Archive for April, 2012

 

 

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Making Life Matter

 

Making Life Matter is a weekly 30 minute Christian inspirational and teaching program hosted by Maxie Dunnam and Shane Stanford. Next Step partners with Kingdom Catalysts to bring you MLM, which tackles issues of faith and life in order to deepen discipleship and encourage strong connections between following Jesus and living in today’s world. Mark your calendars to visit Next Step and listen regularly. Click below to hear today’s program.

 

 

 

 

A Worldwide Church: The Pain of Growth and Pruning

 

I’m finding blogging any deeper than a tweet is next to impossible as the General Conference workload and tension/stress level begins to intensify. To tide you over, check out the article I wrote for Seedbed.com:

A Worldwide Church: The Pain of Growth and Pruning.

 

The View from Here

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012 | By Mike Coyner
Filed in: Michael Coyner, The View from Here

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“First Time at the Beach”

 

My grandson Austin is 20 months old, and he was with us on a little vacation in Florida where he had his first encounter with the ocean and the beach. It was great fun to watch him have that first experience.

 

At first he was scared, reluctant to walk on the sand, fearful of the waves, worried about the little birds that were walking and flying around, and even unsure of what to do. But it did not take long for him to settle down, dig in the sand with his new shovel and bucket, and even chase the birds along the beach. He tried the water, was still a bit unsure, but kept wanting to experience it. Of course it helped him to know that his parents and grandparents were there with him, holding his hand at times, and always ready to help.

 

So much of life is like that. New experiences, new people, and new movements of God’s Spirit cause us to be fearful, reluctant, and unsure. At that point we have a choice: give in to our fears and seek to maintain our current comfort levels; or give it to our curiosity and move fully into that new experience.

 

In my ministry as a bishop, I see too many churches which give in to fear and seek comfort in the past. They use “tradition” like a weapon to beat down new ideas, new opportunities, and even new people.

 

But I see other churches, often ones in tough situations, who are open to a new future, ready to allow God to lead them, and able to overcome fear with faith.

 

What makes the difference? I think it is knowing that God’s presence is right there with us, holding our hands at times, allowing us to walk on our own at other times, and yet always present. We can face any new future if we use that faith to overcome our fear of the new.

 

May God bless you today with an assurance of God’s presence as you move into new experiences of life and faith.

 

Mike Coyner

Bishop Michael Coyner

 

 

Let the Games Begin…

Tampa, Florida

An awesome opening worship experience, albeit a bit over-orchestrated. But wow! Great singing, great preaching, meaningful Eucharist – the always amazing stuff of General Conference.

A few interesting moments…

  • Opening a Christian worship service with a non-Christian ritual (important to experience, but maybe before worship?)
  • The smell of reefer (burning palm leaves?) wafting through the auditorium during the opening ritual
  • The Mayor of Tampa referring to the group as clergymen and lay people
  • Having to be told, “please, PLEASE do not ask to touch another person’s hair”

 

A few cool things…

  • Translating everything into seven languages
  • 37% of the delegates are women
  • 41% of the delegates are from outside the US
  • Nifty wireless electronic voting pads (but with lots of instructions :-( )
  • Attendance tonight – 4700
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UMC General Conference 2012

 

And now the business (tedium?) of the evening begins…we get the rules sorted out…

General Conference 2012 ~ Random Thoughts

 

Tampa, Florida

Sunday, April 22 ~ The view out my hotel window is gorgeous and I already have the feeling that I won’t get to enjoy it except in the dark after about 10pm.

 

I’m totally bummed that I forgot my camera. I can take pictures on my iPhone, but I’m never as happy with the way they come out (probably user issues). I’m pretty good with taking pictures on my iPad, but look like an idiot when doing it. Now that I think of it, looking like an idiot hasn’t ever really stopped me from doing anything.

 

I’m bummed about forgetting my camera, but ashamed that I forgot my Bible (except the version on my iPhone). But I have my Discipline! I guess I’m walking proof that Jason Vickers is right.

 

Monday, April 23 ~ The Council of Bishops has assigned me to the Standing Committee on Central Conference Matters. We began our work this morning – voting on officers. Odd that over half of the people on this committee are newly appointed but are now expected to vote on people they don’t know to serve in a position for four years. Basically the same people were reelected to serve again. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, just interesting.

 

Best news so far: Our Nothing But Nets campaign has been instrumental in cutting the death rate from malaria in half.

