October 10, 2016 – United Methodists from four Western Jurisdiction conferences (Cal-Nev, Cal-Pac, Pacific Northwest and Oregon-Idaho) gathered with fellow clergy and laity from across the US in Des Moines, IA on Saturday, Oct 8th for the UMKR Planning Retreat 2016. Participants envisioned and planned the next chapter for the UMC movement that has made Israel/Palestine a leading justice cause in our denomination. The packed schedule for this one-day retreat began with broadening the movement’s stated goal beyond “ending the Israeli occupation” to seeking “freedom, justice and equality for all Palestinians and Israelis.”
Participants then reviewed the
accomplishments of UMKR since its
founding in 2010, which include
building a movement with activists in
over 35 annual conferences,
divestment-related actions taken
by 19 annual conferences, and two
landmark divestment actions by the
UMC General Board of Pension and
Health Benefits which made headlines
around the world. It was noted that
our church is the first “mainline”
denomination to divest from a company
specifically because of its human rights
violations in Israel/Palestine.
Participants spent considerable time in the
afternoon discerning where the movement
should focus its efforts in 2017 and beyond;
several primary focus areas received strong support.
Two of the action areas that were highlighted:
Education - widespread basic education (sometimes called “Palestine 101” education) is needed across the denomination, to teach the history of the conflict in Israel/Palestine, the current reality of life for Palestinians living under a harsh military occupation, the call of Palestinian Christians in the Kairos Palestine Document and the powerful methods of advocacy available to United Methodists working ecumenically with dozens of allied Christian movements.
Political Advocacy – ecumenical coalitions working with secular advocacy organizations have begun to see movement in the formally unquestioning bipartisan for all Israeli government policies. This area of action promises to be one of the most challenging and fruitful in years to come. Many feel that, due to the enormous potential leverage that the US has and the equally huge complicity of the US government in the ongoing oppression and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people, this may well be the most vital advocacy work needed to achieve a just peace in the Holy Land.
The business portion of the retreat closed
with presentation of the proposed slate of
officers for the UMKR Steering Committee,
which will also be brought shortly to
entire movement for their consideration.
At closing worship, Rev. Alex Awad (photo),
retired Palestinian clergy and UMC
missionary in Palestine for over 20 years,
preached on Matthew 23, regarding the
challenges of confronting hypocrisy in
high places and doing it in love.
The UMKR Planning Retreat 2016
Join United Methodists for Kairos Response (UMKR) at our planning retreat on Saturday, October 8, 2016, hosted by First United Methodist Church, in Des Moines, Iowa.
During the retreat, we will evaluate the work of UMKR, discuss areas of focus for the future, and recruit enthusiastic and interested United Methodists to become part of the leadership in this growing movement to help end the occupation in Palestine.
Friday, Oct 7:
Evening Arrivals and opening gathering: introductions and overview
Saturday, Oct 8:
8:30 Coffee and greetings
9:00 Opening Devotional
9:15 Session 1: Evaluating the work from 2010-present
10:45 Session 2: Evaluating UMKR Organizational Structure
1:00 Session 3: Setting Goals and Vision for 2017 & beyond
2:45 Session 4: Nominations/Recommendations for
Steering Committee & Officers
3:30 Assigning roles and tasks
4:00 Open Forum
5:00 Closing worship
6:00 Closing dinner
Sunday, Oct 9:
Opportunities to attend and/or speak in local churches
Register for the Retreat!
Download the registration form.
Fill out the form and send it attached to an email to Janet Lahr Lewis: email@example.com.
Registrations should be submitted by September 15, 2016.
UMKR will pay for one night’s hotel stay for retreat participants,
as well as lunch and dinner on Saturday, Oct 8th.
UMKR has a group rate at the Des Moines Marriott Downtown:
$99 per night + tax.
700 Grand Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50309
Phone: 515-245-5500 • Fax: 515-245-5567
Please note: Reservations at the UMKR group rate cannot
be made online.
You must call the hotel and ask for the "UMKR" group rate.
A free airport shuttle is available from the hotel.
Participants are responsible for paying for all hotel expenses
and meals that are not covered by UMKR.
Participants are expected to make their own travel plans and also their own hotel reservations, unless you are requesting a roommate: see that option in
If you cannot attend the retreat but would like to make a donation to support this event, you can do that by mail or online:
DONATE ONLINE – You can make a quick and secure donation at the UMKR website - click here. You can add a note to your Paypal donation that this is a ”Retreat Donation.”
DONATE BY MAIL – Please make your check payable to our fiscal agent “Open Table of Christ UMC” and write “UMKR Retreat” on the memo line.
Mail your check to: William Aldrich, 42 Gaspee Point Dr., Warwick, RI 02888.
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David Wildman of the General Board of Global Ministries and Sara Webb Philips, a pastor in the North Georgia Annual Conference attended the UMKR Planning Retreat in Des Moines, Iowa in October 2016
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With limited resources, UMKR has
had a remarkable impact in the global United Methodist Church! Historic divestment and boycott actions could not have happened without the vital support of those who believe in the cause of Palestinian rights. Please give whatever you can today, so that our work can continue. And rest assured that every donation, large or small,
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