March 18, 2003
Bachus named director of Hispanic Resources
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) Amanda Bachus has been named director of Hispanic Resources for United Methodist Communications.
Bachus had served as associate editor of Hispanic Resources, which produces the magazine el Intérprete and the news feature Noticias en Español. She was named director effective March 17.
"Amanda brings a solid church background, editorial and marketing skills to the position," said M. Garlinda Burton, director of United Methodist News Service and publisher and editor of Interpreter magazine. "And she has a firm grasp of the needs of our diverse Latino audience. She has some good solid ideas for broadening our scope with all our Hispanic resources."
In her new role, Bachus will help identify and develop resources and programs to enhance the communications ministries of and with Hispanic United Methodists.
Bachus, a longtime United Methodist, joined the communications agency in summer 2002, after four years on the staff of the United Methodist Board of Discipleship in Nashville. She had served as bilingual administrative assistant, as well as bilingual marketing and customer service coordinator, and editorial assistant for the Office of Hispanic Ministries. In her last position at the discipleship board, she was also a certified facilitator for the National Plan for Hispanic Ministries.
A native of Bolivia, she graduated from St. Andrews School in La Paz, where she learned English. She holds an education degree from the State University of San Andres in La Paz, Bolivia. While in the United States, she attended the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg and Nashville (Tenn.) State Technical Institute, where she received her business and computer training. She is also fluent in Portuguese.
Bachus has an extensive marketing and product development background. For the last 15 years, she has held bilingual administrative positions in the United Methodist Publishing House, the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry, and the Board of Discipleship. For four years, she worked for Fruit of the Loom in the international training division and with the vice president of international sales and marketing division.
"I believe she has an extremely broad understanding of the specific issues and concerns of the Latin American community in the United States, the Caribbean and South America, and she has already applied that knowledge in her work with el Intérprete," Burton said.
Bachus has served as interim director since October, when the position became vacant.
March 10, 2003
NCC asks churches to study Taco Bell situation
By Sarah Vilankulu*
NEW YORK (UMNS) As the Christian season of Lenten prayer and fasting begins, the National Council of Churches is requesting special prayers for farm workers "who have been made poor and vulnerable by fast-food and agricultural industries."
The council also asks churches to study farm worker issues, especially by focusing on the current struggle for just wages and working conditions of Florida farm workers who pick tomatoes that go into Taco Bell products.
At issue is the fact that farm workers are earning sub-poverty wages for picking tomatoes that are used in Taco Bell products. According to the Department of Labor, their wages (ranging from 40 to 50 cents per 32-pound bucket) have not changed in 20 years.
The Lenten call grew out of the councils support for some 50 Florida farm workers and scores of their supporters who conducted a hunger strike Feb. 24-March 5 outside Taco Bell headquarters in Irvine, Calif. The workers aim was to pressure the company to enter into negotiations with them and with the Florida growers who supply Taco Bell with tomatoes.
The farm workers belong to the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in southwest Florida, which two years ago mounted a nationwide boycott of Taco Bell restaurants and products. The 50 workers traveled three days by bus to Irvine, where they fasted outdoors, often in inclement weather. In the second week of the fast, conditions had clearly taken a toll on participants.
In response to pleas from religious leaders worried about the fasters health, the workers ended their fast in its 10th day with a 10 a.m. Ash Wednesday service at the hunger strike site. During the service, the workers broke bread with religious leaders.
The previous day, top NCC officials wrote to the workers, alarmed that one had already been hospitalized and others were on the brink of collapse. "With appreciation for your sacrifice, we now request that you allow the church to take on your concerns in our Lenten journey," the councils letter said. "We ask you to break your fast, even as we begin ours."
Signing the letter were Elenie Huszagh, NCC president; Christian Methodist Episcopal Bishop Thomas Hoyt, NCC president-elect; and the Rev. Robert Edgar, the agencys chief executive and a United Methodist pastor.
The workers received similar letters from the national headquarters of the Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Church of Christ and the National Farm Ministry, and from Roman Catholic Cardinal Roger Mahony, archbishop of Los Angeles.
