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UMNS Weekly Digest - April 12, 2013


April 12, 2013

NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for April9 - April 15.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

Disaster relief and recovery

When disaster hits: Churches must prepare

NEW YORK (UMNS) - The United Methodist Church is involved in disaster response at all levels. Across the denomination, the United Methodist Committee on Relief provides resources and training to conferences. Conferences provide opportunities for congregations and individual church members to acquire the tools of disaster preparedness. In this first part of a special report, learn what you need to do to be prepared. Read story and post a comment

When disaster hits: Lessons from others

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - United Methodist congregations across the United States have not been exempt from what the Los Angeles Times reported as 14 calamities of a billion dollars or more in damages in the United States in 2011 and 11 more in 2012. In the second part of a special report, United Methodist News Service asked pastors to share their stories. Here is what three clergywomen - from Alabama, North Dakota and Indiana - said.

Read story and post a comment
Harvest reaps blessings
Minot celebrates beginnings
Indiana town bounces back
Dealing With Disasters

Argentina sustains historic flooding

NEW YORK (UMNS) - The United Methodist Committee on Relief is assessing damages and relief needs in the province and city of Buenos Aires, Argentina, after record rainfall last week caused severe flooding that took the lives of 57 people and shut down power for more than a quarter million. Read story

Children's home in Japan offers safe haven

FUKUSHIMA, Japan (UMNS) - The Horikawa Aiseien Children's Home is helping children recover from Japan's 2011 "triple disaster" of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis. Read how the United Methodist Committee on Relief is lending support. Read story

United Methodists in the news

A message about Korea from Bishop Jung

SUN PRAIRIE, Wis. (UMN) - Wisconsin Area Bishop Hee-Soo Jung has issued a letter urging "North and South Korea to negotiate directly through their government leaders to forge an agreement ending the nuclear threat in the Korean peninsula" for the sake of "all in the world community."

Read story and post a comment

Growing German church in online competition

BREMERHAVEN, Germany (UMNS) - The United Methodist congregation in Bremerhaven, Germany, takes church to the people to worship beyond church walls once a month. In three years, the congregation has grown from 12 members and almost closing its doors to having 80 people at worship each Sunday. The church is competing in an online competition in Germany to raise funds for their work. Voting is daily through April 15. To vote. Then click Abstimmung and look for the Bremerhaven church in the list.

Church hosts Burt Reynolds film

MARIETTA, Ga. (UMNS) - Actor Burt Reynolds experienced some United Methodist hospitality during filming for a movie. The Marietta Daily Journal reports that the straight-to-DVD film, "Hamlet and Hutch," starring Reynolds has scenes from inside County Line United Methodist Church, just outside the city limits of Acworth, Ga. Read story

Tennessee leaders receive 'loaves and fishes'

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - A group of 15 faith leaders from across Tennessee, includingUnited Methodist pastors, gathered Monday, April 8, to deliver 133 baskets of symbolic "loaves and fishes" along with a letter calling on the governor, lieutenant governor and legislature not to abandon Medicaid expansion if the federal government does not approve the state's alternative expansion plan.

Read story from Tennessee Annual (regional) Conference
Watch video on Tennessean site

Disagreement over church's homeless ministry

BUNNELL, Fla. (UMNS) - On Wednesdays, First United Methodist Church provides a free dinner to the homeless. On the coldest nights of the year, it opens its fellowship hall for overnight shelter. The rest of the year, men and women are allowed to use the grounds' bathroom, water fountain and prayer garden but not stay there overnight. To some neighbors, it's a lot more, and a lot worse, than that. reports on how the church is trying to work with its neighbors and with local government to address concerns about the church's homeless ministry. Read story

Celebrating 80 years at the church keyboard

MADISON, Ind. (UMNS) - For 80 years, Norma Croxton has played the piano. The recently turned 89-year-old great-grandmother has spent nearly every Sunday since she was 9 - more than 4,000 Sundays - playing the old standard hymns in church, reports the Madison Courier. Read story

The controversial, yet popular, Rev. Cecil Williams

SAN FRANCISCO (UMNS) - Michel Martin, host of National Public Radio's "Tell Me More," interviews the Rev. Cecil Williams and his wife, poet Janice Mirikitani, about their ministry at Glide Memorial Church, a United Methodist congregation of some 10,000 members in San Francisco. The congregation is known for its extensive homeless ministry and its advocacy on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals. Williams is celebrating 50 years as a pastor at Glide. The couple has published a new memoir, "Beyond the Possible." Listen to interview and read transcript

Oscar winner keeps contact with pastor's son

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (UMNS) - Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence still keeps up with childhood friend and fellow United Methodist Andy Strunk, the son of the Rev. George A. Strunk. Lawrence grew up attending Christ United Methodist Church in Louisville, where the elder Strunk is senior pastor. On the eve of the 2013 Academy Awards, the Louisville Courier-Journal highlighted that friendship.

