts.

Thursday’s main Maputo newspaper featured a quarter-page sized photo of Bishop Janice Riggle Huie, president of the Council of Bishops, greeting Armando Emilio Guebuza, president of Mozambique during Wednesday’s opening worship service. The headline said “Poverty Not Divine Punishment.”

Children Add Spice to Council Presence in Mozambique

The sounds of young people are vibrating off the walls of hallways and eating areas as the Council fills the Avineda Hotel during this week’s meeting.

A number of active and retired bishops took advantage of the opportunity to visit Africa by bringing children, grandchildren, and a niece to the meeting. Retired Bishop Herbert Skeete and his wife, Shirley, brought two of their grandchildren. Bishop Ann Sherer brought her grandson. Bishop Thomas Bickerton and his wife, Sally, brought two of their sons, and Bishop Minerva Carcano brought her niece.

The young people are participating in worship and spouse and family events. While missing school back in the United States , they are completing homework assignments, and doing special work. At least one is writing a daily journal to take back to school.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Special Report: United Methodist Council of Bishops

Vol. 1 Number 1 Nov. 1, 2006

United Methodist Bishops Gather in Mozambique for First
Meeting Outside U.S.

Individually and in groups, United Methodist bishops from
around the world arrived over the past few days for the
first full Council of Bishops’ meeting to be held outside
United States’ territory. The meeting begins today.

With a delegation of 170, including bishops, general
secretaries, spouses, and staff, the Council has filled the
Hotel Avenida in downtown Maputo.
Bishops and spouses exchanged warm greetings and hugs
throughout the luncheon and dinner hours Tuesday as they
filled the dining room.
Some bishops received a special greeting as they arrived at
Maputo’s international airport on the outskirts of the
city. Local United Methodists surrounded them with song
after they were processed by Mozambique customs officials.
Tuesday, Oct. 31 was a warm and humid day with the
temperature above the 90 degree Fahrenheit mark. More of
the same is expected for the rest of the week, local
forecasters said. Maputo is located on the Indian Ocean on
Africa’s east coast.

Bishops Meet with President of Mozambique;
Share Focus on Eliminating Poverty in African Nation

United Methodist bishops from around the globe met with
Mozambique president Armando Emilio Guebuza in
his office on Tuesday, Oct. 31.

The 11-member delegation spent more than a half-hour with
the president in Maputo, Mozambique’s capital, the day
before their semiannual meeting is due to begin.

Bishop Janice Riggle Huie of Houston, president of the
Council, told the Mozambique leader the church has a deep
commitment to his country and to Africa. She introduced
each of the bishops to Guebuza. Most of the bishops’
conferences have a direct ministry connection with
Host Bishop Joao Somane Machado, who has had a long,
cordial relationship with the president, said the visit is
significant in Mozambique.

“The president was happy to know the United Methodist
Church is linking with United Methodists here, and we are
linked to the broader church,” Machado said. “We bring
strength to Mozambique. The bishops’ coming here sends a
strong message.”

Machado said the president told the group his government’s
priorities fit with the church’s priorities.
“The government works closely, in partnership with churches
to tackle poverty,” Machado said.
The Presbyterian president was elected in a peaceful
election two years ago, Machado said. “We changed
governments and not a shot was fired. It is something to be
truly proud of.”
The meeting took place in the president’s reception room, a
bright, airy space inside the presidential compound in
downtown Maputo. Dressed in a bright blue suit with red
tie, and wearing his trademark red AIDS pin, Guebuzza
warmly greeted each of the bishop, gripping some of the
bishops’ hand with both of his.

The bishops’ visit came on a significant day for
Mozambique. Later Tuesday, the president was to preside
over a ceremony finalizing the transfer of the huge Cahora
Bassa hydroelectric dam on the Zambezi river from Portugal
to the Mozambique government. The dam produces electricity
for Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe. After 470 years
of colonial Portuguese rule, Mozambique gained its
independence in 1975.
In addition to Huie and Machado, other bishops in the
delegation included: Gregory Vaughn Palmer of Des Moines,
Iowa; Peter D. Weaver, or Boston; John G. Innis of Libera,
Jose Quipungo of Angola; Roy I. Sano of Washington, D.C.;
Solito Toquero of the Philippines; Ann B. Sherer of
Columbia, Mo.; Violet Fisher of Syracuse, N.Y., and A.
Fritz Mutti of Kansas City, Mo.

Mozambique President to Open Bishops’ Meeting in Maputo

Today’s opening worship will have a definite presidential
flavor to it as Mozambique President Armando Emilio Guebuza
is expected to attend and offer greetings to nearly 80
bishops from around the globe.

The worship service will be held at a civic center in
Maputo, Mozambique’s capital.

Mozambique Fact Check
 Land area: 302,737 sq mi (784,089 sq km); total
area: 309,496 sq mi (801,590 sq km)
 Population (2006 est.): 19,686,505; life
expectancy: 39.8; density per sq mi: 65
 Capital and largest city (2003 est.): Maputo,
 Languages: Portuguese 9% (official; second
language of 27%), Emakhuwa 26%, Xichangana 11%, Elomwe 8%,
Cisena 7%, Echuwabo 6%, other Mozambican languages 32%
 Ethnicity/race: indigenous tribal groups 99.66%
(Shangaan, Chokwe, Manyika, Sena, Makua, and others),
Europeans 0.06%, Euro-Africans 0.2%, Indians 0.08%
 Literacy rate: 48% (2003 est.)
 Economic summary: Gross Domestic Production (2005
est.): $25.66 billion; per capita $1,300. Natural
resources: coal, titanium, natural gas, hydropower,
tantalum, graphite. Exports: aluminum, prawns, cashews,
cotton, sugar, citrus, timber; bulk electricity.
 Major trading partners: Netherlands, South Africa,
Malawi, Portugal.(press release from UMCOM)