Both the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the United Church of Christ, which already have endorsed the Taco Bell boycott, are NCC members. They have been instrumental in bringing the issue before the councils 36 Protestant and Orthodox member denominations and communions.
On Feb. 25, the Councils executive board, meeting in New York, adopted a resolution expressing solidarity with the coalition fasters and calling on Taco Bell "to enter into serious dialogue with the CIW."
Because agricultural workers are explicitly excluded from the National Labor Relations Act, the growers that employ the workers are under no legal obligation to dialogue with them. Therefore, the workers are seeking to establish "supply chain responsibility" by pressuring Taco Bell, a major purchaser of southwest Florida tomatoes, to ensure that its suppliers deal fairly with workers. The NCC said the company has not responded to requests for a meeting.
In addition to the resolution, the NCC Executive Board has initiated its own study of conditions leading to the boycott and has called on member communions to do the same. This study process will prepare the board for discussion at its October meeting on whether to propose that the NCCs General Assembly endorse the boycott. The General Assembly, the NCCs highest policymaking body, is to meet Nov. 10-13 in Jackson, Miss.
For more information on issues behind the Taco Bell boycott, visit the Web sites of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (www.ciw-online.org), the Presbyterian Church (USA) (www.pcusa.org/boycott), the United Church of Christ (www.ucc.org) and the National Farm Worker Ministry (www.nfwm.org).
*Vilankulu works in the NCC communications department.
March 10, 2003
Elections of delegates top 2004 annual conference agendas
NOTE: A list of annual conference dates and meeting locations follows this story.
By United Methodist News Service
Election of clergy and lay delegates to the 2004 General and jurisdictional conferences will be a major agenda item for the United Methodist annual (regional) conference sessions this year.
The 64 U.S. conferences, meeting during May and June, will elect 400 clergy delegates and 400 lay delegates to the denominations highest legislative body, General Conference. The 53 conferences in Europe, Africa and the Philippines will elect a total of 184 delegates. (Concordat churches -- Methodist traditions in Mexico, Great Britain, Puerto Rico, and the Caribbean and Americas -- will elect an additional total of 10 delegates.) General Conference, convened every four years, will meet April 27-May 7, 2004, in Pittsburgh.
The annual conferences also will elect delegates to the five U.S. jurisdictional conferences, which will be held in July 2004 to elect bishops and assign them and others to geographic areas for the next four years.
Clergy and lay people from the former Missouri East and Missouri West annual conferences will meet for the first time as the Missouri Conference on May 29. The conferences became one body Jan. 1. The North Arkansas and Little Rock annual conferences voted to become one entity last fall and will merge at a June 11 uniting conference, officially launching the Arkansas Annual Conference.
The Troy Annual Conference will be the first of the U.S. conferences, meeting May 7-10 in Burlington, Vt., followed by the Red Bird Missionary Conference in Evarts, Ky. meeting May 9-10. The first central conference session will be that of Bulacan Philippines, meeting March 18-21 Naga City.
U.S. sessions conclude June 22 with the adjournment of the Pacific Northwest, Rocky Mountain and California-Nevada annual conferences. The last central conference meets Dec. 11-14 in Mutasa-Nyanga District, Zimbabwe.
In addition to elections of delegates, annual conferences will act on petitions from individuals and groups wanting to change policies, procedures and practices of the United Methodist Church. Approved petitions will be submitted to the General Conference, and those that are adopted will be reflected in the 2004 revisions of the Book of Discipline and Book of Resolutions.
General Conference delegates can change anything in the Book of Discipline except the church's Constitution. Any recommended changes in the Constitution must be ratified by the annual (regional) conferences.
Individual and group petitions must be postmarked by Nov. 29, which is 150 days before the opening day of the General Conference. Churchwide agencies must submit their petitions by Aug. 1. Petitions secretary for the 2004 conference is Gary W. Graves, pastor of Beaver Dam (Ky.) United Methodist Church.
