Issues related to children, poverty and violence in the United States andAfrica will be key agenda items for the United Methodist Church's bishopswhen they meet April 27-May 2 near Dallas.The international United Methodist Council of Bishops will meet at the CrownePlaza Hotel in Addison. The council comprises 50 active bishops in the UnitedStates; 18 bishops in Europe, Asia and Africa; plus 75 retired bishopsworldwide. They are the top clergy leaders in the nearly 10 million-memberchurch.
The council's semi-annual meeting opens April 27 with a memorial service atPerkins Chapel on the campus of Southern Methodist University.
The bishops will go into their first plenary session the following day, withBishop Sharon A. Brown Christopher giving the final address of her one-yearterm as council president. Christopher leads the church's Illinois Area.During closing worship May 2, Bishop Ruediger R. Minor of Moscow will beinstalled as the new president.
Children's issues will receive much attention as the bishops hear reportsrelated to their Initiative on Children and Poverty, launched in 1996. Thecouncil's task force on children and poverty, led by Bishop Donald Ott ofPewaukee, Wis., will give a report April 28. Bishop Elias Galvan, who leadsthe church's Seattle Area, will report the next day on the "Hope for theChildren of Africa" appeal.
Other speakers on the initiative will include Sarah Wilke, a staff member ofthe North Texas Annual Conference, and Gary Gunderson, director of theInterfaith Health Program at Rollins School of Public Health at UnitedMethodist-related Emory University in Atlanta. The initiative is expected tounveil a new study guide for communities working with children and the poor,and it will offer reports on special ministries in congregations in Fairport,N.Y., and Towanda, Pa.
Marking the 300th anniversary of the birth of John Wesley, founder of theMethodist movement, the council will have a presentation April 29 by aWesleyan scholar, the Rev. Marjorie Suchocki of Upland, Calif. Suchocki is aretired dean of United Methodist-related Candler School of Theology at EmoryUniversity.
Other reports will include an update from Bishop Melvin Talbert, thecouncil's chief ecumenical officer, on his recent activities; and an updateon worship plans for the 2004 General Conference in Pittsburgh.
During their closing plenary session, the bishops will consider resolutionson a number of topics.
By Albert H. Lee