Showing posts from February, 2012

Ten Things to Know About the Call to Action

By Bishop John L. Hopkins

Look! I’m doing a new thing: now it sprouts up; don’t you recognize it? I’m making a way in the desert, paths in the wilderness. Isaiah 43:19, CEB

God is doing a new thing in The United Methodist Church. There is a new church emerging in our very midst. It is happening at the grass roots level around the world. Bishop Robert Schnase describes it like a heat map of ministry:There are many signs of hope. Picture in your mind a heat map, where clusters of fruitful ministry activity are lighted against a dark background with the most fruitful and vital ministries shining brightest. The heat map of The United Methodist Church would allow us to see bright spots in unexpected places, concentrations of vital ministry and congregations that are thriving. Some would be in urban areas, some in the suburbs and some in the most isolated of rural counties. Africa would be aglow with congregational vitality and mission partnerships, but also the map would draw our attention…

Reunion with a sister

I'm pictured here with Rev. Mutombo Illunga Kimba and her son, Glory. We had a joyous reunion in Harare. Our family connection spans many years.

Rev. Kimba was the first UMC clergywoman ordained in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1979. A few years later, she met my father, Bishop Ben Oliphint, when he visited the North Katanga Annual Conference. Rev. Kimba attended Scarritt College in Nashville, where she received a Master's in Christian Education. During her time in the United States, she spent several weeks in my parents' home and forged a life-long friendship. I met Rev. Kimba at the 1988 General Conference. She served on the Africa Church Growth and Development Committee, which became the Africa Initiative, which gave birth to Africa University.

Rev. Kimba serves as Coordinator of Professional Schools in the South Congo Episcopal Area. She and her husband have four children; one son is named Oliphint after my family! Her son, Glory, is a student at Africa Univ…

Smokey Mountain

Just across the bridge from the historic “Intramuros Manila,” families used to live on top of a trash dump. Government housing was built next to the dump, known as “Smokey Mountain.” Today, 3,000 families live in the housing units, and vegetation now covers the huge trash dump. Many of the families make their living from salvaging trash items for recycle and re-sale.
In the midst of these extremely harsh living conditions shines a bright light…..the Smokey Mountain United Methodist Church. A one-room building provides a gathering place for worship and Bible study. The church also offers its space to other denominations as well.
Pastor Marvin Bunagan, a local pastor who will soon begin his seminary studies, is a product from a similar nearby neighborhood. An invitation from a friend to visit a United Methodist church when Marvin was a teenager resulted in a profession of faith in Christ. He attended college on a United Methodist scholarship, and is now serving the people of Smokey…

A Prayerful Guide

Levi Bautista, Assistant General Secretary for United Nations and International Affairs, General Board of Church and Society of The United Methodist Church, and a native of The Philippines, joined us at the pre-General Conference briefing in Manila. In addition to the presentations he made at the briefing, Levi also spoke at a symposium and book signing at Philippine Christian University. Additional speakers included Rev. Fr. Rex R.B. Reyes, General Secretary, National Council of Churches, and Norma P. Dollaga (KASIMBAYAN). Cooky Chua provided musical entertainment.

The book, “Meditations and Devotions on the Millennium Development Goals: A Prayerful Guide,” was written by Levi and 150 contributing writers, many who were present for the event. Commentaries and devotions are offered on each of the Millennium Development Goals, adopted by the United Nations at the 2000 Millennium Summit, which include: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; Achieve universal primary education; Promote gen…

It's a small world, after all....especially in the UMC connection!

I was privileged to meet Rev. Munda Dablo (left), District Superintendent of the South District, Palawan Annual Conference.

She is the sister of Terry La Guardia. Terry's husband, Rev. Levy La Guardia, is pastor of Umphress Road UMC, Dallas, Texas; we have been partners in ministry for many years. Rev. Dablo will be attending the 2012 General Conference as a clergy delegate. It was a joy to be with her in Manila and discover her connection to my home conference, North Texas!

Manila Pre-General Conference Briefing

Forty eight delegates from the 24 annual conferences of the Philippines Central Conference gathered in Manila February 4 and 5 for worship and study in preparation for the 2012 General Conference. The briefing was
patterned after the Tampa briefing held January 19-21, and included presentations from presenters both in person and also via webcast and video. UMCOM presented a workshop "Exploring Communication Tools for Local Church Marketing" on February 6.

Worship was led by Jorge Lockward, Director, Global Praise Program, General Board of Global Ministries. Bishop Rudy Juan of the Baguio Episcopal Area is pictured serving communion, assisted by Carmelina Nual, lay delegate from Cagayan de Oro UMC, and his daughter Pearl.

Bishop Rosemarie Wenner (right) of Germany, President-elect of the Council of Bishops and I are in Manila for the pre-General Conference briefing. We discovered that we were born in the same year. I won't tell you how old we are, but we are the average age of a United Methodist!
On the long flight to Manila, I sat by a Filipino couple who were returning home. They are Seventh Day Adventists. As I shared about my work with the UMC, they nodded their heads and said that the challenges we are seeking to address are the same for their denomination. They asked why my husband did not come with me, and when I shared that he was a pastor and was busy in ministry at his church, they smiled. "The local church! That's what it's all about!"
It is indeed what it's all about as we focus on "redirecting the flow of attention, energy and resources to an intense concentration on fostering and sustaining an increase in the number of vital congregations effective in making…