Annual conference members, including lay and clergy representatives from every local church, will also approve budgets, receive reports from conference boards and agencies, adopt programs of mission and ministry, and pass resolutions. Several annual conferences will participate in liturgical acts of repentance and reconciliation services, which are confessions to the sin of racism in the denomination. The services also are an attempt to recapture the spirit of Methodism lost when some African Americans in the 18th and 19th centuries felt compelled by racism in the church to leave and form their own denominations.
A bishop will preside over each conference session. One-year appointments of all clergy members of the conference will also be announced, new deacons and elders will be ordained, and candidates for ordination will be approved.
U.S. annual conference meeting dates and places are:
U.S. ANNUAL CONFERENCES
North Central Jurisdiction
Dakotas, June 4-7, Fargo, N.D.
Detroit, May 16-19, Adrian, Mich.
East Ohio, June 16-20, Lakeside, Ohio
Illinois Great Rivers, May 28-31, Peoria, Ill.
Iowa, June 12-15, Ames, Iowa
Minnesota, May 28-31, Saint Cloud, Minn.
North Indiana, May 29-31, West Lafayette, Ind.
Northern Illinois, June 5-7, St. Charles, Ill.
South Indiana, June 4-7, Bloomington, Ind.
West Michigan, June 6-9, Grand Rapids, Mich.
West Ohio, June 8-12, Lakeside, Ohio
Wisconsin, June 15-18, Middleton, Wis.
Baltimore-Washington, June 12-15, Washington
Central Pennsylvania, June 4-7, Grantham, Pa.
Eastern Pennsylvania, June 11-14, Grantham, Pa.
Greater New Jersey, June 18-21, Atlantic City, N.J.
New England, June 13-16, Wenham, Mass.
New York, June 4-7, Hempstead, N.Y.
North Central New York, May 30-June 1, Liverpool, N.Y.
Peninsula-Delaware, June 3-7, Princess Anne, Md.
Troy, May 7-10, Burlington, Vt.
West Virginia, June 11-15, Buckhannon, W.Va.
Western New York, June 5-7, Buffalo, N.Y.
Western Pennsylvania, June 11-14, Grove City, Pa.
Wyoming, May 29-June 1, Scranton, Pa.
South Central Jurisdiction
Arkansas, June 11-14, Russellville, Ark.
Central Texas, June 1-4, Fort Worth, Texas
Kansas East, June 4-7, Baldwin City, Kan.
Kansas West, May 28-31, Salina, Kan.
Louisiana, June 4-7, Shreveport, La.
Missouri, May 29-June 2, Columbia, Mo.
Nebraska, June 4-7, Lincoln, Neb.
New Mexico, May 28-31, Glorieta, N.M.
North Texas, June 1-4, Plano, Texas
Northwest Texas, June 9-12, Amarillo, Texas
Oklahoma, May 26-29, Oklahoma City
Oklahoma Indian Missionary, June 5-8, Anadarko, Okla.
Rio Grande, June 12-15, Albuquerque, N.M.
Southwest Texas, June 4-7, Corpus Christi, Texas
Texas, May 25-29, Houston
Alabama-West Florida, June 1-4, Montgomery, Ala.
Florida, May 27-30, Lakeland, Fla.
Holston, June 8-11, Lake Junaluska, N.C.
Kentucky, June 10-14, Bowling Green, Ky.
Memphis, June 1-4, Jackson, Tenn.
Mississippi, June 2-5, Biloxi, Miss.
North Alabama, June 1-4, Birmingham, Ala.
North Carolina, June 2-5, Fayetteville, N.C.
North Georgia, June 16-20, Athens, Ga.
Red Bird Missionary, May 9-10, Evarts, Ky.
South Carolina, May 25-29, Spartanburg, S.C.
South Georgia, June 1-5, Albany, Ga.
Tennessee, June 8-11, Brentwood, Tenn.
Virginia, June 15-19, Roanoke, Va.
Western North Carolina, June 5-8, Lake Junaluska, N.C.
Alaska Missionary, May 30-June 2, Chugiak, Alaska
California-Nevada, June 18-22, Sacramento, Calif.
