Fully featured site offers diverse resources, including Bible studies and social networking links, for 'God's Renewed Creation: A Call to Hope & Action.'
The United Methodist Council of Bishops announces the launch of a fully featured website dedicated to "God's Renewed Creation: Call to Hope & Action," its most recent pastoral letter. The website, www.hopeandaction.org, offers resources and social networking capabilities to enable United Methodists to engage with the Council in addressing issues of pandemic poverty and disease, environmental degradation, and the proliferation of weapons and violence.
Since the Council adopted its most recent Pastoral Letter and documents, "God's Renewed Creation: Call to Hope and Action" in November, only the basic documents have been available on the website in six of the languages spoken by United Methodists worldwide.
The expanded website offers enhanced multi-media, social networking with the basic documents: Pastoral Letter, Pastoral Letter in Liturgical Setting, and the Foundation Document – in six languages. It also offers news, resources, study guides with session resources, video, and other visual tools for presentations or group settings. There are Facebook and Twitter social networking links.
The Council of Bishops has encouraged congregations and groups to:
1. read aloud the Pastoral Letter in worship or group settings; and
2. gather in small groups to use the Guide for Group Study. The group study would be particularly appropriate during the weeks April 18-May 23 around the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, which is April 22, according to Pat Callbeck Harper, project manager for God's Renewed Creation.
The expanded website also allows individuals and groups to report their own action plans in response to the bishops' nine pledges for transforming action in the Pastoral Letter.
Bishop Jane Middleton, in announcing the expanded website, said: "We understand that we must be participants. Rather than telling the church what we should do, the bishops, with God's help, will be showing by our example."
God's Renewed Creation is a response to General Conference's request that the Council of Bishops update, for this time, the 1986 landmark Pastoral Letter In Defense of Creation: The Nuclear Crisis & a Just Peace.
Bishop Middleton, who is a member of the board of directors of the General Board of Church and Society (GBCS), offered a special thanks to her colleagues on the board and the staff for their contributions in helping get the project off the ground. "The bishops are not a program agency," she said. "So we have depended on the generosity of the general agencies to put wheels under this project since General Conference set this in motion."
GBCS provided administrative support for the project manager, said Middleton. "We also have received two Peace with Justice grants in the past two years." She said the funding covered a good portion of the costs of launching the hopeandaction.org website, and covered the significant costs of having the documents translated into five additional languages.