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Daily Digest: January 6, 2014

“One day, we will wake up and we will discover that the sorrow we feel is more bearable….And we will rise up from this unbearable sorrow and proclaim: The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it!” — Nashville Area Bishop Bill McAlilly at services for his nephew, a police officer killed in the line of duty two days before Christmas.

Searching for Easter in the midst of Christmas

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Bishop Bill McAlilly's nephew, a police officer, was killed in the line of duty in Tupelo, Miss., on Dec. 23. On Dec. 31, McAlilly shared on his blog the message he delivered at Kevin Gale Stauffer Jr.’s Service of Death and Resurrection.
Read bishop’s message
Read Atlanta Journal- Constitution story

Bishop joins call for South Sudan ceasefire

KAMPALA, Uganda (UMNS) — United Methodist Bishop Daniel Wandabula has joined world leaders in calling for a ceasefire in Africa’s youngest nation, South Sudan, where violence has claimed at least 1,000 lives.
Read story and post a comment

Sampling attitudes on the state of the church

DES MOINES, Wash. (UMNS) — Patrick Scriven, director of communications and young people’s ministries in the Pacific Northwest Annual (regional) Conference, is asking United Methodists how they feel about the state of the church. The results of the online measurement will not be a scientific sampling but a reflection of those who choose to respond.
To participate

Fire guts Baltimore church

BALTIMORE, Md. (UMNS) — “The cross atop the steeple of Northwood-Appold UMC is about the only undamaged item after an early morning four-alarm fire Friday, Dec. 27, extensively damaged the church in northeast Baltimore, gutting the structure,” writes Erik Alsgaard of the Baltimore-Washington Annual (regional) Conference. Bishop Marcus Matthews called for prayers and support for the church; its pastor, the Rev. Cecil Gray; and the surrounding community.
Read story
Bishop Matthews’ statement

What was the Star of Bethlehem?

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (UMNS) — On Jan. 6, Protestants and Roman Catholics around the globe celebrate the magi’s visit to the young Jesus and the revelation of Christ to the world. InterpreterOnline shares a United Methodist astronomer’s take on the celestial body that guided the wise men.
Read story

Reflections on Epiphany

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The United Methodist Board of Discipleship shares background on the Christian celebration and what we can learn from the wise men.
Read reflection

Perkins names Discipleship exec distinguished alumna

DALLAS (UMNS) — The Rev. Karen Greenwaldt, who retired on Dec. 31 as the top executive of the United Methodist Board of Discipleship, has been named the 2014 Perkins School of Theology Distinguished Alumna.
Read news release

Looking ahead

Here are some of the activities ahead for United Methodists across the connection. If you have an item to share, email and put Digest in the subject line.

Deadline to register for Evangelism & Mission: Making Discipleship Possible, Nashville Episcopal Area training event, Monday, Jan. 6 — 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CT, Saturday, Jan. 18 at Brentwood United Methodist Church, 309 Franklin Road,, Brentwood, Tenn. Event features Bishop Bill McAlilly and The Rev. Derrick-Lewis Noble. Cost is $10.

Free webinar “Church Council Leadership,” Tuesday, Jan. 7 — 6:30 p.m. CT, advice for church council or leadership teams in overseeing a comprehensive plan for ministry and discipleship. To register

Free webinar “Stewardship and Finance: Getting It Right at the Starting Line,” Thursday, Jan. 9 — 6:30 p.m. CT, for stewardship team, finance committee and church council members from the United Methodist Board of Discipleship. To register

Deadline to apply for Peace with Justice grants, Friday, Jan. 10 — The United Methodist Board of Church and Society has allotted $48,000 in grants for 14 Peace with Justice ministries around the world. To apply

Deadline to register for Young Clergy Leadership Forum, Friday, Jan. 10 — The United Methodist Board of Church and Society is accepting applications from people 35 and younger for gathering Sunday to Wednesday, Jan. 26-29, 2014, at the United Methodist Building on Capitol Hill in Washington. Event is $175. Details

Certified Lay Ministers Academy, Friday-Monday, Jan. 10-12 — Lake Junaluska Program Ministries, in partnership with the Cal Turner Jr. Center for Church Leadership at Martin Methodist College, will present the academy at Lake Junaluska, N.C. Details

Free webinar “SPRC Overview of a Year of Leadership,” Tuesday, Jan. 14 — 6:30 p.m. CT, Guidance for how staff-parish relations committees can create a healthy work place for staff so that ministry is vital and effective. To register

Free webinar “Eating Your Way through the Bible,” Wednesday, Jan. 15 — 10 a.m. CT, Jill Plant, children’s ministry director at Madras United Methodist Church in Madras, Ore., will share a new way to search the Scriptures with children, her curriculum that inspired this webinar. To register

Free Pastors Read webinar on “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth,” by Reza Aslan, Wednesday, Jan. 15 — 10 a.m. CT, a discussion for United Methodist pastors of the controversial New York Times bestseller by a Muslim scholar. To register

Early bird deadline for 2014 Large Church Initiative, Wednesday, Jan. 15 — April 28-30 at Mount Pisgah United Methodist Church in Johns Creek, Ga., for United Methodist churches with 1,000 or more members and/or with an average attendance of 350 or more in worship. Details

Deadline to apply for local church racial/ethnic ministries grants, Wednesday, Jan. 15 — Applications for grants up to $10,000 to help local United Methodist churches build ministries that strengthen and support racial and ethnic church concerns are available from the United Methodist Board of Discipleship. Details

Early bird deadline for 2014 Large Church Initiative, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014 — April 28-30 at Mount Pisgah United Methodist Church in Johns Creek, Ga., for United Methodist churches with 1,000 or more members and/or with an average attendance of 350 or more in worship. Details

Free webinar “Lay Leader: What’s My Job?,” Thursday, Jan. 16 — 6:30 p.m. CT, Jodi Cataldo, the United Methodist Board of Discipleship's new director of Laity in Leadership and Betsey Heavner will facilitate a discussion in lay leadership in congregations of all sizes. To register

Human Relations Day, Sunday, Jan. 19 — One of six churchwide Special Sundays with offerings for The United Methodist Church. Human Relations Day strengthens United Methodist outreach to communities in the United States and Puerto Rico, encouraging social justice and work with at-risk youth. Details

Shift Happens: Hope in the Midst of Transition, A gathering of Urban and Rural Practitioners, Thursday-Saturday, Jan. 16-18, 2014 — Workshop in Houston sponsored by iRUN (The International Rural and Urban Network of the United Methodist Church), Church and Community Workers, and the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries. Registration is $185. Details

Martin Luther King Day, Monday, Jan. 20 — The United Methodist Board of Discipleship offers worship resources.