Steve Horswill-Johnston
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Aug 25 at 9:00 PM


GBOD Communications Office
Steve Horswill-Johnston, Executive Director
(615) 340-1726 (O) (615) 429-3431 (C)

New Church Planters Gain Networking, New Resources from Road Trip

NASHVILLE, Tenn. Aug. 25, 2014 /GBOD/ – Church planters, who often feel isolated as they work to establish new churches and faith communities , will be more connected and have better resources as a result of a road trip New Church Starts (Path 1) made throughout the five jurisdictions of the United Methodist Church.

During the summer of 2013, staff and associates from Path 1, a division of the General Board of Discipleship (GBOD), visited more than 160 planters representing more than 320 of the 684 churches that were established in the UMC between 2008 and 2012.

“New people are coming to Christ, new people are coming to faith and new people are growing in their faith through the new churches that are being planted,” said Candace Lewis, Executive Director of Path 1. “We’ve seen that new churches are being planted more strategically and more intentionally.”

The goal of the road trip was to celebrate what works, learn what does not work and dream of what could be accomplish in new church planting. Since January, Path 1 has been sharing information and data gleaned from the journey with bishops, developers, cabinets and annual conferences staffs.

“Path 1 doesn’t plant churches. We resource the work of planting churches,” Lewis said. “So what we’re doing now is sharing the information with the hope that it’s going to broaden the perspective of what’s happening in annual conferences and across the connection. These collective reports offer annual conferences more stories to celebrate and more models to consider in church planting. We want to help them see what’s working in other areas and how they may be able to implement that in their particular area.”

To view a video report of the Path 1 road trip, go to For an executive summary of the road trip report and detailed reports from each jurisdiction, go to

As a result of the information sharing, church planters already are being networked together more effectively.

“One of the things you learn from the reports is that many church planters feel isolated. So we have been able to help coordinate within several jurisdictions gatherings of church planters to help remove the isolation,” Lewis said.

Several sessions are planned to not only bring church planters from across the connection in the United States together, but also to join them with representatives from United Methodist seminaries, hopefully to begin the development of a Wesleyan approach to church planting, she said.

“During the road trip, we found that women feel very isolated, and they don’t know that there are other women out there doing this.” Lewis said. “So we’re going to gather women church planters in Nashville in November.”

Next January, Path 1 will host a national gathering of church planters.

“We’re going to call the planters together to give them a time to connect, network, fellowship and learn from each other to help remove the isolation,” she said.

Path 1 also plans to create a database to more effectively track church planting successes. Currently, the General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA) reports about new church starts when they are chartered.

“We’re building a new church database that will enable church planters to input their information before the charter so they can share their stories. We call them snapshots of hope.” Lewis said.

The database will include information about professions of faith, numbers of small groups and finances in the new church starts, which can be analyzed and shared, she said.

“We want to close that gap and share what’s happening more consistently across the connection because right now everybody just shares what they know in their area,” Lewis said.

A meeting to connect United Methodist seminaries with church planters is scheduled for November in Nashville. “It’s called a Gathering of Professors and Practitioners, and the purpose is to put these people in conversation with each other,” Lewis said.

Leading church planting resources currently are not written from a Wesleyan perspective, she said.

“We want to bring the seminary professors in conversation with some of our leading church planting practitioners, and we want them to talk about if John Wesley were planting a church today, what would he do?” she said.

GBOD’s mission is to support annual conference and local church leaders for their task of equipping world-changing disciples. An agency of The United Methodist Church, GBOD is located at 1908 Grand Ave. in Nashville, Tenn. For more information, visit, the Press Center at or call the Communications Office at (877) 899-2780, Ext. 1726.

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.‘Robin Williams’ death once could have been mine’

‘Robin Williams’ death once could have been mine’

DALLAS (UMNS) — The recent death of Robin Williams, whose talent no superlatives can encompass, plunged me into a deep well of grief and memories. I never knew Mr. Williams personally, but I know his reported illness intimately.

Cynthia Astle

The constant threat of depression haunts my days. Like the genius who made us laugh and cry, I have been tempted more than once to take my own life to end my pain.

It’s difficult to explain what a depressive illness feels like to someone who doesn’t have it.

Depression is more than “the blues.” It’s an all-encompassing sense of isolation and worthlessness, an emotional distortion often accompanied by genuine physical pain.

Psalm 13

The best description I have found comes from Psalm 13:

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I bear pain in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all day long? …
Consider and answer me, O Lord my God! Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death … (Psalm 13: 1-4 [NRSV])

“Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death.” Could the psalmist have written any clearer cry for help?

Renewed light

Robin Williams’ death has thrown renewed light on the struggles of those who have mental illness and the social stigma we face. I have read countless books and articles on its nature in learning to manage my disease.

