Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Please support relief for Congo malaria epidemic

Dr. Pierre Diamba Manya, M.D., a missionary with the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries, recently talked with children at Hopeland UMC in the EPA Conference during his recent visit to the US.

An epidemic of malaria in the villages of Wembo Nyama, Minga and Lodja in the central part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has prompted an emergency response from Bishop Peggy Johnson and the Peninsula-Delaware Conference and the Eastern PA Congo Partnership teams.

Bishop Johnson learned of the malaria outbreak through Dr. Pierre Diamba Manya, M.D., a missionary with the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries who is currently serving as coordinator of health and medical services of the Central Congo Episcopal Area. Dr. Manya arrived in the USA from the Congo a week ago, and is currently itinerating in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference. Bishop David Yemba of the Central Congo Episcopal Area has been in touch with Dr. Manya and has indicated that there are no funds available to purchase and transport the medication that is crucial to treating those who have contracted malaria and vital to containing the epidemic.

The Congo Partnership Team, knowing of this concern, has agreed to advance $4,000 to the Congo to purchase the necessary medication and transport it to these villages. The Democratic Republic of the Congo, three times the size of Texas, has less than a thousand miles of paved road. Jacques Umembudi, an UMCOR missionary who has worked extensively with the Congo Partnership Team, will fly the lifesaving medication to these three remote villages where medical care is extremely limited.

Bishop Johnson is inviting local churches to join the Congo Partnership Teams of PDC and Eastern PA in helping to provide this critical relief to our Congolese brothers and sisters.  To participate, churches may send a check through their local treasurer to the Eastern PA Annual Conference (PO Box 820, Valley Forge, PA 19482) Checks should be made payable to the  Eastern PA Conference  with Congo Partnership/Malaria written in the memo line.

Congo Partnership Teams
Bishop Peggy A. Johnson

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

50 Years Later

During the summer of 1963 the United States was in the midst of the Civil Rights movement.  Many important things happened during that time.  President John F. Kennedy sent the National Guard to the University of Alabama on June 10th to help black students enroll there despite the objections by the governor at that time, George Wallace.  Medgar Evers, the first Mississippi field secretary for the NAACP was shot to death at his home on June 12, 1963.  Later that summer, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led the historic march on Washington, DC on August 28, 1963. 

Were you alive in 1963?  Do you remember how things were back then in your neighborhoods, in your churches?  Have things changed?

In many ways the Civil Rights movement has made great strides in the United States.  But in many ways we still have a long way to go.  Prejudice, discrimination, and racist attitudes are still a big part of our world and even among the Body of Christ.  The Apostle Paul reminds us that “there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28) 

Spend some time this summer pondering what that means for you and your life.  Take time to read about the life of the courageous people who led the Civil Rights movement.  How can you continue what has been started in your life and in your church?

Monday, June 3, 2013


The United Methodist Social Principles state (BOD 162L) “We affirm our long-standing support of abstinence from alcohol as a faithful witness to God’s liberating and redeeming love for persons.”

With regards to the sale of alcohol it says: “We support the strict administration of laws regulating the sale and distribution of alcohol and controlled substances.”

Historically, the Methodist movement has been opposed to the use of alcohol and the United Methodist building located near the United States Capital was built years ago as a place where Methodists lobbied Congress for the cause of Prohibition due to the problems caused by alcohol use.  In the past potential candidates for ministry in the Methodist Church were asked if they drank alcohol and those that said they did were not ordained.  Today, we still believe that abstinence is a faithful witness despite the fact that we do not typically ask potential pastors about their use of alcohol.

Here are some important facts about alcohol abuse:

It is implicated in the incarceration of over half (56.6 percent) of all inmates in the America (Behind Bars II: Substance Abuse and America’s Prison Population, CASA Report, 2010)
Underage drinking in Pennsylvania costs $2.2 billion dollars annually, in Delaware $200 million dollars and in the state of Maryland it costs $1.3 billion dollars.  The costs include needless homicides, suicides, traumatic injuries and accidents, burns, violence, property crime, high risk sex, fetal alcohol syndrome, lost wages, poisoning and treatments, prevention and social welfare.    (

The total estimated economic cost of alcohol and other drug abuse in the US is more than $240 billion dollars annually. (The Lewin Group, a health policy research and management consulting firm)

This is a serious problem in our country today and also alcohol problems are found among our church members and our clergy.  I have worked with a number of clergy in our area who are alcoholics and it has done great harm to their families and churches. 

I urge laity and clergy not drink alcohol as a part of your witness.  It is not healthy for your body, it is expensive, it can interfere with relationships and could possibly ruin your life if it becomes an addiction.  Regularly teach the potential dangers of drinking to young people at your church. Teach by your example of abstinence.  Invite them to take a pledge not to ever drink or use drugs.  Allow Alcoholic and Narcotic Anonymous Groups to meet at your churches. Finally in the State of Pennsylvania there is a debate about privatization of liquor stores as a part of the budget consideration.  If you live in Pennsylvania contact your legislator and urge them not to pass this bill.  It will expand the number of outlets for the purchase of alcohol and no doubt cause more use and more misery in this world.  As Christians we are called to be lights for the world.  Expose the problems that alcohol often brings so that needless pain can be avoided.