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News In Brief - May 11, 2012

News In Brief - May 11, 2012
Brief items for use in local church newsletters
Prepared by United Methodist News Service

With the 2012 General Conference now over, United Methodist News Service is offering a recap of the legislative gathering held every four years. GC2012 was held in Tampa, Fla., April 24 through May 4.Commentaries featuring guest bloggers discussing General Conference issues can be found at http://gc2012umns.blogspot.com. UMNS reports appeared as they occurred onumc.org and also can be found on General Conference 2012's website at http://gc2012.umc.orgAmong the recap stories this week:

From the opening worship service on April 24 to the final amen on May 4, The United Methodist Church's top legislative body ended "guaranteed appointments" for clergy, said no to adding another bishop, and voted to stay the course on the church's highly contested stand on homosexuality. The nearly 1,000 delegates from more than 60 countries were stunned when the Judicial Council voided a plan to reorganize the denomination's bureaucracy.Delegates to General Conference 2012 put off making any last-minute decisions, preferring instead to leave the reorganization up to the 2016 General Conference. Meanwhile, the conference raised money to battle malaria, held a service of repentance for the past treatment of Native Americans and tackled 1,200 petitions.

Overseeing the logistics of General Conference can be intimidating, but the Rev. Alan Morrison credits his Boy Scout training, going back to when he planned a patrol camping trip at the age of 11. The Boy Scout went on to become an Eagle Scout - andlater the General Conference business manager. "Whether it is an event for eight or thousands, the basics are the same," he explained. "You have to understand how to plan for how you are going to feed people, how to get the equipment you need, where you're going to stay, and so on."

Bishop Rosemarie Wenner of Germany, and the new president of the Council of Bishops, said one of the biggest accomplishments of General Conference 2012 was learning better how to reach out and make disciples. "Let's do what we are called to do, right there in local churches," said Wenner in a news conference May 4.

Ruth Daugherty's seen a lifetime of changes over the last 11 General Conferences. "Now the delegates are 38 percent female," said Daugherty, who's been an elected delegate from the Eastern Pennsylvania Annual (regional) Conference since 1972. "We're still not where we ought to be, but at that time it was less much less." Delegates also used to cast votes by standing and having pages count them. Now, technology allows for delegates "to more easily vote our conscience."

Delegates and visitors to General Conference 2012 teamed up to help bag more than 40,000 pounds of cucumbers that were then distributed to homeless shelters and feeding programs around central Florida. The cucumber bagging was sponsored by Society of St. Andrew, a nonprofit hunger relief ministry started by three United Methodist pastors.

The United Methodist Council of Bishops recognized the Rev. John L. McCullough, executive director of Church World Service since 2000, with its 2012 Ecumenical Award.

The rise and fall of a proposed restructuring of boards and agencies in The United Methodist Church received the most chatter during the second week of General Conference 2012. The conference entered the 21st century, tapping into Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to help spread the message and get folks involved. A joint project of United Methodist News Service and MethoBlog, www.gc2012conversations.com was visited by almost 80,000 unique visitors and posted nearly 2,500 comments over a two-week period.

Jim Bickerton literally whittled away his time at General Conference 2012. Bickerton, a volunteer marshal at plenary sessions, could be seen whittling pieces of wood into pairs of animals for a Noah's ark set. The United Methodistfrom Moundsville, W. Va., also got to show off another of his creations: his son, Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton.

General Conference 2016 will be held in Portland, Ore., where delegates can expect temperatures to be 10 to 20 degrees cooler from Tampa. The site of the General Conference, held every four years, has traditionally rotated among the church's five geographic U.S. jurisdictions. The last General Conference in the Western Jurisdiction was in Denver in 1996.

Mother's Day 2012 is being celebrated across the nation on Sunday. But there's more to the day than flowers and cards. Consider this: Every 90 seconds a woman somewhere in the world dies from complications of pregnancy or childbirth. The United Methodist Church is working to make a difference. If you want to know more, go to umc.org.

A special training seminar on church administration and administrative duties will be held July 15-20 at the office of the General Council on Finance and Administration in Nashville, Tenn. The GCFA offers this program in support of the Professional Association of United Methodist Church Secretaries, formed 30 years ago to "provide individual growth, professional development, continuing education, spiritual enrichment and work toward the betterment of The United Methodist Church." Interested people may contact Cynthia Haralson, the GCFA staff person to PAUMCS, at (615) 369-2386 or charalson@gcfa.org.

In Louisiana on April 21, more than 2,000 people from eight cities hit the pavement to raise money for mosquito nets in malaria-ravaged countries. The Louisiana Skeeter Run was sponsored by the Louisiana Annual (regional) Conference as part of The United Methodist Church's Imagine No Malaria campaign. How serious is the malaria epidemic? Every 60 seconds, someone dies from malaria. For more information about the Imagine No Malaria campaign, go to http://www.imaginenomalaria.org.

A comedian-turned-United Methodist pastor holds services in another kind of sanctuary: bars around Denver. Using beer coasters for business cards, After Hours Denver meets on Monday nights offering simple sermons and a side order of Communion. By the way, the Rev. Jerry Herships usually preaches to a full house. "Jesus never said, 'If you need me, I'll be in the temple,' " said Herships. "Jesus was always out in the world."

The Society of St. Andrew, which facilitated the "produce drop" during the recent United Methodist General Conference in Tampa, Fla., is seeking emergency donations to cover shipping for up to 150 truckloads of sweet potatoes. A North Carolina grower has offered a donation of 6.3 million pounds of good sweet potatoes that the society can ship to feeding programs across the South, as far north as New York, and as far west as Kansas. If you'd like to help, go to www.endhunger.org/appeal.htm

Church World Service is partnering with the United Methodist Committee on Relief to provide leadership for UMCOR's historic mission among refugees and immigrants. As ecumenical relations director,Jen Kilpswill help get United Methodist congregations involved in resettling the displaced refugees and immigrants, as well as identify local programs for them.

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