Columbus, Ohio: More than 111 United Methodist bishops from Africa, Europe, Asia and the U.S. will converge in Columbus, Ohio for the semi-annual United Methodist Council of Bishops meeting to explore ways to sharpen the church's focus on ministry with the poor and eliminating the global diseases of poverty.
"The people of The United Methodist Church are reaching out to end poverty and its causes, as well as working to combat the preventable diseases of poverty," said Bishop Gregory V. Palmer, president of the Council of Bishops. "It is our hope to empower the impoverished and alleviate conditions that compromise quality of life."
Preceding the Council of Bishops meeting, the West Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church has planned a day of outreach on May 1 in Columbus focused on worldwide and community issues of poverty. The Rethink Poverty event includes workshops led by several of the bishops, community service projects, and a public witness walk and rally for children in poverty on the Ohio Statehouse Lawn. There will also be a weekend worship series with visiting United Methodist bishops preaching on issues related to poverty on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The weeklong meeting opens on Sunday with a worship service at 4 p.m. at Trinity United Methodist Church at 1581 Cambridge Blvd. in Columbus. Bishop Palmer will deliver the opening sermon in the form of the bi-annual presidential address to the Council.
During the week, council members will attend strategic planning meetings, workshops, and plenary sessions primarily held at the Hyatt Regency Columbus, starting at 9:15 a.m. on Monday and ending at noon on Friday. The plenary sessions are open to the public and the news media.
Many United Methodist bishops will undergo testing for HIV/AIDS on Monday beginning at 9:30 a.m. This testing, intended to raise awareness of the killer diseases of poverty, is being provided through the generosity of OhioHealth, a United Methodist-related health care system in central Ohio. During Monday morning's session, speakers will focus on the topic of poverty and bishops will participate in group discussions.
A press conference is scheduled for Monday at 12:30 p.m. (or immediately following the close of the morning session) at the Hyatt Regency to address the Council of Bishops' work on the focus of poverty and diseases of poverty, as well as the testing.
On Wednesday from 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., bishops will have the option to attend one of six "best practices" events that will be held off-site. News media are invited to attend the events (except for Marion Correctional Institution).
· The United Methodist Church for All People, whose Community Development Corporation engages in ministry with the poor through services and an affordable housing program
· Comunidad de Esperanza, a ministry, with leadership provided through five area United Methodist churches, which primarily serves Hispanic/Latino people with the challenges of immigration and extreme poverty
· Briggsdale Apartments, whose formerly homeless residents are welcomed and served by New Horizon United Methodist Church, and, additionally, Westgate United Methodist Church, whose Shalom Zone is being established with community partners
· Charitable Pharmacy, operated from Livingston United Methodist Church, which offers prescriptions, counseling, and education
· "Bridges Out of Poverty," at Asbury North United Methodist Church, which will address the hidden rules of economic class and their effect on ministry with persons in poverty
· Marion Correctional Institution, whose Horizon Program houses 48 inmates, together, with Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, and Wiccan beliefs
The Council of Bishops - made up of 50 active bishops in the United States, 19 bishops in Europe, Asia and Africa, and 91 retired bishops worldwide - provides leadership and helps set the direction of the 11.5 million-member church and its mission throughout the world. The bishops are the top clergy leaders of The United Methodist Church, the second largest Protestant denomination in the U.S.