The April 2009 issue of Together carried a full-page plea for Indiana United Methodist Churches to enter into more covenant relationships with missionaries through the General Board of Global Ministries. As a former GBGM missionary who treasured our relationships with covenant churches during our overseas service, I heartily endorse the ask, but offer the following caveats.
The decline in churches in covenant relationships is directly related to two factors. The first is the drastic diminution in the number of missionaries The United Methodist Church sends across America and abroad. Despite the millions of dollars in connectional support, the [GBGM] mission "professionals" at 475 Riverside Drive [in New York City] seem quite content to maintain a minimal missionary presence for the Gospel around the globe while feeding the bureaucracy at headquarters.
For those who may have forgotten, or who never knew, there was an effort to relocate and refocus the GBGM in the 1990s, but thanks to the lobbying of interested parties General Conference looked at the opportunity to make a real difference in missions and decided inertia was a better course of action. There are many good reasons why more and more of us are supporting missionaries through The Mission Society, OMS and other organizations, not the least of which is they continue to send more and more missionaries into the field to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The second factor is related to the first, and it is manyGBGM missionaries do a poor job of communicating with the churches they are in covenant with. When we went through the GBGM, we were told that we would be required to send an annual letter to our supporting churches. One letter a year! We were blessed to have our home church, Acton UMC, support us by mailing our monthly letters.
Relationships need to work in both directions and when churches do not hear from their covenant missionaries and have difficulty getting them to grace us with a visit when they return to the United States, the incentive for sending hundreds or thousands of dollars without any communication in return once again give us disincentives to work with the GBGM and instead look to those organizations that, resolutions of General Conference notwithstanding, the GBGM and the Council of Bishops consider competitors.
I remain a proud ex-GBGM missionary, but our mission establishment is reaping what it has been sowing for years.
The Rev. Mark L. Dicken
Newburgh (Ind.) UMC
I'm writing simply to commend U.S. Senator Richard Lugar on his recent remarks to the Council of Bishops which flagged the critical need for "U.S. foreign assistance programs to have a greater focus on alleviating hunger and poverty."
The senator's remarks related to how the pandemic of poverty displays many symptoms: blocked access to primary education, senseless malnutrition, needlessly high mortality rates, fractured global security, and the absence of dignity.
But we have the opportunity to lift our voices for a sensible overhaul of our foreign aid system; for the courageous creation of a Global Fund for Education; for full funding of our share of the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, TB, and Malaria; and for other smart, compassionate choices.
With faithful, bold vision, we can save the thousands of lives - girls, boys, men, and women - lost to absurd poverty every day.
In Defense of Creation
Please, Council of Bishops, "In Defense of Creation," do not mire us in the quicksand of anthropogenic catastrophic global climate change. The "science" is not "settled." Dr. Richard Lindzen [Ph.D Applied Mathematics, Harvard, U.; Alfred P. Sloan Prof. Meteorology at Mass. Institute of Technology; consultant to Global Modeling Center;] (article "Climate of Fear", April 12, 2006 Wall Street Journal) "It isn't just that the alarmists are trumpeting model results that we know must he wrong. It is that they are trumpeting catastrophes that couldn't happen even if the models were right.
The anthropogenic catastrophic global warming alarmists have a non-scientific, political agenda which will take away more of our individual freedoms and waste valuable resources which should be used aiding the poor of our world. Patrick J. Michaels [Research Professor, Dept. of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia, and State Climatologist] writes in Climate of Extremes, "The world is not coming to an end because of global warming. Further, we don't really have the anthropogenic means to significantly alter the temperature trajectory of the planet.
This world, not Darwin's accident but God's planned creation, and its weather, are strong, resilient, and very complex - not weak, fragile and simple
The Arctic? French climate researcher Jean-Claude Duplessy and Glen MacDonald, [Chair, Geography Dept. UCLA] have shown that "the portion of the Arctic Ocean bordering on Scandinavia was 2øC warmer 7,000-8,000 years ago than at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and Greenland was .5øC to 2øC warmer."
The U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change misstated some of the data and changed data about the former millennia of warm temperatures. Greenland was warmer and did not shed its ice; the polar bear thrived and the Inuit culture radiated!
Christians should obey the Bible to be good stewards of and to use God's world for our well being. The "quality of life" advances of the past century have been a blessing to us in the industrialized world and we should desperately want to share these advances with the millions who do not yet enjoy them. Roy W. Spencer [Climatologist and Senior Scientist for Climate Studies at NASA] in Climate Confusion writes, "the environmentalist agenda tends to be anti-progress, ignoring the only real solution to the global warming problem: human ingenuity and technological advancement." He concludes, ". most of the currently proposed policies for 'doing something' about global warming destroy wealth, stifle advancement and are ineffective."
Jack K. Thomas