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May 4, 2000         GC-015

Bashore calls United Methodists to unity against evils

CLEVELAND (UMNS) – United Methodist Bishop George W. Bashore urged General Conference delegates to discard stereotypes and labels and talk to each other heart to heart to find unity.

If the church is going to move to any sense of unity, “we need to share our stories of the joy of God’s salvation,” the bishop said.

Bashore, who leads the church’s Pittsburgh Area, gave the sermon during morning worship on May 4. General Conference, the denomination’s legislative assembly, is meeting through May 12 at the Cleveland Convention Center.

“Too many times in the United Methodist Church, we have been acting like we cannot sing the songs of Zion,” Bashore said.

Even in local congregations, he said, “we don’t hold one another together in God’s love. In our differences, can we begin to call each other by name and know each other’s hearts?”

“In our quest for unity, we must remember that everyone has a name,” he said. “We must move from the impersonal to the personal; from the abstract to the concrete. How else will the world begin to know the joy of salvation unless they see it in the church?”

Disputing the view of some in the church that the time for dialogue is past, he underscored, “ In everything we are called into unity in Jesus Christ.”

The dilemma today, he said, is how to discover the right balance.  While both sides of the argument may contain truths, he asked, “Is possible that there is a more transcendent truth that can bring us together?”

Indicating that too much time is being spent on disputed issues, Bashore said, “In the world, we need to work side by side as we face common evils.”

Children in Africa have Aids, he noted. Children in Asia are being sold into prostitution; children in many areas are victimized by drugs. Many are without hope because they have no food.

“In the United States, our streets are filled with violence,” he said. “Many are dying … while we bow down to the forces of the NRA.”  

Christians must unite to address these problems, Bashore said.

He urged delegates to “pray together that God will shape a Genesis in this week together in the United Methodist Church.”

“Let us keep singing the joy of salvation,” he said. “Let us keep on serving side by side, and let us keep on talking heart to heart.”

When heart meets heart, he explained, “there will be an opening to the way, the truth and the life.”

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-- Jackie Campbell

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