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UMNS Weekly Digest - April 05, 2013


April 5, 2013

NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for April 2 - April 8.It includes summaries of United Methodist News Service storiesand additional briefs from around the United Methodist connection. Full versions of the stories with photographs and related features can be found at

United Methodists in the News

White House honors youth solar ministry

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - Two United Methodists have taken an idea for bringing light to people in darkness from their church altar to the White House in less than a year. Doug McNeil and Jesse Salem, members of Los Gatos (Calif.) United Methodist Church, werehonored Friday, April 5, for starting Lighting for Literacy - a partnership between the church and Los GatosMorning Rotary. Read story and post a comment

Pastor elected mayor of Kansas City, Kan.

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (UMNS) - The Rev. Mark Holland, a United Methodist pastor, has been elected mayor of the unified government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City. He is the pastor of Trinity Community Church, a United Methodist congregation. He garnered 56 percent of the vote, the Kansas City Star reported. Read story

Evil not last word, pastor says of slayings

TERRELL, Texas (UMNS) - On Easter, the Rev. Keith Head, pastor of First United Methodist Church, faced what he called an "elephant in the sanctuary" situation. The crowd filed in burdened by news that their fellow church members, Mike McLelland, district attorney of Kaufman County, and his wife Cynthia, were found shot to death in their home Saturday. Sam Hodges, managing editor of The United Methodist Reporter, explains what Hand reminded his congregation. Read story

Adrian College's anti-human trafficking campaign recognized

ADRIAN, Mich. (UMNS) - WDIV-TV, an NBC and CNN partner station in Detroit, featured students at United Methodist-related Adrian College for their campaign against human trafficking. Women at the college initiated the One Dress, One Month initiative in March to raise awareness about the problem. Watch video

Oklahoma churches play parts in 'Home Run' film

TULSA, Okla. (UMNS) - The inspirational movie "Home Run," opening in theaters April 19, draws on some Oklahoma United Methodist influences - especially in Tulsa. "Home Run," rated PG-13, tells the story of Cory Brand, a struggling baseball star forced to return home. He finds hope in the Christ-based Celebrate Recovery program. Holly McCray of the Oklahoma Annual (regional) Conference and Asbury Tidings magazine of Asbury United Methodist Church in Tulsa, a host site of Celebrate Recovery, sharethe film's United Methodist connections.

Read story
Learn more about "Home Run"

United Methodist teen: 'I will keep being nonviolent'

BOISE, Idaho (UMNS) - Aaron Fretwell, 15, and others members of Hillview United Methodist Church, committed themselves to nonviolence and making peace during Lent. They found power in a purple bracelet, as KBOI-TV reports. Watch video and read story

Kansas United Methodists offer support to S.C. team

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (UMNS) - The Spartanburg Methodist College Pioneers of Spartanburg, S.C., finished third in the National Junior College Athletic Associate basketball tournament, held in Hutchinson. The Kansas United Methodist community, including the Rev. Mark Conard of First United Methodist in Hutchinson, turned out to offer prayers and cheers to the team, reports Read story

University and seminary news

Africa U celebrates its first 20 years

MUTARE, Zimbabwe (UMNS) - In what seems a short 20 years, Africa University has grown from a school with classes in refurbished farm buildings to a world-changing university with more than 4,000 graduates throughout Africa and the world. Read story and post a comment

Theological education benefits laity, too

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - The 13 United Methodist seminaries in the United States are attracting an increasing number of students who come seeking a theological education and then pursue callings other than ordained ministry. Interpreter OnLine shows how seminary education is helping laypeople in their ministries. Read story

Registration open for Exploration 2013

DENVER (UMNS) - Registration is open for Exploration 2013 in Denver, an event for young adults age 18-26 to hear, discern and respond to God's call to ordained ministry in The United Methodist Church. Featured speakers will include Louisiana Area Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey and the Rev. Jorge Acevedo, senior pastor of the multi-campus Grace Church in Southwest Florida. Ordained clergy also are being recruited to write on the same topic on April 4 to promote awareness of Exploration. The topic is "Who called you on your journey of ministry?" To learn more

