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May 11, 2000 GC-061

Bishop Martinez urges delegates to ‘cross boundaries’

CLEVELAND (UMNS) – United Methodists must cross boundaries, live in bigger boxes and experience their own unique gifts without being blinded to those of others, a bishop told the church’s top legislative assembly May 11.

"We are not whole without the gifts of others," said Bishop Joel N. Martinez of the church’s Nebraska Area. "Have we not been experiencing the tender mercies and the tension of God’s diverse family?"

Martinez preached during morning worship, as the 992 delegates to General Conference prepared for another day of work. The delegates are meeting May 2-12 to adopt resolutions and act on legislative matters for the denomination.

In his sermon, the bishop pointed to the examples of Mother Teresa and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., asking, "Why do we claim people like those and others who are very different from us in race, in vocation? They belong to all of God’s people because they crossed boundaries."

Those boundaries were not political boundaries. Their ministries were in specific places to specific callings, yet "they showed us a larger world … beyond the walls and barriers," he said.

Referring to his work with the church’s National Plan for Hispanic Ministries for the last five years, Martinez talked about his efforts to be supportive and the gifts he received through the "stories of the faithful and courageous" in the faith.

"We need to love and appreciate and dare to venture beyond the boundaries," Martinez said.

He called delegates to participate fully as members of the one covenant family where social, political, racial and sexual categories do not diminish worth.

He illustrated his point with the story of how his poor, immigrant grandmother came to the church.

"Somebody loved the promises of the gospel more than secure and comfortable social circumstance," he said. "Somebody in the late 1870s crossed the boundaries to reach my grandmother. She was fully a member of the body of Jesus Christ. She believed in Jesus Christ. She was blessed by the church, but the church was also blessed by my grandmother. She gave this church a compassion to weep and laugh with poor people; she shared the realities of cultural ways."

The service began with music by the Agape Children’s Handbell Choir from the Agape Methodist Church in Parnu, Estonia, and the singing of Estonian hymns.


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-- Cheryl Edwards

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