UMC Conferences Come Together to Offer Help – and Hope – in Puerto Rico

By Rick Wolcott*

“All of you are a gift from God because your presence here lets us know we are not alone,” Methodist Church of Puerto Rico Bishop Hector Ortiz told the 40 members of our joint mission team from the East Ohio Conference and the Western Pennsylvania Conference.

We spent the last week of June in Patillas, Puerto Rico, on the southeast coast of the island just west of where Hurricane Maria hit land in September 2017.  People there are still recovering from the physical and emotional toll left behind in the wake of the deadly hurricane.

Bishops Cynthia Moore-Koikoi (Western PA) and Tracy S. Malone (East Ohio) responded to the report Ortiz gave to the Council of Bishops in November 2017, updating them on the condition of the island territory of the United States.

“As I was sitting there, I was moved with compassion and I said immediately in that moment, ‘I must go.’  I felt that God was calling me to be part of the recovery effort in Puerto Rico,” Malone said.

“We looked at each other and immediately had a connection and both of us knew that we had to come to Puerto Rico,” Moore-Koikoi added.  “It has been a wonderful experience.  We have seen God move in so many ways!”

The two bishops invited clergy and laity to join them on the joint mission team that brought together two conferences from two different United Methodist Church jurisdictions for one cause – to help the people of Puerto Rico.

“Love.  Family.  Connection.”

Those are just a few of the responses offered by team members when asked to share one word that describes why they accepted the bishops’ invitation.

“People who are coming here can hear our story then return home and let others know that ‘there’s loving people there who need help,’” said Nidtza Ivette Padilla Martinez, volunteers coordinator for the Puerto Rico Conference.

Teams from The United Methodist Church were easily identifiable in towns across the island because of the blue shirts provided by the Puerto Rico Conference.  On the back of the shirts were these words:

Voluntario

“Haz todo el bien que puedas por todos los medios que puedas …  “ Juan Wesley

Which translates as:

Volunteer

“Do all the good you can with everything you can …  “ John Wesley

Each member of the team lived out Wesley’s call.  We were one of nearly 60 groups from The United Methodist Church that have assisted in Puerto Rico since the island opened to outside mission teams in January – and the first group that included bishops.  During the week we worked on six homes and the mission center that hosted the group.

“Caring.  Hope.  Duty.”

One bunkhouse at the mission center hosted the women while the other housed the men.  Meetings, devotions and meals were held in a large common area.   Our home-cooked meals were provided by members of the United Methodist Women of the Methodist Church of Puerto Rico.  We learned that following Hurricane Maria, the women served more than 5,000 meals to people who had nowhere to go.

UMW President Alicia Reyes told the group, “We do everything and try anything to make people comfortable.”

Pastor Isabelino Rivera Silva and Homeowner Junito
Pastor Isabelino Rivera Silva and Homeowner Junito

Ten months after the hurricane, Pastor Isabelino Rivera Silva of Iglesia Metodista Unida, where we worshipped during our stay, continues to remind the congregation that they are not alone as they work to rebuild their lives.

“If you have faith in the Lord, anything is possible because you have faith in the Lord,” he preached.

The message applies to each of us.

“Justice.  Faithfulness.  Serving.”

When asked what he would say to people reading this article, Luis Acosta, a college student from Guayama, Puerto Rico who assisted the EOC-WPC team said:

“I want you to have this amazing experience of giving hope to those who lost everything.  I encourage you to get involved – and it doesn’t have to be in Puerto Rico.  You can help out in your community, in your church, in other states.  There are many, many people in need.”

Individuals and groups interested in serving on mission teams in Puerto Rico should fill out this Google document and send an e-mail to Jason Frazer, who is the Puerto Rico volunteer coordinator on the mainland for United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR).

*Rick Wolcott is director of Communications for the East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church.

2 of 3 detained missionaries leave Philippines

By Sam Hodges
July 5, 2018 | UMNS

Two of three United Methodist missionaries who had been detained in the Philippines have left the country, and one, Adam Shaw, has been reunited with his family in Ohio.