Mental Health graphic

Faith & Mental Health is a bulletin insert to help communities become Caring Communities to help remove the stigma and fear around mental illness and mental health issues.

  • Some people seem to be genetically disposed toward it, as I think my family has been.
  • Some people develop depression while managing another chronic medical condition such as heart disease or diabetes.
  • Elderly people often become depressed as their bodies fail and their family and friends die.
  • Teenagers enduring hormone fluctuations can have depression.
  • Children who’ve experienced trauma can get it.

In short, no human, even a faithful believer, can be considered immune to this insidious disease. The psalmist’s words confirm that depression has been with us since the dawn of recorded history.

We are all vulnerable. The question is whether we will allow ourselves to be vulnerable enough to ask for help.

Regular spiritual practice

I am among more fortunate depression sufferers because I’ve found that regular spiritual practice, such as prayer and devotional reading, equip me to recognize when an episode is upon me. Because I’ve exercised my “spiritual muscles,” sometimes I can push back depression’s isolation and hopelessness to experience God’s presence.

In fact, my favorite affirmation of faith has become No. 883 in The United Methodist Hymnal, with its stirring conclusion: “… God is with us. We are not alone. Thanks be to God!”

I’ve found that my depression can benefit mightily from what we call ‘a ministry of presence.’

I’ve also been fortunate that the United Methodist congregations of which I’ve been a member have shown me hospitality, compassion and spiritual care when I needed it. Such spiritual care can take many forms, but I must stress that one cannot “pray away” depression — or any other medical condition, for that matter.

Nonetheless, I’ve found that my depression can benefit mightily from what we call “a ministry of presence.”

That’s because depression can be stealthy: An episode can sneak up on us sufferers before we realize it.

During an active episode, we people with depression frequently lack the capacity to reach out for help. We need others to watch over us, to know the signs of depression and to be willing to get past their own discomfort with mental illness to ask us how we’re feeling.

Perfect calling for church

To me, this seems like a perfect calling for the church of Jesus Christ.

I wish with all my heart that Robin Williams had had a spiritual community supporting him during his soul’s dark night. I wish that someone, something, could have shown him God’s loving presence before he took his own life.

Once upon a time, his manner of death easily could have been mine. I am so grateful that God, my family and friends, and good medical care, have helped me survive!

Editor’s note: Cynthia Astle of Dallas is a longtime United Methodist communicator, a certified spiritual director and a member of St. Stephen United Methodist Church in Mesquite, Texas. She is project coordinator of United Methodist Insight, a web-based service that seeks to provide a broad range of information and perspectives for concerned United Methodists and decision-makers that will affect the future of the denomination. The project is hosted by St. Stephen United Methodist Church, and funded by a grant from the Joe B. & Louise P. Cook Foundation of Temple, Texas.

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Young United Methodists adopt petitions for General Conference

Young United Methodists adopt petitions for General Conference

Young people from 34 countries gathered in the Philippines last month for the Global Young People’s Convocation & Legislative Assembly to discuss their concerns for the denomination and the world.

MANILA, Philippines — Despite enduring a devastating typhoon, United Methodist young people and adult leaders from 34 countries adopted petitions for presentation to the 2016 General Conference, the denomination’s highest policy-setting body. Among other subjects, the petitions expressed concern about socially responsible investing, the environment and prohibiting exclusion of members based on sexual orientation.

Global Young People’s Convocation & Legislative Assembly logo 2014

The young people also overwhelmingly approved a “Statement of Unity” against efforts to divide the denomination.

The Global Young People’s Convocation & Legislative Assembly (GYPCLA), organized by Young People’s Ministries division of the General Board of Discipleship (GBOD), arrived July 16 as Typhoon Rammasun hit the Philippines, damaging many areas, including the group’s meeting site, which forced a move to another location.

Michael Ratliff, GBOD associate general secretary who heads Young People’s Ministries (YPM), said GYPCLA is an opportunity for young people to share their concerns for the denomination and the world. He said those concerns can be considered by General Conference without going through the filters of other groups or organizations.

“Despite the typhoon that damaged the retreat center where the gathering was to be held,” Ratliff said, “we were able to move forward and accomplish the goals of the global convocation and legislative assembly in a new location.”

5 petitions adopted

The assembly discussed legislation submitted by young people for consideration. Five petitions were adopted that will be sent to General Conference.

