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News In Brief - April 5, 2012

News in Brief April 5, 2012
Brief items for use in local church newsletters
Prepared by United Methodist News Service

The United Methodist News Service is reporting on activities related to General Conference 2012, the denomination's top lawmaking body, which will meet April 24-May 4 in Tampa, Fla. UMNS reports appear as they occur on umc.org and also can be found on General Conference 2012 website, http://gc2012.umc.org. Among the stories this week:

  • The Nebraska Annual (regional) Conference delegation to General Conference on March 24 issued a statement on the proposals for structural change in The United Methodist Church, Newscope reported. "We embrace change that would create a structure for The United Methodist Church that is responsive to the needs of the global Church. In this time of change, we share a concern that in the midst of our desire to be flexible and efficient we not lose the diversity of voices at every level of decision-making. Our concern is not so much about the ability of individuals to represent the perspectives of others, but a concern that our decision-makers themselves reflect the rich diversity of The United Methodist Church." The delegation also shared a statement accepted unanimously at its November meeting, endorsing a diverse episcopacy, specifically welcoming women and clergy of diverse ethnic backgrounds as bishops.
  • Video of a March 31 debate on church restructuring proposals is now available online.Jay Brim, Southwest Texas Annual (regional) Conference lay leader; the Rev. Kim Cape, top executive of the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry; and the Rev. Tim McClendon, Columbia (S.C.) District superintendent, participated in the debate sponsored by United Methodist Men of the Southwest Texas Conference. For more information, go to the conference website at www.umcswtx.org and click on General Conference 2012.
  • Nearly 30 church leaders went to Chicago on a mission to help The United Methodist Church reverse declining U.S. membership and revitalize its congregations. After two days of discussions beginning April 2, no final decisions were made. The group learned about the progress the global denomination has made in making vital congregations, the church's true first priority. But, it also talked about the obstacles it faces, including fear and distrust among clergy and laity. Sometimes, United Methodists get stuck thinking "ain't it awful" and focus only on what they think is holding the denomination back, said San Francisco Area Bishop Warner H. Brown Jr. "We need to shift that conversation to 'Hey, we can master the work we're about,'" he said. "We have the positive image in the community. We can be the people we're dreaming of." The consensus among those gathered was that no matter what happens with various proposals to change the denomination's structure, The United Methodist Church needs to change its culture to foster vitality.
  • The proponents of the "UMC Plan B" restructuring plan have published the substitute motion they plan to make at the 2012 General Conference as an alternative to the restructuring proposal from the Connectional Table and Call to Action Interim Operations Team. To see the legislation, go to http://umcplanb.org/?p=429.
  • The United Methodist Missionary Association released a statement April 1 on Call to Action, the proposed denominational restructuring plan, echoing the need to "retain and respect the creative tension between the global and the local &ellipsis;" voiced recently by Thomas Kemper, head of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.
  • Delegates, bishops, and others attending General Conference 2012 are invited to join students and presidents from some of the 120 United Methodist-related schools, colleges, universities, and theological schools and 520 campus ministries for a higher education ministry fair on April 30. The fair will include food and three stages with continuous entertainment provided by students from the higher education institutions related to The United Methodist Church, including the Africa University Choir and several other student choirs. The ministry fair will be from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in Ballrooms A, B, and C on the first floor of the Tampa Convention Center.

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In a text message, Vance Morton reflected on the tornadoes that hammered the Dallas/Fort Worth area April 3. One United Methodist church - St. Barnabas, Arlington - sustained severe damage. "While the loss of property was severe in some areas," Morton wrote, "we are all celebrating the miracle that the human toll was virtually nil." Morton directs communications and IT for the Central Texas Annual (regional) Conference.

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Community religious leaders in Oakland, Calif., conducted a multicultural prayer vigil April 3 after the April 2 shooting at Oikos University, an Oakland school founded to help Korean immigrants adjust to life in America and launch new careers. The shooting suspect, One L. Goh, is a South Korean native. The Rev. Hyok-in Kwon, senior pastor of Berkeley Korean United Methodist Church, and the Rev. Kang Won Lee, senior pastor of Oakland Korean United Methodist Church, helped to organize the service, which was in English and Korean.

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The Rev. Henry L. Masters Sr. confirmed an announcement by St. Luke "Community" United Methodist Church in Dallas that he will be its new pastor. Masters and his wife, the Rev. S. Dianna Masters, will join the St. Luke staff in early July. With 5,000 members, St. Luke is one of the largest predominantly African-American churches in the denomination, but was rocked earlier this year by clergy sex abuse allegations.

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A group of Alabama clergy, including United Methodists, have unveiled a TV commercial opposing Alabama's controversial immigration law. To watch the video, go to http://www.alabamafaith.org.

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A new DVD-based study series from United Methodist Communications focuses on Christians who faced painful circumstances that threatened their spiritual health and sanity. The study series, "Broken to Peace," is equipped with a downloadable leader's guide that also includes devotional tools and discussion starters to serve as catalysts for conversation, constructive debate and personal sharing. A Christian educator and pastor, the Rev. Mark Price, wrote the leader's guide. For more information, go to www.umcom.org/brokentopeace.

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"A New Generation of Church Leaders: Training & Nurturing Young People," the fourth film in the five-part series, "Dreaming of Vital Congregations," produced by the United Methodist Board of Discipleship, is available to download with a free study guide. Go to www.gbod.org and click on Dreaming of Vital Congregations for more information.

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The Africa University family is mourning the loss of Nancy Mikell Carruth, 84, who passed away April 1 in Bunkie, La. Carruth, an inaugural member of the United Methodist-related university's advisory development committee and planned giving council, was affectionately known to many as "Mrs. Africa University." "She worked to realize a dream which is destined to change the face of leadership in Africa from now until eternity," said Bishop Eben Nhiwatiwa of the Zimbabwe Episcopal Area.

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