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News In Brief - January 13, 2012

News In Brief - January 13, 2012

Brief items for use in local church newsletters
Prepared by United Methodist News Service

For Methodists, the recovery process since the Jan. 12, 2010, Haiti earthquake can easily be measured by dollars raised, churches and schools repaired, volunteer teams sent. What is less measurable - but ultimately more important - are the new or renewed relationships forged among Haitian Methodists, Haitian communities, The United Methodist Church and other global partners, both large and small. "Generally speaking, it's a positive cooperation," said the Rev. Marco Depestre, secretary of the Methodist Church of Haiti. For a complete look at what has happened in Haiti, go to www.umc.org/haiti/.

The Rev. James Gulley, who survived the collapse of the Hotel Montana during Haiti's earthquake two years ago, spoke at the hotel during a Jan. 12 service of commemoration. Two United Methodist colleagues trapped with him, the Rev. Sam Dixon and the Rev. Clinton Rabb, died of their injuries. The Rev. Marco Depestre represented the Methodist Church of Haiti at the service. "January 12, 2010, impacted the lives of all who are here today in ways we could never have imagined before that date: snuffing out the lives of so many, calling to a halt many plans, but never extinguishing the hopes and dreams of many, many more," Gulley said.

Recycled exercise equipment - formerly known as clothes hangers or toe-stubbers - are getting a new "green" start in life at a United Methodist community center in Detroit. A donor gave 10 stationary bikes that produce electricity to Cass United Methodist Church and Social Services. The cyclists' energy operates the green industries warehouse. The project has been a boon for social service clients, many of them homeless, providing them with a form of "gym membership" and a sense of accomplishment in helping their community, say church leaders.

The word of God is reaching poor and illiterate people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in several ways, thanks to the generosity of Asbury United Methodist Church in Tulsa, Okla. A pastor was inspired to launch the project after hearing about United Methodist clergy in the central African country who had no Bibles.

Two proposals hover near the top of the controversy list as The United Methodist Church approaches this spring's General Conference in Tampa, Fla. The first from the Call to Action process would restructure the denomination, including consolidating nine of the church's 13 general agencies under a 15-member board. The second would end job guarantees for ordained elders in good standing. In general, leaders of the denomination's unofficial progressive groups fear the recommended restructuring will lessen the church's commitment to ethnic diversity and minimize programs that foster church growth, particularly among people of color. Meanwhile, leaders of unofficial evangelical groups see the restructuring as a cost-saving measure that will put more focus on local congregations. Yet, some from both groups share misgivings about legislation to eliminate "security of appointment" for elders in good standing.

Proposals for change across the denomination drove the discussion at a gathering in Little Rock, Ark., of African-American church leaders from the South Central Jurisdiction. The main question that had United Methodists talking at the November gathering was: "How does the Call to Action restructuring affect African-American churches?" A significant concern among participants at the Can We Talk? gathering was whether the smaller size of the proposed new leadership structure would allow the voices of ethnic and racial minorities to be heard.

Every four years United Methodists develop high expectations that delegates to the top legislative body of the denomination will set policies and approve resolutions to address specific challenges in the church and society. Those expectations are building as the 988 delegates and 4,000 volunteers and observers prepare for the 2012 General Conferencemeeting April 24-May 4 in Tampa, Fla. Interpreter OnLine at www.interpretermagazine.org looks at what is shaping up.

Young adults between the ages of 20 and 30 interested in linking their faith to justice work are invited to apply to the US-2 and mission intern programs of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries. US-2s serve in the United States for two years. Mission interns serve for three years, about half of the time abroad and half of the time in their home country. Applications are due Feb. 5, with training and placement to begin in the summer of 2012. To learn more, visit www.goo.gl/K2JnQ.

The Governing Board of theNational Council of Churches will meet Jan. 20 to address the next steps in leadership transition after the Rev. Michael Kinnamon ended his service as general secretary on Dec. 31, 2011. Kinnamon, in announcing his intended departure, said that based on advice from his cardiologist, frequent travel and other demands of the office were detrimental to his health.

An 18th-century porcelain bust of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, is part of a collection of Wesley memorabilia recently donated to Ferrum College, a United Methodist-related college in Ferrum, Va. The exhibit comprises 43 items and is on display in John Wesley Hall on the campus. Call (540) 365-4201 with questions.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has recognized the United Methodist Board of Church and Society for "exemplary environmental leadership" and awarded the agency membership to the 2012 Green Power Leadership Club. The Green Power Partnership is a voluntary program that encourages organizations to buy green power as a way to reduce the environmental impacts associated with purchased electricity use.

The United Methodist Board of Church and Society sent a statement to the White House this week applauding the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's decision to enable some undocumented immigrant children and spouses to reunite with their U.S.-citizen family members. Considering the "record numbers of deportations by the Obama administration," the agency said in a Jan. 11 statement sent to the White House, "we hope this change in policy will finally make it easier for thousands of American families with mixed immigration status to remain permanently together."

New online courses for personal and professional development taught by Claremont School of Theology faculty in Claremont, Calif., begin Feb. 6, 2012. The classes include evangelism in a plural world; prayer from a process perspective, interfaith lessons from medieval Spain and spirituality and service. Registration deadline is Jan. 30. To learn more, visit www.goo.gl/is9Yi.

The United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas presents the DVD, "Gospel Without Borders," which shows the experiences of documented and undocumented immigrants and examines what the Bible says about the treatment of the "stranger." Individual copies are available for $10 on the Christian site EthicsDaily.com, which produced the documentary. To order a copy, go to www.goo.gl/Lbfu7.

Bill McKibben, environmental author and founder of 350.org, will be a featured presenter at Caring for Creation on March 15-18 at Lake Junaluska in North Carolina. Caring for Creation 2012, a faith-based event on environmentalism, will explore ways individuals and churches can become good stewards of God's Earth. Early registration ends Feb. 15. To learn more, visit www.lakejunaluska.com/caring-for-creation/.

The United Methodist Committee on Relief, the denomination's relief agency, announced Jan. 10 that Shannon Trilli will serve as the new director of its global health programs. Trilli, who formerly directed the denomination's Imagine No Malaria program, will be UMCOR's key liaison to all international, regional and national collaborating health partners.

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