Message-ID: <>
Date: Thu, 2 Jul 1998 14:18:05 -0700
Sender: Southeast Asia Discussion List <SEASIA-L@LIST.MSU.EDU>
From: Stephen R Denney <sdenney@UCLINK.BERKELEY.EDU>
Subject: CAM: Methodists Open Mission Center

Methodists to open mission center in Cambodia

The United Methodist Church press release, 4 May 1998

May 4, 1998 Contact: Linda Bloom (212) 870-3803 New York {= 274}

NEW YORK (UMNS) To serve a growing ministry in Cambodia, the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries is spending $350,000 on a mission center in Phnom Penh, the Southeast Asian country's capital.

The funds, approved at the board's semi-annual meeting in April, will be used to purchase a very versatile property on a main thoroughfare in Phnom Penh, according to the Rev. S.T. Kimbrough Jr., associate general secretary for mission evangelism.

He said he hopes to have the center open within a year. The purchase cost of $250,000 received general board approval. Another $100,000 in renovation and other related expenses will be provided by the Women's Division.

The mission center will be used by Methodist groups working in Cambodia, reflecting the cooperative relationship there among United Methodists from the United States, France and Switzerland, and Methodists from Korea and Singapore.

The project marks the first time this century that this many bodies from the Methodist connection have very intentionally said 'we will cooperate together,' Kimbrough said. It certainly should be a model for the future.

The Korean Methodists have 40 congregations in Cambodia, the U.S. United Methodists have 13, the Swiss and French United Methodists, 7, and the Singapore Methodists, 1. Congregations average between 30 and 40 people.

The Singapore Methodists have bought an old hotel and turned it into a school, Kimbrough said. The Korean Methodists have a small center offering space for pastor training and worship.

To complement those ministries, the United Methodist Mission Center will focus on services for women, youth and children. Two major areas of emphasis will be community-based health care and training in small business and agriculture.

An outreach ministry will address the problem of AIDS, which Kimbrough said is rampant in Cambodia. Plans also call for prevention counseling and treatment referral to address the high rate of cervical cancer. Other areas of focus will be prenatal care, training in hygiene and sanitation, and health care and other services for the hundreds of street children in the city.

In February, about 100 pastors and laity from the various Methodist groups came together for a two-week pastors' school in Phnom Penh. Written liturgies and a hymn sampler were provided in the Khmer language.

It's the very first opportunity of study that they've had, Kimbrough said.

Just as important was the opportunity to connect, he said. The establishment of that kind of a community, in a country that is 98 percent Buddhist, is very important.

While attending the school, mission leaders realized a central coordinating committee should be formed to handle future work and the direction of mission in Cambodia. The eight-member committee, chosen from the four groups, includes Pitou Lay and Joseph Chan, Board of Global Ministries missionaries.