believe that silence from the pulpit on the subject of abortion... denies people the
healing power of our Lord Jesus Christ.
To a degree, we are all determined by our culture and time. For example, the Civil
Rights Movement shaped most Americans in the 1950s and 1960s. Then, from the mid-1960s
through the 1970s, the Sexual Revolution and, for a time, protest against American
military in Vietnam set the cultural agenda. The 1980s, according to some, brought on a
culturally corrupting materialism. In the 1990s, a political correctness developed and
became so powerful that it denied mention of subjects it deemed outside the boundaries of
Though ideologically charged movements, events, and fashions are societally powerful,
we are not prisoners of our culture. That is, I believe that today Christians can make
conscious decisions, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to break through cultural
constraints and speak on issues that are deemed politically incorrect. Indeed, we should
speak on such issues because God speaks on such issues and because they can involve true
compassion for others, for the least of these.
I believe that silence from the pulpit on the subject of abortion (and the suffering of
women and men from post-abortion syndrome) denies people the healing power of our Lord
Jesus Christ. There could be no more devastating denial.
It could well be that this silence from the pulpit is understood, by some post-abortive
women, as proof that they are unworthy of forgiveness, that they and their deeds are so
dirty and evil that even their pastors dare not address them. Or worse, many of these
women might believe that their nagging feelings of guilt are false, that there is nothing
for which they need to ask forgiveness. If true guilt were in play, they reason, their
pastors would be speaking to their need.
As pastors remain silent, so as not to upset anyone in the pew, parishioners touched by
abortion feel an increasing alienation, a growing separation from their own congregations,
because no one risks discussion of this supposedly out-of-bounds subject.
When clergy and congregations breach the often forbidden subject and offer
Christs forgiveness and healing to the victims of abortion, word that they are truly
of Christ and truly inviting all to His healing certainly spreads. New life in Christ is
given and received. The congregations are strengthened. And the Gospel advances, due to
that amazing grace.
This article was written by Mr. Rob Richey/718 East Christy Street/Greensburg, IN
47240. Mr. Richey suggests that it might be copied and made into a brochure fit for
distribution throughout a congregation. Remember that it can easily be downloaded from the
Lifewatch Web site at www.lifewatch.org.
Just as He promised, the Lord of life was present in Word and Sacramentthis
time at the annual Lifewatch Service of Worship on January 24th. As usual, the service was
held at Simpson Memorial Chapel in The United Methodist Building on Capitol Hill in
Washington, DC. It began at 9:30 in the morningtwo and one-half hours before the
annual March for Life was slated to start.
The 2000 Lifewatch Service of Worship was the twelfth such service. One of the better
attended, this years service involved United Methodists and others from across the
nation. Many youth attended the service; and all those present, quite wisely, were decked
out in their heaviest winter wear. The service was faithfully ordered and led by The
Reverend Paul R. Crikelair, pastor of the Goodwill United Methodist Church in Elverson,
The Reverend Harold Lewis, pastor of Lincoln Park United Methodist Church in
Washington, DC, had been the scheduled preacher for the service. However, due to
circumstances beyond his control and ours (namely, illness among his parishioners,
last-minute hospital visits, and traffic jams), he was unable to make it to the service on
time. Always ahead of the curve, Rev. Crikelair stepped up and preached the mornings
sermon with grace and truthfulness.
WHO ARE YOU?
Pastor, who are you? Are you just a person anxious to avoid the unpleasantness
and difficulties surrounding abortion?
In his sermon, Rev. Crikelair pressed the question posed to Jesus and reported in John
8:25, "Who are you?" Crikelair asserted that this question is the
question for here and for now.
Who are you?that is, Who is Jesus?is the question the Church, here and
everywhere assembled, can answer. To that question, the Church answers with help from The
Gospel According to St. John. He is the Word, eternal and embodied. He is the Lamb of God.
