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Bishops will focus on children, poverty concerns at meeting

4/24/2003 News media contact: Tim Tanton · (615) 742-5470 · Nashville, Tenn.

By United Methodist News Service*

Issues related to children, poverty and violence in the United States and Africa will be key agenda items for the United Methodist Church's bishops when they meet April 27-May 2 near Dallas.

The international United Methodist Council of Bishops will meet at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Addison. The council comprises 50 active bishops in the United States; 18 bishops in Europe, Asia and Africa; plus 75 retired bishops worldwide. They are the top clergy leaders in the nearly 10 million-member church.

The council's semi-annual meeting opens April 27 with a memorial service at Perkins Chapel on the campus of Southern Methodist University.

The bishops will go into their first plenary session the following day, with Bishop Sharon A. Brown Christopher giving the final address of her one-year term as council president. Christopher leads the church's Illinois Area. During closing worship May 2, Bishop Ruediger R. Minor of Moscow will be installed as the new president.

Children's issues will receive much attention as the bishops hear reports related to their Initiative on Children and Poverty, launched in 1996. The council's task force on children and poverty, led by Bishop Donald Ott of Pewaukee, Wis., will give a report April 28. Bishop Elias Galvan, who leads the church's Seattle Area, will report the next day on the "Hope for the Children of Africa" appeal.

Other speakers on the initiative will include Sarah Wilke, a staff member of the North Texas Annual Conference, and Gary Gunderson, director of the Interfaith Health Program at Rollins School of Public Health at United Methodist-related Emory University in Atlanta. The initiative is expected to unveil a new study guide for communities working with children and the poor, and it will offer reports on special ministries in congregations in Fairport, N.Y., and Towanda, Pa.

Marking the 300th anniversary of the birth of John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement, the council will have a presentation April 29 by a Wesleyan scholar, Marjorie Suchocki of Upland, Calif. Suchocki is a retired dean of United Methodist-related Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta and teaches at Claremont (Calif.) School of Theology.

Other reports will include an update from Bishop Melvin Talbert, the council's chief ecumenical officer, on his recent activities; and an update on worship plans for the 2004 General Conference in Pittsburgh.

During their closing plenary session, the bishops will consider resolutions on a number of topics.
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*Information for this report was provided by Stephen Drachler, director of the Office of Public Information at United Methodist Communications in Nashville, Tenn.

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