Free, downloadable resource from General Board of Church & Society addresses individual issues such as immigrants, health care, religious minorities, racism, and children's rights.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The General Board of Church and Society (GBCS) has developed bulletin inserts featuring individual United Methodist Social Principles. The new resource, designed to be included in church worship bulletins, may be downloaded for free from the agency's website.
Twelve Social Principles under the Social Community are in the first release of inserts. The inserts highlight positions approved by the denomination's highest policy-making body, the General Conference, on issues such as immigrants, health care, religious minorities, racism, and children's rights.
In future releases, inserts will be added to the website from the other five Social Principles areas: Natural World, Nurturing Community, Economic Community, Political Community, and World Community.
The bulletin inserts are designed in two colors that reproduce excellently in black and white, GBCS says. They are 11 by 8.5 inches.
Most inserts are two-sided, offering a Social Principle from the United Methodist Book of Discipline (¶¶160-166) and some background information, such as Scripture or other resources that influence how United Methodists think about a particular topic. The Social Principle itself is on the front side.
"Prayers and suggestions for how to live out the principle are also included," says Julie Wilson, who developed the inserts. "Furthermore, for those who choose the two-sided option, each insert gives examples of how individuals, churches, or general boards and agencies are using that particular principle to guide their work."
Wilson is a third-year student at Wesley Theological Seminary who is in her second year as an intern at GBCS. She has worked mainly in the areas of Education & Leadership Formation and Civil & Human Rights.
"Many United Methodists are unfamiliar with the Social Principles," Wilson said. "Even many of my classmates at seminary had not heard about them before they took a class on United Methodist history, doctrine or polity."
This is unfortunate, according to Wilson. "The Social Principles are an amazing synopsis of who we are as United Methodists," she said. "They state our beliefs and motivate us to act upon those beliefs."
Wilson, who undertook a study of the Social Principles to prepare for the project, pointed out that each principle is grounded in Scripture, tradition, experience, and reason. "The Social Principles guide the work at the General Board of Church and Society each day," she said, "and they should guide the lives of other United Methodists as well."
Wilson said she hopes local churches will use the bulletin inserts to raise awareness about the social justice ministries that are at the heart of United Methodism. "Perhaps as your congregation explores the Social Principles they will be inspired to dig a little deeper and to take action, to find a way to live out the principle in their own way," she said.
The first release of Social Principle bulletin inserts comprises the following:
Rights of the Aging
Alcohol & Other Drugs
Rights of Children
Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Right to Health Care
Persons Living with HIV & AIDS
Rights of Immigrants
Rights of Racial & Ethnic Persons
Rights of Religious Minorities
Rights of Women
GBCS says that if you need an insert on a particular subject that has not been prepared yet, one will be prepared at your request and added to the website. Directions on how to do this are under Social Principles Bulletin Inserts. The bulletin inserts are under Social Principles Resources in the Leadership Development section of the GBCS website (www.umc-gbcs.org).
For more information about this new resource or Social Principles training opportunities, contact the Rev. Neil Christie, assistant general secretary, Education & Leadership Formation, at 202.488.5611.
The General Board of Church & Society is one of four international general program boards of The United Methodist Church. The board's primary areas of ministry are Advocacy, Education & Leadership Formation, United Nations & International Affairs, and resourcing these areas for the denomination. It has offices on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., and at the Church Center at the United Nations.