• Outlook Features 7 hours ago

    Synods to restructure, not disappear

    Synods to restructure, not disappear

    by Mihee Kim-Kort
    The number of synods across the denomination will be cut from 16 to between 10 and 12. The 221st General Assembly rejected a minority report and a substitute recommendation, opting to approve the recommendation of the Mid Councils Committee that will require the restructure to be enacted and reported by the 2016 General Assembly. The Mid Councils Committee was the last standing committee — the last to wrap up its work — at this year’s assembly in Detroit. Most of its work and conversation revolved around the Mid Council Commission… continue reading...
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  • Book Reviews 7 hours ago

    Making Sense of the Bible

    Making Sense of the Bible

    by Jonathan Saur
    by Adam Hamilton Harper One. San Francisco, Calif. 324 pages For as long as I can remember, my father has taken issue with the Bible. For him, reconciling the violence depicted in books like Joshua and Judges with Jesus’ message in the Gospels is impossible. Furthermore, being a strong supporter of gay and lesbian rights, the seemingly anti-gay rhetoric of the Bible has always been troublesome for him. Adam Hamilton’s book is written for people like my father. In writing this accessible volume, Hamilton, a United Methodist pastor in Kansas,… continue reading...
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  • Outlook Features 1 day ago

    General Assembly: Looking Back (poem)

    General Assembly: Looking Back (poem)

    by J. Barrie Shepherd
    John Calvin would be lost here. John Knox would be hard put to find a place to rest his shaggy head, and even Eugene Carson Blake might be a bit bewildered by the way things have developed in this mean time. All these badges, pins and placards, signs and symbols signifying little more than who you are aligned with, who against. The shuttling, hustling functionaries, bearing papers, ipads, cell phones, all secure in secret knowing they have been elected to do vital work on something … not sure what. Flocks… continue reading...
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Synods to restructure, not disappear

Mihee

The number of synods across the denomination will be cut from 16 to between 10 and 12. The 221st General Assembly rejected a minority report and a substitute recommendation, opting to approve the recommendation of the Mid Councils Committee that will require the restructure to be enacted and reported by the 2016 General Assembly. The Mid Councils Committee was the last standing committee — the last to wrap up its work — at this year’s assembly in Detroit. Most of its work and conversation revolved around the Mid Council Commission II (MC2) report. As the moderator moved the motion, an amendment was presented by a commissioner on the floor that read: “Move that the process of determining the number and boundaries of synods with focus on mission priorities is to be led by a meeting facilitator who has experience in mediation and conflict resolution. There will be a total of 4 face-to-face meetings over 2 years, unless the business can be concluded sooner. These meetings may be a … [Read more...]

Tagged With: GA221

Wading through the murky and treacherous waters of peace

Kelly Allen

GUEST COMMENTARY I was a member of the Middle East Issues Committee of this summer’s General Assembly.  Though we had inadequate time to address every issue with the thoroughness it deserved, the decision to divest from three American companies whose equipment is being used by the Israeli military for non-peaceful purposes was thoughtful, informed and, I believe, consistent with our stated values as a denomination. To portray the divestment decision as a one-sided gesture is wrong.  It could more justifiably be said that we were one-sided in our investment in equipment used in the conflict by Israel.  To redirect our investment portfolio toward products and services that are not connected to military uses is our longstanding investment policy. This is the closest policy to neutrality, which is a value many advocate in their opposition to this divestment decision. To continue to tie the divestment decision with “Zionism Unsettled” is wrong.  I daresay most members of the Middle … [Read more...]

Making Sense of the Bible

9780062234964

by Adam Hamilton Harper One. San Francisco, Calif. 324 pages For as long as I can remember, my father has taken issue with the Bible. For him, reconciling the violence depicted in books like Joshua and Judges with Jesus’ message in the Gospels is impossible. Furthermore, being a strong supporter of gay and lesbian rights, the seemingly anti-gay rhetoric of the Bible has always been troublesome for him. Adam Hamilton’s book is written for people like my father. In writing this accessible volume, Hamilton, a United Methodist pastor in Kansas, has presented a mainline approach to Scripture that both assimilates the findings of historical-critical research from the past couple hundred of years and upholds the Bible’s inspired status. Hamilton spends the first half of the book recounting the historical roots of the Bible, explaining what type of book the Bible is and establishing what is meant by “inspiration.” He examines the roots of the doctrine of inspiration, its historical … [Read more...]

Using spiritual gifts to build up faith (July 27, 2014)

James Brashler

Scripture Passage and Lesson Focus: 1 Corinthians 14:13-26 Making proper use of the spiritual gifts God provides proved to be a challenge for the Christians in Corinth. Some members of the congregation had the gift of speaking in tongues, a form of ecstatic prayer to God. Others had the gift of prophecy, the ability to encourage and console others with inspired speech. Unfortunately the variety of spiritual gifts received by believers in Corinth had evidently become another divisive factor in the life of this fractious congregation. Therefore in chapter 12:4-11 Paul emphasizes that all spiritual gifts come from the same Spirit — God’s Holy Spirit. The variety of spiritual gifts within the body of Christ should not lead to dissension. On the contrary, Paul urges all members of the congregation to hold each other in high esteem no matter what spiritual gifts a person has. Paul’s main point is found in 14:12, “ … Since you are eager for spiritual gifts, strive to excel in them for … [Read more...]

Political and religious leaders denounce European anti-Jewish outbursts tied to Gaza

PARIS (RNS) Amid mounting protests in Europe against the Gaza conflict, political and religious leaders in the region have sharply denounced anti-Semitism within their borders. “Anti-Semitic rhetoric and hostility against Jews, attacks on people of Jewish belief and synagogues have no place in our societies,” the foreign ministers of France, Germany and Italy said in a statement Tuesday (July 22) from Brussels. Fears of escalating unrest are perhaps sharpest in France, home to Europe’s largest populations of Jews and Muslims. Many have roots in North Africa, and violence in the Middle East resonates strongly here. Thousands defied a government ban against Paris-area protests over the weekend, staging pro-Palestinian rallies that degenerated into violence. “We have had eight synagogues attacked. We have had shops attacked,” said Roger Cukierman, head of the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions. “We have heard crowds shouting death to the Jews — not death to … [Read more...]

A ban on new church construction angers Sudanese Christians

(RNS) Christians in Sudan frequently face arrests, impromptu questioning and expulsion. But this month, conditions worsened after the government announced a ban on the construction of new churches. Shalil Abdullah, the Sudanese minister for guidance and religious endowments, made the announcement on July 12, sparking criticism from top Christian clerics who warned of shrinking worship space in the mainly Muslim and Arab north. After South Sudan’s independence in 2011, many Christians moved to the newly formed country, which has a large Christian population. But a sizable number remained. Abdullah argued there is no need to grant plots of land for new churches since the existing ones were enough for the remaining Christians. The Rev. Kori Elramla Kori Kuku, general secretary of the Sudan Council of Churches, said the government’s intentions were shocking and misleading. “We (Christians) have the right to have new plots of land and building of new churches,” he said. “We … [Read more...]