Sarawak’s unity in diversity

Christmas procession in Miri displays

MIRI – More than 600 Methodists and 2,000 Mirians took part in the Annual City Christmas Parade on Dec 12 last year. e young and the old came out in full force with joy in their hearts to proclaim the Good News.

The evening started at 5.30 pm with a public service with a message for Christmas in three different languages – English, Bahasa Malaysia and Chinese.

The Methodist Children’s Home and Hope Centre presented some lively items. The Combined Choir from different churches made a deep impression on those who were gathered in the huge open City Fan Amphitheatre.

Dressed in flowing white dresses with a red sash the women made an impression. However, their strong and well-trained voices made an even greater impact. Christmas carols had not rung out clearer than their singing in Miri.

Clearly, the parade also showcased Sarawak’s unity in diversity and its rich cultures.

At 6.30 pm, the guests arrived with the city Mayor, Mr Lawrence Lai, who officiated at the parade. e national flag was raised by e Boys’ Brigade following a speech from the combined parade’s organising chairman from the Anglican Church.

At 7 pm, the St Columba Brass Band led the parade from City Fan Amphitheatre. Other bands from various schools and churches added vibrancy and colour to the parade.

The marching bands helped to lift up the spirits of the public in welcoming the birth of the Prince of Peace and Son of God.

A cart displaying the Nativity Scene was paraded by the Melanau Prayer Group of Miri. It was a beautiful re-creation of the Nativity on the roads of Miri.

There was a touching scene when two little girls in ballerina costumes came out of the procession to give a Traffic policeman a pamphlet. It was a natural gesture for them to thank the Police who did a good job controlling the traffic.

The Miri Red Crescent Ambulance was on hand to help out in case of any emergency.

It was a good Saturday night turnout with so many people lining the streets to catch the procession.

The parade ended with a performance by the Operafest Children’s Choir from Kuala Lumpur and several dances depicting the culture of Miri in particular and Sarawak in general.

A tourist said: “I have never seen anything like this before – so many different races and so many lovely and little children looking happy and excited! is resort city is wonderful!” – Connection

Emory President named to US bioethics body

ATLANTA – President Barack Obama has named Emory University President James W. Wagner (above) as Vice-Chairman for a new commission on bioethics.

The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues will advise Mr Obama on issues that may emerge from advances in biomedicine and related areas of science and technology.

The commission’s goal is to ensure that scientifi c research, health care delivery and technological innovation are conducted in an ethically responsible manner.

Mr Wagner has championed the role of ethics at the United Methodist-related university by enhancing the prominence of Emory’s Center for Ethics and including ethical engagement as one of the six pillars of the university’s strategic vision.

Ms Amy Gutmann, President of the University of Pennsylvania, will serve as Chairman of the bioethics commission. – United Methodist News Service

United Methodist from Germany to lead mission agency

NEW YORK – A former missionary with strong United Methodist roots in his native Germany and broad ecumenical and international experience is the new General-Secretary of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.

Mr. Thomas Kemper (above), a 53-year-old layman, was elected on Jan 13 by the board’s Executive Committee. The first top executive of a United Methodist general agency from outside the United States, he will assume his new duties on March 15.

He has led the Board of Missions and Internal Church Cooperation of the United Methodist Germany Central Conference since 1998. He is also in his second four-year term as a director of the Board of Global Ministries and was a missionary in Brazil.

Bishop Bruce R. Ough of West Ohio, board President and co-chairman of a search committee that presented his name to the agency’s Executive Committee, said: “Thomas Kemper is uniquely qualified and gifted for this position,” and added: “His global perspective, missionary experience, sound Wesleyan theology, broad ecumenical involvement, and passion for Christ’s mission will benefit the General Board of Global Ministries and the entire United Methodist Church as we advance our commitment to be a truly global movement.”

Mr Kemper will succeed retired Bishop Joel N. Martínez, who took over the top executive position on an interim basis last September after the Rev Edward W. Paup resigned because of health concerns. – United Methodist News Service.