Ohio United Methodist delegation urges restraint to congressmen

WASHINGTON – A United Methodist group from Ohio flew to the nation’s capital two weeks after the disastrous terrorist attacks on America to carry a message of restraint to members of the state’s congressional delegation.

In a meeting with Sen. George Voinovich, the trio from the East Ohio Conference delivered a message on behalf of Bishop Bruce R. Ough and his cabinet.

“I think we did connect with him,” said the Rev. John W. Edgar, superintendent of the Columbus South District.

He said he believed Voinovich heard their message about the need “to maintain that creative tension” in finding a faithful response to the events of Sept. 11.

Stanley T. Ling, conference council director; Sue Wolfe Schoener, church consultant; and Linda Bales, Board of Church and Society staff member, completed the delegation.

Rebuild lives. Edgar told Voinovich he was hearing United Methodists express a desire to help rebuild the lives of those people who were directly harmed. They also expressed a desire for justice through a measured and controlled response.

Ling mentioned that United Methodist churches had been offering care to people through special worship services and through contributions to the church’s aid agency, the United Methodist Committee on Relief.

Lasting effort. Bales said she was glad the United States was paying its dues to the United Nations and that perhaps a positive result of these events would be a lasting effort to address critical issues throughout the world.

“I believe terrorism is a prelude to Armageddon,” Voinovich, a Roman Catholic, told the delegation. “There are a variety of things we need to do.”

He named actions to promote peace, such as actively pushing for equitable compromise in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and getting the Middle Eastern nations to use some of their vast wealth to address the poverty in their own nations and that part of the world.

“We have to be very patient,” Voinovich said. “There is going to have to be some military action taken, but there are other things that are just as important.”

Solutions. After the conversation with Voinovich, the group visited with staff in the offices of Sen. Mike DeWine and Rep. Tony Hall.

DeWine’s aide reported that the senator’s constituent mail is evenly divided between people urging peaceful solutions and those urging military actions, Edgar said.

The trip to Washington resulted from plans made by the bishop and cabinet as they discussed opportunities for leadership and service in response to the recent events.

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