I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one.

As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

-- John 17:20-21, NRSV

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WCC pilgrims remember atom bombs’ deadly destruction
By Paul Jeffrey

Seventy years after nuclear fireballs exploded over two Japanese cities, an ecumenical group of pilgrims has come to listen to those who survived and renew the struggle against their own countries’ continued reliance on nuclear weapons.

“We come to remember and to acknowledge the devastation of the past and to say, ‘Never again,’” said United Methodist Bishop Mary Ann Swenson in a sermon during an Aug. 5 ecumenical worship service in the Catholic Memorial Cathedral for World Peace in Hiroshima.

Swenson of the United States, ecumenical officer for the United Methodist Council of Bishops, and church leaders from Germany, South Korea, Japan, Norway, Pakistan and the Netherlands—all countries possessing nuclear weapons or living under the U.S. nuclear umbrella —have come to Japan for a five-day “Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace .”

They began their work in Tokyo, where they met with Japanese Christian leaders before sharing their concerns with a Japanese foreign ministry official in charge of arms control and disarmament.

The pilgrims then traveled to Hiroshima, where they marched through the streets to the Memorial Cathedral, which was built in the early 1950s by bomb survivors, using clay bricks made on the site. The cathedral’s bells were crafted in Germany using steel from melted-down weapons from World War II.

In her sermon, Swenson, who is vice-moderator of the World Council of Churches’ Central Committee, said it was important for her group, and for all people of faith interested in peace, to hear the voice of the hibakusha—the Japanese term for survivors of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The term is now being applied by many in Japan to those who have suffered from the disastrous 2011 explosions at nuclear plants in Fukushima.

“We must listen to all who suffer nuclear harm, those whose bodies are deformed by genetic mutations, whose lands and seas are poisoned by nuclear tests, whose farms and cities are fouled by nuclear accidents, whose work in mines and power plants exposes them to radiation,” Swenson said in her sermon.

Bishop Mary Ann Swenson's sermon on the 70th Anniversary of the Atomic Bombings

Sermon for joint Anglican-Catholic Peace Memorial Service,
Catholic Peace Memorial Cathedral, Hiroshima, 5 August 2015

Bishop Mary Ann Swenson, United Methodist Church, Vice-Moderator of the World Council of Churches and head of delegation for the WCC Church Leaders Pilgrimage to Japan on the 70th Anniversary of the Atomic Bombings. 

Peacemakers for Life

Deuteronomy 30:15-19, Luke 19:41-42, Matthew 5:9
Dying, Christ destroyed our death
    Rising, Christ restored our life
    Christ will come again in glory.
    Alleluia!  Alleluia!
    When we are baptized into Christ Jesus,
    we are buried with Christ into death.
    Just as Christ was raised by God's glory,
    So too are we created to walk in newness of life."

In this peace memorial service we have the opportunity to be in touch with the mystery of God's grace.  We come to remember and to acknowledge the devastation of the past and to say never again.  We come to heed God's call to "Choose Life" and to receive the gift of God's grace.  We come to commit ourselves to become Peacemakers for Life! We come following Jesus who said, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God." 
Tonight we offer thanks to God for lives of those who have journeyed on ahead of us to our eternal home. Remembering them now can be for us a visible sign of God who is full of mercy and grace.

It was many years ago now when I first learned the story of  Sadako Sasaki. My friend had written a little book about her so that children in North America could learn her story. I know our Japanese colleagues know the story but let me share it for our visitors from other countries.  Sadako was two years old when the atomic bomb struck one mile from her home. Soon she began to experience the devastation of radiation disease. Her response was to set about making a thousand paper cranes, because one crane symbolizes a thousand years of peace and happiness. After her death her classmates continued making cranes and today there is the statue of her holding a peace crane in Memorial Park. In response to unspeakable violence, a powerful cry for peace was born. Now when I attend meetings in the western part of the United States, in Hawaii, and other places, people come having folded thousands and thousands of peace cranes. We will sit in meetings folding them. At one meeting my friend made 7,000 cranes.....we pray for peace, and the witness continues.
In the 1990's when the Sahtu-Dene people of northern Canada finally learned that uranium from their lands had been used in the bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki they sent a delegation of elders to Japan to apologize.  We too have a witness to make. The church leaders on this World Council of Churches pilgrimage are from seven countries that say they are in favor of a world without nuclear weapons.  Yet, year after year, decade after decade, our seven governments stand ready to use nuclear weapons. 70 years after the destruction here, a total of 40 governments still rely on nuclear weapons.     

We are here to affirm the ever-larger majorities of the United Nations General Assembly who reject that policy today, declaring that "It is in the interest of the very survival of humanity that nuclear weapons are never used again, under any circumstances." 

It is time to judge armaments and energy use by their effects on people and on God's creation. It is time to confess that our desire for material comfort and convenience insulates us from the concern for the source and quantity of the energy we consume. It is time to abandon all support for retaining nuclear weapons. It is time to refuse to accept that the mass destruction of other people can be a legitimate form of protection of ourselves.
United Methodists and Lutherans Look for Ways to Work Together
Discipleship Ministries | Communications Office
Steve Horswill-Johnston, Executive Director
(615) 340-1726 (O) (615) 429-3431 (C)
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 United Methodists and Lutherans Look for Ways to Work Together


NASHVILLE, Tenn. July 28, 2015 /Discipleship Ministries/ – Leaders of The United Methodist Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America are discussing ways the two denominations can work together as they further explore what it means to be in full communion with each other.

Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church hosted a day-long meeting with ELCA representatives in early July to outline next steps in the relationship, which began when the two denominations joined in full communion in 2009.

The Rev. Dr. Stephen Bouman, Executive Director of Congregational and Synodical Missions, and Evelyn Soto, Director of Unit Operations and Programs at ELCA, met with senior leaders at Discipleship Ministries, including leaders of Leadership Ministries, New Church Starts (Path 1) and Young People’s Ministries.

“We share a lot of issues in common that are very, very important to us,” said Doug Ruffle, Associate Executive Director of Path 1, who hosted the meeting. “They include race relations in the United States, issues of poverty, ways to better equip leaders for leadership in the 21st century and creating new places for new people going forward.

“We're going to be taking some small action steps at this point, but I think that the affirmation, at least from our standpoint, is that we realize that this is more important than any single denomination,” Ruffle said. “There's something at stake here, and it has to do with the clarity of the Gospel in the world. That's the point, and full communion is about that.”

Both denominations have gifts to give and to receive, Bouman said.

 “The body of Christ will be richer because of this,” Bouman said. “It's not a mixing and matching of bureaucracies. We're all dealing with the same questions ... so why not think about this together?”
Application for Grant Assistance For Local Ecumenical and Interreligious Ministries



The Office of Christian Unity and Interreligious Relationships is a ministry of the Council of Bishops. Our vision is for The United Methodist Church to live more fully into Christian unity and deepen interreligious relationships. To that end we are offering 3 grants, each in the amount of $1,000 to groups within annual conferences for special projects designed to strengthen ecumenical and/or interreligious relationships. The application deadline is September 15, 2015. Recipients will be chosen and checks will be mailed by November 15, 2015. The projects must be completed between December 2015 and July 2016. Preference will be given to annual conference groups elected to lead in Christian unity and interreligious relationships.


Click here to download the 2015 application for grant assistance for local ecumenical and interreligious ministries.


Please submit completed applications to Jean Hawxhurst at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it by September 15, 2015.  





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