Bishop Warner H. Brown, Jr., Resident Bishop of the California-Nevada Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church, is leading a Conference Site Assessment and Connectional Team visit to Cambodia, February 20-28.
The team was to visit churches in Svay Rieng on Monday (Feb. 22) and to conduct site visits to Cambodia Methodist Bible School, Street Children/Orphanage Ministry, and possibly Singapore Methodist Orphanage and Emmaus Women's Housing Project, on Tuesday the 23rd.
The team was scheduled to spend all day on Wednesday, February 24 with Katherine Parker, a General Board of Global Ministries missionary to Cambodia and member of the California-Nevada conference, visiting CHAD (Community Health and Agricultural Development Initiative) projects.
Parker and Mr. Leng Thy, another representative of the CHAD staff, planned to accompany the team on visits to two churches which have participated in several livelihood development projects over the years.
The team was to learn about a cow-raising cooperative, work with children, and a rice bank and bio-gas project.
"In part, the meeting will be conducted as a standard monitoring visit used to assess the progress of the projects and give an opportunity to voice any changes, problems, or updates to the project," Parker wrote to the team.
"We attempt to make this kind of visit twice per year to all projects. The other part of the meeting will be used to allow the church to give you a more detailed analysis of their understanding of their church, the outreach ministry of their church, and some of the joys and challenges they have experienced working on livelihood development projects with CHAD. The team should also feel free to ask questions," she said.
Parker wrote that if the evaluation portion were to go quickly, the team might have an opportunity to engage in a time of learning and praying together, using one of the Bible study lessons from "Mobilizing the Church," the foundational training that CHAD uses to help organize a Local Social Concerns Committee. She issued an invitation for a team member to facilitate the lesson.
Parker warned that, "as the reality is that most of our churches are rural," the team should anticipate a total of two hours driving on good roads and 2-3 hours driving on poor roads, to visit the two locations.
The team was to spend all day on Thursday visiting projects with the Rev. Joseph and Marilyn Chan, two other GBOD missionaries supported by the Cal-Nevada conference, who are engaged in evangelization and church growth in Phnom Penh.
On Friday, the team was scheduled to visit Cambodia's Killing Fields, sites where vast numbers of people were slaughtered by Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge regime during the 1970s (immediately following the end of the Vietnam War). During the three years, eight months, and 20 days of Pol Pot's rule, an estimated two million Cambodians - or 30 percent of the country's population - died by starvation, torture, or execution.*
Accompanying Bishop Brown on the Cambodia visit are: Phil Bandy, Interim Director of the California-Nevada Volunteers in Mission (VIM) Office; Laddie Perez-Galang, Global Ministries Secretary for the Conference Board of Missions; the Rev. Samuel Vorn, Chair of the Cambodian Indo-Chinese Caucus; Howard Parker, a member of the Board of Missions and Katherine Parker's father; the Rev. Stephen E. Lee of Rising Hope UMC in Alameda; and Connie Hunter and Fern Jo Kaukonen, Conference officers for California-Nevada United Methodist Women.
*Source: The Killing Fields Museum, Seattle, Washington, http://www.killingfieldsmuseum.com.