Friday, May 30, 2008

Views of the New Potential Seminary Site

See the previous post. This is the property on which we currently have an offer pending. Please pray for this purchase and adequate resources for the cost.

Monday, May 26, 2008

June Seminary, Etc.

(Obispo Juvenal Perez pictured to left)

Jane and I are getting everythi
ng together to travel soon to Venezuela. I have my Atlanta Marietta District Pre-Conference Briefing on Sunday, June 1 at Bascomb UMC. Jane and I then leave for Venezuela on the 2nd. Seminary begins at 2:00 on June 2 so we will be a day late getting there. However, since I am not teaching this week we will be there for plenty of the class and so look forward to seeing the students. We have not been there since January due to Cabinet responsibilities here in Georgia.

This my last trip as a North Georgia District Superintendent. I am retiring on disability (knees) at the end of June. This is after 36 years of ministry under the appointment of a Bishop. Now I will be able to spend almost all my time and energy supporting the work of the United Methodist Church of Venezuela and the Wesley Seminary of Venezuela.

What will we be doing on this trip besides meeting with the students, pastors and churches and having time with Bishop Juvenal
Perez? First, a home has been purchased by one of our Venezuelan family members. It has a large main house that will be the rented home of the Academic Dean of the Seminary. It has a small Guest House that Jane and I will stay in and will be used to house visitors and visiting professors. Renovations to the Guest House are underway in preparation for our visit in June. Then work will begin on the main house including a new kitchen to replace the very small and dated kitchen which is being moved into the Guest House. No charitable dollars are being used for this purchase and these renovations.

More importantly, today the Dean is meeting with the owners of a different piece of property to negotiate the purchase of a site for the seminary. We have discovered through title search and other sources of information that the piece of property (see previous posts) we were hoping to buy in Agua Viva is not an acceptable option. In US terms, we simply cannot get a clear title. Since we are responsible for the funds given for this purchase, we cannot invest them in a property with no clear title.
The price for the new piece of property is about twice as much as the previous site, but it has 5 buildings, four of which are immediately available for use. The fifth one is the largest and with some work can house several activities of the seminary. Please pray for these negotiations.

Another matter of prayer related to the above is the North Georgia Conference Love Offering for Bishop and Mrs. Davis. This offering is designated to work in Honduras and Venezuela. As Bishop Davis said to me last week, "this work will live on long after we are gone." While we will greatly miss the Davis family we sincerely appreciate this act of sacrifice on their part for the work in Venezuela. And we are most appreciative of the generosity of the churches of the North Georgia Conference.

One more prayer issue (among many) is the beginning steps of a beloved colleague in forming an ongoing base of support for the Seminary. He has committed to forming a "Committee of 100" (thanks Emory University for the idea) which will recruit at least 100 individuals who will each give a minimum of $1,000US per year for five years in support of the seminary. We hope to get this started soon. We already have 2 members and we have done nothing to announce it beyond this paragraph. We would welcome anyone reading this to be the 3rd, 4th, or 5th members of the Committee.

Remember our first graduating class in August. While it has taken six years to get here, the trip has been phenomenal. Our seminary is issuing an undergraduate equivalent of a Bachelor of Arts degree and is academically rigorous in every way. We hope in the future to begin to offer some post-graduate courses in a Master's Degree Program. However, at this time we must strengthen our undergraduate program with a permanent location and adequate facilities and staff and funding.

If you are still reading this long post, thanks and please take time right now to pray for all of the above. Blessings on you.