He is the One who had some deep theological conversation with Nicodemus at midnight. He is
the One who met the Samaritan woman at high noon. He is the One who changed water into
wine at a festive wedding party in Cana. He is the One who healed a royal officials
son. He is the One who healed a paralytic beside a pool. He is the One who fed 5,000 at a
kind of dinner on the grounds. He is the One who walked on the water. He is the One whom
many did not and do not know, for He is not of this world. Who is Jesus? He is "the
Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name." (John
Who are you?, preached Crikelair, also is a crucial question for now, for our
abortion-saturated time. Since the pertinent United States Supreme Court decisions of
January 22, 1973, there have been nearly 40,000,000 abortions performed in the United
States. Every day there are nearly 4,000 abortions performed in our land. Who are you?
That is a question to ask during a time of catastrophe. Who are you? That is a question to
pose to different people involved, directly or indirectly, in the catastrophe of our time.
Mother of an unborn child, who are you? Are you just a frightened teenager or an
inconvenienced woman? Or are you a mother given a gift from God?
Father of an unborn child, who are you? Are you just another boy or man who can walk
away from the consequences of your sexual pleasure? Or are you a father with great
Unborn child, who are you? Are you just a fetus, an embryo, a mass of tissue? Or are
you a human being created in the image and likeness of God?
Doctor, who are you? Are you just a skilled medical provider who makes a lot of money?
Or are you a physician with a God-given vocation?
Church, who are you? Are you just a collection of autonomous individuals? Or are you
the Body of Christ called to minister to the world, especially to the least of these, to
the most helpless of our world?
Pastor, who are you? Are you just a person anxious to avoid the unpleasantness and
difficulties surrounding abortion? Or are you a witness to the Gospel of Life, a witness
to the truth?
Who are you? Are you just another consumer wanting to live a comfortable,
entertainment-filled life and desiring to avoid the problem of abortion? Or are you a
human being who is bound to the good of every neighboreven to the well being of the
unborn child and mother, the infirm, the elderly, the dying, the handicapped, the
retarded, and the crippled?
Who are you?, Rev. Crikelair asked again and again. He assumed the question has
answers, truthful answers. He preached that our answers have consequences, eternal
consequences. And he proclaimed that, by the grace of God, this question and our answers
to this question will lead many to believe in Jesus Christ (John 8:30), the Savior and the
Lord of the world.
A PERSONAL NOTE
The Reverend Paul R. Crikelair, it must be added, is a man whose life truthfully
answers, and helps others to answer truthfully, the question Who are you? Paul is the
faithful husband of Janet and the devoted father of their six children. (Jody and Peter
John accompanied Paul to Washington, DC, this year. They are bright, energetic,
well-trained, Christian children whose affection for their father is obvious.) He is a
faithful servant of Jesus Christ and the Church (including The United Methodist Church and
its Goodwill Church).
Rev. Crikelairs dedication to the Gospel of Life is consistent, persevering, and
public. He recently published a 1999 edition of his booklet, "Abortion-Alternative
Resources in Southeastern Pennsylvania," which includes 110 organizations that
minister to protect women and their children from abortion. (If you would like a copy of
this excellent booklet, write to Rev. Crikelair at Goodwill UMC/104 Church Road/Elverson,
PA 19520. You might enclose a dollar or two to help with expenses.) Through thoughtful
conversations and letters, he encourages his district superintendent and his bishop to be
more straightforward about the goodness of life and the evil of abortion. He has been with
the Lifewatch effort from its humble beginnings. And as mentioned above, he has been a
steady leader of the annual Lifewatch Service of Worship for twelve years.
Rev. Paul Crikelair, we know who you are. You are a child of God, a brother in Christ,
a flesh-and-blood vessel of the Holy Spirit. We thank God for you. (PTS)
"Judge not, that you be not judged" (Matthew 7:1, RSV), Jesus said.
Professor Richard B. Hays of Duke Divinity School writes that, with reference to
divorce, Matthew 7:1 has become "the operative canon within the canon for
Methodismas for much of mainstream Protestantism..." (The Moral Vision of
the New Testament, p. 348). It could be argued that the same verse has become
"the operative canon within the canon for Methodism" not only on divorce but
also on abortion and much else as well.
are consecrated and elders are ordained, in part, to exercise judgment.
