Church supports people of Tibet, Sudan, Taiwan

United Methodists have officially affirmed support for "the people of Tibet and their struggle for independence and autonomy."

The action came May 1 as General Conference, the denomination's top legislative body, met at the Fort Worth Convention Center. The petition on Tibet was among the consent calendar items approved that day.

Protests led by Buddhist monks have occurred in recent weeks in Tibet, sparked by grievances against Chinese rule and a desire for independence. A worldwide tour of the Olympic torch, which returned to China on April 30, was disrupted by pro-Tibet advocates. China is hosting the Olympics this summer.

The United Methodist Church affirms the Dalai Lama's 1987 Five Point Peace Plan and supports the efforts of the United Nations to protect human rights of all Tibetans and preserve their heritage. The church's agencies will "continue to monitor this situation and provide opportunities for the United Methodist Church members to advocate for justice for the people of Tibet."

A call to compassion and caring

A new resolution on Sudan called "Sudan: A Call to Compassion and Caring" was part of the consent calendar approved on April 29. It advocates for justice for all Sudanese, calls upon United Methodists "in every country" to encourage their governments to aid development of a more just economic system in the Sudan and asks church members to "examine all methods of protest and solidarity before undertaking them" to ensure that none of their actions cause violence.

Church members are encouraged to take advantage of the 2009 mission study on the Sudan being prepared by the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries and to continue to support the work of the United Methodist Committee on Relief there.

A petition on "Divestment and Sudan," submitted by the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, was not on the consent calendar and is awaiting action.

Also approved by consent was a petition reaffirming the denomination's support "of the democratic aspirations and achievements of the people of Taiwan." Church members are encouraged to become educated about contemporary issues related to Taiwan and the "One China" policy and promote the rights of Taiwanese "for stability, security and self-determination of its own status in the family of nations."

*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service writer based in New York.

News media contact: Linda Bloom, e-mail: newsdesk@umcom.org.

Phone calls can be made to the General Conference Newsroom in Fort Worth, Texas, at (817) 698-4405 until May 3. Afterward, call United Methodist News Service in Nashville, Tenn., at (615) 742-5470.

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