Action from Council on Bishops

12/9/2009

:: Action from Council on Bishops

Council of Bishops Adopt
"God's Renewed Creation: Call to Hope and Action"   


In a statement that says, "We cannot help the world until we change our way of being in it," the bishops of The United Methodist Church announced a significant call to all United Methodists, ecumenical and inter-religious partners and people of goodwill around the world.

"As bishops, we know that critical issues of the day have left people feeling fearful, cynical, hopeless and overwhelmed," said Bishop Gregory Palmer, president of the Council of Bishops."God's Renewed Creation: Call to Hope and Action contains our pledges to work in hopeful and robust ways for transforming change as God's stewards of creation. We invite the church and our partners around the world to join us."

Stating that they "cannot remain silent while God's people and God's planet suffer," the 69 active bishops of The United Methodist Church addressed the pastoral letter and foundation document to the 11.3 million global members of the denomination.

The bishops recommend that the pastoral letter be read aloud in worship during the season of Advent in each of 42,600 congregations worldwide. A liturgical setting for the letter offers responsive elements for congregational participation. These are a "lament for God's people and God's planet," confession of "failure to embody the image of God" and call to action inviting everyone to join the bishops in their own nine pledges for urgent, effective action.

The final documents will be available online http://bishops.umc.org/interior.asp?ptid=21&mid=5855  by November 9, 2009 and in French, Portuguese, German, Spanish and Korean as soon as possible. Study guides for adults and leaders with children are being prepared for Lenten studies in 2010.

The focus of the bishops' message is three interconnected global threats to God's good creation:
    • Pandemic poverty and disease
    • Environmental degradation
    • The proliferation of weapons and violence.
"We spent many months listening to the concerns and hopes of over 5,400 United Methodists worldwide of every age and status," said Bishop Timothy Whitaker of Florida, Chair of the Task Force that brought the proposal to the Council. "We are building on a strong church tradition of seriously engaging public policy issues that most affect the human race-especially our young people."

Feedback from United Methodists and interreligious partners in Europe, Africa, Asia (especially the Philippines), and the U.S. asked the bishops to share words of confession, prophetic reminders of biblical and Wesleyan heritage, and some ways to respond to specific calls to action.

God's Renewed Creation is the evolution of action taken 20 years ago when the bishops issued a pastoral letter called, "In Defense of Creation: The Nuclear Crisis and a Just Peace." The 1986 letter reminded all people that this world is God's creation, a sacred gift to be received and nurtured with respect, declaring an unconditional NO to the policy of deterrence and any use of nuclear weapons.

In 2004, the General Conference of The United Methodist Church authorized the Council of Bishops to update the 1986 document for our time by "educating and encouraging the church, citizens and governments to seek things which lead to a just peace." 

Council of Bishops Elects Wenner President-Designate and Goodpaster President   

The United Methodist Council of Bishops has elected Bishop Rosemarie Wenner of the Germany Episcopal Area as its president designate.
 
The council also elected Bishop Larry Goodpaster of the Charlotte Episcopal Area as president for a two-year term beginning May 6, 2010 and ending during the 2012 General Conference. Goodpaster will succeed Bishop Gregory Palmer of the Illinois Episcopal Area.
 
Bishop Goodpaster, who has served as president-designate for the past year and a half, said that he is looking forward to continuing work on reordering and rethinking church and what it might look like in the future. "Being in a position to make that vision  happen-that keeps me energized," he said.
 
Bishop Wenner is a native of Germany and attended the United Methodist Theological Seminary in Reutlingen. She was ordained in 1981 and served as pastor of congregations in Karlsruhe-Durlach, Hockenheim and Darmstadt-Sprendlingen before her appointment as superintendent of the Frankfurt District in 1996. In February 2005, she was elected bishop at the Germany Central Conference in Wuppertal--the first woman elected to the United Methodist episcopacy outside the U.S.
 
"We are clear about our priorities; we want to enable our local churches and our annual conferences to fulfill the task of making disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world," said Bishop Wenner. "I look forward to giving my contribution so that we all together might go forward in this direction and really focus on the four area of foci that we have agreed to as our priorities."
 
Bishop Wenner said that she looks forward to working in a worldwide perspective. "I hope that we can grow deeper into that relationship so that we really support each other in doing God's mission all over the world," she said.
 
The election took place during the Council's semi-annual meeting at Lake Junaluska, NC this week.