 

Best first encounter: As I sat waiting for the beginning of the Central Conference meeting, I caught the eye of Alexis Nzabonimpa from the Gisenyi District in Rwanda who greeted me with a joyful smile. He came over and introduced himself and we shared about ourselves. Our time of getting to know one another ended with Alexis offering an amazing prayer of thanksgiving for our meeting. Afterwards, he said, “I am always so glad to meet a fellow servant in the Lord! Working together for the Lord brings such joy – like being in heaven!” That provided me a fresh context for the next two weeks.

 

There really is some theological stuff going on here, I just don’t think it will make it out of the legislative committees. Case in point: A Declaration from the Church in Africa (Petition #20921), which will come before the Faith and Order legislative group. This declaration was brought before the 2008 General Conference but no action was taken. Here are some interesting excerpts:

We are convinced that our connectedness has only been possible and solidified over the years because of our devoted loyalty to Jesus Christ as our only Savior and risen Lord. Our uncompromising belief in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the redemption of the whole world, and our obedience to the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20), is the primary reason for our commitment to “making disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”

The Church in Africa believes the totality of the Holy Scriptures (the 66 canonical books) as the Word of God for belief, obedience and practice. And, hence, we believe in the exclusive claim of Jesus Christ as the only “Way, Truth and Life” to eternality with God (John 14:6); and of his eternal co-existence and of one substance with God the Father and the Holy Spirit (Gen. 1:1-2, 26-27; John 6:5-15).

As we conclude the 2004-2008 quadrennium, and look forward to the commencement of a new one (2009- 2012), it is incumbent upon us, as a global Christian community to evaluate the past, understand the present and thereby anticipate a realistic future of the Church of Jesus Christ which he has entrusted to our care. Against this background, we wish to make the following inquiry for our consideration: How well is global United Methodism doing in ministry? How spiritually healthy is the Church? Is it growing, declining or stagnant? What is the Church’s priority? How does that priority measure up with its call by the Head of the Church, Jesus Christ, to fulfill the Great Commission? How many Churches have been planted during this past quadrennium? Have we as United Methodists, along with feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, building hospitals and schools, and responding to the physical needs of the poor, intentionally and significantly invested in evangelistic outreach, and discipleship ministries resulting in the planting of new churches for new converts?

The above inquiry is based on the fact that we of the Central Conferences of Africa are deeply concerned that the global United Methodist Church is beginning to speak with different languages, and not with the common speech that presents Jesus Christ as the Good News of salvation, our only Lord, and only Savior. As a result, the global witness of United Methodism is being threatened with the proclamation of different kinds of “gospels.”

We in Africa are deeply concerned that some Euro-Western Churches seem to be deserting the biblical path of Church planting, disciple-making, of prayer, and evangelistic and missional endeavors to an inward focus. This inward focus of some Churches has almost changed the biblical mandate from the “Great Commission” to the “Great Omission.”… Five years before his death John Wesley entertained the fear that in decades to come “the people called Methodist” would not cease to exist but would exist merely as a dead sect, having the form of godliness but no power to live for and proclaim Christ, unless they held fast to the Doctrine, Discipline and Spirit with which they first set out. We are painfully saddened that these current trends within the Euro-Western Church are, unfortunately, confirming the fears of John Wesley.

We in Africa hear the lamenting voice of the Apostle Paul when he says, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel- which is really no gospel at all” (Gal.1:6-7a). By such actions and attitudes towards the Gospel we are throwing both our adults and our children into confusion and, without words, telling them that Christianity does not have all the answers to their spiritual longing…

Therefore, we declare:

That the Lord God Almighty is the creator of heaven and earth and everything that is in it (Gen. 1:1; Psalm 24:1-3); That God made humanity in his own image and set humanity apart to be his vicegerent to manage and care for his creation (Gen. 2:15-17); That humanity willingly made a choice to sin against God, beginning with our original parents, Adam and Eve. As a result sin entered into the human race, bringing all humanity and all creation under the damnation of sin (Gen. 3:1-7, 14-19; Rom 3:10-12,23); That “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him might not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16-17; Rom 8:1); That Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, voluntarily submitted Himself to be crucified for us, under Roman authority, as a sacrificial offering, taking upon Himself the guilt of all humanity, standing in our place, atoning for our sins, forsaken as a criminal on a rugged Roman cross (Is. 52:13-53:12, John 10:18); That Jesus Christ, the Lion of Judah, arose literally and physically from the dead, victoriously resurrected to life in indestructible bodily form, presenting himself to hundreds of eyewitnesses over 40 days (John 20:19-30); That Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, literally ascended into the clouds and now sits on High as our Intercessor at the right hand of the Father (Acts 1:1-11; 1 Cor. 15:1-8); That Jesus Christ, the Alpha and Omega, will literally return on the clouds to reign with his faithful and true Church, his Bride and Body, for all who have been rescued by his atoning death (Acts 1:10-11; Rev. 21:1- 8); That anyone who will confess that Jesus is Lord and believe of the heart that God raised him from the dead will be saved, resurrected bodily like Him to live and reign forever with the Lord (1 Thess. 4:13-18).