Tawanda Chandiwana is on the way to his home country of Zimbabwe, the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries reported on July 5.

A third missionary, Miracle Osman of Malawi, is working with Filipino attorneys on paperwork, and Global Ministries officials are hopeful she’ll be allowed to leave, said Dan Curran, a spokesman for the church agency.

All three faced accusations of anti-government activities. Chandiwana had been held by authorities for weeks, while the other two had not been allowed to leave the country.

Thomas Kemper, top executive of Global Ministries, said his heart had been “full of sorrow” when he met with Chandiwana at a detention center on July 1.

“Now it is full of joy because I’ve just said goodbye to him,” Kemper said from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila.

Manila Area Bishop Ciriaco Q. Francisco posted on Facebook: “Another round of thanks to God and to all who supported the release of Tawanda.”

In a video released by Global Ministries, Francisco added a special thanks for the life of Chandiwana, who he said had “lived with the people.”

“That is the real essence of service. He lived with the Lumads and he served the people,” Francisco said, referring to an indigenous people of the Philippines.

Shaw reached Brunswick, Ohio, on July 4 and was reunited with his parents, the Rev. Thomas Shaw and Susan Shaw.

The father, pastor of Brunswick United Methodist Church, said the denomination’s support was “very, very important to know that Adam wasn’t alone and that we were not alone in supporting him.”

He added: “We’re happy for him but feel his sadness that he had to leave the country where God had called him.”

Adam Shaw urged people to continue to share the story of the missionaries in their churches and on social media.

“The Philippines is one of those countries where people of faith really have a voice and are listened to regardless of whether they are in the Philippines. . . .” he said. “Part of the effort in detaining us was to silence our voices and the voices of those we lift up in our work. Refusing to let the voices be silenced is a huge step that we as a church can do both through the petition and our churches.”

Global Ministries worked unsuccessfully behind the scenes then led a public campaign for the release of the three missionaries. The Council of Bishops issued a statement, and about 13,000 people signed an online petition.

Kemper described himself as “so, so thankful” for the denomination’s support.

The New York Times reported that Shaw was deported by the Philippines for having engaged in “political activities,” and another news source said the government’s Bureau of Immigration had placed all three missionaries on a blacklist because of “leftist” involvement.

But Global Ministries said the three were targeted for taking part in an international ecumenical fact-finding investigation of alleged human rights violations, including the deaths of nine indigenous people.

That mission was on the southern island of Mindanao, where President Rodrigo Duterte has declared martial law and the military has battled Islamic militants, the Times reported.

Chandiwana was arrested May 9 while attending a training seminar at the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute. He was held on a charge related to his visa status, but also was found to be on a government watch list for suspected subversives.

Osman’s passport was confiscated as she was extending a tourist visa while waiting for her missionary visa to be approved, and Shaw had been informed that he would be deported, Global Ministries reported earlier.

Shaw was initially commissioned in 2011 as a mission intern. Lately he had been serving as an international linkages coordinator assigned to the Save Our Schools, Protect Indigenous Life Project, based in Davao City, Mindanao.

Chandiwana and Osman are Global Missions Fellows.

Kemper noted that missionaries are sent to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all parts of the world.

“That includes standing up for life where it has been threatened,” he said. “… So we will not stop sending missionaries to the Philippines, to all countries in the world, because we feel that is our calling as United Methodists.”

View video of Adam Shaw’s airport interview.

Hodges is a Dallas-based writer for United Methodist News Service. Rick Wolcott, director of Communications for the East Ohio Conference, and Gladys Mangiduyos, a communicator from the Philippines, contributed to this story. Contact them at 615-742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org

JULY 2, 2018

Annual Conference 2018

Bearing Fruit that Lasts: Called
Annual Conference 2018 explored what it means to be called and equipped as followers of Jesus Christ.  Worship services were guided by John 15:13-17 (CEB) while business sessions reinforced our EOC vision.

Visit the Annual Conference 2018 website to view and download the Annual Conference recap video, read the summary report, and much more.