Indeed, this editor wishes he had a nickel for every time a United Methodist has quoted
this particular commandment so that he could, in good conscience, crawl up on a moral
fence, comfortably sit down, and be "nonjudgmental." "I am not the judge,
so I cannot and will not judge," it is commonly said by many in our denomination. It
sounds so Biblical, so faithful to the New Testament, so pious. But the claim is also
popular among Hollywood celebrities and national politicians. That should cause the Church
to pause. And that pause should lead the Church to reconsider Jesus commandment with
greatand I mean greatcare.
According to Strongs Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, the Greek word
for judge means "to distinguish" or "to decide." By
implication, to judge means "to try, condemn, punish." Therefore, when one
judges another, the former assumes the judges bench in a legal setting, indicts the
one being considered, conducts a fantasy trial, finds the defendant guilty, and then
sentences the guilty party to punishment.
Against those people who are all too quick to judge others in this way, Jesus warns:
"For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give
will be the measure you get." (Matthew 7:2) In other words, Jesus says: "As you
judge others, God will judge you." That is a solemn warning for the whole Church. It
should be heeded by all of us, all the time.
However, "Judge not, that you be not judged" does not command Christians to
be nonjudgmental on matters related to doctrine and morals. Indeed, The United Methodist
Church charges its bishops and pastors to judge. At their services of consecration,
bishops pledge to "guard the faith, order, liturgy, doctrine, and discipline of the
Church against all that is contrary to Gods Word" (Consecration of Bishops, The
United Methodist Book of Worship, 703). Faithfulness to that vow requires that bishops
judge matters related to "the faith, order, liturgy, doctrine, and discipline"
of our denomination. Likewise, at their services of ordination, elders promise to
"[defend The United Methodist Church] against all doctrines contrary to Gods
Holy Word" (Ordination of Elders, The United Methodist Book of Worship, 695).
Faithfulness to this vow mandates that elders exercise judgment on matters related to
That is, bishops are consecrated and elders are ordained, in part, to exercise
judgment. To be sure, they are not consecrated and ordained to judge people. (Though it
should be admitted that there are times when the Church, out of obedience to Christ, must
actually judge people. For example, using proper procedures and due process, The United
Methodist Church recently dismissed a man from the ordained ministry of the denomination
when he was found guilty of conducting a same-sex union service and for promising to do
the same again and again. ) But they are consecrated and ordained routinely to judge
matters related to the Churchs teaching. Therefore, if bishops and elders become
nonjudgmental about claims that are "contrary to Gods Word," they violate
It is hard to imagine Dietrich Bonhoeffer being "nonjudgmental" about the
German churches sliding into anti-Semitic theologies. Likewise, it is hard to imagine
Martin Luther King, Jr., being "nonjudgmental" about American churches teaching
doctrines of racial discrimination. It is just as hard to imagine John Paul II being
"nonjudgmental" about the ideas that feed and empower the Culture of Death. The
judgment of ideas is never beyond the pale.
"Judge not, that you be not judged." Certainly, the Church is not in the
business of nonchalantly judging people. But the Church isor more precisely, certain
designated people within the Christian communityare divinely charged to judge ideas.
The failure to judge ideas that run "contrary to Gods Word" compromises
episcopal and ordained ministries, brings confusion to the Christian community, and
undermines the Churchs mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ.
Proper judgment is not an easy task. After all, constructive judgment requires
avoidance of anger, concentration on substance, commitment to the Churchs teaching,
and winsomeness in style. Though difficult, in the power of the Holy Spirit, the judgment
of ideas can and must be attemptedwithout heavy-handedness and without apology.
Yet another election cycle is upon us. Yes, yes, we know that some new United Methodist
bishops will be elected this summer at the Jurisdictional Conferences. But here election
cycle is meant to refer to the 2000 elections of the President, U.S. Senators, and U.S.
In the midst of all the politics to comeall the political commentary, all the
political debate, all the campaign ads, all the he-said-she-saidhow should we
citizens, who are United Methodists, cast our votes? Should abortion play a decisive role
in determining how we vote? Or is politics just about the economy, stupid?