Kim Reisman

Kim Reisman

The declaration goes on to address a host of other issues such as evil, the authority of and faithfulness to scripture, spiritual decadence, use of our tithes and offerings commensurate with the needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ worldwide, the equipping of seminaries, evangelism, and just and proportionate representation – to name just a few.

The Church in Africa is deeply worried about all of us Euro-Westerners. I’d like to hear more about that, but I don’t think I’ll get the chance. Petition #20921 is really long and cumbersome to read. I’ve also been told it’s misplaced. That likely indicates it probably won’t get very far – no sense talking about something that’s cumbersome and misplaced.

Alexis provided me a fresh context. I need that as the work begins. It really is a joyous thing to come together with other servants of the Lord. I just hope that the work we do really is the Lord’s and not just our own.

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UMC General Conference 2012

 

 

 

 

Tampa, Florida

 

 

 

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Making Life Matter

 

Making Life Matter is a weekly 30 minute Christian inspirational and teaching program hosted by Maxie Dunnam and Shane Stanford. Next Step partners with Kingdom Catalysts to bring you MLM, which tackles issues of faith and life in order to deepen discipleship and encourage strong connections between following Jesus and living in today’s world. Mark your calendars to visit Next Step and listen regularly. Click below to hear today’s program.

 

 

 

A word from Mr. Wesley as we come to General Conference…

Wesley statue - Asbury Seminary

John Wesley ~ Asbury Theological Seminary

In the quad at Asbury Seminary, we have a statue of John Wesley preaching in the public market. There is a plaque on the statue with some words of Wesley. I had these words put there because I wanted our students to be constantly reminded of the peril in which we stand in the United Methodist Church. I encouraged our students read that plaque and pause often there in the presence of Mr. Wesley, and pay attention to what he said:

I am not afraid that the people called Methodists should ever cease to exist either in Europe or America. But I am afraid, lest they should only exist as a dead sect, having the form of religion without the power. And this undoubtedly will be the case, unless they hold fast the doctrine, spirit, and discipline with which they first set out.

These words have special meaning as we participate in the upcoming United Methodist General Conference (April 24-May 3). It is clear that we are not holding fast the doctrine, spirit, and discipline with which the Methodist movement first set out.

Another word from Mr. Wesley is our challenge:

If you preach doctrine only, the people will become antinomians; and if you preach experience only, they will become enthusiasts; and if you preach practice only, they will become Pharisees. But if you preach all these and do not enforce discipline, Methodism will become like a highly cultivated garden without a fence, exposed to the ravages of the wild boar of the forest.

We are seeing it happen. The wild boar of the forest has been loosed not only in the highly cultivated garden of the Wesleyan movement, but in all mainline churches. So there is,

  • experimenting with pagan ritual and practice
  • consuming the world’s goods without regard for the poor
  • accommodating the prevailing patterns of sexual promiscuity, serial marriage, and divorce
  • resigning ourselves to the injustices of racial and gender prejudice
  • condoning homosexual practice
  • ignoring the historic Church’s long-standing protection of the unborn and the mother… nearly 50 million abortions in the last 3 decades
Matrix Mentor, Maxie D. Dunnam

Maxie D. Dunnam - Kingdom Catalysts

God called Israel to be “God’s own people…a holy nation.”  The church, as the “new Israel,” is to function in the same fashion. So God’s call to us is, “Be holy as I am holy.”  While we will spend a great deal of time dealing with structural issues, which is essential, my prayer is that we will not compromise on the critical social issues: care for the unborn, attention to the “strangers in our midst” (immigration), the practice of homosexuality (same sex unions, ordination of avowed homosexual persons), what merits a supposed Christian nation to initiate war, and peace in Jerusalem and care for Palestinians – particularly recognizing how we have given far more attention to Jews than to our Christian brothers and sisters in that “Holy Land.”