The adopted petitions:

  • Aligning Investments with Social Principles,” for The Book of Resolutions, would support divestment of The United Methodist Church from Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola due to their contracts with Israel that go toward supporting efforts in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  • Beyond Resolutions to Environmental Action” asks all levels of the denomination to conduct an environmental study.
  • Specific Mention to Prohibit the Exclusion of Membership Based on Sexual Orientation” seeks to change the list for inclusiveness in the denomination in Article 4 of The Book of Discipline, to add the words “gender or sexual orientation.”
  • Leave Room for Young People” asks that annual conferences ensure representation across all age groups, by whenever possible, electing one of every three lay delegates as a youth or a young adult.
  • “Consideration of the Schedules of Young People Petition” asks annual conferences to consider the schedules of young people when setting its meeting times for boards and committees.

Unity statement

In the final assembly session, GYPCLA delegates overwhelmingly approved a “Statement of Unity” that says no one controversy, such as homosexuality, should divide the denomination.

We urge everyone to seek solutions that promote our global unity as The United Methodist Church of Jesus Christ.

“We urge everyone to seek solutions that promote our global unity as The United Methodist Church of Jesus Christ, rather than focus only on the issues that divide us, so that we may faithfully live out our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world,” the statement says.

Also attending the gathering as non-voting delegates were 42 young people commissioned by the General Board of Global Ministries as Generation Transformation Global Mission Fellows. The fellows, aged 20-30, represented 11 countries and will spend two years serving in mission and social-justice ministries at international and domestic sites.

“We were able to participate in their commissioning service and got to know them a little bit while we were there,” said Chris Wilterdink, director of Young People’s Ministries. “And, they got to interact with some of the delegates and other participants from GYPCLA.”

Typhoon aftermath

Due to the typhoon, major changes had to be made quickly so the gathering could proceed.

In a matter of hours, with the help of the local staff in the Philippines, the entire conference and its participants were moved to a new location 26 miles away. The lost time resulted in a condensed and rearranged schedule, according to Wilterdink, but no planned workshops, leadership training and legislative sessions were omitted.

On Sunday, the attendees divided into seven groups and worshiped at Manila-area Methodist churches.

The participants also helped the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) assemble 600 packets of locally purchased food that were distributed by the National Council of Churches in the Philippines to a community damaged by the typhoon.

Editor’s note: The mission of the General Board of Discipleship is to support annual conference and local church leaders for their task of equipping world-changing disciples.

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Philippine bishops condemn ‘Pork Barrel’

Candlelight vigil at Philippines Christian University, Manila

Bishops of the United Methodist Philippines Central Conference have affirmed a Supreme Court ruling that declares unconstitutional features of the government’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), dubbed “Pork Barrel” by detractors. From left, Bishop Rodolfo Juan of the Manila Episcopal Area (behind the cross), Bishop Solito Toquero (retired, holding placard) and the Rev. Igmedio Domingo are shown at a candlelight vigil at Philippine Christian University in Manila where they released their statement. (Photo by Kathy Yamzon)

MANILA, Philippines — The College of Bishops of the United Methodist Philippines Central Conference has affirmed a Supreme Court ruling that declares unconstitutional features of the government’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

It is high time that we call for justice and accountability for the funds misused by government or its leaders.

The bishops of the Manila, Baguio and Davao Episcopal Areas announced their support of the Supreme Court decision during a candlelight vigil in front of the United Methodist headquarters here. Radio, television and print media covered the event.

The bishops — Rodolfo Juan (Manila), Pedro Torio (Baguio) and Ciriaco Francisco (Davao) — urged all United Methodist churches, church workers, and members to read their statement preferably during worship services. They also encouraged organizing candle lighting and prayers in their churches and communities. The Philippines Central Conference comprises more than 20 annual conferences.

“It is high time that we call for justice and accountability for the funds misused by government or its leaders,” the bishops declared in a pastoral letter released July 24.

Ezekiel 34:1-31

They cite Ezekiel 34:1-31 as a text that reminding of the plight of the poor in society who are also not receiving enough care and concern from the government.

“If the prophet Ezekiel indeed were to address Malacañang, the Senate and the House of Representatives today,” they state, “he would not have to change a thing, in his condemnation of the rich and powerful of his own time and country. Instead, he would recognize the same roles played out by a different set of people in this land.”

[Ezekiel] would recognize the same roles played out by a different set of people in this land.

The bishops point out that “since time immemorial,” the Philippines has been governed by an oligarchy of business people and landlords that effectively influence all branches of government. This oligarchy has succeeded in preserving its selfish interest at the expense of the greater interest of the people, according to the bishops.

The bishops say the outcry is about misappropriating the people’s money while shrugging off any responsibility especially to the poor of the land, and then shifting that burden to those who create those resources.

Unholy alliance

“Taxes and other revenues are all managed and manipulated by the unholy alliance of a political and economic elite for their own benefit,” the bishops state, “and to the neglect of the hungry sheep who are deprived of those resources.”

The bishops demand that all who are accountable for what has been dubbed “Pork Barrel” income be meted with speedy, yet fair justice.