Back in October 1999, the Administrative Board of the U.S. Catholic Conference released
a statement entitled "Faithful Citizenship: Civic Responsibility for a New
Millennium." This statement instructs its readers on how to be faithful citizens,
according to Catholic social teaching, during the current political season. The
statements guidance, which is not in the least sectarian, is helpful to us United
Methodists as well.
In general, "Faithful Citizenship" pushes for the development of a new
politics. Its new politics is more radical than the new politics promoted by such
well-intentioned presidential candidates as Bill Bradley and John McCain. The statement
declares: "The next millennium requires a new kind of politics, focused more on moral
principles than on the latest polls, more on the needs of the poor and vulnerable than on
the contributions of the rich and powerful, more on the pursuit of the common good than on
the demands of special interests. As Catholics and as voters, this is not an easy time for
faithful citizenship... [But w]e must challenge all parties and every candidate to defend
human life and dignity, to pursue greater justice and peace, to uphold family life and to
advance the common good." (Origins, October 28, 1999, p. 311)
Some will object that it is fine for Catholics and other Christians to have political
opinions, but they should keep their opinions to themselves. In other words, they should
not try to "impose" their political perspective on the greater society.
"Faithful Citizenship" responds: "As members of the Catholic community, we
enter the public forum to act on our moral convictions, share our experience in serving
the poor and vulnerable, and add our values to the dialogue over our nations future.
Catholics are called to be a community of conscience within the larger society and to test
public life by the moral wisdom anchored in Scripture and consistent with the best of our
nations founding ideals. Our moral framework does not easily fit the categories of
right or left, Democrat or Republican. Our responsibility is to measure every party and
platform by how its agenda touches human life and dignity... [W]e are called to a common
commitment to protect human life and stand with those who are poor and vulnerable. We
cannot be indifferent to or cynical about the obligations of citizenship. As voters and
advocates, candidates and contributors, we are called to provide moral leaven for our
democracy." (pp. 312 and 313) As United Methodists who have "Social
Principles" in our Book of Disciple and who maintain a Book of Resolutions,
we are well trained in the tradition of the Church being politically engaged.
To be sure, the Churchs political task does not involve the Church telling people
to vote for or against certain candidates. It does involve encouraging voters to
"examine the position of candidates on the full range of issues as well as on their
personal integrity, philosophy, and performance. We are convinced that a consistent ethic
of life should be the moral framework from which to address all issues in the political
arena. We urge our fellow citizens to see beyond party politics, to analyze campaign
rhetoric critically, and to choose their political leaders according to principle, not
simply party affiliation or mere self-interest." (p. 313)
The first moral principle listed by "Faithful Citizenship" is entitled the
"Life and Dignity of the Human Person." This principle states: "Every human
person is created in the image and likeness of God. The conviction that human life is
sacred and that each person has inherent dignity that must be respected in society lies at
the heart of Catholic social teaching. Calls to advance human rights are illusions if the
right to life itself is subject to attack. We believe that every human life is sacred from
conception to natural death; that people are more important than things; and that the
measure of every institution is whether or not it enhances the life and dignity of the
human person." (p. 313) This moral principle, it might be noted, forms the foundation
of all other moral principles.
Applied to public life, this moral principle means that "[h]uman life is a gift
from God, sacred and inviolable. This is the teaching that calls us to protect and respect
every human life from conception until natural death. Because every human person is
created in the image and likeness of God, we have a duty to defend human life in all its
stages and in every condition... Abortion and euthanasia have become preeminent
threats to human life and dignity because they directly attack life itself, the most
fundamental good and the condition for all others. Abortion, the deliberate killing
of a human being before birth, is never morally acceptable...