News around conferences

Bishop's personal promise on domestic violence

JACKSON, Miss. (UMNS) - In 1968, Mississippi Area Bishop James Swanson Sr. was 18 years old when his mother's life tragically ended. After that, Swanson pledged to grow up and be part of the solution to bring awareness and end domestic violence. Tamica Smith-Jeuitt of the Mississippi Annual (regional) Conference reports on the bishop's efforts against abuse. Read story

United Methodist creates 'Drive Time Devotionals'

CORDOVA, Tenn. (UMNS) - Susan Elswick, a member of Covenant United Methodist Church in Cordova, believes family driving time can be sacred. Casey Northcutt of the Memphis Annual (regional) Conference reports that Elswick has designed devotions that offer guided discussions for parents to use on the road to talk to their children about the pastor's weekly sermons.

Read story
Download devotions

Church opens door to mobile consulate

AURORA, Ill. (UMNS) - Nueva Vida United Methodist Church in Aurora opened its doors in February to host a mobile unit of the Mexican Consulate. The church discovered an immense need, reports Anne Marie Gerhardt of the Northern Illinois Conference. Read story

Churches find creative ways to raise money to fightmalaria

GREENBACK, Tenn. (UMNS) - United Methodists in the Holston Annual (regional) Conference are getting more creative in how they raise $1 million for the denominational goal of eradicating malaria. Pizza-baking kits, knitted scarves and a pastor's willingness to go bald all contribute to the fundraising effort for Imagine No Malaria, reports Annette Spence, editor of The Call in the Holston Conference. Read story

Native American youth to benefit from camp

NORTHPORT, Mich. (UMNS) - Brandon Ahmicasaube Smith is creating Spirit Journey, a Bible youth camp that embraces Native American culture. He took inspiration from camp meetings and clergy grandfathers. Kay DeMoss of the West Michigan Annual (regional) Conference shares Smith's journey. Native American Ministries Sunday is April 14.

Read story
Learn more about Native American Ministries Sunday

UMTV: Professional comic turned preacher

DENVER (UMNS) - The Rev. Jerry Herships went from show biz to the soul biz. As the founder of Afterhours Denver, the United Methodist pastor now takes church to bars and taverns around town, and AfterHours members in turn are taking Christ's love into their communities.

Watch video and post a comment
Learn more

United Methodists join in 'PBJ for Hunger'

DENVER (UMNS) - United Methodists in the Rocky Mountain Annual (regional) Conference and elsewhere on April 7 will spread the love by spreading peanut butter. Groups from all over will make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, packing lunches and giving them to the hungry in their communities. The idea came from the Rev. Jerry Herships, a United Methodist pastor in Denver. Learn more

Churches find foot-washing to be humbling yet uplifting

MIAMI (UMNS) - The annual tradition of washing the feet of the homeless at First United Methodist Church, Miami, is grounded in the story of Jesus bathing the feet of his disciples. But it got its start much later - in the early 1990s, when a homeless, barefoot woman was electrocuted in a rainstorm. Susan Green of the Florida Conference Connection shares the story. Read story

Choir sings Easter cantata at jail

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Eighteen choir members from Lake City United Methodist Church, carrying their robes over their arms, went to jail on the Saturday before Easter. Annette Spence, editor of The Call in the Holston Conference, shares the choir's experience. Read story

Merged conferences get a new name

SAN ANTONIO (UMNS) - The unified annual (regional) conference of the Rio Grande and Southwest Texas conferences will be named "Rio Texas Conference." Byrd Bonner, co-chair of the Unification Implementation Team, said in an announcement video that the name draws on both predecessor conferences and claims the "living image of water among us." Watch video announcement

Conference newspaper honored

COLUMBIA, S.C. (UMNS) - The South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the newspaper of the South Carolina Annual (regional) Conference, was named the best newspaper in its division by the S.C. Press Association. Editor Jessica Connor also won second place for best published feature story, and Matt Brodie, communications director, won second and third place for his photography.
Read story

News around the connection

Starting over - again - after double disasters

MASSAPEQUA, N.Y. (UMNS) - By the time Tim and Kim Gill recovered from Hurricane Irene, they had only eight months of disaster-free living before Hurricane Sandy barged through their door. The members of Community United Methodist Church discuss how their church family, with support from the United Methodist Committee on Relief, is helping them to recover. Susan Kim of UMCOR shares their story. Read story