“We affirm that the systems Pork Barrel declared illegal by the Supreme Court cannot be continued under any guise,” the bishops emphasize. It should not be continued to perpetuate political dynasties and deny power to the people who are the real sovereign in a democracy. It cannot be continued to prop up a government by a few, of the few, and for the few.”

The bishops say Pork Barrel has been used to subvert institutional checks and balances fundamental in the country’s constitution. “It cannot be used as a tool to gain political leverage against government critics and suppress dissent,” the declare. “It should not be diverted to fund projects only to create a good public image under the pretext of boosting an economy that only benefits an elite and neglects the masses.”

Self-serving leadership

Such self‐serving leadership has spawned the socio‐political, economic crisis that the Philippines is now experiencing, and “worse of all, the spiritual crisis that is hovering in our land,” the bishops state. God’s The bishops point to the United Methodist Social Principles:

While our allegiance to God takes precedence over our allegiance to any state, we acknowledge the vital function of government as a principal vehicle for the ordering of society. We hold governments responsible for the protection of the rights of the people … to the guarantee of the rights to adequate food, clothing, shelter, education, and health care (¶164 V. The Political Community).

The bishops also quote former Philippines Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno (retired), a United Methodist. “We all know that a right that has no remedy is not a right at all,” said Puno, who added that these socioeconomic rights are enshrined in the Philippines Constitution.

Funds must be reallocated to the “perennially budget‐starved” health, education, housing, public transport and other socio‐economic service sectors of the government, according to the bishops.

“The people called United Methodists in the Philippines will continue their call for justice and accountability and for government to serve the people of God with integrity and righteous governance,” the bishops declare. “The United Methodists join the Filipino people in their quest for a government described in the Preamble of our Constitution as ‘… under the rule of law and a regime of truth, justice, freedom, love, equality, and peace.’ We will support the Peoples’ Initiative to ensure good governance and the elimination of any wasteful pork barrel practices in government system.

The bishops signed their statement at Philippine Christian University here.

Editor’s note: The full text of the statement can be read at: Philippine Bishops Call for Shalom & Vision of New Day.

For more information

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Instructions for Petitions to the 2016
General Conference The United Methodist Church

“Any organization, clergy member, or lay member of The United Methodist Church
may petition the General Conference….”(¶507, The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church 2012)

Format for Petition Submissions
1. All petitions should be submitted digitally by e-mail, CD USB drive, or through the General Conference website.
Petitions not submitted digitally shall be in typed or printed form following the format below. Handwritten or hand printed submissions will not be accepted.

2. Petitions must be typed, double- spaced. Microsoft Word or any other software that allows files to be saved as rich- text format (RTF) may be used.

3. Do not use “Track Changes” at any point I n the preparation of a petition. Do not use subscript or superscript, as is commonly used for footnotes and end notes. Instead of footnotes and end notes, use in – text citations.

4. The top of the first page of the petition should read as follows:
Total Number of Pages:
Suggested Title: (i.e.,“Establish Quorum”);
Discipline Paragraph or Resolution Number, if applicable: (i.e. “Discipline ¶506”or “Resolution #42); General Church Budget Implications: (i.e. –“
General Church Budget Implications: None or Yes”); Global Implications: (i.e. –“Global Implications: None or Yes”)
( See Frequently Asked Questions –page 2-for more information on Budget or Global designations)

5. The bottom of the final page of the petition should include:
: Signature of the Petitioner
: Identification of the Petitioner: (i.e. –“Member of Local Church”“Secretary of Annual
Conference”; etc.)
Fax Number (if applicable)
E-mail Address: (if applicable)

“Each petition must be signed by the person submitting it, accompanied by appropriate identification, such as address, local church, or United Methodist board or agency relationship.”Telephone numbers must also be included.“Each petition submitted by fax or electronic mail must identify the individual submitting it, accompanied by identification as above, and must contain a valid digital electronic mail return address or return fax number by which the submitter can be reached. Electronic signatures will be accepted in accordance with common business practice(¶507.3, The Book of Discipline).”

Content of Petition Text

“Each petition must address only one issue if the Discipline is not affected; if the Discipline is affected, each petition must address only one paragraph of the
Discipline, except that, if two or more paragraphs in the Discipline are so closely related that a change in one affects the others, the petition may call for the amendment of those
paragraphs also to make them consistent with one another.” (¶ 507.2, The Book of
1. State action desired, i.e.,“Amend ¶ No. __”“Add new sub-paragraph after ¶ ___”;
“Delete ¶ ___ and substitute the following… ”“Add new paragraph…; etc.”

2. Use single underlines for proposed additions and strike through for proposed deletions.
3. Do not use “Track Changes” at any point in the preparation of a petition. Do not use subscript or superscript, as is commonly used for footnotes and end notes. Instead of footnotes and end notes, use in- text citations as illustrated in the quote from the
Book of Discipline above.