"Laws that legitimize abortion...are profoundly unjust and wrong. We support
constitutional protection for unborn human life... We encourage passage of laws and
programs that promote childbirth and adoption over abortion and assist pregnant women and
children..." (p. 314)
To be sure, abortion is not the only political issue. But given its life-and-death
nature, the issue of abortion is arguably the most important political issue of our
society in our time. The political issue of abortion should cause all Christians to
remember the God-given dignity of the person, the Churchs duty to speak for and
minister to the least of these, and the governments responsibility to seek justice
for the same. Remembering, we should also act. And we should act as faithful citizens.
Get this. The churches and their moral teachings are now being blamed for promoting
homophobia and hate for abortionists in the Christian communities and in the general
society. These two forms of hate, it is contended, have festered, grown, and led to the
disgusting murders of Matthew Shepard, the gay college student who was strung up by a
couple of toughs, and Dr. Barnett Slepian, the abortionist who was cut down in his home by
a snipers bullet. This line of thinking is developed by a few articles in the
September/October 1999 issue of Church & Society, which is published by the
National Ministries Division of the Presbyterian Church (USA). Again, the argument is that
the Churchs historic teachingsregarding homosexual activity and
abortionfoster the kind of hate that then leads to cold-blooded killing.
Father Frank Pavone, the National Director of Priests for Life, has done some careful
thinking about this argument. Fr. Pavone takes his lead from the late Reverend Dr. Martin
Luther King, Jr.
During his public ministry, Rev. King received a letter from a group of Alabama clergy.
Their letter stated: "Just as we formerly pointed out that hatred and violence
have no sanction in our religious and political traditions, we also point out that
such actions as incite to hatred and violence, however technically peaceful those actions
may be, have not contributed to the resolution of our local problems."
With his now famous "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," Dr. King responded to
the aforementioned Alabama clergy. In his letter, King noted: "In your statement you
assert that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemned because they precipitate
violence. But is this a logical assertion? Isnt this like condemning a robbed man
because his possession of money precipitated the evil act of robbery? Isnt this like
condemning Socrates because his unswerving commitment to truth and his philosophical
inquiries precipitated the act by the misguided populace in which they made him drink
hemlock? Isnt this like condemning Jesus because his unique God-consciousness and
never-ceasing devotion to Gods will precipitated the evil act of crucifixion? We
must come to see that, as the Federal courts have consistently affirmed, it is wrong to
urge an individual to cease his efforts to gain his basic constitutional rights because
the quest may precipitate violence. Society must protect the robbed and punish the
Another way of countering the argument at hand is this. Can John Paul II, who teaches
the Churchs morality regarding sexuality and abortion, be blamed for the crimes of
those who murder homosexuals and abortion providers? Quite obviously, no.
Fr. Pavone concludes his musings: "In our day, what actually promotes violence is
the pro-choice mentality. When someone kills an abortion provider, he/she is practicing
what pro-choicers have preached for decades: that sometimes it is okay to choose to end a
life to solve a problem." (10/11/99 column for Priests for Life).
Those who offer the apostolic Churchs teachings on sexuality and abortion should
never be intimidated into silence by those who claim such teachings lead to hate and
murder. The Churchs teachings do not lead to hate and murder. The Churchs
teachings lead to love, life, and salvation in Jesus Christ. (PTS)
At the end of January, the "Religious Declaration on Sexual Morality, Justice, and
Healing" was released for all, or at least some, of the world to read. At or soon
after public release, it was endorsed by "[o]ver 900 religious leaders, including two
UM [United Methodist] bishops, 30 UM clergy, and 14 members of UM seminary
faculties..." (Newscope, 1/28/00) For your information, the episcopal
signatories were Bishop Roy I. Sano (LA, and we do not mean Lower Alabama) and Bishop
Leontine T.C. Kelley (retired); and two especially well-known professors, John B. Cobb
(Claremont School of Theology) and Schubert M. Ogden (SMU), were among the academic
This brief declaration is best understood as the religious community finally and fully
accommodating itself, after all these years, to the Sexual Revolution. In other words,
this declaration is an attempt to legitimate, in religious terms, much of what the Sexual
Revolution has promoted for decades.