And wouldn’t it be wonderful if we would discipline ourselves to spend as much time strategizing on how to live out our mission – “Making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world” – as we do on how we will structure the governance of the church?

 

 

O For a Thousand Dollars to Save: A Lament on the Eve of General Conference

 

Jason Vickers wide

Jason Vickers

I have no illusions. I get that the United Methodist Church has money problems. Moreover, I get that money problems need money solutions. Nor am I reluctant to talk openly with friends and strangers about money. If anything, I am convinced that we have a money problem in America and in United Methodism in part because, along with sex, we have made money a taboo topic for polite conversation. So let’s talk about money. And let’s talk about sex. I’m game.

I am more troubled by what United Methodists will not be talking about at General Conference. For example, what are the odds that United Methodists at General Conference will have a lively conversation about the Holy Trinity or about the need to recover a more prominent role for Mary in United Methodist beliefs and practices? And what are the chances that we will have an animated conversation about the nature of holiness or about whether two sacraments are really sufficient?

What troubles me most, however, is that we don’t seem to realize that these things are related to one another – that our money problems and even our sex problems are largely a function of the utter staleness of our theological life together. Just now, the world around us is awakening from its dogmatic slumbers, which is to say, from the long sleep of Enlightenment. People everywhere are increasingly curious about God. Even Hollywood is once again making movies with plots driven by theological questions (see the Oscar-nominated Tree of Life). At such a time as this, I have yet to hear one good theological question set for debate at General Conference.

So what questions would I set before General Conference? Before taking up (again) the matter of whether two people of the same sex can be married, I would like to see us (just once) take up the more theologically profound question of whether we should add marriage to the list of sacraments. Similarly, before taking up (again) the matter of whether gays and lesbians can be ordained, I would like to see us (just once) entertain the theologically tantalizing questions of whether ordination itself is a sacrament and whether Mary might be a better model for the ordained life than Peter. And before we decide whether to downsize or to restructure, I would love to see us tackle the question of what it would mean to think about church polity and organization in a decidedly Trinitarian way.

 

Weight-bearing Walls Revisited

 

Load bearingMany of you know that my husband, John, is not a professing Christian – he has not claimed the Christian faith for himself. As you might expect, that makes for much deep, meaningful and always lively discussion in our household.

John was raised as a Unitarian Universalist, and as a result has always had difficulty understanding why we United Methodists continue to argue over the wide range of issues that absorb our attention every four years at General Conference. Around this time surprising elements seem to enter our conversation in direct proportion to the volume of General Conference literature that inundates our mailbox.

This week we received a newspaper mailing from Mainstream United Methodists which prompted a no longer new (but always awkward) question from John: “Since there are so many different ways for people to live out their Christian faith, if the United Methodist Church’s doctrines don’t fit a person’s way of living out their faith, or if there are parts of being a United Methodist that violate a person’s conscience, why do they stay United Methodists? Why don’t they become something else?”

John asks this question on a fairly regular basis. I never seem to have an adequate answer.

But what always intrigues me about his question is that he recognizes that United Methodists have doctrines – foundational things that bind us together with Christians across the world and throughout the ages, as well as things that define us as a community of Christians with our own unique place in the body of Christ. If you didn’t already know, those things are our Articles of Religion and Confession of Faith as well as John Wesley’s Sermons and Explanatory Notes on the New Testament.

Interestingly, the “Methodist Quadrilateral” isn’t actually included in those foundational things, as many would like to think. The Quadrilateral is about method, not doctrine. It’s about the process not the content. It is not contained in our constitution. It is not protected by any restrictive rules. Unlike our United Methodist doctrine, the Quadrilateral can be changed or even eliminated from the Book of Discipline altogether if that is the desire of the General Conference.

As I was thinking about John’s recognition of the role of doctrine, the metaphor of weight-bearing walls returned to my mind. Now here is something that can bear the weight. Here is the very thing that has born the weight of 2000 years of Christians continually seeking to live into the kingdom of God unfolding in their midst.

The problem is we United Methodists are in the midst of a 40+ year identity crisis. Our identity has become muddied by an emphasis on process rather than content, by thinking that the most important thing is how you come to your conclusions, not what your conclusions actually are. As a result, we’ve deceived ourselves into thinking we are a pluralist church – or at least “doctrinally diverse” – when in actuality we are, at least according to our constitution, confessional.

But I suppose that we really are a confessional church is a moot point if nobody realizes it or if few people even know what our doctrines are, or if those doctrines have been systematically ignored or set aside.