Bishop Hagiya authors book on leadership

DES MOINES, Wash. (UMNS) - Greater Northwest Area Bishop Grant Hagiya's new book, "Spiritual Kaizen: How to Become a Better Church Leader," is now available at Drawing from both secular and church models, it looks at the traits, qualities and characteristics of effective clergy. Hagiya's area includes the Alaska, Oregon-Idaho and Pacific Northwest conferences. To order a copy

Resources for churches

Help for churches during tax season

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - At a time when church members are filing their tax returns, it may be a good idea for church leaders to make sure they are aware of Internal Revenue Service rules that apply to churches, including requirements for church contributors to receive charitable-donation deductions. For help with these and other questions, the Lewis Center for Church Leadership at Wesley Theological Seminary suggests consulting the free IRS publication, "Tax Guide for Church and Religious Organizations." See tax guide

Earth Day Sunday resources available

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - Resource materials from the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, working with the National Council of Churches Eco-Justice Working Group, will help congregations celebrate and promote stewardship of God's creation on Earth Day Sunday, also known as the Festival of God's Creation. This year's celebration is set for April 21, but can occur on any Sunday. Learn More

Other news of interest

For CBS producer, sharing beliefs is key

NEW YORK (UMNS) - When John P. "Jack" Blessington of CBS worked with a United Methodist congregation in Manhattan on a televised Christmas Eve service, he looked beyond the seasonal trappings to see how the church was living out the gospel. Blessington, the longtime executive producer of the CBS Religion and Culture series, will receive a special Wilbur award April 6 from the Religion Communicators Council during the council's 84th annual convention. Read full story and post a comment

Methodist Church in Britain blasts U.K. welfare reforms

LONDON (UMNS) - The Methodist Church in Britain has joined three other denominations in condemning British welfare reforms that began Monday, April 1. "These cuts make April fools of us all," said Paul Morrison, public issues policy adviser. "We are witnessing what happens when we create a culture that blames poor people for their poverty." Read news release

World Council of Churches welcomes Arms Trade Treaty

GENEVA (UMNS) - The world's first Arms Trade Treaty, approved by the United Nations on April 2, is "a milestone in efforts to bring commerce in deadly weapons under much-needed controls," according to the general secretary of the World Council of Churches. Read news release

WCC member joins Brazil's National Truth Commission

GENEVA (UMNS) - Magali do Nascimento Cunha, a Central Committee member of the World Council of Churches and professor at the Methodist University of So Paulo, has joined Brazil's National Truth Commission as a researcher. The commission will investigate human rights violations in Brazil that occurred between 1948 and 1988, including the years of military dictatorship in that country. Read story

North Korean Christians ask for prayers

SANTA ANA, Calif. (UMNS) - North Korean church leaders are asking Christians worldwide to pray for their country amid increased war threats and combat preparation by North Korean military officials. Prayer for the underground Christians in North Korea is more important than ever, says Open Doors, an organization that supports persecuted Christians in 60 countries. Read news release

Blogs and commentaries

Approach immigration reform as act of faith

ORLANDO, Fla. (UMNS) - In the debate on immigration, Florida Area Bishop Kenneth H. Carter Jr. reminds readers that the Bible narrates an "unfolding story of a love that transcends human tribes and divisions." His commentary appeared in the Orlando Sentinel. Read commentary

Differing perspectives on the March 31 Google doodle

INDIANAPOLIS (UMNS) - The Google doodle featuring the labor and human rights activist Csar Chvez on March 31, rather than recognizing the Easter holiday, has caused a stir across the blogosphere. Indiana Area Bishop Michael J. Coyner, in his E-pistle, offers his thoughts on Google's choice, noting that plenty of people missed Easter, but they can still rediscover the living Christ in this holy season. The Rev. Morgan Guyton, associate pastor of Burke United Methodist Church in Virginia, offered his take on the controversy and the role Christianity played in Chvez's activism. Incidentally, the late United Methodist Bishop William W. Dew Jr. was among the Christians who worked with Chvez.