To be sure, the "Religious Declaration" contains truthful claims here and
there. For example, when it states that "(o)ur faith traditions celebrate the
goodness of creation, including our bodies and our sexuality," it is teaching
truthfully. Also, it recognizes that, when the gift of sexuality is "abused or
exploited," there is sin. And it rightly states that we must "see, hear, and
respond to the suffering caused by violence against women and sexual minorities, the HIV
pandemic," and the "commercial exploitation of sexuality."
However, when declaring "sexuality as central to our humanity and as integral to
our spirituality," the statement tends to oversexualize the human person. Perhaps
love, understood as more than eros, is most "central to our humanity" and
"integral to our spirituality."
The declarations sexual ethic claims that "[a]ll persons have the right and
responsibility to lead sexual lives that express love, justice, mutuality, commitment,
consent, and pleasure... It accepts no double standards and applies to all persons,
without regard to sex, gender, color, age, bodily condition, marital status, or sexual
orientation." Obviously, this sexual morality aims at freeing sexual expression from
the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman. For this reason, the
declarations sexual ethic is quite antinomianthat is, without law (or
commandment). Since some denominations these days are attempting to have polity without
discipline, worship without liturgy, and teaching without doctrine, the attempt at a
sexual morality without law is not terribly surprising.
The declaration goes on to advocate the ordination of "sexual
minorities"including, presumably, people who engage in homosexual sex.
Furthermore, it claims that "faith communities" should bless "same sex
unions." And it notes that communities of faith should work for "sexual and
spiritual wholeness in society" by calling for...[a] faith-based commitment
to...reproductive rights..." According to the suggestion of the last claim, abortion
rights are necessary for society to achieve sexual and spiritual wholeness. Apparently, it
is okay for wholeness is to be sought without regard for the unborn child and mother.
This declaration is both troubling and humorous. Troubling because it sets aside much,
if not most, of the apostolic teaching of the Church on matters related to sexuality.
Humorous because it exudes the excitement of attempting something entirely new. Heck, Time
magazine was pushing this stuff decades ago. And the Corinthians were at it centuries ago.
Just do it! That is rallying cry of the Sexual Revolution. Just do it with a good
conscience! That seems to be the rallying cry of the "Religious Declaration on Sexual
Morality, Justice, and Healing." The sad irony is that in this sexual morality there
is no genuine justice and no real healing. The sad irony is that this sexual morality is
not good for the human person. (PTS)
On November 5, 1999, the Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church approved a
letter to the "Pastors and Members of United Methodist Congregations Around the
World." On November 9, 1999, the letter was sent, with a cover letter, to United
Methodist clergy and laity around the world.
teach what the Church has taught through the ages about homosexuality and abortion is not
The bishops wrote this letter at a time when the debate, initiated by those who want to
change The United Methodist Churchs teaching to be accepting of homosexual practice,
was especially hot and heavy. Furthermore, the bishops wrote this letter to help prepare
our denomination for General Conference 2000, which could prove to be a very significant
and very contentious conference. With these pressing concerns in mind, the Council of
Bishops sat right down and wrote their church a letter. In general, they composed a kind
of dont-frighten-the-horses letter. It aims to keep everybody focused ("on the
primary mission of the church, namely to make disciples of Jesus Christ [Par.
200 of The Book of Discipline and Matthew 29:19]"), positive, busy, engaged,
and working within the denomination as we know it.
In their letter, the bishops contend that the way toward faithfulness is to ignore the
distractions of particular issues. Indeed, forms of the word distract appear three
times in the episcopal letter. This sentence appears in the third paragraph: "We [the
bishops] write to remind all United Methodist persons not to be distracted from our
primary mission as a church by arguments over sensitive issues." In the seventh
paragraph is this sentence: "Too often our church has become distracted by
various issues over which we seem to lack clarity of discernment." And this sentence
is near the end of the letter: "It would be tragic for The United Methodist Church to
allow any discussion of any issue to distract us from our mission of proclaiming
the Gospel, making disciples for Christ, and spreading scriptural holiness throughout the
earth." [Emphasis, in the three quoted sentences, is added.] According to this way of
thinking, both homosexuality and abortion should be understood as distractions. According
to this way of thinking, matters related to homosexuality and abortion should be avoided
so that domestic tranquility, real ministry, and true mission will be advanced in and
through the United Methodist household.