Over fifteen years ago, Billy Abraham asked some questions that are still pertinent today:

  • Can United Methodists identify the content of their doctrines and their doctrinal standards?
  • Does United Methodism really accept its own doctrines?
  • Does it take them seriously in its work and ministry?
  • Does it know how to teach them across generations?
  • Does it know how to interpret them and relate them to new situations?
  • Does it have ways of ensuring that the teachers of the tradition, most especially the presbyters, are really committed to the doctrinal standards of the church?
  • Does it have ways of ensuring that its overseers and guardians of the tradition, namely, its bishops, both own the tradition and hold themselves and the church as a whole accountable to these traditions?*

As I head for Tampa, I have an uneasy feeling that none of the decisions we will be asked to make actually addresses what lies at the heart of our struggle as a denomination – the identity crises that stems from doctrinal confusion and chaos. There is an unspoken divide between those who would like to abandon the classical faith of the church and those who want to keep it front and center. We seem to have lost our doctrinal and spiritual focus and have allowed the culture to set the agenda and norms for the church.

I believe Billy Abraham was correct all those years ago when he asserted that:

The church cannot endure without a body of systematic and coherent doctrine. This was not a problem Wesley faced two centuries ago. His challenge was to take the doctrine the church already possessed in her canonical traditions and make it accessible to the masses of his day. Hence he did not make doctrine a high priority in his efforts to renew the church of his day. Two hundred years later, the situation is radically reversed. We have become so doctrinally indifferent and illiterate that the church is starved of intellectual content…It is the recovery of doctrine that in part makes one acutely aware of how crucial continuing intellectual engagement is in the life of the church. We have to find our own way to deploy the doctrines of the faith and to offer the kind of interpretive investigation that will be relevant to our own times. We have to try to solve the problems and questions that lie buried in the tradition; we have to deal with a host of objections that occur to insiders and outsiders; and we have to make our own contributions to the life of the Christian mind. This continuing work is not done in a doctrinal vacuum. It is done precisely in and through the owning of the doctrines of the faith in our own space and time.*

The issues of this General Conference will come and go as they always do – some will resurface, others may not, but nothing of substance will change if we don’t do exactly as Abraham suggests – own the doctrines of our faith in our own space and time.

 

*Billy Abraham, Waking from Doctrinal Amnesia: The Healing of Doctrine in the United Methodist Church (Nashville: Abingdon, 1995), 50-51, 104-105

 

Friendly Planet

Bob Walters - Friendly Planet Missiology

Bob Walters is the director of connection ministries in the North Katanga Episcopal Area in the DRCongo. He’s also part of an organization called Friendly Planet Missiology. Friendly Planet is a team of missiologists (Congolese and American) committed to empowering and equipping community leaders–particularly those working in the heart of The United Methodist Church’s North Katanga Area in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 

The North Katanga Episcopal Area, which includes the North Katanga, Tanganyika, and Tanzania Conferences, is one of the fastest growing areas of the United Methodist Church. It is also one of the poorest with malaria, cholera, typhoid, and HIV/AIDS epidemic. Many of its districts have survived the recent horrific war in eastern Congo and are struggling to recover. United Methodist pastors and lay leaders behaved heroically during the war and are now in place to lead in the recovery. North Katanga will have 66 delegates at this year’s General Conference of the United Methodist Church in Tampa, Florida, the largest delegation attending. 2010 was the centennial year of Methodism in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

I give you that information so you can have some perspective on the blog Bob posted yesterday – Abandoned and Forgotten. Here’s what Bob had to say:

 

Monono is exactly 100 kilometers by bicycle from Mulongo, if you take the short cut through the forest around Kyolo, which we did. The ride was serious fast. Team leader Daniel Mumba was driven to get there in record time. We even dropped a team member and sent him back to Mulongo when he pulled up lame. (At least, we didn’t shoot him.)

Monono Mining Encampment

In the forest, we find a mining encampment. It’s a large group with both women and men mining, as well as women doing laundry, cooking meals, and caring for babies. It’s also a friendly group. I’m having the feeling of running across a Gypsy camp in the backwoods of eastern Europe. (This is my imagination on sensory overload.) They welcome our picture taking and take time out to pose and smile. Don’t let me deceive the reader, this is brutal work and in no way does the friendly welcome of the miners make this situation acceptable. Here is where your laptop or cell phone is born, dug out of the mud by the poorest people on the planet. This hard day’s ride in the scorching sun is a physical challenge for me, but they are going to be here every day for the rest of their lives.

