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News In Brief - March 2, 2012

News in Brief March 2, 2012
Brief items for use in local church newsletters
Prepared by United Methodist News Service

Late-winter tornadoes and high winds roared across several Midwestern states early Wednesday morning, leaving death and destruction in their wake. But, even as United Methodist congregations and congregants assessed damage, they sought ways to be Christ in their community. Illinois Area Bishop Gregory V. Palmer outlined steps that can be taken to help those affected by the Feb. 29 storms that hit areas in the Illinois Great Rivers Conference and other states. "It is in these times that the people called United Methodists are at their best, providing a ministry of presence and offering care and compassion for those in need," Palmer said. The United Methodist Committee on Relief is taking donations for 2012 tornado relief at Advance No. 901670. To give, visit www.umcor.org.

Every 60 seconds, malaria claims a life in Africa. Does that sound a little different from what you've heard before? It should because it is different - the rate of death has slowed from every 45 seconds to a minute. But, a little different to us is a huge difference to families in Africa. Imagine No Malaria announces the change based on the recent 2011 World Malaria Report, issued by the World Health Organization, citing a declining death rate. Malaria's toll has been reduced to an estimated 655,000 deaths annually - down from 1 million just three years ago. To read more, go to www.imaginenomalaria.org.

United Methodists provided comfort to the grieving after the school shooting on Feb. 27 in Chardon, Ohio, 30 miles east of Cleveland. Three students, Daniel Parmertor, Russell King Jr. and Demetrius Hewlin, later died from their injuries. As twilight heralded the end of a long, difficult day on Feb. 27, the community turned to prayer, and United Methodist churches - including Chardon United Methodist Church, down the street from the school - opened their doors to the community.

The many churches - rural and urban, large and small - that have no musicians to accompany congregational singing can now download hundreds of piano recordings of familiar hymns from The United Methodist Hymnal. The free, growing resource is a joint project of the Board of Discipleship and United Methodist Communications. More than 200 songs are already available online, and more will be available soon.

Connections, a band made up of clergy and laity from the North Texas Annual (regional) Conference, performs at churches in the area to raise money for two United Methodist causes, Imagine No Malaria and the United Methodist Committee on Relief. At its most recent show, the band surpassed an impressive milestone: It has now raised more than $100,000 for Imagine No Malaria - which translates to 10,000 insecticide-treated bed nets for families in Africa.

Neil Alexander, president and publisher of the United Methodist Publishing House, reported on Feb. 23 that sales totaled $44.8 million for the first six months of the fiscal year. That exceeds the prior year by $2.2 million and surpassed the budget by $260,000. The positive revenue performance is due in part to brisk sales of the Common English Bible, Worship & Song, and Sunday school resources for children and adults, among other works, the publishing house reports. Cokesbury also has benefited from a new partnership with (Episcopal) Church Publishing Inc.

Macedonia is calling for a new investigation intothe 2004 plane crashthat killed President Boris Trajkovski and eight others, the Associated Press reported Feb. 29. Trajkovski, an active United Methodist, received the 2002 World Methodist Peace Award and promoted interreligious and intercultural peace in his region until his untimely death.

Four years ago, a British medical journal presented concrete proof that nations that don't invest in proper nutrition for pregnant and lactating women and their infants will suffer economically as a result. An outgrowth of that research is "1000 Days," a joint effort among relief agencies, advocacy groups and faith groups, including United Methodists. The effort aims to raise awareness of the importance of the 1,000 days between a woman's pregnancy and her child's 2nd birthday.

The General Conference delegation from the Missouri Annual (regional) Conference has affirmed a letter from the Council of Bishops, "For the Sake of a New World, We See a New Church." "This is our way of saying that we recognize the dire need for change, and we are encouraged by the work that has gone into preparation of the Call to Action," said the Rev. Cody Collier, head of the Missouri delegation. "While specific aspects of the proposal from the Interim Operations Team may be modified at General Conference, we believe the overall aim of forming a new church &ellipsis; is a positive change."

The Division on Ministries with Young People, part of the United Methodist Board of Discipleship, has issued a response to the proposed restructure by the Interim Operations Team and Connectional Table. "Change is necessary," the group's executive table said in a statement. "The work that has been done, both by the Interim Operations Team and the General Agencies, is a beginning; but we believe the church needs more time to discern and dialogue before a new structure can be implemented."

General Conference 2012 begins in less than 60 days and one way to prepare is to use a self-directed course about the function and importance of General Conference now available online. "Exploring General Conference" invites users to read content, watch video clips, listen to audio clips, take quizzes, find supplementary materials, and participate in discussion forums. Go to www.umcom.org/egc.

The beauty of being a part of a connectional church is that we can call on one another to pray and support each other in prayer, said the Rev. Tom Albin. As the 2012 General Conference approaches, he writes, it is important to know our prayer foundation is firm and we are connected in a global prayer network. Find out how to be part of "50 Days of Prayer for the General Conference" by going to http://50daysofprayer.upperroom.org/.

Eighty delegates to the 2012 United Methodist General Conference attended a briefing critically analyzing the impact of proposed legislation on women. The lawmaking body will meet in Tampa, Fla., from April 24 to May 4. The briefing, organized by the Women's Division, United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, and the United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women, assigned delegates to groups based on General Conference legislative committees, applying gender analysis to proposed legislation most likely to affect women and other marginalized groups.

D. Max Whitfield, bishop of the New Mexico and Northwest Texas annual (regional) conferences, has accepted an invitation to serve as bishop-in-residence at United Methodist-related Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, effective Sept. 1. Whitfield earned his B.S.A. from Arkansas State University, M.Div. from Perkins School of Theology, and D. Min. from Princeton Theological Seminary.

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