Bishops invite United Methodists to talk about security, fear

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Bishops invite United Methodists to talk about security, fear

March 16, 2005    News media contact:  Tita Parham*    
407-897-1184     Orlando  {0261}

An e-Review Feature
By Jenna De Marco**

LAKELAND — Florida United Methodists who want to express their views on fear and security may do so during two upcoming dialogue events or online through discussion boards accessible through the Florida Conference Web site.
Called "In Search of Security: A Conversation," the live discussion will take place on two dates: Saturday, April 9, from 10 a.m. to noon in the Student Center at Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach; and Thursday, April 21, from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Jim Rogers Auditorium at Florida Southern College in Lakeland.

The events will also be shown live on the Florida Conference Web site, with remote participants providing input via e-mail.

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. — Members of the United Methodist Council of Bishops gather for a group photograph during their Oct. 30-Nov. 5 meeting last year at Epworth by the Sea. A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose, Photo #05-0144.
The events come in response to a document titled "In Search of Security," published by the United Methodist Council of Bishops. The 32-page document, which can be accessed through the conference Web site, is "simply meant to stimulate discussion," according to Florida Conference Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker.

Each bishop will be providing opportunities for United Methodists in his or her area to participate in that discussion.
The writing of the paper is a result of a recommendation by the Standing Committee on Teaching Concerns of the council, which concluded the whole church should begin a conversation about security, Whitaker said.

"The reason is that security is on everybody's lips and minds today," said Whitaker, who served as the committee chairman. He said the recommendation came after he read the National Security Strategy of the United States document, released about a year after 9/11.

"It occurred to me that this was a theological document," Whitaker said. "It was a statement of policy by the executive branch of the government. You could not look at that document without thinking theologically."

The "In Search of Security" paper, however, is not a critique of national security, he said.
"It's a different kind of paper. It's a broad-based reflection of security from a Biblical perspective," Whitaker said.

Bishop Walter Klaiber of Germany drafted the document in cooperation with other members of the Council of Bishops task force.

"It's written with an eye on the National Security Strategy and daily experiences of human beings," Whitaker said.

Whitaker said he believes the paper provides a framework for further reflection on the topic of security.

"We wanted something that just helped people get their minds around the meaning of security in light of the Bible and Christian tradition," Whitaker said.

The paper is not to be considered an official church document or intended to be a statement on the war in Iraq, according to Whitaker.

The paper is available through the Florida Conference Web site and the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society Web site at The National Security Strategy of the United States is available through Individuals interested in participating in the live events or online discussion are encouraged to become familiar with those documents. Pastors are also asked to let their congregations know about the opportunities for discussion. A bulletin insert on the events is available on the conference Web site to help spread the word.

The live events and online discussion are designed to provide feedback on United Methodist members' opinions about security.

"I will compile a report from all of the Episcopal areas, and then I will make a report to the Council of Bishops," Whitaker said. "The task force that I chair will also make some recommendation about what the next step will be."
Whitaker hopes for a "respectable showing" at the events so a broad section of opinion is presented, as well as discerning God's will about security.
"We think that the Christian community needs to reflect upon security from a perspective of faith," Whitaker said. "If you start looking at security from the perspective of faith, you start having questions about they ways we try to get security in this world."
The live events will take place on college campuses by design, according to the Rev. Lusby Burruss, pastor of Christ United Methodist Church in Lakeland. Burruss is part of the planning team for the events.
"The design team thought it would be good to put this study in a college atmosphere and that it might be an opportunity for us to reach out," Burruss said.
Additionally, he said the design team is hoping to learn "what are the concerns for the general people in the church."

For more information or to access the online discussion board visit the Florida Conference Web site at and click on the "In Search of Security" link or go directly to

The Council of Bishops is made up of all active and retired bishops of The United Methodist Church. The Council meets twice a year. According to the Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church, "The Church expects the Council of Bishops to speak to the Church and from the Church to the world and to give leadership in the quest for Christian unity and interreligious relationships."[427.2] The council comprises 50 active bishops in the United States; 18 bishops in Europe, Asia and Africa; plus 96 retired bishops worldwide. They are the top clergy leaders in the nearly 11 million-member church.


This article relates to Church and Society.

*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**De Marco is a freelance writer based in Viera, Fla.

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