Out of the forest and back on the road, we head into the U.N. Peace Keeping Zone. There is some kind of political demonstration happening in the first village we enter. A large crowd has gathered and someone with a lot of energy is speaking. U.N. troops are there to keep a lid on it. The officer in charge of the company of soldiers makes eye contact and without altering his firm posture, waves us through, as if to say, “We don’t need you in this mix.” I’m needing a rest stop and had mentally prepared myself for stopping in this village, but we wisely keep moving and make our stop 5 kilometers out of town. A couple hours later, the transport with the U.N. Peace Keepers passes us on their way back to their base in Monono.

This is my third visit to Monono, the first in 1991 and the second in 1995. Taylor (with Bishop Ntambo) visited right after the war in 2005. She saw the town in its rubble after being leveled in the war. I’m seeing two distinct pictures. There is the rubble, but it is overgrown and disappearing into the forest. Then there is the artificial city of the United Nations. The “downtown shopping district” of the old colonial days, which was a ghost town even before the war, has freshly painted store fronts and all kinds of trucks unloading all kinds of consumer goods. Generators are running to power communications systems. Pallets of bottled water, Coca-Cola, and beer are stacked outside the stores. The citizens are still living in poverty, but the U.N. soldiers and the accompanying NGO’s are living well, and someone is making a tidy profit.

We are greeted by the district leadership of the United Methodist Church. Here is where my blood begins its slow boil. (I felt the same way when I visited Kalemie in 2009, and Kabalo last year.) The United Methodist Church (the General Church) has totally abandoned and absolutely forgotten these people. This is where I personally lose my cool and say things on a blog that is permanent and global that are unwise, but this is the rant that is my 95 Thesis on the Wittenberg Door.

For the life of me, I can’t understand how a Church that prides itself in going anywhere and everywhere in the world in response to tragedy, misses the (by death toll) greatest humanitarian disaster since WWII. There is no UMCOR here in Monono, no General Board of Global Ministries, even. It’s worse than not responding, we have abandoned the mission stations that were critical to the community for education and health care. And we still haven’t returned. Our Congolese colleagues rightly feel abandoned.

That’s my second point in this rant. How did the United Methodist Church (General Church) miss the heroic work of the pastors and lay leaders during the war, risking life and livelihood to stay in their appointments? and now those same pastors and lay leaders are still there, exhausted and completely out of resources. And we still aren’t there.

These are the brave (and loyal) people who paint a cross and flame on their church or school or health center because they believe that they are on the same team as rest of the United Methodists in the world. They believe that they can go to work each day, without pay and without supplies, because we have their backs. Am I to tell them that Sam Houston isn’t coming? that they’re on their own?

The Catholic cathedral in the center of Monono had its roof blown off in the war. It is now reproofed and repainted and is a symbol of rebirth. I meet with the territorial administrator and he asks why the United Methodists have abandoned their people. I’m embarrassed and ashamed. We visit a school (auto mechanics and electrical) that had been built by the United Methodist missionary Ken Enright. An Irish NGO (Bono?) paid for a new roof and a fresh coat of paint, but it’s still an empty shell. The director of the school hands me an $80,000 proposal for restoring the school to its previous state. I’m helpless to respond, and I’m angry that no one from the General Board of Global Ministries has even been here to see the state of their own projects.

The General Conference of the United Methodist Church is meeting in Tampa next week. There will be 66 delegates from the North Katanga Episcopal Area. If you are there, look them up, shake their hands, and say, “I’m sorry that we weren’t there with you, what can we do to help?”

If you’re from any of our general agencies, look me up. I’m Bob Walters, the newly appointed Director of Connectional Ministries for the North Katanga Episcopal Area. I’m very cross right now, but I can easily be appeased with a smile and a handshake.

Bob Walters

A United Methodist Church in the Monono District

We talk about being a worldwide United Methodist Church, but it seems we only really act like it when it’s convenient. Or that could be cynicism getting the best of me. Maybe now that the part of the church that’s actually growing finally has a seat at the table, things might be different. I’m don’t know.

What I do know is that you don’t need to wait for the worldwide UMC to get its act together to get involved in what the Spirit is doing in North Katanga. If you do, you’ll miss it. Instead, find out how you can support God’s kingdom work in the DRCongo. Follow The Friendly Planet Blog. Follow them on Twitter. Support them with your resources.