There is always a lot happening in the news, but several things caught my eye today that are related to the UMC. The first is that today is World AIDS Day. Actually at this point it was yesterday, December 1, part of the 16 Days of Activism beginning on November 25 with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and ending December 10 with International Human Rights Day. The UMC Social Principles urge all of us to treat people with HIV/AIDS with dignity and respect and to minister to them and their families. They also urge us to help in the prevention of AIDS in any way we can. One way the UMC does this is through The United Methodist Global AIDS Fund Committee.
The United Methodist Global AIDS Fund Committee, headed by Rev. Donald Messer, has the goal of making “an AIDS free generation” a reality. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave the same message in her address to the National Institutes of Health on November 8th of this year. Because of scientific advancement and the work of a number of different organizations, this is indeed possible. The United Methodist Global AIDS Fund will present a new voluntary giving initiative to the General Conference next year with this vision. Great strides have been made, but there is more work to do. Read more details of what is being done and the plan for the future here.
The second thing is that the seventeenth UN Convention on Climate Change, COP-17 is currently taking place in Durban, South Africa. It began November 28 and will run until December 9. The UMC Social Principles acknowledge the damage that has been done to our environment by our disregard for God’s creation. The build up of pollutants and greenhouse gases are changing our environment and having a drastic effect on the nations and people least responsible for it. They urge us all to reduce carbon emissions and support all government efforts to do the same.
The third item I discovered while looking over the summary of events in the UMNS weekly summary for the week of November 18. Neil Irons, executive secretary of the Methodist Council of Bishops, joined with other faith leaders in a trip to the White House to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They asked the administration to take a stronger stance in opposition to the increasing Israeli settlement in Jerusalem and the West Bank. Although the Social Principles don’t specifically mention the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, they do support the UN and its resolutions. Also, The United Methodist Book of Resolutions does address this specifically. There are two resolutions that apply: Resolution 6073 – “Opposition to Israeli Settlements in Palestinian Land” and Resolution 6074 – “United Nations Resolutions on the Israel-Palestine Conflict.” “The church stands with the Palestinian Christian community, and supports Palestinian efforts towards economic and political self-determination.” For more about the history of the region and the UMC stand on the occupation of Palestine click here.
Those of us in the UMC are members of a denomination that is very active in many different arenas. For anyone that has a desire to serve there are any number of ways this can be done. None of us can do it all, but together we can hopefully make a difference.