Visit the EOC YouTube page to:

  • view the Episcopal Address
  • view each worship service
  • view the daily business sessions and the EOC vision segments
  • view Kimberlee Medicine Horn’s Native American Ministries presentation
  • view the presentation of Markus McKinney, Black College Fund Lina H. McCord Summer Intern

Financial and Administrative Services

Apportionments
It was announced at Annual Conference in June that the East Ohio Conference paid 100% apportionments to the General Church for the year 2017 – the 13th consecutive year the Conference has paid 100%.  Apportionments in 2017 totaled $2,718,481, broken down as follows:

  • World Service, $1,398,447
  • Ministerial Education, $472,330
  • Episcopal, $414,137
  • Black Colleges, $188,408
  • General Administration, $166,054
  • Africa University, $42,165
  • Interdenominational Cooperation, $36,940

NOTE: EOC apportionments are 1.7% higher in 2018 than they were in 2017, and they will be 3.2% less in 2019 than they are in 2018.

Missions

Missionaries Can’t Leave Philippines
United Methodist officials are making a public appeal to the Philippines government to release detained missionary Tawanda Chandiwana of Zimbabwe and allow him and missionaries Adam Shaw of the East Ohio Conference and Miracle of Malawi to leave the country.

The United Methodist Board of Global Ministries has worked for weeks with Filipino United Methodist bishops and others to secure Chandiwana’s release with no success.

The mission agency and the United Methodist Council of Bishops have begun a public campaign on behalf of the church workers.  We are encouraged to pray and to sign an online petition to #Let Them Leave.

Multicultural Ministries

How United Methodists Can Support Immigrant Families
UMNS Photo: Mike DuBose – The United Methodist Church continues to respond to reports of immigrant parents and children being separated after detention at the southern borders of the United States. Despite an order to stop the family separations, many concerns remain.

The Board of Church and Society has been outspoken in its opposition to these separations, while reminding all what the Social Principles of The United Methodist Church say about welcoming the migrant.

If you are interested in ways that you can help offer compassion, here are a few ideas:

Bishop’s Office

Position Available
The Ohio East Episcopal Area of The United Methodist Church is seeking a full-time Executive Secretary to the BishopA detailed description of the position may be found here.

Interested, qualified candidates are invited to submit a resume, including at least three references, to Assistant to the Bishop the Rev. Dr. Gary George.  Resumes will be received through August 31.  They can be sent via e-mail or U.S. mail (8800 Cleveland Ave., N.W., North Canton, OH 44720).

Council of Connectional Ministries

Position Available
The East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church is seeking applications for the Administrative Assistant to the Director of Connectional Ministries.

The administrative assistant reports to and is responsible for supporting the director of Connectional Ministries in fulfilling the mission and vision of the East Ohio Conference. This includes communicating, budgeting, reporting, and coordinating for a variety of ministries and committees.

Experience with and understanding of The United Methodist Church is desired but not required for this position, which is full-time, hourly, and non-exempt with health care and retirement benefits provided.

A detailed description of the position may be found here.

Christian Unity

Moravian Church in America ratifies full communion agreement with The United Methodist Church
The Northern Province of the Moravian Church in North America voted on Friday, June 22 at its synod meeting in Bethlehem, PA to enter into a full communion relationship with The United Methodist Church.

A formal “full communion” relationship is one in which two or more churches publicly and visibly recognize one another as members of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church.  In such agreements the parties recognize each other’s sacraments, offices of ministry, and Christian mission as fully valid and authentic, while also maintaining the autonomy and distinctive gifts of each church.

The Southern Province previously approved the agreement at its synod meeting in April and the General Conference of The United Methodist Church approved it at its meeting in 2016. The full text of the agreement can be found here.  The next step in the implementation of the agreement will be for the two churches to establish a joint commission for the coordination of the full communion relationship.

Pastoral Care and Counseling

Bi-weekly Resources
In the July 2 issue we address:  Justice: the immigration crisis in America; our need to slow down, ways to address anxiety and allergies; and some good summer reading.

