Monday, August 17, 2015

Life Abundant

United Methodists believe in life!  Our mission is to make disciples so that people might have a relationship with Jesus Christ and have abundant life and everlasting life.  Easter is our best day and every Sunday is a “little Easter” in which we celebrate the resurrection and our commitment to life.  That is why we as a denomination support life in all of its forms.

Abortion is an issue that the United Methodist Church speaks about in our Social Principles in the 2012 Book of Discipline. We are not silent about this. Paragraph 161(J) states:

“The beginning of life and the ending of life are the God-given boundaries of human existence.  
While individuals have always had some degree of control over when they would die, they now have the awesome power to determine when and even whether new individuals will be born. Our belief in the sanctity of unborn human life makes us reluctant to approve abortion. But we are equally bound to respect the sacredness of the life and well-being of the mother and the unborn child. We recognize tragic conflicts of life with life that may justify abortion, and in such cases we support the legal option of abortion under proper medical procedures by certified medical providers. 
We support parental, guardian, or other responsible adult notification and consent before abortions can be performed on girls who have not yet reached the age of legal adulthood. We cannot affirm abortion as an acceptable means of birth control. And we unconditionally reject it as a means of gender selection or eugenics. 
We oppose the use of late-term abortion known as dilation and extraction (partial-birth abortion) and call for the end of this practice except when the physical life of the mother is in danger and no other medical procedure is available, or in the case of severe fetal anomalies incompatible with life. This procedure shall be performed only by certified medical providers. Before providing their services abortion providers should be required to offer women the option of anesthesia.”            
It goes on to say that United Methodists urge all Christians to a “prayerful inquiry into the sorts of conditions that may cause people to consider abortions in the first place.  We pledge to offer ministries that will reduce unintended pregnancies and to help women find feasible alternatives.”  

According to Susan Burton of the General Board of Church and Society, “As we work to end human trafficking, rape as a weapon of war, child marriage and domestic violence, we understand why United Methodists have said that women and girls need safe, legal access to abortion ... when violence has been perpetrated against them resulting in pregnancy, or (when) they have a health condition that necessitates immediate care treatment that would not be possible while pregnant (e.g. chemotherapy). We will continue to advocate for family planning, sexuality education and wellness care for women and girls, in addition to an end to sexual and gender-based violence in order to make abortions increasingly rare.”

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Please Celebrate Campus Ministry Sunday!

Episcopal Letter by Bishop Peggy Johnson for Campus Ministry Sunday

Please celebrate Campus Ministry Sunday on August 23 or before the end of September.  And please give generously to the special offering to support our outreach to college students in Eastern PA.

I have served on all sides of the equation that adds up to life-changing campus or collegiate ministry: as a student, a pastor, a campus minister and a supportive bishop.  And I can assure you that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  All of these roles together produce results that are indeed "Life-changing, Church-changing and World-changing."

My student experiences at Lebanon Valley College awakened me to my call to ministry and prepared me for discipleship and leadership in the church, as I sought to become a true change agent in service to Christ.  When I became the pastor of Christ UM Church of the Deaf in Baltimore, and campus minister at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC, and then a bishop in this wonderful church of ours, that preparation resonated in me each step of the way.

I saw first-hand how campus ministry at Gallaudet, a school primarily for the Deaf, was instrumental in developing principled leadership, one of the four mission foci of our church today.  And I saw how the fruit of that ministry benefitted not only students but also the church I served through their energetic, creative leadership.  That is why I am deeply committed to supporting campus ministry efforts and relationships in our conference and why I urge you to join me in that commitment.