Supporting Material
1. Anticipated financial requirements are to be included as an appendix to the
petition text and should follow the final page of the petition text. “All petitions submitted to the General Conference, except those submitted by individual members of The United Methodist Church and local church groups, which call for the establishment of new programs or the expansion of existing programs will be invalid unless accompanied by supporting data that address the issue of anticipated financial requirements of the program.” (¶507.4, The Book of Discipline)
2. Submitter may submit a rationale of any length, but only the first fifty (50) words
of the rationale will be printed in the Advance Daily Christian Advocate or available in the online CALMS web site for each petition. The rationale should be a separate text file.

Sending Petitions to the Petitions Secretary
1. Petitions may be sent to the Petitions Secretary beginning April 1, 2015 Petitions
without digital media must still be typed, double-spaced, and be submitted by July 1,2015 to allow time for transcription. Handwritten or hand printed submissions will not be accepted.“Petitions must be postmarked by a national postal service no later than
210 days prior to the opening session of the General Conference (¶507.5, The Book of Discipline).”“If petitions are transmitted by a means other than a national postal service, they must be in the hands of the Petitions Secretary no later than 210 days prior to the opening session of the General Conference( ¶ 507.6, The Book of Discipline).”This includes overnight carriers. The final deadline date is October 13, 2015.
2. Petitions should be submitted within the GC 2016 website or by email to
(This email address should be used for petition submission only.)
3. Petitions submitted by email should have a subject line which identifies the
submitter by last name and the content of the petition. (i.e. Martin –resolution 12) The petition text should be in an attachment and the rationale, if included, should be a second attachment. Only one petition should be submitted per email.
4. All other correspondence, including questions about the petition process or about
the status of particular petitions may be sent to
after April 1, 2015.
5. Petitions (1signed hardcopy and CD or USB drive) may also be submitted via:

U.S. Postal Service to:
Gary W. Graves, Petitions Secretary United Methodist General Conference
(Address to be released at a later date)

or Overnight Carriers(FedEx, UPS, DHL)
Gary W. Graves, Petitions Secretary
United Methodist General Conference
(Address to be released at a later date)

6 Petitions from annual conferences should be submitted by the annual conference secretary within 30 days of the close of the annual conferences ession.

Frequently Asked Questions
What does it mean to say a petition has or does not have “General Church Budget Implications”? A petition that causes the need of funding (i.e.; creation of new program, staff position, requirements of support, etc.) through the general Church apportionments has “Financial Implications” for the procedural purposes of General Conference. This
Requires a review by the General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA) to verify if the funding has already been included under the recommended quadrennial budget or if this requires new funding not currently in the quadrennial budget. A petition that does not cause the need of funding, or that causes the need of funding from some other source (local congregation, district, annual conference, jurisdiction, etc.) than general church apportionments does not have “Financial Implications”.

What does it mean to say a petition has or does not have “Global Implications”? A petition that causes a change to the Book of Discipline or the Book of Resolutions
or otherwise takes some action or position for the denomination has “Global Implications” if it:
• Is a constitutional amendment.
• Has a direct effect on the global work of general agencies.
• Places requirements or expectations on all annual conferences, districts, or
churches regardless of whether they are located in jurisdictions or central conferences.
• Speaks to universal societal concerns, regardless of the particular form of secular government or cultural differences

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General Conference 2016

The United Methodist Church’s top legislative body will meet at the Oregon Convention Center, the largest convention center in the Pacific Northwest, on May 10-20, 2016.
General Conference is the top policy-making body of The United Methodist Church which meets once every four years. The conference can revise church law, as well as adopt resolutions on current moral, social, public policy and economic issues. It also approves plans and budgets for church-wide programs.

Portland to Host 2016 General Conference

Tampa, Fla.:The Commission on the General Conference has announced that Portland, Ore. has been selected as the site for the 2016 General Conference. The United Methodist Church’s top legislative body will meet at the Oregon Convention Center, the largest convention center in the Pacific Northwest, tentatively scheduled from May 10-20, 2016.

“I believe the Portland area will afford the General Conference a fine experience in West Coast hospitality,” said Bishop Robert Hoshibata of the Portland Episcopal Area. “We will do all we can to make it a warm and welcoming place where we can do the work of the church in an atmosphere of grace, as well as sharing the gifts of the Portland area with the wider United Methodist community.” He added that it would also be a great experience for United Methodists in the area to be able to see and participate in the event.

The site of the General Conference has traditionally rotated among the church’s five geographic U.S. jurisdictions, with the 2016 event to be held in the Western jurisdiction. The last General Conference in the Western Jurisdiction was in Denver in 1996.

