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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 24, 2009
United Methodist Leaders Call for Hope, Outreach in Economic Crisis
Nashville: The global financial crisis underscores the importance of a renewed focus on mission and ministry for the church and reminds Christians to maintain hope during fearful times, said three key United Methodist leaders.
In an open letter to the people of The United Methodist Church, church leaders acknowledged that the global financial crisis is bringing hardship and suffering to people in every part of the world as well as generating increasing global unrest and violence, while all levels of the church are also facing economic constraints that require them to assess how they carry out ministry to a world in need.
"We are reminded that our faith does not rise and fall with the financial markets but resides in the enduring love of God who is present with us as we struggle and strive to love God and our neighbors," said the letter.
The letter is signed by Bishop Gregory Palmer, president of the Council of Bishops, Bishop John Hopkins, chair of the Connectional Table (an organization within the church that reviews missions and ministries), and Neil Alexander, chair of the Table of General Secretaries (top staff executives of the church's general agencies).
Church leaders said that the current economic climate only underscores the need for the four long-term "areas of focus" adopted by The United Methodist Church in 2008 at General Conference, a meeting of the denomination's top legislative body which occurs every four years.
"We urgently need principled Christian leaders for the church and the world. People searching for meaning are seeking new places of welcome and hospitality for worship, prayer and spiritual growth. It is abundantly evident that United Methodists must engage in ministry with the poor and tackle the diseases of poverty that rob people of the fullness of life, health and wholeness."
The letter suggests that the beginning of Lent be a time to recommit to practice the traditional Wesleyan values: do no harm, do good and stay in love with God.
A church-wide conversation called "Rethink Church" is asking United Methodists to envision ways to reinvigorate the denomination's outreach to a hurting world and offer hospitality to those seeking deeper spiritual understanding.
Note to Editors: The letter is availability in its entirety at www.umc.org
Media Contact: Diane Degnan
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