To be sure, most United Methodists do not want to fight, ruthlessly and endlessly,
about homosexuality and abortion. That would indeed be a strike against making disciples
and maintaining church unity, and a genuine distraction from the main ministry and mission
of the denomination.
That said, United Methodists, laity and clergy, should not avoid matters related to
homosexuality and abortion because of their alleged "distracting" nature.
Consider the following. To teach what the Church catholic has taught, through the ages,
about homosexuality and abortion is not a distraction. To minister to a long-time United
Methodist layman, who wants to be released from the sinful practice of homosexuality, is
not a distraction. To protect an unmarried, pregnant teenager and her little one from
abortion is not a distraction. To serve as an instrument of the forgiveness of God for a
woman who aborted her unborn child ten years ago is not a distraction. To encourage people
to live sexually pure lives is not a distraction.
The point is this: homosexuality and abortion are not distractions from the
denominations task of "[making] disciples of Jesus Christ." Instead,
homosexuality and abortion present living opportunities for The United Methodist Church to
make disciples, and make better disciples, of Jesus Christ. That is, homosexuality and
abortion are not problems from which The United Methodist Church should run; rather, they
present evangelical opportunitiesin real, flesh-and-blood peoplethat our
church could and should lovingly engage.
Yes, there are distractions in contemporary American culture. Plenty of them. Video
games. Sports on television. Recreational shopping. Aimless telephone conversations.
Endless hours on the Internet. Drugs and alcohol. These are genuine distractions that
divert United Methodists (and others) not only from making disciples of Jesus Christ but
also from serving the poor, from raising and training children in the way that they should
go, from taking on citizenship responsibilities, from serious learning.
Basically, distractions lure people away from important tasks. The issues of
homosexuality and abortion are not distractions, for they do not divert our denomination
from important tasks. Quite the opposite is true. For homosexuality and abortion present
opportunities for our church to do its most important workand that is to minister
the Gospel of Jesus Christ to people in this world. (PTS)
Ministries is looking for 2,000 men and women to be "prayer delegates" at the
May 2-12, 2000 General Conference in Cleveland, OH. Prayer delegates will receive
instructional materials that will assist them in praying for The United Methodist Church
during this crucial conference. For more information about becoming a prayer delegate,
contact Renewal Ministries at (765)-759-5165 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
our supporters suggest that Lifewatch should become a member of the Evangelical Council
for Financial Accountability (ECFA). Certainly, nothing would please us more. We have
sought membership. However, the ECFA has a minimum annual revenue threshold of $50,000.
Over the years, Lifewatch revenue has consistently fallen short of that requirement. For
example, the 1999 total revenue was $37,448. (This is no small amount, and the Lifewatch
leadership is deeply and profoundly grateful for the Christian generosity and faithfulness
demonstrated by our supporters.) Though Lifewatch does not currently qualify for
membership in the ECFA, our goal is to conduct this ministry according to the high
standards of responsible stewardship set by that organization. Our annual financial
statement is available upon request from the Dothan office. (RB)
Pro-Life is organizing "A Consultation on the Church and Issues at the
End of Life." This consultation will develop strategies for the role of
the churches in ministering to those at the end of life. Held at Central
Presbyterian Church, near Baltimore, MD, the consultation will take
place on October 5-7, 2000. It will join theologians and pastors in
tackling the issues at hand. If you are a pastor and would like to help
represent The United Methodist Church at this consultation, please
contact Rev. Paul T. Stallsworth*
111 Hodges Street
Morehead City, NC 28557
* Paul is also President of the TUMAS Board of Directors.
Lifewatch is published by the Taskforce of
United Methodists on Abortion and Sexuality, a network of United Methodist clergy, laity,
and congregations. It is sent, free of charge, to interested readers. Editor, Rev. Paul T.
Stallsworth: P.O. Box 177, Rose Hill NC 28458 (910)289-2449/Administrator, Mrs. Ruth
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