California-Pacific, June 17-22, Redlands, Calif.
Desert Southwest, June 5-8, Mesa, Ariz.
Oregon-Idaho, June 9-13, Boise, Idaho
Pacific Northwest, June 18-22, Tacoma, Wash.
Rocky Mountain, June 18-22, Laramie, Wy.
Yellowstone, June 12-15, Billings, Mont.
CENTRAL (OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES) CONFERENCES
(Information on some conferences is unavailable; other conferences have already met.)
Austria Provisional, May 21-25, Linz, Austria
Bulacan Philippines, March 18-21, Gatbuca, Calumpit, Bulcacan, Philippines
Bulgaria Provisional, Oct. 1-5, Dobritsch, Bulgaria
Central Congo, (Section A) June 4-11, Wembo-Nyama
Central Congo, (Section B) June 4-11, Kananga
Central Luzon Philippines, May 6-11, Tagumbao, Gerona, Tarlac, Philippines
Central Russia, July 3-5, Moscow
Czech & Slovak Republics, May 15-18, Plzen, Czech Republic
Denmark, June 25-29, Lawgarden, Denmark
East Congo, (Section A) June 21-28, Kindu
East Congo (Section B) June 21-28, Goma
East Mindanao, May 29-June 1, Agusan del Sur, Philippines
East Zimbabwe, Dec. 11-14, Mutusa-Nyanga District
Eastern Russia Provisional, June 27-29, Ekaterinburg, Russia
Estonia, June 11-15, Tallinn, Estonia
Finland-Finnish Provisional, July 2-6, Turku (Abo), Finland
Finland-Swedish Provisional, June 4-8, Helsingfors, Finland
Hungary Provisional, April 23-27
Liberia, Feb. 12-16
Middle Philippines, May 14-17, Rizal, Nueva Ecija, Philippines
Mindanao Philippines, May 22-26, Kidapawan City, Philippines
North Central Philippines, March 31-April 5, San Mateo, Isabela, Philippines
Northeast Philippines, May 20-25, Bambang, Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines
Northern Philippines, June 3-8, Cagayan, Philippines
Northern Russian Provisional, May 22-24, St. Petersburg, Pushkin, Russia
Northwest Mindanao Philippines, April 3-2, Kalilangan, Bukidnon, Philippines
Northwest Philippines, May 27-June 1, Ilocos, Philippines
Norway, June 18-22, Fredrikstad, Norway
Palawan Philippines Provisional, May 27-30, Tarlac City, Tarlac, Philippines
Pangasinan Philippines, May 13-18, Pangasinan, Philippines
Philippines, April 2-5, Tagaytay City, Cavite, Philippines
Philippines East, April 23-26, Deparo, Novaliches, Quezon City, Philippines
Poland, June 18-22, Elk, Poland
Southern Russia Provisional, May 15-18, Voronezh, Russia
Southwest Philippines Provisional, May 15-18, Torrel, Odiongan, Rombloin, Philippines
Sweden, May 5-June 1, Kumla, Sweden
Switzerland-France, June 11-15, Winterthur, Switzerland
West Congo, May 20-27, Kinshasa
West Middle Philippines, May 7-10, Calaguiman, Bataan, Philippines
West Zimbabwe, Dec. 4-7, Masvingo District
Western Angola, Oct. 21, Luanda, Angola
Yugoslavia-Macedonia Provisional, Oct. 15-19, Kisac
March 11, 2003
Deacons, diaconal ministers connect church to world
A UMNS Feature
By John Lovelace*
DALLAS (UMNS) Seven years ago, the United Methodist Church abandoned its one-lane route to the ordained ministry and replaced it with a "Y."
The poet, Robert Frost, might have anticipated the consequences. In his verse, "The Road Not Taken," the poet said, in part:
"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."
About 400 of those who chose the new road "less traveled by" to United Methodist ordination converged on a Marriott motel in Dallas Feb. 27-March 2 for their fourth international convocation.