A request for proposals was submitted to 16 potential sites in the Western jurisdiction. Portland was one of five finalists considered by the site selection team. Other cities were San Jose, Calif., Los Angeles, Calif., Seattle, Wash., and Long Beach, Calif.

A number of factors were considered in the selection of a meeting site, including suitability of facilities, availability of adequate space, proximity of hotel rooms, cost of lodging, meals, airfare, meeting space, and sales and room taxes.

Dr. Randall Miller, Chair of the Commission on the General Conference, said that Portland’s hospitality and its “greenness” added to the city’s appeal. Portland was named the “Greenest City in America” by Popular Science in 2008.

“Portland not only has a commitment to recycling, but also to green energy,” said Dr. Miller. “A lot of the buildings have been designed to take advantage of green energy sources, and the way the city is structured in terms of transportation minimizes the use of cars. In many ways, Portland conforms with the values we have in The United Methodist Church about being wise stewards of God’s resources.”

Delegates from the U.S., Africa, Europe and Asia will attend the gathering, which is expected to attract up to 6,000 visitors. The economic impact of the event on the Portland area is roughly estimated to be about $7 million.

Portland is a part of the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference, which has more than 32,000 members and 213 local churches.

About General Conference
General Conference is the top policy-making body of The United Methodist Church which meets once every four years. The conference can revise church law, as well as adopt resolutions on current moral, social, public policy and economic issues. It also approves plans and budgets for church-wide programs.

Media Contact: Diane Degnan
(615) 742-5406 (office)
(615) 483-1765 (cell)

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WEBSITE USEFUL FOR RESOURCES – news and resources for the Davao Episcopal Area churches.- UMC
http://www.Ministry Matters -Resources for preaching, Liturgy, music, Bible study, etc.-umc – Resources for sermons, illustration – Interdenominational
Chuck Knows Church– You Tube, UMC – website for the global UMC – Search for Program Calendar”. – Explain how UMC give through our connection – making disciples, sermons, liturgy, evangelism, leadership training. UMC – For Local church job description resources for young people and mission. –UMC – Older Adult Ministries – Focus on resources for covenant discipleship groups. –Devotions materials and publications of materials for retreats.- UMC Focus on prayer & prayer groups & prayer request. – UMC
WWW.UMCOR.ORG – Website for disasters and reliefs work.
WWW.GBGM.ORG/UMCOR/HEALTH/ – Focus on reliefs and health ministries, Malaria, HIV. – Mission work and ministries of the United Methodist women. – Missionaries, missions and establishing churches.
http://gbgm-umc.og/advance – Advance specials for proposal requesting fundings. Website for the UMC mission ministry. scholarship for clergy and national leadership development. – Higher education ministries, ordained ministries, scholarship. focuses on mission work of the United Methodist Church. – Website of the United Methodist organization. young people of the UMC, leadership, scholarship.
http://www.YOUTHSERVICEFUND.ORG – Website for the UMYF service fund raising ministry. programs on older adults and ministries to the aging.
http://www.CHURCHLEADERUMC.COM- Resources for the leaders of the church clergy and or lay.
WWW.GLOBALYOUNGPEOPLE.ORG- Website for the young people of the UMC. – Resources for interfaith relationship. – Resources for the UMWSCS projects and mission ministries. – UMC news service, written and broadcast and cable television program. Website for the financial life of the UMC Social justice resources and advocacy. – Website for curriculum resources materials. Website for pensions Website for archives and history. Ecumenical relationship and unity of the human community. Resources for racial and ethnic communities. Resources for equality of the status and role of women Center for mediation and conflict resolution UMC Book store. – Week of Prayer for Christian Uniity California Pacific annual conference website Interpreter magazine For Resources of Pastors- Interdenominational
www. Better Preaching Update Preaching update -Interdenominational Devotional Resources Council Judicial Council decision – UMYF Philippines

UNITED METHODIST Agency Website: (General Board of global Ministries) (Division of youth Ministry) (The Upper Room Ministries) (The Upper Ministries- Emmaus) (General Board of discipleship). (General Board of Discipleship Resources). (General Council of Finance and Administration) (General Board of Church and Society) (General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.) (General Board of Pension). (General Board of Publishing House) (General Board of Archives and History) (General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns) (General Commission on Communication0 (General Commission on Religion and Race). (General Commission on the Status and Role of Women (General Commission on United Methodist Men) (General Commission on Justice and Peace) (Cokesbury Bookstore) United Methodist Women

1. If there are any further questions, please email Sarah Smith at or

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Below is a communication from retired Bishop Leo Soriano who was requested by the PCC College of Bishop to make a study on the qualifications of local pastors who can vote for the election of delegates to the PCC and General conference. The election of delegates shall be done by the 2015 annual conference.


