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United Methodist bishops congratulate President Bush

 


United Methodist bishops congratulate President Bush

Nov. 4, 2004

By Kathy L. Gilbert*

ST. SIMON’S ISLAND, Ga. (UMNS) — In a 200-year-old tradition, United Methodist bishops signed a Bible to send to President George Bush and issued a statement of congratulations following his re-election.

Meeting at Epworth by the Sea, a United Methodist retreat center, the Council of Bishops wrote a statement offering prayers and support for the president and his family as well as U.S. Sen. John Kerry and his family. The council comprises 130 bishops representing the United Methodist Church in the United States, Africa, Europe and Asia. The bishops are the top leaders of the 11 million-member denomination.

The bishops offered to work with Bush "to build bridges of understanding." They also thanked Kerry "for the gracious way he has accepted the voters’ decision."

"We are grateful that President and Mrs. Bush are committed disciples of Jesus Christ, and we pray that they continue to grow in their discipleship," said Bishop Peter Weaver, council president and leader of the church’s Boston Area.

Weaver said many of the issues the president listed as priority concerns are also priorities of the church — war and peace, terrorism and poverty.

"There is common ground for conversation," he said. "There are different perspectives, but I believe we all grow when we hear different perspectives."

Bishop Rhymes H. Moncure, whose area includes the Bushes’ home church, said he is looking forward to establishing a close relationship with the president. George and Laura Bush are members of Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas.

In a prayer before one of the plenary sessions Nov. 3, Moncure said, "God, help those who might be disappointed to find peace and tranquility. Reconciliation is always possible."

"I am looking forward to whatever is in the past being in the past," he said later. "We have four more years ahead of us, and I know that it will be four more productive years for the president and his cabinet as well as the people of the church to work together to bring about the kinds of changes that he (Bush) would like to see."

"I know the Council of Bishops wants to have an open line of communication with President Bush," said Bishop John Schol, assigned to the Washington Area.

"As the bishop of Washington D.C., I too want to establish a good working relationship with President Bush and the administration."

"It helps for there to be a pastoral relationship in which we can provide pastoral care and concern but also have an opportunity to be in dialogue about the nation and the world," he added.

"There are places where we share common interest and common hope," said Bishop Hope Morgan Ward, assigned to the Mississippi Area. "The United Methodist Church has desires for children to have fullness of life. I would hope that would be one place we could come together and have common commitment. The church could be a great resource, and we are a partnering people."

The church and the bishops have always had a relationship with the president dating back to Bishop Francis Asbury and President Washington, Weaver said.

"Every time there is an election, whoever is elected, we express our prayers and invite the nation to be in prayer," he said. "We reach out to offer our counsel, our support and offer to continue to be partners in the pursuit of peace and justice and well-being for all of God’s children."

*Gilbert is a United Methodist News Service news writer in Nashville, Tenn.

News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

The Council of Bishops’ complete statement follows:

Council of Bishops
The United Methodist Church
Congratulates U.S. President George W. Bush

The Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church offers its congratulations to U.S. President George W. Bush as he assumes the presidency for a second term. We thank Massachusetts Sen. John F. Kerry for the gracious way he has accepted the voters’ decision. The Council represents 11 million United Methodists in the United States, Africa, Europe, and Asia.

Our prayers are for President Bush, his wife, Laura, and their family, and for Sen. Kerry, his wife, Teresa, and their family, after the tightly contested presidential race.

We pledge to work with President Bush to build bridges of understanding that we pray will lead to overcoming the gulfs that divide the nation and the world.

In every nation, where free elections are held, they create crossroads of opportunities. This year’s U.S. election is no different. The election process reflected the nation’s concerns about moral values, economic well-being, and national security. It is of no small consequence that these are also worldwide concerns growing out of our understanding of Christian faith.

We will continue to keep our brother in Christ, and fellow United Methodist, President Bush, in our prayers. We look forward to building a constructive relationship with him as we shape a world where we do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God.

Bishop Peter D. Weaver, President
On behalf of the Council of Bishops
Nov. 4, 2004
Epworth by the Sea, St. Simons, Ga.

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