  • A Way Forward: “We Are One” 2018 YAC Theme
  • Justice Close to Home
  • El Centro of Lorain
  • Families Belong Together: Here’s How You Can Help
  • Slow Down to Get Ahead
  • Audio: A Meditation on Working with Anxiety
  • 7 Mindful Books Worth Reading this Summer
  • 5 Ways to Deal with Allergies Naturally
  • Listings of our Spiritual Directors

Contact Us
If you have any questions or issues you would like for us to address or if you would like to receive e-mail alerts when new resources have been posted, please contact Howard Humphress at hkhumphress@gmail.com or use our quick contact form.

Leadership Development

Lead Like Jesus Encounter Workshop
August 24-25 at United Theological Seminary
This workshop imagines a world in which leaders serve rather than rule, give rather than take, and imagines leaders who produce results through service and sacrifice rather than through power and position.

The Lead Like Jesus Encounter is 10 hours of action-oriented learning followed by weekly online E-lessons. The encounter is a highly interactive, participant-driven leadership development workshop that exposes common leadership misconceptions and offers a practical model based on the greatest leader role model of all time, Jesus.

Participants can earn  1 CEU credit.  Learn more and register.

Media Center

The Media Center recently acquired the following resources:

To reserve these or other resources, call the Media Center at (800) 831-3972 x 139 or send an e-mail to sarnold@eocumc.com. Browse the resource catalog at www.rqmweb.com/eocumc

Message in the Movies

Message in the Movies banner (colorful film strip

He’s Back! Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader, our movie reviewer, returns with a review of Won’t You Be My Neighbor? and the best thing you could do would be to seek out this film at your earliest convenience and give thanks for the singular genius who was Fred Rogers, who lived out the gospel so well that his adult children compare him to Jesus. Welcome back Bruce!

Credit Union

Independence Day Closing
On Wednesday July 4, 2018, all offices of The United Methodist Financial Credit Union will be closed in observance of Independence Day. Members may check share account balances, pay bills, and transfer funds anytime on our website or through our mobile app.

Member Information Update
If life is taking you in a new direction, don’t forget to let your credit union know! If there are any changes to your personal information like a new home address, phone number, or email address, contact one of our offices. This way, you never miss out on important news and updates from The United Methodist Financial Credit Union!

News from Our Districts

Gospel Artist Guy Penrod Performing in Cambridge September 16
Cambridge Faith UMC (Southern Hills) is sponsoring a concert by Guy Penrod, Gospel singing artist and former lead vocalist of the Gaither Family Band.  Penrod will bring his “Pray About Everything” tour to the Pritchard Laughlin Civic Center on Glenn Highway for a 3:00 p.m. concert that day.

Tickets are $25 each, and may be purchased through etix.com or by calling the Pritchard Laughlin box office at (740) 439-7009.  Box office hours are 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Events: July 2 – July 15

Click to view East Ohio Conference Calendar.

To submit your event to the East Ohio calendar use this form.
(The East Ohio Conference only accepts East Ohio United Methodist local church, conference and general UM events for listing on the conference calendar.)

Classifieds

Details of listings may be found here. 

Positions Available

  • Executive Secretary to the Bishop, East Ohio Conference Area Center
  • Administrative Assistant to the Director of Connectional Ministries, East Ohio Conference Area Center
  • Organist/Pianist/Accompanist, Wooster UMC
  • Choir Director, Christ UMC, Cleveland westside
  • Organist, UMC of Kent
  • Children/Teen Program Director, Canton Calvary Mission
  • Director of Connectional Ministries, Illinois Great River Annual Conference

Items Available/Wanted

  • Wanted – Used Allen or Rodgers Organ
  • Available – Malmark Handchimes – 25 note Choirchime Set

To submit a classified ad please email sue@eocumc.com

Obituaries

Please pray for the families of:

  • Gayle E. Maly, spouse of Rev. David E. Maly, died June 9,
  • and Donna M. McCoy, surviving spouse of Norman E. McCoy, died June 8.

Obituary notices may be found here.

To Subscribe

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Information from this E-News may be copied and used in your local church.

The next scheduled edition of the E-News is Monday, July 16, 2018.  Deadline for submission is Wednesday, July 11.