Some of you have been asking about Local Pastors.

Local Pastors are clergy members of the Annual Conference, and therefore, should be included in the Roll of Conference members.

However, there is a qualification. For a local pastor to be included in the List, and have the privilege of voting for delegates to the General and Central Conferences, he or she must:

1) Serve under full time appointment for at least two consecutive years
before the 2015 Annual Conference Session.
2) Have finished M.Div. or a Conference Course of Study.

Retired local pastors are not to be included and counted. There are at least two reasons for this:

1) If he/she is retired it means that he/she is not under full time
2) A local pastor when retired, reverts to a lay status.

Those of you who have already submitted your list, please check on the remarks above.

For further inquiries and clarifications, we will try our best to respond to it. If it is short, you may just use the cp. My number is 09177008491.


Bishop Leo

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Summerland, Dumoy, Davao City
January 16, 2000

Mission is the heart of the church. Central United Methodist Church, Davao city, is a local church with a heart of mission. One of the goal of her mission is to establish local United Methodist Churches in Davao City.

The vision for a local United Methodist Church here in Toril, Davao City, was conceived by the Rev. & Mrs. Francisco Bilog who were then Pastor and Deaconess of the Davao Central United Methodist Church. During the Annual Conference of 1997, Toril was proposed as one of the Frontier Areas of the East Mindanao Philippines Annual Conference, to be sponsored by the Davao Central United Methodist Church and the District Conference. The Mission work covers the district of Talomo, Dumoy and Toril. Mrs. Dinah Serrano was appointed as Missionary to Toril under the Charge Conference of Davao Central United Methodist Church.

The missionary work started with a geographical, physical and statistical survey of the area made by Mrs. Dinah Serrano together with Rev. & Mrs. Francisco Bilog. The goal of the survey was to find a point of entry in order to establish a center for the mission work. God, however, had gone ahead of the survey. He has prepared the way by touching the heart of the Reinante and Torrelavega families to offer us their place located at Summerland, Dumoy, Toril to be the venue of the mission work.

Consultations made with the people of the area resulted in the decision to make education as a priority in the mission work. It also worked as our point of entry into the life of the community. Thus a day care school room was built with materials and labor provided by the Central United Methodist Church at the compound of Gen. & Mrs. Jose Proceso Torrelavega.

As a deaconess-teacher, Mrs. Dinah Serrano surveyed and canvassed pre-school children on nearby subdivisions. Thus in August 7, 1997 a day care class of 13 pupils was formally opened with Php 50.00 monthly donation for the center. Aside from the week-day pre-school school, home visitation, and Bible study was done in the homes of the Day-Care parents and prospect.

On November 28, 1998, during the Charge Conference of the Central United Methodist Church Mrs. Caridad Reinante expressed her intention to donate a 300 square meter lot to the United Methodist Church to be the proposed church lot of Toril local church.
The offer was confirmed by her daughter, Mrs. Virginia Torrelavega and was accepted by the Davao Central United Methodist Church. The lot was surveyed and approved by the Bureau of Land in preparation for the formal donation document to be made by the Reinante family.

A worshipping congregation started to meet for worship last January 10,1999 at the residence of Mrs. Caridad Reinante, with the Rev. Delfin Andres preaching the first sermon. The first congregation that attended the first worship service consisted of the following:
Mrs. Virginia Torrelavega and children, Rev. & Mrs. Leo Soriano and family,
Rev. & Mrs. Delfin Andres and family, Mrs. Juliet Buscagan and children,
Mrs. Terry Sendiong and son, Mrs. Alice Basiliote & Children,
Dr. Shana Rolida, Mrs. Ana Aben
Mrs. Dinah Serrano.
After a month of worshipping at the house of Mrs. Reinante, the congregation have seen the need for a bigger place for worship. During the following month of March 1999, the congregation decided to build a multipurpose building. The Davao Central United Methodist Church, the Parents-Teacher Fellowship of the Day-Care and the Toril congregation shared their resources to put up the present building with the cost of Php 31,000.00.

During the Conference year 1999-2000, the Day Care Center now called Methodist Learning Center enrolled 60 pre-school pupils which increased to 90 with Mrs. Dinah Serrano, Ms. Ma. Crispina Ando as teachers, with Ms.Shirley Buscagan as teacher-aide. The PTF under the leadership of its President Mr. Carlito Saratao made significant contribution to the improvement of the Center. The Rev. Francisco Bilog and Ms. ElizabethManzano conducted weekly Bible Study with the parents of the Learning Center.
In March 14, 1999, the worshipping congregation elected a local council for purpose of guiding and supporting the mission work in Toril. The officers are:
Chairperson- Mrs. Virginia Torrelavega
Vice, Chairperson- Mrs. Letty Andres
Secretary- Ms. Shirley Ann Buscagan
Treasurer- Ms. Dania Soriano
Auditor Mr. David Lastimosa
Workers: Mrs. Dinah serrano
Rev. Delfin Andres
Rev. Leo Soriano

The congregation continued to grow in attendance to include the following: the families of Lachica, Rabaya, Pragados, Barez, Miguel, Ando, Asilum, Ibanez, Onez, Grado, Salavia, Agustins, and Rabut.