Theirs is a permanent order of ministry made up of women and men (predominantly women) known as deacons. In the legalese of the churchs Book of Discipline, deacons are ordained to "a lifetime ministry of word and service to both the community and the congregation in a ministry that connects the two."
After seven years, the church has 1,106 ordained deacons and another 1,085 candidates for ordination.
As of Jan. 1, 1997, the primary feeder route to this new ministerial order has been diaconal ministry. This ministry was created in 1976 for laywomen and laymen to be consecrated for service within the church and not be required to pursue the education and evaluation necessary for ordination. But also as of Jan. 1, 1997, this route was dead-ended; no new candidates were accepted. Diaconal ministers were given three options:
* Complete a program of continuing education that could demonstrate "an understanding ... of the interrelatedness of worship and the world" necessary to become a deacon.
* Retain lay-ministry standing as diaconal ministers.
* Surrender credentials.
Approximately 80 percent of the current 1,106 deacons got there through the feeder route of diaconal ministry. Another 600 diaconal ministers retained their lay status, and about 50 of them attended the convocation. Attrition will eventually dissolve that form of lay ministry.
Diaconal ministers acquired a "neither fish nor fowl" image from their beginning, misunderstood as clergy in some settings, rightly understood as laity in other settings. In any given local church, a diaconal, as they are known informally, might hold the title of "minister of Christian education" or "minister of music." Regardless of local-church title, however, a diaconal minister is a lay member of his or her annual conference.
Further, in any given local church, a deacon might hold titles similar to those of a diaconal minister, such as "minister of evangelism," or be known as an associate or assistant pastor. Regardless of local-church title, however, a deacon is a clergy member of his or her annual conference.
Administratively, all 1,100 deacons and 600 diaconal ministers are related to the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry through its Division of Ordained Ministrys Section of Deacons and Diaconal Ministries, with offices in Nashville, Tenn.
The Rev. Joaquín García, the sections staff executive, said deacons and diaconal ministers have impacted the church by making it aware of legitimate calls to specialized ministry both inside and outside the church. The vast majority of those calls are lived out inside the church, he added.
Keynoting the recent celebrative convocation, Bishop James R. King Jr. of the churchs Louisville (Ky.) Area, likened his audience to "a few deacons and diaconal ministers left at the cross after all the others had gone." He admonished United Methodist deacons and diaconal ministers to continue to "take your authority from God and from the church" in their work of connecting church to world and world to church.
To bring the convocations "connecting" theme to life, participants had an afternoons opportunity to visit 14 service ministries throughout the Dallas/Fort Worth area. About half the gatherings 440 registrants did so. The largest number, dressed for manual labor, went to a site where the Society of St. Andrew was bagging grapefruit for distribution to needy persons.
Most other participants visited 20-plus booths in a "ministries fair" at the motel, including wrapping personal health kits for distribution by the United Methodist Committee on Relief. A few others experienced "the world" via free shuttle to the nearby upscale Dallas Galleria shopping center.
One deacon who remained at her station was the Rev. Cheryln A. Gates. As registrar and financial aid director at United Methodist-related Boston University School of Theology, she answered participants questions about her school, handed out literature and consented to a news interview.
Ten years ago, with an undergraduate degree in liberal arts, a good marriage and children on the way to maturity, she was a "very active" layperson United Methodist Women, Sunday school teacher, etc. She also had a job in computer sales and service, "and I was good at it," she said.
But she never forgot her baptism and her sense of Gods grace in her life.
In 1993, she crossed paths with a former pastor at a funeral and, a few days later, received a phone call from the pastors wife telling of a job opening in the Boston University treasurers office. She got the job, and tuition remission as a staff member enabled her to enroll in the School of Theology. After that, "God kept opening doors to keep me in seminary." She received a master of sacred theology degree in 2000.
A clergy member of the New England Conference, she says she continues to be "shifted and shaped" as a deacon. Part of that came with her consecration as a diaconal minister in 1998, "where I felt I was close to but not fully in the place I was supposed to be. But ordination as a deacon in 2000 is exactly where Ive been going."
