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Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

        Gaza conflict adds urgency to conference

Historic UMC #GivingTuesday is Record-Breaking Day for Mission

Giving Tuesday Thank You banner

Thanks to the generosity of United Methodists around the world, more than 880 projects and missionaries will receive a financial boost to help them meet their mission goals. The denomination’s General Board of Global Ministries announced that the first-ever UMC #GivingTuesday generated a record $6.5 million online on December 3. Nearly 11,000 donors in 34 countries gave more than 16,300 gifts through The Advance to mission and ministries they believe in. Global Ministries matched the first $500,000 received.

Building on the recent US shopping traditions of Black Friday, Local Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, UMC #GivingTuesday offered an opportunity to start the holiday season by giving instead of getting, while supporting organizations that are transforming the world.

“We were overwhelmed by this giving that went far beyond our dreams,” said Thomas Kemper, the head of Global Ministries. “The people called Methodists once again have exceeded themselves in love and solidarity.”

Noting the extensive number of Advance projects and that “100% goes to mission,” donor Ann Bosson Greenberg wrote in a Facebook post, “I am so happy to be a Methodist Christian!” Greenberg shared that she had made a gift to Alternative Rite of Passage, an organization that is working to eliminate female circumcision in Kenya.

The Advance is The United Methodist Church’s giving channel which ensures that 100 percent of each gift supports the project designated by the donor; it is a link that connects the church in mission. The Advance encompasses more than 850 Methodist-related projects and more than 300 missionaries, all of them reviewed and monitored by Global Ministries staff.

Kemper said, “By promoting UMC Giving Tuesday, conferences and local churches significantly helped educate their members about The Advance—a giving channel that would not be possible without apportionments to cover administrative costs.” He added, “Having matching funds available not only directly benefited the projects, but helped build momentum for the campaign.”

One ministry supported through The Advance is The Appalachia Service Project. As he thanked supporters, Walter Crouch, who leads the organization, said, “The Advance is a blessing. Our mission of making the homes of low-income families in Appalachia warmer, safer, and drier depends on consistent, reliable financial support. The Advance provides just that.”

A final accounting of the distribution of gifts will be available by December 16. Kemper thanked the staff who connected Global Ministries with the national #GivingTuesday campaign, helped promote the event, and made it technically possible to process more than $6.5 million online. He hopes that UMC #GivingTuesday raised awareness about the impact that United Methodists have in the lives of people served by Advance projects. “While Giving Tuesday is just one day, these ministries are transforming the world all year around,” he said.

Gifts to support Advance projects and the missionary community can be made online at any time at

Related News:

“Charities reap Giving Tuesday rewards,” by Ronald D. White, Los Angeles Times, Dec. 4, 2013

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File Photo by Paul Jeffrey
Girls exercise in the physical education class at Al-Zaytoon School, located in the Jabalyia Refugee Camp in the war-torn Gaza Strip, in 2006.

Gaza conflict adds urgency to conference

Print By Linda Bloom
August 6, 2014 | NEW YORK (UMNS)
The deadly month-long conflict in Gaza has added a new and more urgent dimension to a previously scheduled denominational forum on partnership and peacemaking with Palestinian Christians.
The two-day Walking with Palestinian Christians Conference starts Thursday at Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church in Tipp City, Ohio, sponsored by the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries. Some 250 participants were expected.
A 72-hour ceasefire of the armed conflict between Israel and Hamas began Aug. 5. An estimated 1,800 Palestinians and 67 Israelis have been killed so far, including more than 300 children.
Recognizing the suffering and pain experienced by all sides of the conflict makes the work of the conference “even more urgent,” said Thomas Kemper, top executive for the Board of Global Ministries.
“We will spend even more time in prayer and discernment,” he said.
Through donations to its International Disaster Response fund, the United Methodist Committee on Relief also is responding with humanitarian assistance in Gaza, where more than half of the population of 1.8 million is under 18 years old.
The agency provided grants to a partner there, American Near East Refugee Aid, which has been distributing food parcels, hygiene kits and water to displaced Gaza families, including those who sought refuge at a church and a nearby school that are not receiving supplies from the United Nations.
Long ties to Palestinian Christians
The United Methodist Church has decades-long ties to the Palestinian Christian community. Those relationships are reflected at the conference, where participants will meet with ecumenical partners and learn more about the realities of their life in Israel/Palestine.
For David Wildman, who has visited the region many times in his role as the Board of Global Ministries executive secretary for human rights and racial justice, strengthening these relationships “is even more important now. The tragedy of Gaza is a human tragedy, it’s not religious.”
Among the featured Palestinian guests are Zoughbi Zoughbi, founder and director of the Wi’am Palestinian Conflict Resolution Center in Bethlehem; Grace Al-Zoughbi, his niece, head of the biblical studies department at Bethlehem Bible College; the Rev. Alex Awad, a United Methodist missionary, dean of students at Bethlehem Bible College and pastor of East Jerusalem Baptist Church and Nora Carml, coordinator for Kairos Palestine.
The Kairos Palestine document asks the international community to support the Palestinian people and work for a just peace in the region.That document, created by Palestinian Christian leadership in December 2009, should be viewed as a tool to promote “the only path for just and lasting peace for all,” Wildman said.
Advocating for peace in Israel/Palestine has been a longtime concern of the World Methodist Council and its top executive, The Rev. Ivan Abrahams, is a conference participant.
In the August edition of his “First Friday” newsletter, Abrahams noted that the Gaza conflict had left him “deeply saddened by the choices made by those in positions of power and authority.
“I know that tears and outrage alone will not stop the conflict,” he writes. “We need a commitment from all on the ground to stop the violence.”
Armed conflict and the “intolerable suffering” it has inflicted on civilians “can do nothing to promote a just and sustainable peace for Israelis and Palestinians,” the World Council of Churches has said as it called for the resumption of direct peace talks.
Wildman agreed that current armed conflict deflects from the hard work necessary to achieve a lasting peace.
“What’s really needed is good relationships that come through tough negotiating,” he said. “The actual risk of a massive human catastrophe is still before us.”