Our congregation was honored to have several distinguished lay and Ministers preached in our worship this year. To mention, they are: Rev. Delfin Andres, Rev. Leo Soriano, Ms. Chita Framo, D.S. Mirasol Villalon, DS Pedro Duroon, Atty. Daniel E. Gadia, DS Jonathan Ulpindo, Rev. Josue Guzman. Mrs. Dinah Serrano occasionally preach while Rev. Francisco Bilog on every special event in the life of the congregation.

The Sunday School for children and adults has become a regular Sunday activity. Visitation and Bible Studies on Sunday afternoon are also conducted. Vacation Church school also became a regular summer activity with classes here in Domoy and extension at Alambre Toril.

Our congregation hosted the MED District Planning meeting in June 1999 and MED-UMYAF meeting in July 1999.

The MLC-PTF through their officers under the leadership of its president, Mrs. Rosita Vergara continues to be of great help in the development of the facilities and programs of the school.

During the Conference Year 1999-2000 the congregation was encouraged to develop their mission program and approved a local budget for its support with a substantial financial subsidy from the mother church.

The Davao Central United Methodist being the mother and sponsoring church through the church council is committed to give her presence, moral and financial support until Toril Church can stand on her own to carry God’s missionary work in this part of Davao City.

Today, as we celebrate the first year anniversary of the Toril local worshipping congregation, let us thank God for what He has done in and through people who made our church a living, and vital community of the faith for God’s and honor and glory.

Prepared by Mrs. Dinah Serrano, Toril Missionary Worker
Noted by Rev. Francisco Bilog, DCUMC, Administrative Pastor

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Young United Methodists Reject Gay Marriage
By John Lomperis, July 23, 2014
Published at: JUICY ECUMENISM, The Institute on Religion & Democracy Blog

The once-every-four-years global assembly of United Methodist youths, young adults, and adults in ministry with young people was held July 16-20 in the Philippines.

Among other things, the Global Young People’s Convocation and Legislative Assembly (GYPCLA) spent several hours debating and voting on ten proposed petitions to General Conference.

Three of these very clearly and directly addressed the question of church approval of homosexual practice. One would have changed the official United Methodist definition of marriage from being a covenant between one man and one woman to such a covenant between “two persons.” Another would have deleted our binding denominational prohibition on services to pronounce God’s blessing upon homosexual unions. And another would have deleted the declaration in the UMC Social Principles that homosexual practice is inherently “incompatible with Christian teaching.”

All three of these were considered, debated, and rejected by votes of this one multicultural, multilingual group of slightly over 100 United Methodists, despite significant, vocal support for each.

This reverses the trend of the first two GYPCLAs, which both adopted homosexual-practice-affirming petitions. The first GYPCLA was held in South Africa in 2006 and the second was in Germany in 2010. The quadrennial event is organized by the Division on Ministries with Young People of the UMC’S General Board of Discipleship.

These recent votes also rebut the rather unnuanced claims some (generally older) people frequently make about how the church “has to” divorce itself from biblical and historic Christian teachings in order to pander to what “young adults” or “our young people” believe.

Of course, the proper response to such claims must not stoop to equally unnuanced, mirror-image rhetoric suggesting that all “young people” are a biblically orthodox monolith.

The fact is that no one person, group, or view represents everyone in my generation of Americans, let alone around the world. This holds true whether we are speaking about only young people within our denomination, those in all Christian churches, or those who have not yet experienced the radical, supernatural transformation of one’s values, direction, and very self that comes with Christian conversion. (The usual failure of people making let’s-change-the-church’s-sexual-values-to-pander-to-young-people arguments to make such distinctions is rather revealing.)

In any case, the vote totals from GYPCLA 2014 reveal that redefining marriage was ultimately rejected by quite the multicultural coalition of young United Methodists from Africa, America, Eurasia, and the Philippines.

I hope United Methodist denominational officials will remember this the next time they discuss reaching young people alongside questions related to biblical standards for sexual self-control.

Other highlights of the conference included other petitions, interactions with UMC general agency staff, workshops, worship, missionary commissioning, struggles with the increasingly global nature of our denomination, and a major typhoon.

Stay tuned for a fuller report after I have settled back in the United States.

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