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UM Bishop Lowers Emissions in California, as well as UM Membership

Bishop rides bicycle aimlessly in search of the lost, but with no saving message

September 25, 2004 E-mail story Print (LA Times)


Bishop Committed to Her 400 Churches and Her Bike
Confronting a growing decline in membership, Mary Ann Swenson uses pedal power to help reach out to United Methodists. By K. Connie Kang, Times Staff Writer

...Swenson, 57, who in her capacity as bishop of the California-Pacific Conference oversees 400 United Methodist churches in Southern California, Hawaii, Guam and Saipan, is a committed environmentalist and social activist. Almost exclusively, she rides a bicycle everywhere or uses public transportation.

...The United Methodist Church, with 8.2 million members, is the nation's second-largest Protestant denomination, after Southern Baptists. But like those of most mainline denominations, its membership has been declining by about 40,000 a year over the last decade. In the California-Pacific Conference, membership has decreased from 2,000 to 3,000 a year to about 95,000 a year now.

...She sometimes spends a night with homeless people in shelters, marches on behalf of workers' rights, and has spoken out on behalf of gays and lesbians.

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