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North Illinois Evangelicals Meet and Plan for Reform - GBGM Playing Shell Game with Millions

Dateline December 13, 1998
Northern Illinois Conference
Rev. Kent L. Svendsen, Reporting
Nothern Illinois Conference Coordinator
Confessing Movement Within The United Methodist Church

On December 12th, 1998, approximately twenty evangelical pastors and laity met to discuss concerns they had over important issues confronting our denomination. Many others called to offer their support and to express their regrets for not being able to attend. The group chose as a name for itself the Northern Illinois Conference Evangelical Association.

The group set out to work in two different areas. One team worked on the development of a platform which could be used to express their views on various issues and as a tool to educate others on the issues that our denomination faces. The second team discussed the election of delegates to general conference and ways to educate the voters and promote evangelical candidates.

I attended the first group which discussed platform issues. Those issues included topics such as:

  1. Organizational flexibility within the annual conference to promote mission development;
  2. Support and encouragement of the National Hispanic Plan;
  3. Addressing the subject of human sexuality;
  4. Resistance to the effort to separate the United States conferences from those of the world church and thereby weaking our evangelical voice;
  5. The utilitzation of funds by the General Board of Global Ministries;
  6. Requirements of church membership; and
  7. The relationship of the seminaries to the local church and their need for doctrinal accountablity.

Of special interest was one report received concerning the General Board of Global Ministries and their recent activities. It was reported that at present their unrestricted funds total 169 million dollars. That figure is higher than many had thought. According to the organizational rules they are allowed to hold 25% of their total assets in reserve. Recent efforts to bring accountablility to the board have resulted in attempts to lower that figure to 15%. It would seem that criticism is growing even among moderates concerning the possible misuse of funds by the board. In response to this move, the board is deciding to move 30 million dollars into the missionary pention program, 9 million dollars into the millennium fund (for new program development), and 24 million dollars into the Missionary HOPE fund (designed to increase our number of missionaries to over 600 within the next few years).

In other words, they are putting the money into restricted funds to lower their unrestricted reserves. This suggests that the "restricted fund excuse" used in the past to justify the huge sums of money they have on reserve is nothing more than a cover up for the fact that they are hording funds that should be used for missionary outreach. This writer almost choked when it was reported that 24 million dollars was going to be used to increase the number of missionaries. Our number of missionaries has been on the decline for many years and now all of a sudden they are going to change all of that. Just what have they been doing all these years? Additionally, just what type of missionaries are they going to create. Many of today's missionary sites are nothing more than glorified first aid stations and classrooms for agriculture and crafts. While such things are badly needed around the world, what is also needed are missionaries who's primary purpose is to win people to faith in Jesus Christ. Some of those in the mission field today seem more interested in local politics then in individual souls. The real question is: What is the primary goal of mission work as seen by the General Board of Global Ministries? Are any of the mission workers every asked to report on the number of confessions of faith that have been received because of their work? Not that we should be in a numbers game, but wouldn't it be a nice thing to know and celebrate? Shouldn't that be the primary reason for sending missionaries to the field?

Especially disturbing was a report that money donated for Africa University was being held by the board and not distributed to the university. One reason for that might be the fact that if the board holds onto the money, they can get interest from investing it. However, that interest money doesn't go to Africa University. Would you like to guess who it goes to? You got it, it goes to the General Board of Global Ministry! One suggestion I made at that meeting would be for actions to be taken at the next general conference to force the GBGM to give back money to the annual conferences for use in the Volunteer In Mission programs. As a pastor, I am leading a VIM mission team to Panama this January and plan to develop and eventually establish a permanent mission site. If the GBGM can't seem to get the job done, give the conferences the money and we will!

Viva The United Methodist Reformation

For more information on practical things individuals and small groups can do to build up the church and bring renewal, check out our Northern Illinois Conference Association web site at: ../niccm/index.htm

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