Read story
Watch video

News around conferences

Pastors step up in North Texas tragedy

SUNNYVALE, Texas (UMNS) - The Rev. Joe Ed Goolsby, a retired United Methodist pastor, officiated at the wedding of Mike and Cynthia McLelland, the district attorney and nurse who made national news when they were found dead March 30. Goolsby also delivered their eulogy. "They were more than church members; they were our good friends," Goolsby said. The Rev. Sheron C. Patterson, editor of North Texas Conference News, explains how pastors in North Texas have offered comfort since the death of the United Methodist couple. Read story

Choctaw Mission feeds body, soul, mind, spirit

PHILADELPHIA, Miss. (UMNS) The Rev. Al Styron, executive director of the Mississippi Choctaw Mission, ministers "to people's body, soul, mind and spirit." The program, like many others, benefits from the annual Native American Ministries Sunday offering. The churchwide special Sunday is April 14.

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About Native American Ministries Sunday

Fundraiser goes 100 miles to fight malaria

MARYVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - The Rev. Charles Maynard, district superintendent in the Holston Annual (regional) Conference, and Randy Pasqua, camp ministries director, plan a 100-mile journey to raise money for the denomination-wide Imagine No Malaria campaign. Maynard will start walking 100 miles on April 21, and Pasqua will start a 100-mile bicycle ride on April 24. Watch video

Follow journey online by visiting:

Professor to give keynote at mental-health event

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (UMNS) - The Rev. Rebekah Miles, a United Methodist elder and professor of ethics at Southern Methodist University's Perkins School of Theology, will be the keynote speaker at the Arkansas Mental Health Counselors Association Conference April 18-19. The event will be at the Clarion Hotel Medical Center in Little Rock. To learn more and register

News around the connection

UMTV: Ministry in a storage facility

BATAVIA, Ill. (UMNS) - The Rev. Jeffry Bross, United Methodist pastor, leads a congregation known as Flowing Grace, a community that has moved out of the church and offers support in an unusual location. Bross opened an office at a local storage facility, where he counsels people in many stages of moving on.

Watch video
Learn more about how to Rethink Church

Church TV show and Jackie Robinson

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. (UMNS) - The new movie "42" is bringing new focus to the baseball legend.The little-known film that resides in the Baseball Hall of Fame provides a glimpse of an almost-forgotten link between Jackie Robinson and The United Methodist Church.

Read story
Read article from Good News on Robinson's Methodist roots

United Methodist event inspires student

ST. LOUIS (UMNS) - Inspired by speakers at the United Methodist event Imagine What's NEXT, Katie Engsberg went back to Washington University in St. Louis determined to get involved in interfaith work. The 18-year-old is now in charge of the 2013 Pluralism Week. Read story

Cokesbury VBS video wins Telly Award

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - The "Adventure Video" for Cokesbury's 2013 vacation Bible school program, "Everywhere Fun Fair," has won a Telly Award for Excellence in Children's Programming. Cokesbury collaborated with Gemini Production Group of Nashville to produce the video. The "Adventure Video" resource features video segments for assembly time at VBS to reinforce key lessons about God's welcoming love. Read news release

Cokesbury consultants now available

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Cokesbury is building a staff of community resource consultants across the United States to offer customers personal support, even as its stores close their doors. So far, the United Methodist Publishing House's retail arm has hired 43 consultants and ultimately plans to have 50 on call. Many will work near the locations of former stores. "Because it is less expensive to place a community resource consultant in a market than a store, we took the opportunity to significantly expand the personal support we can provide touching more markets than we could hope to do with stores," said Amy Smith of the United Methodist Publishing House. To find a consultant near you

Zimbabwe preschool succeeds despite struggle

KAMBUZUMA, Zimbabwe (UMNS) - St. Philip Pre-School of the United Methodist Church is in a densely populated suburb west of Harare, the nation's capital. The preschool can accommodate 100 children. At the end of the school's first week, 60 children had enrolled, and more parents still were queued for registration. Read full story and post a comment

University and seminary news

'I was in prison and you came to visit me'

LUSAKA, Zambia (UMNS) - Kevin Mulembe, a student at United Methodist Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, recounts how his life changed when he visited a 9-year-old boy behind bars in Zambia's capital. "Lewis suffered all kinds of abuse at the hands of both hardcore criminals and the police," Mulembe said. "His only crime was street vending, which carried a penalty of a simple fine. But Lewis could not afford it, so they put him behind bars." Read story