As a consequence of being a deacon, she feels a shift in relationships with people she has known for upwards of 27 years at Fisk Memorial United Methodist Church in Nattick, Mass. "Now Im the person to offer a prayer or lead a discussion. Instead of just going on retreats, I organize or lead them. I find those shifts consistent with my call for proclamation and service.
"I want people to know who and what I am. Every day I wear a cross. Its my version of putting on Christ, my robing up. I use the title of reverend in my work so its clear to students that I am a deacon. But I also make it clear to each one that I am here to serve you every day.
"Our Order of Deacons in the New England Conference meets three times a year," she continued. "We are working hard to define ourselves. If we dont define who we are, who will? The Discipline mostly defines who we are not."
Convocation planners seemed to anticipate Gates feelings. On opening night, participants were asked to fill out cards, answering, "What is God calling the diaconate (deacons and diaconal ministers) to be and do?"
A small committee worked virtually all one night to report back with six typewritten pages of responses. The responses included:
- Invigorate the people of God, creating change, keeping the church out of balance so we can see the world as it truly is and respond.
- Move with our congregations out and among the communities in which they live, work and play, and into the communities they havent even dared to think about yet!
- Implement "subversive" strategies that pierce the places where the church has been or is corrupted by arrogance and ego.
- Heal separation between clergy and laypeople.
- Truly serve others and quit griping about feeling overlooked, ignored, forgotten and treated as second-class.
- Tie our towels together across racial and sexual orientation and wash others feet.
- Proclaim our calling as ministers of God, recognizing the equality of all ministries, whether ordained or lay.
- Lead in reversing the tide of injustice and oppression, even our participation in that oppression.
- Be a healing catalyst in the church and world.
Between the opening-night invitation to self-identification and the subsequent release of the responses, the convocation participants received a challenging address by the Rev. Jerome King del Pino, top executive of the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry.
Listed on the printed program simply to bring a welcome, del Pino instead both affirmed and alerted his audience. Referring to the "short trajectory" of the new ordained order, he said, "The seriousness of your claim to connect church and world is suspect. You must come up with a compelling and coherent sense of purpose."
That sense of purpose, many convocation participants agreed, must, among other things, help clarify relations between deacons and elders. Elders are those within the churchs historic ordained order committed to "a lifetime ministry of service, word, sacrament and order." The church has about 35,000 active elders.
Personal commitments to ministries of service and word are identical for deacons and elders. Typically, however, deacons have emphasized service while elders have emphasized word (preaching and teaching).
Elders have exclusive authority, under the Discipline, "to administer the sacraments of baptism and Holy Communion and to order the life of the church for mission and ministry." Deacons may assist.
Other significant differences between deacons and elders:
- Deacons secure their own service ministry and request appointment to that ministry by the bishop and cabinet. Elders are appointed to their places of ministry.
- Each elder in full connection and good standing is guaranteed an appointment annually. Deacons are not.
- Each elder must be prepared to itinerate (be appointed from one ministry to another). Deacons are not subject to itineration.
Differences between deacons and elders are established and reviewed every four years by the General Conference, the United Methodist Churchs top legislative body. One of 23 workshops during the convocation focused on "the structure and responsibilities of General Conference and its impact on deacons and diaconal ministers." The next General Conference will be in 2004 in Pittsburgh.
Anticipating General Conference, the convocation buzzed informally with the determination by many deacons to elect one or more of their number as clergy delegates to the legislative body and thus have direct representation for their concerns. Clergy (elders and deacons) and lay delegates will be elected during annual conference sessions this spring and summer.
That self-preservation determination notwithstanding, in their closing worship for "Renewal of Commitment to the Vocation of Service," participants affirmed that "as deacons and diaconal ministers, we are to be coworkers with the bishops, other deacons, diaconal ministers, commissioned ministers, elders and all of the faithful."
Regardless of the now-divergent paths to United Methodist ordination, service by all of the above could, in the poets words, make "all the difference" to the church, to the world and to the connections between them.
*Lovelace is a free-lance writer living in Dallas.
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