Read Bishop Coyner's E-pistle
Read Guyton's commentary

Personnel changes

New head of UMCOR's U.S. disaster response named

NEW YORK (UMNS) - Gregory "Greg" A. Forrester has been named the new head of disaster response in the United States, Central America and the Caribbean for the United Methodist Committee on Relief. Forrester, a member of the Upper New York Annual Conference, has served as Northeastern Jurisdictional coordinator for United Methodist Volunteers in Mission since 1999. He will take on his new role on May 1. UMCOR is part of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries. Read news release

Two new staff join Church and Society

WASHINGTON, (UMNS) - The United Methodist Board of Church and Society, the denomination's social advocacy agency, has hired Kristin Kumpf of Chicago as director of organizing, and Terry Wiggin of Southbridge, Mass., as chief financial officer. Wiggin already is at work in the agency's Washington offices, and Kumpf is expected to begin her duties by May 1.

Read more on Kumpf
Read more on Wiggin

United Methodist Communications promotes two

NASHVILLE,Tenn. (UMNS) - United Methodist Communications, the denomination's communications agency, has named Sherri Thiel as chief operating officer and Helen Allen as executive director of human resources. Both serve on the agency's core leadership team.

Looking ahead

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

April 11 - Free webinar "The Pastor's Moving - the SPRC Role," 6:30 p.m. CT, tips for saying goodbye and welcoming pastors for members of staff-parish relations committees from the United Methodist Board of Discipleship. To register

April 11 - Deadline to register for online course, "United Methodism 101," April 17-May 29, provided by United Methodist Communications. Cost is $9.99. Details.

April 12-13 - "Inside Perkins," an inside look for prospective students to Southern Methodist University's Perkins School of Theology in Dallas. Details.

April 12-14; April 19-21; Nov. 8-10 - Confirmation Retreat Weekends at Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center. Details.

April 13 - "Own Your Health Now Event" health fair, 8 a.m. to noon CT, Bonner Springs, Kan., sponsored by area United Methodist churches, Rethink Church, Own Your Health now nonprofit. Details.

April 14 - Native American Ministries Sunday, in which special offering benefits Native American outreach within annual conferences and provides seminary scholarships to Native Americans. Details and to donate.

April 16 - Free webinar "Leading Group Discussion," 6:30 p.m. CT, from the United Methodist Board of Discipleship. To register.

April 17 - Poet and undertaker Thomas Lynch will present "The Feast of Language" at 7 p.m. ET at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church in Atlanta. The lectures are free, but registration is required. Details.

April 18 - Deadline to register for free Church Planting Summit featuring Nashville (Tenn.) Area Bishop Bill McAlilly, April 20, Christ United Methodist Church, Franklin, Tenn. Details.

April 18 -The Rocky Mountain Annual (regional) Conference invites United Methodists to join Silent March against Gun Violence, organized by Colorado Ceasefire. The April date is two days before the 14th anniversary of the Columbine shooting. Details at and

April 18-19 - "Divine Healing," United Theological Seminary's third Annual Church Renewal Conference, Ginghamsburg Church, Tipp City, Ohio. Details.

April 19-21 - Hispanic/Latino Church Planters' Boot Camp, Northbrook (Chicago area), Ill. Designed for Hispanic church planters, churches with Hispanic ministries, and for all leaders interested in starting a ministry with their Hispanic community. Details.

April 21 - Festival of God's Creation/Earth Day Sunday is April 21. The United Methodist Board of Church and Society offers resources.

April 25 - Free webinar "Meeting the Needs of Children in Poverty," 10 a.m. CT, from the United Methodist Board of Discipleship. To register.

April 25 - World Malaria Day. Help fight the disease at

April 26-27 - In Mission Together, part of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, will hold a 50/50 Partnership Roundtable at Christ United Methodist Church, Memphis,Tenn. The gathering is for U.S. congregations interested in partnering with United Methodist faith communities in Russia/Eurasia. Details.

April 27 - Church Growth Clinic, starts at 8:30 a.m. CT, First United Methodist Church, Sikeston, Mo. Details.

May 5 - Older Adult Recognition Sunday. Resources compiled by the Virginia Annual (regional) Conference.

May 18-19 - Change the World. Join the United Methodist Rethink Church event that helps build community locally and fight malaria globally. Details.

Category: Weekly Digest
Tags: News Summaries