A higher calling for higher education

WINFIELD, Kan. (UMNS) - Students find more to love at decidedly United Methodist-affiliated universities and colleges, reports Interpreter OnLine. The United Methodist affiliation adds spiritual depth as it translates into strong faith communities, unique opportunities and a supportive learning environment throughout the school. Read story

Other news of interest

Mideast Christians in danger, priest warns

INDIANAPOLIS (UMNS) - Religious freedom has become "a luxury" in the Middle East, and western Christians need to be concerned about what is happening to Christians living in the region. That was both the message and a plea from the Rev. Nabil Haddad, a priest in the Melkite Catholic Church, to religious communicators. Read story and post a comment

British Methodists remember Margaret Thatcher

LONDON (UMNS) - The Rev. Mark Wakelin reflected on the late British prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, noting on the website of the Methodist Church of Britain that "her roots in a personally responsible Methodist tradition were greatly admired by many." Read full statement

Methodist, WCC leader Castro dies at 85

GENEVA (UMNS) - The Rev. Emilio Castro is being remembered by United Methodists and other Christians as a Latin American and global ecumenical leader who combined faith with a commitment to justice. A clergy member of the Methodist Church of Uruguay, Castro died April 6 at the age of 85. Read full story and post a comment

Resources for churches

Keep your church website engaging

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Once you have covered all the basics of your website - location, worship times, staff bios and events - you need to keep things fresh and engaging if you want visitors to come back often. Learn how to keep the content relevant, inspiring and maybe a little edgy. Read more

Blogs and commentaries

'Pastors are human, too'

INDIANAPOLIS (UMNS) - Indiana Area Bishop Mike Coyner reflects on the suicide of the son of the Rev. Rick Warren, Saddleback Church pastor and best-selling author. Coyner is saddened that in Warren's time of grief, others have used the tragedy to condemn both him and the Christian faith. "Perhaps this sad situation with the Warren family can remind all of us that clergy and their families are human, too," he writes. Read blog

Ministry with - and by - the poor

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - The Rev. Paul Slentz says the poor can be very effective in ministry because the "least of these" are people they know and understand. He is the pastor of Sixty-First Avenue United Methodist Church in Nashville, a small congregation whose membership mostly have incomes below poverty level. Almost all members are engaged in ministries of service. Read blog

Africa U. graduate reflects on importance of university

MUTARE, Zimbabwe (UMNS) - Walter Suza reflects on the difference United Methodist-related Africa University has made in his life and that of other students. "Today, I am glad that I am using my God-given gift to help others learn how to improve agricultural crops and produce more food," he writes. The Tanzania native is now on the faculty of Iowa State University. Read commentary

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.

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

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

Stories by the Lakeshore with Donald Davis, April 18 - 7:30 p.m. ET, Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center, Lake Junaluska, N.C. Details.

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

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

"Light the Fire! Divine Healing," church renewal conference, April 18-19 - Ginghamsburg Church, Tipp City, Ohio. Details.

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

Hispanic/Latino Church Planters' Boot Camp, April 19-21 - 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.

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

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

Free webinar "When Congregations Pray...," April 25 - 7 p.m. CT, the newest in a series of monthly webinars offered by Interpreter Magazine and The Upper Room. Register.

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

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

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

Impact Taylor County 2013 day of service, April 27 - 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET, Campbellsville, Ky., sponsored by area United Methodist churches and United Methodist Communications' Rethink Church. Details.

Prayer Journaling Workshop, April 27 - 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. CT, Scarritt-Bennett Center, $65 includes lunch and supplies. To register.

Deadline to register for Web Ministry 100, May 1 - Online course from May 8 to June 19, sponsored by United Methodist Communications, $49. To register.

Deadline to register for Welcoming Ministry 100, May 1 - Online course from May 8 to June 19, sponsored by United Methodist Communications, $29. To register.

Mental Health Initiative training, May 3-4 - Intensive workshops for mental-health ministries, First United Methodist Church, Oak Lawn, Ill. Sponsored by Northern Illinois Annual (regional) Conference, limited to 30 participants. Details.

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

RENEW retreat for United Methodist single clergy, May 7-9 - Selah Inn at the Ranch, Mount Vernon, Texas. Details.

Korea Peace Conference, May 15-17 - Korean United Methodist Church of Atlanta, 3205 Pleasant Hill Road, Duluth, Ga., a forum for church leaders from North America and South Korea to engage in dialogue and re-assess the current situations on the issues related to the two Koreas. To register, contact the Rev. Jong Sung Kim at the United Board of Global Ministries at (212) 870-3955 or

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

Category: Weekly Digest
Tags: News Summaries